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Chapter I. So You Want to Buy a Sailboat? READ THIS.

So you want to buy a sailboat?

Congratulations and condolences. Your life will never be the same.

Much like buying a house or having a baby, you’re about to embark on a wonderful, crazy, sometimes frustrating way of life that will take commitment, blood, sweat, and tears – but will also provide you with some of the most profoundly rewarding moments you’ll ever experience.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to own and keep a sailboat, (I’m writing this specifically for the sailor on a budget), but you will need to put in the hours of work she’ll need to be ship-shape. In fact, you can buy a capable used boat for relatively little money and may even be able to find the rare gem that’s being given away.

I’ve written NewYorkCitySailor.com to guide the prospective DIY boat buyer in NYC with tips and resources to help realize the dream. However much of this info will prove useful in any region.

And now a disclaimer…

Remember, if your car breaks down you can pull over to the side of the road and call for assistance. If your boat breaks down you and your crew may die.

The boat can be…

… crushed by drifting into the path of a freighter…
… smashed by wind or waves into sharp rocks…
… destroyed by killer whales who decide to ram your vessel until it sinks…

Literally anything can happen. Once on the water, you are an alien species tenuously equipped to explore another planet – you have no gills and are no longer the apex predator that you are on terra firma. Your life and the lives of all you bring aboard may be jeopardized, so go into this with open eyes.

As stated earlier, owning a boat is much like owning a house…

You’ll be regularly breaking out your wallet for parts, supplies, upkeep, and storage. Although B-O-A-T stands for Break Out Another Thousand, my hope is that the following tips and recommendations will help you spend wisely.

Life on the sea isn’t for the faint of heart, but with practice, preparation, and by judiciously erring on the side of caution, a good boat will provide you with the keys to the 3/4 of our planet covered with water.

Ready to begin your odyssey? Continue with Chapter II at NewYorkCitySailor.com.

 

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Fair winds!

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Lunasea Tri-Color/Anchor/Strobe LED Navigation Light

Lunasea Tri-Color/Anchor/Strobe LED Navigation Light

Back in 2015, my old 25W incandescent Aqua-Signal Tri-Color was showing its age. The plastic housing was worn, the lenses were getting cloudy, and it became increasingly temperamental – working one day and burning out the next. The bulbs just seemed to get more expensive – and never more efficient. The high draw was draining the batteries when anchoring overnight… I decided it was time to bite the bullet and go LED.

I did a lot of research and after comparing features, construction, and price, the clear choice was the 4W Lunasea Tri-Color/Anchor/Strobe LED Navigation Light.

I’m VERY happy with my choice. The engineers at Lunasea really thought this one through…

This lightweight (4.9oz) LED light is machined from hard-anodized aluminum with glass lenses. It feels like a solid piece of aluminum in your hand. A masthead light fixture is not what one would call easily accessible, so knowing it is made from resilient materials gives me peace of mind.

Installation was easy – especially since I’d had my mast down for the winter… 😉 Unfortunately, the bolt pattern didn’t match up with those from my much larger previous light so I tapped new holes. C’est la vie…

Lunasea supplies its Tri-Color with a waterproof quick-disconnect that can be unscrewed with one hand – a welcome feature if you had to disconnect while aloft. The thin power cable allowed me to route it alongside my antenna cable, sharing the same exit hole from the mast. The cable’s three wires connect to the boat’s running and anchor light wires and share a ground. Speaking of the antenna, Lunasea claims zero electromagnetic interference and my experience thus far confirms this.

To this day I am amazed at the brightness of this light. Last summer in Port Jefferson harbor the anchor light beckoned me home while making the 1.5nm dinghy ride back from the shore. She stood out like a sore thumb amongst all the other anchor lights bobbing around that night. My friend at anchor beside her told me he thought the moon was full, but it was my anchor light…

Another duly considered feature is the anchor light’s auto-off daylight sensor – for those mornings when the captain forgets the switch was left on. It’s really apparent that Lunasea did their homework.

The icing on the cake for me is the strobe feature – something other manufacturers charge a lot more money to include. To activate the strobe distress signal, turn on your anchor and running lights together (something one would never normally do.) The strobe pulse is hard to miss, and I hope I never have to use it, but I’m glad to know it’s there if I need it.

Finally, I know plenty of captains who are plagued by bird bombs… The Lunasea Tri-Color light is topped with a bird spike (or more appropriately, an anti-bird spike) that can be removed and replaced with a Davis wind indicator. If the spike isn’t enough, the motion of the wind vane ought to deter birds from roosting on your masthead. 

The light comes with a three-year warranty, and mine is still going strong well after expiration. There is no replacement bulb as the LED circuit board is integral. Lunasea offers out of warranty service or full out of warranty replacement with a new unit for $99.

I’m really pleased when a manufacturer does its due-diligence and produces a design that addresses so many issues and at such a reasonable price. Kudos, Lunasea! Keep up the good work!

For Lunasea’s complete specs and installation instructions click HERE.

Thanks for reading! I would appreciate your comments.
I’ve many more helpful articles on the BLOG page, and more to come…

New York City Sailor has these lights at a great price:
Lunasea Tri-Color/Anchor/Strobe LED Navigation Light
with fast, FREE SHIPPING on orders over $100*

While you’re here, take a look at the user-friendly SHOP page…
– over 6,000 products specially organized to make it easy to find the parts you need.

For orders outside the US 48 or for any questions – please send email via the CONTACT page.
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Fair Winds,

VIKING
NewYorkCitySailor.com

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Attwood 3500 Series 2-Mile LED Sidelights

Attwood 3500 Series 2-Mile LED Sidelights

A little over five years ago I decided it was time to retire my old incandescent navigation lights and go LED.

After looking around and comparing I chose the Attwood 3500 Series 2-Mile LED Sidelights. The lights have been performing like a champ ever since.

These tough LED lights are super bright and the styling fits well with my classic Pearson. I would say they’d look good on more modern boots too.

Their rounded shape doesn’t catch sails or sheets. They also have an indicator on top of each light allowing you to verify operation from the cockpit. The 2.4W lights are fully potted to seal them from the elements and with a 10-year warranty, I found them to be an unbeatable, energy-saving bargain. I went with the 2-Mile deck-mount version but Attwood also offers a vertical-mount 3500 Series and 1-Mile versions that are even less expensive.

Installation was easy. (Attwood’s instructions HERE.) You simply unscrew the stainless cover from the black plastic base, make the wire connections, screw the base in place, and reattach the cover. It took less than an hour and now my nav lights draw 1/10th the power my old ones were using – and no bulbs to change.

Thanks for reading! I would appreciate your comments.
I’ve many more helpful articles at the BLOG page, and more to come…

New York City Sailor has these lights at a great price:
Attwood 3500 Series 2-Mile LED Green Sidelight – 12V – Stainless Steel Housing
Attwood 3500 Series 2-Mile LED Red Sidelight – 12V – Stainless Steel Housing
with fast, FREE SHIPPING on orders over $100*

While you’re here, take a look at the user-friendly SHOP page…
– over 6,000 products specially organized to make it easy to find the parts you need.

For orders outside the US 48 or for any questions – please send email via the CONTACT page.
Your business is appreciated and enables me to keep this site running.

Don’t forget to check out the Facebook Page and hit that Like button!

 

Fair Winds,

VIKING
NewYorkCitySailor.com

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Polyform A-Series Fenders / Buoys

Polyform A-Series Fenders / Buoys

My Polyform A-Series fenders have been in service for eight years now…

While others popped, tore, took on water, etc, these fenders come back for more year after year, faithfully protecting my boat from docks and comfortably buffering her when tied up with other boats. In fact the A-Series work better than any other fender when tying up.

My Polyform A’s have taken some heavy abuse here on the Hudson, where ferries and freighters throw wakes as big as ocean swells. They’ve protected my 30 footer admirably.

From bow to stern on each side, I use an A-3 (17” diameter) fore, followed by an A-2 (14.5” diameter), then an A-1 (11” diameter) amidships, then another A-2 on the quarter, finishing with a second A-3 aft.

For smaller boats, you could move down a size and use A-0’s through A-2’s. Likewise for larger boats move up to A-2’s through A-4’s, etc.

After eight years of being smashed and squished up against the dock, I’ve never had one pop or tear. The rope holds are reinforced and incredibly tough. The rubber is heavy-duty and consistently thick throughout the entire sphere. Apart from some fading of the color, they look and perform exactly as when I bought them in 2010. I can’t tell you how many other fenders blew out on me, and the ones that survived absorbed marks that just make them look terrible.

They have super-efficient check valves that make inflation easy – no struggling against air trying to escape. When it’s time to deflate, I insert a screwdriver or other implement to hold the check valve open while I sit on the fenders to push the air out.

Speaking of which, I always leave two A-3’s inflated at all times. Not only are they great to throw over the side for a quick stop at the fuel dock, I keep them tied to my stern rails and use them to seat guests on my poop deck. They’re actually super comfortable and work really well for this purpose.

I also keep two A-1’s in the dinghy for when I bring the tender alongside the boat or dock. I just flip them over the side of the dinghy and tie on. The A-1’s provide great protection.

A final benefit: these big, red balls provide plenty of fodder for stupid jokes your inner 12-year-old can repeat ad nauseam – just in case you’re running thin on cockpit, seacock, poop deck, and head jokes… You’re welcome. 😉

Thanks for reading! I would appreciate your comments.
I’ve many more helpful articles at the BLOG page, and more to come…

New York City Sailor has these terrific fenders at a great price:
Polyform A Series Buoy A-1 – 11″ Diameter
Polyform A Series Buoy A-2 – 14.5″ Diameter
Polyform A Series Buoy A-3 – 17″ Diameter
with fast, FREE SHIPPING on orders over $100*

While you’re here, take a look at the user-friendly SHOP page…
– over 6,000 products specially organized to make it easy to find the parts you need.

For orders outside the US 48 or for any questions – please send email via the CONTACT page.
Your business is appreciated and enables me to keep this site running.

Don’t forget to check out the Facebook Page and hit that Like button!

 

Fair Winds,

VIKING
NewYorkCitySailor.com

 

 

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Chapter VIII. Where to Keep a Sailboat in NYC without Breaking the Bank!

Her Summer and Winter Homes…

OK you’re ready to buy. Where are you going to keep her? Unless you’re buying a trailer-sailer and have a driveway to keep the trailer, you need dockage or a mooring in season and a good yard to haul and drydock her for the winter.

Even here in NYC, there are plenty of reasonable choices for the budget-conscious DIY sailor. Read on, they’re organized by borough…

BROOKLYN

DiMeglio Marina

Three generations of the DiMeglio family run this marina on the sheltered East Mill Basin. Patriarch Danny DiMeglio’s been there since he was a boy working with his father and grandfather.

They’re super-friendly and give great rates on hauls, pressure wash, winter storage, and service. Their Travelift with attached crane makes stepping and unstepping your mast a breeze. DiMeglio offers 100 slips with water and power. You can do your own boat work but staff must do any bottom painting. Make sure to say hi to Freddie the Giant Macaw in the office. Be aware that he likes pistachios, cheeseburgers, and… fingers!

DiMeglio’s amenities are limited to restrooms (no showers), a soda machine, and fish cleaning stations. Bay End Marine Supply is a 10min walk away on 68th and Avenue U along with a very well stocked Key Food supermarket. The Key Food shopping center is also home to a liquor store, a laundromat, and restaurants La Villa Italian, Lima Peruvian, and China Kettle.

On 63rd and Avenue U is the yummy Bagels Supreme and next door is Meats Supreme, a great old-school Italian Market. Still further down Avenue U are Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Sears along with the King’s Plaza Mall.

The B100, B41, and B3 NYC transit buses stop near the Key Food and will get you to the B, Q, 2, and 5 Subway lines.

TIP: If your mast extends 34′ or more from the waterline, you need to have the Belt Parkway’s Mill Basin Bridge raised to get in and out of Mill Basin. Call (347)386-2472 at least one hour in advance. Construction of a new bridge with 60′ of clearance is slated for completion in 2017.

DiMeglio Marina
Avenue Y & East 69th Street
Brooklyn New York 11234
(718) 241-5011
www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/marinas/3
(Note that the rate info provided by the NYC Parks website is outdated.)

Gateway Marina

The largest marina in NYC with 500 slips, Gateway gets mixed reviews for its remote location and shoal-ridden approach. Apart from their small store with snacks, beer/soda, and ice, there is no place to provision within walking distance. They offer restrooms and showers.

However, it IS a beautiful remote location as it’s part of Gateway National Refuge. If you like ocean sailing, the Atlantic is ~2 nautical miles away on the other side of Rockaway Point. You’ll additionally have excellent access to Coney Island, the Rockaways, and Sandy Hook across the Lower Bay.

Gateway offers full service with hauls, pressure wash, winter storage, and shrink-wrap. You can do your own boat work but staff must do any bottom painting. Gateway is home to the Polish Sailing Club of New York. This lively organization has some fantastic sailors in their membership and they LOVE to party. Make friends with them!

The Q35 NYC Transit bus stops right by the marina and provides easy access (~15min) to the 2 and 5 Subway lines. The King’s Plaza Mall, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Sears that I mentioned in the DiMeglio article are about a 10min bus ride away along with the Key Food and Bay End Marine Supply further up Avenue U.

TIP: Gateway’s probably only going to work if you have a car…

Gateway Marina
3260 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11234
Main Office: 718-252-8761 Service: 718-986-3773
www.gwmarina.com

Sheepshead Bay

Just above the northeastern side of Coney Island, the sheltered riviera of Sheepshead Bay offers excellent ocean access and fine dining with scores of beautiful swans gracing the shorelines. It’s home to two well-regarded yacht clubs that are adjacent and actively compete in summer races and fishing tournaments (more on the clubs below).

Both clubs are about a 20min walk from the Sheepshead Bay B / Q Subway station. The B4, B44, and BM3 NYC Transit buses all run to the clubs. Sheepshead Bay’s main drag Emmons Avenue is teeming with outstanding restaurants. Liman Turkish restaurant and Yiasou Greek restaurant will make you feel like you’re on The Mediterranean. Aldi supermarket on Nostrand Av. and Ave. Y is a 10min walk for provisions. Fratello Laundry on Bedford and Ave. Y is a 15min walk. Kings Plaza Marina and Bay End Marine (mentioned in the DiMeglio Marina section) are a fair distance away but are your closest options for marine supplies. The western end of Sheepshead Bay has a land bridge for beach access at Manhattan Beach Park.

Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club

Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club offers the complete package – summer mooring with launch service and winter storage – at reasonable rates.

Their beautiful clubhouse was originally the summer home of the Rheingold beer family and its porches look out over their built-in pool and the bay. Their lively bar is open 7 days / week year round.

The club is equipped with restrooms, showers, and lockers as well as outdoor barbecues. It also has a large hall for events available at a discount to members. You can fill your water tanks at the dock.

Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club
3076 Emmons Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 891-0991
sheepsheadbayyc@gmail.com
www.sheepsheadbayyachtclub.com

Miramar Yacht Club

Miramar Yacht Club has a great clubhouse equipped with restrooms, showers, and lockers. They share a pool with the condos next door. Membership is very reasonable.

They have launch service to / from your vessel and reserved parking spots for members. You can fill your water tanks at the dock. Most members winter their boats at nearby DiMeglio Marina.

Miramar Yacht Club
3050 Emmons Ave
Sheepshead Bay, NY 11235
(718) 769-3548
sail@miramaryc.com
www.miramaryc.com

Marine Basin Marina

Opposite Sheepshead Bay, just north of Coney Island’s west end in Gravesend Bay, Marine Basin Marina offers over 200 slips on a calm, sheltered harbor with stunning views of the Verrazano and the Lower Bay. The staff is friendly and offer marine supplies, hauls, winter wet storage, and repairs. Water and electricity is available at every slip.

Local favorite La Casa Bella Italian restaurant, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and Caesar Bay Shopping Center are all within 10-15min walk, as is the D subway train at Bay 50th St. L&B Spumoni Gardens is worth the 20min walk, and you’ll probably need it after filling up there…

TIP: Although many sites and charting applications report that Marine Basin has fuel, the fuel docks were wiped out during Superstorm Sandy and are unlikely to return.

Marine Basin Marina
1900 Shore Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11214
(718)372-5700
mbmboats@aol.com
www.marinebasinmarina.net

QUEENS

Marina 59

I’ve recently learned about Marina 59 over in the wilds of Far Rockaway. This artsy haven in Arverne is on the vanguard of the Rockaway Renaissance two blocks from the A Train at Beach 60th St. and four blocks from the beach. The somewhat dicey surroundings are held in check by a high gate and adequate security. I’ll be visiting Marina 59 and will be posting more on this ASAP.

Marina 59
59-14 Beach Channel Drive
Far Rockaway, NY 11692
Marina 59 Office
107 North 6th Street (Basement)
Brooklyn, NY 11249
(718) 945-4500 – Marina Mgr Ext. 1 – Dock Mgr Ext. 5
Info@Marina59.com
www.marina59.com

Bayside Marina

Bayside Marina has a small dock on Little Neck Bay with less than 50 slips, most of them so shallow they only accommodate small powerboats. The draw for sailors is Bayside’s great mooring field with 24hr launch service. Bayside’s nestled where the LI Sound just meets the East River, providing sailors with plenty of access to the city or the sea.

There’s no boatyard or repair services, but Bayside boasts a tightly knit community of some fine sailors. City Island is just across the Sound and has all the marine supplies and repair services that you could want. More on City Island later…

Bayside Marina offers restrooms, showers and a little snack bar with food to order as well as beer, ice, and soda to go. Their rates are slightly higher than some other mooring fields but the 24hr launch with friendly and helpful drivers make Bayside a real bargain.

While Bayside is surprisingly lacking in marine supplies, there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and markets on nearby Bell Blvd. Bayside Milk Farm on Bell between 35th and 36th Ave is a great place to provision on the way to the marina.

You can fill water tanks at the Bayside dock, but there’s no fuel, so sail east to the next bay and fuel up at Port Washington’s Brewer Capri Marina. While you’re there stop in at Louie’s restaurant for a bite! For winter storage most of my friends at Bayside use College Point Yacht Club or one of the marinas in Port Washington.

TIP: I used to crew a lot in Bayside and had the commute down to a science. I’d take the LIRR from Penn Station to Bayside (~20min), then hoof it to Bayside Milk Farm for provisions (~5-10min), jump on the Q13 NYC Transit Bus to 28th Ave and Bell Blvd (~4min), then walk east on 28th Ave to the land bridge that goes over the Cross Island Expressway (~10min) and… You’re midtown to dockside in less than an hour. I’ve since learned that the QM2 NYC Transit bus will take you from midtown to Bell Blvd and 25th Ave in about an hour. Then take a 15min walk over that same land bridge on 28th Ave. That’s not a bad option in off-peak traffic.

Bayside Marina
28-05 Cross Island Parkway
Bayside, NY 11360
(718)229-0097
info@baysidemarinany.com
www.baysidemarinany.com

World’s Fair Marina

World’s Fair, like Bayside and the 79th Street Boat Basin, is run by the Marine Division of the NYC Parks Dept. They’ve over 250 slips on Flushing Bay and as an NYC Parks run facility have reasonable dockage. There’s special ferry service to the marina for Mets games and the US Open. I’ve heard rumors of sailors using these ferries for an easy way out to the marina from Wall Street and midtown. More info on World’s Fair coming soon…

World’s Fair Marina
125-00 Northern Boulevard, off the Grand Central Parkway, Flushing Bay
Flushing, NY 11368
(718) 478-0480
https://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/marinas/13

CITY ISLAND

City Island – Important to All Sailors in the Region

City Island has a rich nautical history and its marinas, sail lofts, marine supplies, and yacht clubs attract sailors from all over NYC and the east coast. In fact, City Island is the only place in NYC to buy, service, and repair sails, so no matter where you decide to keep your boat, at some point you’ll be making a trip there. As such we’ll devote special attention to City Island.

City Island is as if someone cut off a hunk of Nantucket Island and dropped it in the water just off the Bronx. The island’s charming architecture and fine restaurants make it a popular summer destination. Access from land is complicated by its single bridge. Prepare to sit in traffic, sometimes for hours, to get onto City Island during a holiday weekend. Planning to arrive super early or late is your best bet. Without traffic, the Bx29 NYC Transit bus will get you to City Island from the 6 Subway Train at Pelham Bay Park in 15-20min. To skip the traffic altogether, ride a bike between City Island and the subway through beautiful Pelham Bay Park – NYC’s largest park.

Harlem Yacht Club

Harlem Yacht Club offers a very reasonable Summer Affiliate Program for prospective members to try out the club for the summer (May 15-Aug 15). For only $900 you get a mooring, launch service, and full use of the club. Harlem’s a beautiful club and also offers winter storage for non-members (substantially discounted for members). You can do your own boat work but must comply with all environmental regulations, etc. as required in their contract.

Harlem Yacht Club
417 Hunter Ave, City Island, NY 10464
info@hyc.org
(718) 885-3078
http://www.hyc.org

City Island Marine Supplies

There are four nautical supply stores on City Island. I had a bad experience with the one by the bridge (an experience I know others have shared), but they are the biggest and may be the only one on the island to have what you need. However, I can’t recommend them…

  • J. J. Burke Hardware & Discount Marine Supplies
    526 City Island Avenue
    City Island, NY 10464
    (718)885-1559

    Burke’s is staffed by Mr. Burke himself, a knowledgeable and friendly sailor who can answer just about any question you could have. I suggest calling ahead to assure he’ll be in.
  • Buddy’s Hardware & Yacht Supply
    268 City Island Avenue
    City Island, NY 10464
    (718)885-1447

    Buddy’s Marine Supply is a little further down City Island Avenue. While owner Karl is more powerboat oriented, he stocks a lot, including stainless steel hardware and many other must-haves. He’s super helpful and has a great sense of humor that’s punctuated by his distinctive Austrian accent.
  • Trader John Nautical Antiques, Anchors, & Supplies
    239 & 246 City Island Avenue
    City Island, NY 10464
    (718)885-1658Whenever you’re on City Island, make it a point to stop in at Trader John’s. This store is literally packed to the brim with all kinds of nautical gear, antiques, and collectibles – much of it salvaged or bought out from area shipyards. You may find that part you’ve been seeking for years. Ask for help! Unbelievably he knows where everything is…

City Island Sail Lofts

  • Island Nautical Canvas
    225 Fordham Street
    City Island, NY 10464
    (888) 8CANVAS
    (718) 885-2255
    mail@islandnauticalcanvas.com
    http://www.islandnauticalcanvas.com

    Island Nautical Canvas (I.N.C.) is your author’s sail loft and provides quality sails, canvas, and service. Once the season has ended and you’ve hauled your boat for the winter, take your sails in for cleaning and repairs. They have a sail drop that’s open 24/7.
  • UK Halsey Sailmakers
    175 City Island Ave.
    Bronx, NY 10464
    (718) 885-2028
    info@uksailmakers.com
    www.uksailmakers.comInternational sailmakers UK Halsey are headquartered on City Island and offer the cutting edge in performance racing sails. Their website also offers excellent educational videos and articles.

    UPDATE: On April 15th, the UK Sailmakers loft on City Island, there since 1946, moved off City Island to Port Chester, N.Y. as a result of the building being sold. Apparently, enough of their staff still live on City Island that they still do local sail drops. I’ve reached out to the loft and will post their sail drop procedures and update asap.

    TIP
    Zipcar has an overnight special Mon-Thurs. Pick up the car at 6pm and keep it overnight until 8:30am the next morning for $39 (gas and insurance included). This will give you plenty of time to pick up your sails, throw them in the Zipcar, then drive to City Island for sail drop and dinner. Return the Zipcar anytime before 8:30am the next morning. I usually reserve close to home then drop it off once I’ve completed my sail drop and dinner run. No parking headaches!

City Island Dining

As I just mentioned I do the City Island sail loft / dinner run every year. Here’s where to get a great meal!

  • The Black Whale – Tops on the island as far as I’m concerned. Intimate, rustic, and charming, the food is inventive and terrific.
  • Sea Shore – A bit less intimate, this large, lively restaurant also has dockage should you want to sail in for a bite. Sea Shore offers beautiful views of the water complemented by great food and service.

THE BRONX

Evers Marina and Seaplane Base
1470 Outlook Avenue
Bronx, NY 10465
(718) 863-9111
eversboats@aol.com
www.eversmarina.com

I recently found this marina on Eastchester Bay. I haven’t been yet, but plan to stop in soon so I can write a full report… This seems like a really attractive option as you’d have great access to City Island and The Sound, without the headaches of commuting to City Island. It’s owned and operated by Charles Evers, which is a good sign, and they offer full service, hauls, and winter storage, with very good prices for NYC dockage! It is about a 20min walk (7min cycling) from the 6 train, so it may not work well without a car or a Lyft membership. More on this marina after I visit…

MANHATTAN

West 79th Street Boat Basin

For the budget conscious sailor, there is no place else in Manhattan.

Forget about dockage, I’ve been on a waiting list for over ten years. Frankly, if my number came up, I would probably stick with my mooring.

Why?

The Boat Basin dock is very shallow and that means access in and out must coincide with high tide. Further, the current on the Hudson is no joke – sometimes 2.5kts or more… That can make entry and exit very tricky. Third, the Hudson is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and the Boat Basin’s seawall does little to prevent huge wakes from banging your boat into the dock. There’s less to bang into on a mooring.

That’s not to say that the moorings are without their challenges…

There is no launch service, so you must maintain a stout dinghy to get you and your crew, provisions, etc. back and forth to the dock. The Parks Department bases the mooring order on seniority so the newer you are, the further from the dock your mooring will be. And the Hudson can be hairy – take the wakes and currents previously discussed, add some heavy wind and rain and you’ve got a white-knuckle dinghy run to brave. Also if you’re looking for a peaceful night’s sleep, invest in a hammock, or raise sail and find a nice, peaceful cove somewhere because there will inevitably be a tanker barreling down at 4am and you’ll be rocked and rolled right out of your berth. (I’ll be detailing nice, peaceful coves in a future chapter.)

The good news is that the moorings have to be the best deal in the city in one of the nicest neighborhoods in New York. The Boat Basin is in lovely Riverside Park, and world-class provisioners are steps away, with Zabar’sFairway, and Citarella within a few blocks. The 1, 2, 3, B, and C trains are also nearby, as well as several buses, including the M5 which will get you from 79th and Riverside to midtown in 15 minutes.

The Boat Basin has a single bathroom with a separate shower as well as a coin-operated washer and dryer. A really nice recent perk is the free ice machine by the office. You can fill water tanks at the dock and fuel up across the river at Lincoln Harbor Marina or further down at Liberty Landing Marina (the only 24hr fuel dock in town!) The Boat Basin offers no services and no winter storage, unless you’re a year-round slipholder… But that’s another waiting list. Sometimes the lively Boat Basin Cafe can be mobbed with ‘bros’. Otherwise it’s a great spot for a drink and a burger. They also have live music and other events.

West 79th Street Boat Basin
West 79th Street and the Hudson River
(212) 496-2105
www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/marinas/10

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment. If you’d like to have future posts sent to your inbox and receive notice on product specials from the New York City Sailor SHOP, please subscribe – see the “Subscribe to Blog / Sales” link on this page.

There are many more helpful articles at the BLOG, and more to come…
While you’re here please check out the SHOP – over 6,600 discount marine products and counting!
Your business is appreciated and helps to keep this site running. Please tell your friends!

FYI: If you don’t see products you’re seeking please send email via the CONTACT page.
I’m adding new products all the time and can get just about anything you need.

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Chapter VII. Ready to Buy Your First Sailboat? Here’s How!

Preparing for Your Boat Search 

Alright! You’ve done your homework, joined the USCG Auxiliary, crewed under experienced captains for a few years, examined boat designs, learned a bit about engines, and now you feel ready to take the plunge.

By this point, you should have a feel for the kind of sailing that you want to do, where you want to sail, and the boat that suits this style, be it daysailer, racer, coastal cruiser, or blue water passage maker. Now you have to prepare for your boat search.

Boat Specs and Reviews

First, Google reviews of the boat(s) you’re favoring. This will provide some insight into known issues, model years that are preferable, etc. In Chapter V, I listed some reliable boat reviews for some great boats. Further your knowledge of the vessels in your sights by checking out their specifications on SailboatData.com – an excellent site with comprehensive information on 1000’s of boats.

DIY Boat Survey

Next, learn how to do a self-survey. Basically, you want to look at each component on a vessel to assess its condition. You’ll want to take plenty of pictures and make notes on your findings as you go.

In Chapter II, I mentioned the Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual by Don Casey. Don’s got some great info on self-survey. If you haven’t already picked up this book, now’s the time. You can refer to his step-by-step instructions to gauge the urgency, difficulty, and expense of any repairs needed for the boats that you’re considering.

These links will complement your self-survey regimen:

Also if the owner has had the boat surveyed, ask for a copy. In a perfect world every potential seller will have a recent survey in hand to streamline the sale, but even if the boat was surveyed 10 years ago, you can use that information to determine the level of care or neglect she’s been given. Did the owner properly address issues raised by the surveyor? Does the boat seem to be in better condition than when she was last surveyed?

Here are some great articles on boat buying:

Now you’ve got your checklists, camera, notepad, flashlight, and tools ready to self-survey. Let’s look at some ways to find well-loved used boats without the expense of going through a broker.

Begin the Hunt

As with most things, word of mouth is your best option. A captain you crew for… a USCG Auxiliarist… a fellow Yacht Club member… has a friend with a great boat for sale. The more of the boat’s history that you can verify, the better.

Boatyards and marinas can be a great source. They’ll often have a captain who’s been with them for many years and is reluctantly parting with a boat. You can bet the yard employees will know which skipper’s been taking care of his/her boat. Ask around.

SailboatListings.com is an excellent site – not only to find sailboats that are “for sale by owner”, but to compare the price and condition of other identical boat models to the one you’re considering.

Again, Craigslist.org is a fantastic resource and likewise for used sailboats. I found my boat on Craigslist!

Trusting Your Gut

Take your time, ask questions, do your homework, and TRUST YOUR GUT! If something about the boat or owner doesn’t feel right, pass and look elsewhere.

I had a guy tell me that an obviously bent mast was just lying that way on the rack because of gravity… It stayed bent when I rolled it over.

Another guy kept insisting his Cal 34′ was a ‘good solid boat’ even after I pointed out that it was infested with wasps nests and its “Beam Of Death” (see Cal Yachts in Chapter V) was indeed rusted through and… dead. Yikes.

Other unscrupulous boat sellers aren’t quite as obvious as these two knuckleheads, so LET THE BUYER BEWARE… If something about the boat or owner doesn’t feel right, PASS AND LOOK ELSEWHERE!

Use your self-survey to eliminate the losers. Now take a good hard look at your observations of those still under consideration. Odds are you’ve found some issues that will need repair. Check out those repairs in the Casey book and price out the needed materials from my Marine Supplies vendors. Does that boat still make sense? If not, they are 1000’s more boats out there. If so, read on…

The 2nd Opinion…

Once you’ve found a boat and she’s passed your self-survey, it’s time to arrange a survey and a sea trial with a qualified marine surveyor. You’ll want to arrange a short haul so your surveyor can assure there are no surprises below the waterline… Then you’ll do a sea trial to assure she floats, the engine runs reliably, she sails well, etc.

All this can be expensive, so be 99% sure this is the boat you want before arranging to hire a surveyor and have the boat hauled. It may be very tempting to proceed from your self-survey and forgo the expense of survey, short haul, and sea trial. Do not give in to this temptation. In addition to the risk of buying a money pit, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to insure the vessel without a current survey. Also, an impartial third party may be needed to slap you in the face if you’ve “fallen in love” and chosen to overlook serious problems.

Survey

You’ll want a qualified marine surveyor who is a sailboat specialist. To find one, as always, word of mouth is best. Yacht clubs, marinas, and boatyards will know a good one. Also, ask your insurer. (Don’t have one? I’ll have some suggestions later in this article…)

The National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) is the preeminent organization of Marine Surveyors. Their page offers a link to find surveyors in your area.

The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) is another well-respected association of marine surveyors. They offer this link to find surveyors in your area.

The American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) is the organization that maintains the standards for the marine industry. If a boat is up to ABYC standards, you’re in good shape. They also offer a link to find marine surveyors. Your surveyor should be a member of NAMS or SAMS and be ABYC compliant.

Sea Trial

In short, you want to make sure she floats, motors, sails as she should, and does not take on water (check the bilge before and after). Is she stable walking the decks? Does she move easily and turn well? Do the sails raise and lower easily? How does she tack?

Read through these articles on Sea Trial:

Decisions, Decisions…

A survey and sea trial may very well reveal problems that you hadn’t discovered. You now have solid evidence from which to negotiate your purchase price. Depending on the severity of the issue, you may wish to withdraw altogether. Use the information we’ve discussed to determine if the boat is worth repair and upgrades.

Remember also that you’re going to have to move the boat from her current home to your dock of choice. Do you feel comfortable making that passage? Maybe some safety issues should be addressed by the current owner? Weigh your options and proceed accordingly.

If you found a money pit, be glad that you paid the money for a survey and are not the new owner of a liability for years to come… If you’ve indeed found ‘the one’, congrats, but we’re not done yet… You have a lot more to consider beyond the initial purchase price. Read on.

Insurance

You need insurance. Liability is a minimum, but most marinas now also require hull insurance (like collision insurance on an auto). You’ve got your survey in hand, so you’re ready to talk with an agent. A good policy will provide peace of mind and make it easier to recover from the inevitable storm, snafu, or accident that damages your pride and joy.

TIP: If you have homeowners insurance, you can likely get a good deal by adding your boat coverage to your policy.

I know many captains who swear by BoatUS. BoatUS is a boaters’ advocacy group that offers insurance and a host of other services to members.

My surveyor recommended me to Larry Fox at The Boat Insurance Store. Larry put together an excellent policy with American Modern Insurance Group (AMIG).

AMIG saw me through Superstorm Sandy, a hit-and-run, and a flooding incident – all the while providing great service and fast reimbursement. They were calling every week borderline harassing me to finish sending in my receipts so they could process and pay the claim. I have never dealt with an insurance company like this. By the way, this is not a paid endorsement.

LAWRENCE FOX AGENCY
www.boatinsurancestore.com
(800) 553-7661

Tell Larry I sent you…

Towing Protection

Lastly, just like AAA for your car, you need on the water towing protection. Your insurance policy will provide a level of towing coverage, but for soft-groundings and engine problems you’ll want the security and convenience of unlimited towing coverage.

Sooner or later, the engine’s going to stop inexplicably, or you’ll beach on an uncharted sandbar. Towing on the water is ridiculously expensive. For example, the above-referenced flooding incident incapacitated my engine and electric bilge pump. I paid $800 to be towed less than an hour to the service center.

With TowBoatUS or Sea Tow coverage, you pay an annual flat fee (around $180). TowBoatUS’ “Unlimited Gold” or Sea Tow’s “Gold Card” gets you free towing to the repair facility of your choice. I definitely recommend the top-tier coverage. It isn’t that much more expensive than the regular coverage and the benefits far outweigh the extra price. They both have convenient, GPS-aware smartphone apps that make calling for help easy. There are some restrictions so be sure to read their fine print. For example, you must have a working bilge pump, so I could not use them for the flooding incident. (Luckily my insurer AMIG took care of the towing costs. Phew…)

TowBoatUS
Sea Tow

OK now you’ve bought a boat. Where are you going to keep her? See Chapter VIII...

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment. If you’d like to have future posts sent to your inbox and receive notice on product specials from the New York City Sailor SHOP, please subscribe – see the “Subscribe to Blog / Sales” link on this page.

There are many more helpful articles at the BLOG, and more to come…
While you’re here please check out the SHOP – thousands of discount marine products and counting!
Your business is appreciated and helps to keep this site running. Please tell your friends!

FYI: If you don’t see products you’re seeking please send email via the CONTACT page.
I’m adding new products all the time and can get just about anything you need.

Don’t forget to “Like” and Share the New York City Sailor FACEBOOK page – also on TWITTER and GOOGLE+.

Fair winds!

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Chapter VI. Don’t Know Jack about Diesel Engines? Here’s How to Fix That…

Diesel

Alright, you want to buy a sailboat? Great, now let’s talk diesel.

The engine is the boat’s most expensive piece of equipment, so you’ll want some diesel knowledge under your belt before searching for your boat.

Once you become a boat owner, you’ll need to find an experienced diesel mechanic. Every boatyard will know one, but obviously it’d be good to know how to do regular maintenance and fix some things yourself. Paying someone to do every little thing will quickly empty your bank account. Further, a foundation in diesel maintenance will also enable you to ask meaningful questions and understand your mechanic’s actions. I’ve had more than a few mechanics attempt unnecessary repairs to pad out their bill, and on other occasions I caught something the mechanic innocently missed.

The more familiar you become with diesel engines, the better off you’ll be, and not just financially. You’ll find this especially important if you’re far from any mechanic and the engine suddenly stops…

Here are a few resources to help you get acclimated:

The Diesel Bible

We discussed Nigel Calder’s Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual in Chapter II. Now take a look at one of his other books –  Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair. It’s the marine diesel bible. Buy it. Read it. Profit.

Service Manuals and Parts Catalogs

Next, and highly important, you’ll need the engine’s service manual and parts catalog to determine when regular maintenance is required and which replacement parts are right for your motor. Having the correct part number when you call your supplier will save time and avoid confusion.

Online Learning

Ontario’s Fanshawe School of Transportation Technology has a very educational YouTube channel. While not specifically geared toward marine engines you’ll find the principles taught are applicable to any diesel. Most of the YouTube videos I found on marine diesels were presented by amateurs. This is a really great resource as it’s taught by a professional instructor.

The American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) have some helpful diesel and electrical instructional videos on their website – FREE!!

Classes

After examining the above resources, you might think of taking a marine diesel class. Unfortunately, Mack Boring (Yanmar) recently discontinued their invaluable service classes. This means you’ll need to seek out options at your local community college or travel to the organizations below for specialized marine diesel workshops:

Annapolis School of Seamanship – Maryland
Landfall Navigation – Connecticut
Wooden Boat School – Maine

My Favorite Diesel Parts Supplier

Niemiec Marine in New Bedford, Massachusetts maintains a well-stocked warehouse and has always had the parts I needed for my diesel. They’re a friendly bunch and ship fast. Their excellent site MarineDieselParts.com makes it easy to find parts for your engine as well as fuel filters, pumps, etc . If you live in the NYC tri-state area I’ve found that you can typically expect your parts to arrive next day with regular ground shipping as long as your order before noon.

TIP: Assure that your motor mounts are tight. Diesels vibrate like crazy, and loose motor mounts will shake things loose and cause fuel lines to admit air. Yours truly replaced his entire fuel line, chasing inexplicable leaks until realizing the loose motor mounts were shaking all the new (and expensive) parts loose. I replaced everything from the secondary fuel filter back to the tank, and went so far as to pull the fuel tank, spending hundreds of dollars and countless man-hours replacing perfectly good parts – for no reason. Groan.

Alright, I hope that you found this informative. Next at NewYorkCitySailor.com, we’ll look at engine options for smaller sailboats and dinghies in Chapter VI-A. Outboards and The Solar Option.

 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment. If you’d like to have future posts sent to your inbox and receive notice on product specials from the New York City Sailor SHOP, please subscribe – see the “Subscribe to Blog / Sales” link on this page.

There are many more helpful articles at the BLOG, and more to come…
While you’re here please check out the SHOP – over 6,600 discount marine products and counting!
Your business is appreciated and helps to keep this site running. Please tell your friends!

FYI: If you don’t see products you’re seeking please send email via the CONTACT page.
I’m adding new products all the time and can get just about anything you need.

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Fair winds!

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Chapter V. 3 Boatbuilders Every Sailboat Buyer Should Consider

If you’re looking to live the dream aboard your own sailing vessel, you’ll find that there are thousands of boat manufacturers. We’re going to limit our scope to a few from the “Golden Age” of American boat building that I discussed in Chapter IV. I’ve chosen three with unimpeachable credentials.
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1. Pearson Yachts

Pearson_Yachts_Logo

Pearson Yachts basically started fiberglass boatbuilding. They introduced the venerable Pearson Triton 28′ in 1958 and sailors are still circumnavigating the globe in them. Cousins Clint and Everett Pearson began with a who’s who of superstar yacht designers like the Triton’s designer, Carl Alberg, along with John Alden, Philip Rhodes, and William Tripp. Pearson then turned the reins over to Sparkman and Stephens alumnus William Shaw. Shaw produced over fifty designs for Pearson, many highly successful.

Pearsons have a reputation as well-built, seaworthy boats. They were one of the most prolific builders of this era with the Pearson Ensign 22′ (1776 hulls built), the Pearson 30′ (1000+ hulls built), and the Pearson 35′ (515 hulls built). The aforementioned Triton sold an estimated 700 hulls. Pearson made many other models during this period which were less common, but worth a look. I’ve included reviews of some of their other models in the links section below.

While Pearson went out of business in 1990, Ensign Spars of Michigan are still building the popular Ensigns from Pearson’s original molds. You’ll find many Pearsons still on the water, (including the author’s 1969 Wanderer 30′) and there are many owners associations and online resources with tips on maintenance and upgrades.

The majority of Pearsons were built in Bristol, Rhode Island and there are still a number of firms there that stock or manufacture Pearson parts and accessories.

TIP: ~150-200 Pearson Tritons were manufactured on the West Coast by Aeromarine Plastics. Identifiable by their masthead rig and lacking the wooden trim found on fractional-rig East Coast Tritons, West Coast Tritons are rumored to have solid fiberglass decks with no balsa core and are highly sought after for their superior build quality.

Boat Reviews and Further Info

The Pearson Era from Good Old Boat magazine

Pearson Ensign 22′
Pearson Ensign Boat Review from Sailing magazine
Ensign Class – the go-to resource for all things Ensign
Ensign Spars – builders of new Ensigns but also a great source for parts

Pearson 26′ – Pearson 26′ Review from Sailing

Pearson Renegade 27′ – Pearson Renegade Review from Practical Sailor magazine

Pearson Triton 28′
Pearson Triton Review from Practical Sailor magazine
Bound for Distant Seas & The Next Distant Sea – James Baldwin’s fascinating and instructive accounts of his solo circumnavigations aboard his 1963 Triton
The Sailboat Atom – Baldwin’s website is a fantastic resource for Triton owners. The upgrades, refits, and improvements he’s made are inspiring.

Pearson 28′ – Pearson 28 Review from BoatUS magazine

Pearson 30′
Pearson 30 Review from BoatUS
Pearson 30 Review from Practical Sailor
Pearson 30 Review from Sailing magazine

Pearson 32′ – Pearson 32 Review from Practical Sailor

Pearson 323 – Pearson 323 Review from Soundings magazine

Pearson Vanguard 33′ – Pearson Vanguard Review from Practical Sailor

Pearson 38′ – Pearson 38′ Review from Cruising World magazine

Pearson 40′ – Pearson 40 Review from Sailing

2. Cal Yachts

CalYachts
Like Pearson, Cal Yachts were pioneers in fiberglass boatbuilding. Cal employed a sole designer – naval architect Bill Lapworth. His innovative designs would prove to be game-changers and his name became synonymous with the Cal brand.

Lapworth was incredibly prolific, producing 28 designs during the “Golden Age” alone. He was also known for demonstrating his designs in action, sailing his Cal 20′ across the Pacific from California to Hawaii.

Cal had incredible success and sold thousands of Lapworth designed boats, including the Cal 20′ (1945 hulls), the Cal 21′ (500 hulls), the Cal 25′ Pop-Top (1848 hulls), the Cal 2-27′ (656 hulls), and the Cal 29′ (624 hulls).

While Cal’s biggest sellers were in the 20-29′ range, Lapworth stunned the sailing world with his Cal 40′ (160 hulls). The ‘Giant Killer’ as it was called burst onto the scene in 1963 and catapulted Lapworth to international renown as Cal 40’s dominated the ocean races of the sixties and beyond.

Cals of many sizes continue to do well racing today. Like Pearson, Cal produced many other models during the “Golden Age” which deserve your consideration. While no longer in business, Cals are well supported with owners associations and many firms in California continue to supply parts.

TIP: Many Cal designs of this era employ a galvanized steel I-beam installed athwartships at the base of the mast and attached to the foot of the bulkhead. 
The Cal’s “Beam of Death” (Google it) is structurally crucial and must be sound. After years of use, rusty galvanized steel will wear out and eventually need replacement. This is a big job and the prospective Cal 29-40 owner would do well to find a boat that has already undergone mast beam replacement in stainless steel.

Boat Reviews and Further Info

Cal 20′ – Cal 20′ Review

Cal 21′ – Cal 21′ Review

Cal 25′ Pop-Top – Cal 25 Review

Cal 2-27′ – Cal 2-27′ Review from Practical Sailor

Cal 29′ – Cal 29′ Review

Cal 31′ – Cal 31 Review from Practical Sailor

Cal 34′- Cal 34′ Review from Practical Sailor

Cal 35′ Mk II – Cal 35′ Mk II Review from Practical Sailor

Cal 39′ – Cal 39′ Review from Sailing

Cal 40′
Cal 40 Review from Practical Sailor
Cal 40 Review from Sailing

Cal 46′ – Cal 46′ Review from Practical Sailor

3. Tartan

Tartan

Ohio’s Tartan Yachts began their reputation for building quality sailing yachts in 1961. During their first ten years, Tartan enjoyed great success by focusing on only four designs, three of which became some of the most successful boats of the “Golden Age”: the Tartan 27′ (712 hulls built), the Tartan 30′ (606 hulls built), and the Tartan 34′ (525 hulls built).

With the exception of the Ted Hood designed Black Watch/Tartan 37′, all of Tartan’s “Golden Age” boats were drawn up by the pedigreed firm of Sparkman and Stephens.

Unlike Pearson and Cal, Tartan is still in business today. They are renowned for their support to owners of their classics and still sell replacement parts for these well-loved boats. Tartan owners also enjoy a large community of owner associations.

Boat Reviews and Further Info

Tartan Yachts Home Page
Tartan Owners’ Association

Tartan 27′
Tartan 27′ Review from Practical Sailor
Upgrading the Tartan 27 from Practical Sailor

Tartan 30′
Tartan 30′ Review from Sailing magazine

Tartan 34′
Tartan 34′ Review from Sailing
Tartan 34 Review from Practical Sailor

Tartan 3500 – Tartan 3500 Review from BoatUS

Tartan 37′
Tartan 37 Review from BoatUS
Tartan 37 Review from Cruising World
Timeless Tartan 37′ from Practical Sailor

Conclusion

The prospective boat owner could do no wrong by limiting their search to Pearsons, Cals, and Tartans of this era. The vast numbers of quality boats that were produced ensure robust documentation and parts support.

In addition to these builders there were a number of others that produced well-founded vessels during the “Golden Age”; among them Pearson-offshoot Bristol, Columbia, C&C, Ericson, Islander, Cal-offshoot Ranger, and Sabre Yachts. Take a look at these links for more great boats that might be “the one”.
Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere
Twenty Affordable Sailboats to Take You Anywhere

One can also learn a great deal by examining the visionary designers of this era. A great place to start is with the “Bills” – Bill Lapworth, Bill Shaw, Bill Tripp, & Bill Crealock. As discussed, designs by Carl Alberg, John Alden, Ted Hood, Philip Rhodes, and Sparkman & Stephens are highly regarded. Learn from the masters…

In the next section at NewYorkCitySailor.com, we’ll look at the most expensive component of a sailboat – the engine… Chapter VI. Diesel Engines is next.

 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment. If you’d like to have future posts sent to your inbox and receive notice on product specials from the New York City Sailor SHOP, please subscribe – see the “Subscribe to Blog / Sales” link on this page.

There are many more helpful articles at the BLOG, and more to come…
While you’re here please check out the SHOP – over 6,600 discount marine products and counting!
Your business is appreciated and helps to keep this site running. Please tell your friends!

FYI: If you don’t see products you’re seeking please send email via the CONTACT page.
I’m adding new products all the time and can get just about anything you need.

Don’t forget to “Like” and Share the New York City Sailor FACEBOOK page – also on TWITTER and GOOGLE+.

Fair winds!

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Chapter IV. 5 Things to Remember When Looking for Your First Sailboat

There are a lot of factors to consider when looking at a boat. I’ll go into greater detail in a future chapter, but here we look at some of the most important things to bear in mind during your search.

1. You Want a Solid Fiberglass Hull – aka “The Classic Plastics”

It’s said that wooden boats will die on their own, but fiberglass boats must be assassinated. Quality fiberglass is pound-for-pound stronger than steel, doesn’t rust, rot, or otherwise succumb to the elements, and is easily repaired. You can’t say those things about wood or steel.

Fiberglass boatbuilding had just begun in the late 1950’s, and it’s remained the dominant material chosen by designers since then. Wood boats are pretty, but high maintenance. There are steel and aluminum boats out there too, but they also require special care or corrosion will take over. Some boats have been built from cement. Nobody is making cement boats anymore. That can’t be good.

The years ~1960-1975 were a “Golden Age” for American sailboats. Fiberglass boatbuilding was still in its infancy, so many boats were overbuilt as manufacturers weren’t entirely sure on strength. Further, oil was cheap before the 1973-74 OPEC embargo made petroleum prices skyrocket, so manufacturers were content to build heavily and use plenty of resin. This resulted in some extremely durable boats, many of whom are still sailing today. Because of this, the prospective buyer can choose from thousands of worthy vessels.

Of course, age does play a factor. Although these fiberglass hulls may last another hundred years, other parts will have served their useful lives and need replacement. The key is to find boats that have been cared for and already had worn parts replaced, then to have the wherewithal to continue stewardship of these fine vessels until you’re ready to sell and pass the torch forward.

The boats we’ll discuss will have solid fiberglass hulls. They’ll also typically have fiberglass decks cored with balsa wood (sometimes marine plywood) – meaning two layers of fiberglass sandwiching a layer of wood. This was done to keep the decks light, but strong. However, if water intrudes into the decks and rots the wood, you’ll lose all strength and be in for an expensive, PITA deck repair. You want to bounce around the boat and feel SOLID decks under your feet.

Some more modern boats save weight using cored hulls, with the same wood sandwich arrangement as in decks. Many experienced sailors tell me that cored hulls are fine. But for me… Nope, just… Nope.

Likewise, beware wooden rudders and look for fiberglass. The same goes for iron centerboards. You want fiberglass.

2. You Want a Reliable Diesel Engine

The majority of boats from this period came with “Atomic 4” gasoline engines. While many of these engines have proven reliable over the years, you’ll want to find a boat that has been repowered with a diesel.

Why?

First, gas fumes can settle in the bilge and explode. Second, diesels are more efficient and will go further per gallon than gas. Third, a 40-50 year-old engine (gas or diesel) will provide you with headaches, so a boat of this age with the original engine is a pass.

Yanmar, Volvo, Beta Marine, Perkins, and Westerbeke/Universal all make quality diesel engines for sailboats. The info in these articles will concentrate on Yanmar since I am most familiar with them and they’ve proven the most popular choice for repowering sailboats. I’ll have more on diesel engines for you in a later article.

3.You Want an Encapsulated Lead Keel

Some boats have iron keels bolted on. You’ll have less to worry about with an encapsulated lead keel. First, you don’t have to worry about keel bolts wearing away, a condition that if left unchecked could prove catastrophic – i.e. the keel falls off and the boat capsizes. Second, lead is softer and will absorb shock better in a grounding. Third, lead is non-magnetic and won’t screw with your compass like iron. Fourth, lead doesn’t rust.

4. Buy the Boat You Want, Not the Boat That Could Someday Be What You Want

This is really important. You may be very tempted to “save money” and buy the boat that needs a lot of work, but this will probably prove costlier in the long-run. If you think you’ll save money by installing a new diesel engine in the otherwise beautiful boat with the old Atomic 4, you’re likely in for a surprise. Likewise the boat with the soft decks but “nice price”, or the dismasted boat deal that seems to be a bargain, etc. You may be searching scrapyards for a long time before finding a suitable used mast, and buying and installing a new mast (or a new diesel engine) will likely cost as much as or more than a decent used sailboat.

To give you an example, when I had my boat surveyed just before purchase, there happened to be an identical boat for sale in the yard. The owner wanted $5K more than the previous owner of my boat – which at the time I thought was out of my price range, BUT – he had already done the things that my boat needed. I went on to spend about 3-4 times that $5K to get my boat into the shape that his was already. Further, had I negotiated with him I may have gotten that $5K difference down to $3-4K or even less.

Learn from my example. Before you buy, get an idea of what repairs and upgrades will cost and buy the boat you want, not the boat that could SOMEDAY be what you want. Be prepared to spend a little more up front to save in the long run. Used parts already on the boat are always less expensive than buying new. Plus, they’re already installed…

5. Take Your Time

Do NOT fall in love and buy the first boat you see. Or the second. Or the third…

There were tens of thousands of quality boats made during the “Golden Age”. Take your time and check out a bunch of them. Keep looking for the one that has been well-loved and best suits your needs. You’ll find her. I looked at boats from Annapolis to Newport before I found “The One”. Read on. I’ve compiled a shortlist to help narrow your search in Chapter V at NewYorkCitySailor.com – 3 Boatbuilders Every Prospective Sailboat Buyer Should Consider.

 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment. If you’d like to have future posts sent to your inbox and receive notice on product specials from the New York City Sailor SHOP, please subscribe – see the “Subscribe to Blog / Sales” link on this page.

There are many more helpful articles at the BLOG, and more to come…
While you’re here please check out the SHOP – over 6,600 discount marine products and counting!
Your business is appreciated and helps to keep this site running. Please tell your friends!

FYI: If you don’t see products you’re seeking please send email via the CONTACT page.
I’m adding new products all the time and can get just about anything you need.

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Fair winds!

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Chapter III. Think You’re Ready to Own a Sailboat? CREW FIRST!

Crewing on Sailboats – The Best Way to Learn

My best advice to those thinking of purchasing a sailboat – start crewing on sailboats with knowledgeable captains. I don’t just mean to go sailing on pleasant days but to be there when needed to help with boat work and maintenance in the off-season.

Volunteering to help an experienced captain with boat work will help give you the skills you’ll need to maintain your own vessel. Plus, someone who’s been sailing the waterways for years will be able to provide you with local knowledge – hints, shortcuts, uncharted attractions/hazards, etc. that you’ll never find in a book or on a website. Even now after many years as a boat owner I still volunteer to crew for other captains and help them out in the boatyard. You will never, ever know everything there is to know about sailing and boats. Shared knowledge and camaraderie are an essential part of every sailor’s experience.

The lessons you learn working on someone else’s boat are invaluable. If you’re really serious about buying a boat you should be GLUED to a captain who can teach you what they know about sailing and boat maintenance. Put in the work and then assess what it would be like for you to be responsible for all upkeep. You may just decide to crew for a while longer…

 4 Ways to Assure You’ll Be “Good Crew” on a Sailboat and Invited Back Again and Again…
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This guy gets it.

 

“Good Crew”

It’s said that good crew is the envy of every captain. But what is meant by “good crew”? What can you do to assure you’ll be welcome when aboard?

First, respect the fact that the captain bears the burden of responsibility for all boat expenses as well as all liability for the safety of those aboard. S/He is doing you a great courtesy by having you. There are tons of charter boats around the city that charge for this privilege. Likewise, there are many sailing schools that require payment for the benefit of their instruction. So show your appreciation with liberal amounts of respect.

I’ve actually had crew show up empty handed for a weekend-long sail and then tell me they’ve no money to pitch in for provisions. This scumbag expected me to provide all food and beverages, along with all fuel expenses, and clean up after him. Needless to say, he was never invited back.

Whenever I crew, I always bring plenty of food and beverages to share with the captain and other crewmembers. Follow that example.

Second, be there on time. The old nautical saying “Time and tide wait for no man” illustrates the heightened importance of being punctual on a sailboat. The tide comes in and out twice a day and your captain will likely have planned departure times to coincide with the tidal currents.

Properly timing the tides can drastically shorten a voyage. Conversely, fighting against the motion of the tides can turn a short sail into an all-day affair. You may arrive to find an empty dock if you fail to show up on time. Worse, you may find a highly displeased captain who decided against better judgment to wait for you.

Third, make it unquestionable that you are there to help. Step up and ask what needs to be done. Look around the boat and offer to address anything you see that needs doing.

Fourth, listen carefully to the instructions your captain gives you, ask questions if you’re unclear on what is expected, and verbally confirm that you understand the instructions given.

There’s a reason why sailors say “aye-aye” when receiving instructions. It’s to assure all parties that they agree on what needs to be done and who is to do it. Likewise, when initiating communication with your captain, assure you get a response. The wind or engine may drown out your voice, so repeat until you get clarity. This way of communicating prevents expensive, possibly life-threatening mistakes.
Request -> Acknowledge, Request -> Acknowledge, Request -> Acknowledge…

Check out these two great articles on boat etiquette:

How to Find a Sailboat Captain to ‘Teach You the Ropes’

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“O Captain my Captain”

I’ve stressed the value of volunteering to crew for an experienced captain, but how do you find one?

You’ll certainly meet many in the USCG Auxiliary and they will likely know friends who need crew. You can also ask your sailing instructor or consider joining a yacht club.

Yacht Clubs

There are many Yacht Clubs around the city that you can join as an Associate Member. This type of membership is reserved for non-boat owners who would like to sail on the club’s boat fleet. Less experienced sailors will typically be assigned to crew fleet boats and those more experienced will captain the vessels. These memberships are a great way to join the sailing community.

Here are a few clubs I’ve known to be both reputable and reasonable:

Find Crewing Opportunities Online

Craigslist has proven a fantastic tool for finding good boat crew.  I’ve posted in Community / Activities and gotten good results, once I weeded out the weirdos.

FloatPlan specializes in pairing captains with crew. I found a captain there and sailed all over Maine in his catamaran – a great voyage! FloatPlan has lots of opportunities here and abroad, once you weed out the weirdos.

As you become more involved in the sailing community, you’ll find there’s high demand for good crew. You’ll also find there’s a lot of weirdos online. But that’s everywhere… 😉

Once you’ve crewed and put in your time helping out at the boatyard, ask yourself if you’re ready for your own boat. If so, read on.

In Chapter IV at NewYorkCitySailor.com, I’ll discuss 5 Things to Remember When Looking for Your First Sailboat.

 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment. If you’d like to have future posts sent to your inbox and receive notice on product specials from the New York City Sailor SHOP, please subscribe – see the “Subscribe to Blog / Sales” link on this page.

There are many more helpful articles at the BLOG, and more to come…
While you’re here please check out the SHOP – over 6,600 discount marine products and counting!
Your business is appreciated and helps to keep this site running. Please tell your friends!

FYI: If you don’t see products you’re seeking please send an email via the CONTACT page.
I’m adding new products all the time and can get just about anything you need.

Don’t forget to “Like” and Share the New York City Sailor FACEBOOK page – also on TWITTER and GOOGLE+.

Fair winds!