By John Bartlett - Fort Pierce, Florida - USA

Buy, Don't Build
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Heres a tip for readers. Buy, don't build a boat. I've got the building bug. Sawdust in the blood. Lungs too probably. That said I've now got a better idea. I've built about 20 boats and its time to admit that I always underestimate the time and cost of building them. Things like disposable brushes, sandpaper, fittings and
trailers, etc. 

The author at the Kingston, Ontario messabout in 2003

Just looking at the Duckworks classifieds gives you a much truer cost of those boats you are planning. The builders who are selling want what they now know is invested. Most of the time they are not going to get it. Dont think you can build that boat for less. However, you can often buy a better boat for far less than building yourself if you know where to look.

A fiberglass Sparkman and Stephens designed Lightning

The trick is to look for the websites of old established one design classes. These boats can be 30 years old but are fiberglass, pedigreed, have trailers, the best fittings and real sails. There are thousands out there with class associations, tuning tips, availiaqble spares. Two or three examples I could not pass up. A fiberglass Sparkman and Stephens designed Lightning of which almost 20,000 have been built. This is a great day sailer/beach cruiser. Mine is maybe 30 years old but was dry sailed, nice North sails including spinnaker, enough Harken hardware to stock a store, even a stainless steel centerboard, a galvaqnised trailer never in
the water. The boat was lifted from the trailer to the water at the yacht club. I paid $400. A good deal but I was on the Lightning site the other day and someone has a wood boat for free. A new boat is over $20,000 but there were several good ones for $1,000. Not to mention lots of low cost spares.

I also picked up an 18 foot Y-flyer

That was not a fluke. I also picked up an 18 foot Y-flyer, fiberglass etc on a trailer, ready to launch from the class web site for $500. The thing that struck me here was the beautiful gold anodised tapered Proctor mast with internal shroud tangs that came with it. In 1968, yes 40 years ago, I bought an identical but shorter mast for the FIREBALL dinghy I had just built. I paid twice for that mast 40 years ago what I just paid for the whole Y-flyer, trailer and two sets of sails! There are several boats on the Y site. Some fully equipped wood ones for a couple of hundred bucks.

Ian Proctor's Kestrel

I also have a beautiful Ian Proctor designed Kestrel, a better boat in my
opinion than the Wayfarer or Albacore. Fiberglass, on trailer, beautiful rudder and sails $500. That one I would like to sell but nobody seems interested for $1,000. I can't store any more of the boats I can buy cheap. I found a $100 Laser on a trailer with mast and rig last winter. I towed it home. It needed a little work, not much. Stupidly I'm still building boats but if you want to get sailing quickly and easily get one of these old classics. There are thousands. You can watch their brothers and sisters sailing in You tube videos and the class associations want to get these boats they love sailing again.

Its always bothered me how the large centerboard fleets of the 60's have disapeared. The boats are still there. On my Canadian lake there is an upside down Albacore and or Laser at every cottage that never goes in the water. Can't get a race with anybody. No boats out. We're all at home building new ones. Lets recycle some of these classics.

Sorry for the bad typing guys but hopefully this will help some readers get sailing and save money.

John Bartlett

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