Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sailboat Restoration: How a free sailboat fell into our lap.

I have always dreamed of owning a sailboat. I have never been close to this goal before. In fact I had only been on one sailboat that I didn't even get to sail on. Now that has all changed. Say hello to Margaret:
So the story goes: Luke, Walker and myself (Benjamin) got all caught up in the idea of getting a sailboat. We wanted one that we could keep at the house, a live aboard, drink aboard, and generally another place to hang out at home.

Luke and I rode Bonnie to Mobile, AL to get the first glimpse of our new boat:

There wasn't much time for photos when we arrived, beacause we had to work, and work fast. I got a couple of shots on the computer, but unfortunately I lost some while transfering.

Here is the group of 3 Cal 20's that had been abandoned after hurricane Katrina.

Climb aboard if you dare:

When we showed up Margarets owner was already there. We had arranged this, as we were not doing a come by in the dark of night and cut the lines kinda pickup. Rodney Majure had sailed Margaret competitively, and became her owner after his father-in-law passed away. This was after Katrina, and Margaret was in need of a lot more than TLC. As the years slipped by, Rodney realized that he was never going to get Margaret back up and running. Fast forward to where we come in. When we started our search for boats, the most logical place to look was at the harbors in New Orleans. We ran into Buzzy the manager of the New Orleans Yacht Club that day, and she suggested that we post to the clubs forum that we were looking for a boat. She talked up the forum and put up a quick line saying we were looking for a project boat.

We got one response from the post. A fella named Tom replied that the Bucanner Yacht Club in Mobile, Alabama had a couple of abandoned boats they were ready to get rid of. We considered it, but didn't jump on it. We had no photos of the boats, and Tom unfortunately couldn't get any to us. I considered riding out there and camping overnight so we could have some first hand idea of this as a possibility, but I didn't do that though. Instead we combed through the marinas in Louisiana, and one in Mississippi.

At one point we had made and offer on a boat that was accepted. We were ready to pay for this boat, when the seller contacted me and informed us that he regretable had to take the boat off the market, becuase his friends house had just burnt down and they needed a place to live. We were almost prepared for this to happen. There seemed to be an unspoken curse going on around us, and it seemed like everybody who showed us a boat fell victim to some tragedy.

The 2nd boat we climbed aboard caught fire after the captain closed a metal hatch on the cord of the solar battery tender. That ended our interest in that boat.

Another captain had driven 20 miles out of his way to show us this beautiful wooden boat.

We were following the captain into the marina, and as he swumg around the corner into the entrance he ran into an alligator. The alligator was fine, becuase it was all sealed up in a cage that was connected to a park and wildlife rangers truck, which is really what he hit. You guessed it, the police were called, and in the meantime we went and looked at more boats.

There was actually 2 gators in the cage:

I am just glad we didn't climp aboard the last boat we looked at and go sailing on a dark and stormy evening. We might have wound up dead.

After looking at that last boat, and talking about it in the evening, we realized that if we were to buy any of the boats we were looking at, they would all require us to invest more money into them. I think the line goes, the 2 happiest days of a boat owners life are the day you buy your boat, and the day you sell it. So Margaret chose us, and we very happily bought her for a dollar.


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Unknown said...

What are the specs on your boat? Length, beam, draft, displacement, and ballast weight.

Anonymous said...

Where's the rest of it? I'm doing a similar project, but mine is much worse:

I spent too much money for what I got, and I'm putting too much money/time back in it.

Wish me luck and update your blog!

Anonymous said...

It appears that this project failed immediately. There are no follow up posts leading me to think any work was done.

There are many things that can be wrong with a free sailboat that will not appear to the novice buyer. Core rot being the biggest killer I know of.

Free sailboats can be a bill to the receiver as this person will not be able to restore the boat and now has to pay to have it stored or destroyed and disposed of.

Many find a third option and give it away free to another unsuspecting person who will now have the burdon.

Not all free sailboats are worthless but many are. Clues to worthlessness include a boat that has been stripped of gear. Mast, boom, sails, jib winches, stantions, hatches and windows all have value and can be sold as parts from a boat that is unrestorable but then what do you do with the hull? Give it away.

Another hint is one large recent repair project-typically the engine. They fix this item first then discover the core rot and realize they wasted the money on the engine. Now they just want the whole thing gone. This is not too bad as you may be able to sell parts described above but if it could be restored to working order the previous owner probably would have done it.

As of my writting there are alot of cheap and free boats available. You just have to know something of what you are doing.

Benjamin said...

I do believe I will finish this blog soon enough. I am about done with the restoration work, and where as I certainly have had time to update the blog, it has been very low on my priority list. I hope ya'll come back and take a look at it when I am done.