“I bought another boat.” Judging by the quick smiles, chuckles and sly comments received from friends and family after uttering those words, it’s possible the regularity of my boat acquisitions is a source of amusement. Or maybe the sad condition of my finds is the greater source of mirth?
Over the years there has only been one purchase that was water ready, a beautiful little Shellback sailing dinghy built at the local boat school. Normally though I am drawn to broken, run down “projects” that need my help to become whole; the start of all healthy relationships, right?
Most recently I owned five boats, and yes, only one of them was usable. I have whittled that down to just three, but I have plans for two more. Go ahead, chortle away. I will have you know I am in good company. John Welsford, the esteemed small boat designer, recently suggested that you should have one usable boat, and one for sale to buy materials for the one you are building. Rinse and repeat.
15′ CLC Skerry Sailing/Rowing Dinghy
This is a superb little dinghy, one of the early designs by John Harris at Chesapeake Light Craft, and still popular. It sails well, rows well, has attractive lines, and only weighs around 100 pounds, without all my junk in it, so two people can pick it up on a beach. I bought this used and refurbished it, building a new rig and rudder, and a number of other modifications. It has taken me on a good number of fun little adventures. I bought it for a specific reason, which changed, and even though it does not really fit my needs perfectly now I am loath to sell it, which shows how much I like it.
Herreshoff 17′ Rowboat – Sold
I headed over to my friend Steve’s house, thinking I might be buying his skin on frame 17′ Herreshoff rowboat, but there was a little confusion, that boat was gone, and I ended up bringing this home. You know, I needed the trailer it was on to sell another boat, and the price was great. It’s a wonderful boat, from a legendary designer, improved by John Gardner, another giant, and it is well built. I thought I might refurbish it, and use it a bit, but have decided to sell it instead. Too many projects. Really what I want is a lighter weight rowing boat that I can lift easily myself.
25′ Rosborough 246 – Sold
These are hard to find on the west coast, but I found one in California at a good price. After flying down for an inspection and test drive I had it towed up to Washington. This boat was chosen specifically to cruise with my wife and dog up to Alaska and back, taking a few months on each trip. And for that purpose this really is a superb pocket yacht. The Rosborough is a unique and seaworthy boat, with a semi-displacement hull based on a lobster boat. But the plans have changed and we will not be making those long trips together (no, my wife has not left me). And for solo trips this boat is too big for my tastes. So it will be refurbished and sold, and I will instead use the Lavro Dory below.
21′ Lavro Sea Dory
Right before driving off to see this boat, I said to my wife “I am not going to buy another project. If it is not usable, I will not buy it”. I gave it my best shot, honestly. Well, it is going to be a big project, but at least I got a great price on it. It is a unique and rare little power dory, with a very well made hull. I am going to build a new cabin with an inside helm, and put a newer four stroke motor in her. This will replace the Rosborough for solo long distance cruising up the Inside Passage, and my wife can join me for shorter overnight trips closer to home. It is sort of like a fiberglass Bartender Skiff. More about that in the details below.
11′ 6″ Charlotte Canoe – Sold
Yes, even when I don’t need a boat, I still browse Craigslist most days. This beautiful little plywood glued lapstrake canoe popped up in Port Townsend, at a ridiculously low price. It was on top of the truck coming home within an hour. It is a very light boat at about 30 lbs; an easy car-topper for a quick outing. I am not positive, but I believe the design is a Charlotte double paddle canoe by Tom Hill, of the Ultralight Boatbuilding book fame. It has an extra brace fore and aft, which makes some sense given how flexible this boat is. I bought it to try it out for fun. It will be refurbished and likely sold. Although it might be used as a shore boat for the Lavro at times.