2017 plans

I finished work on Friday, with an expected return of mid-September.  I have a few local obligations over the summer, but am planning to get underway this week and spend most of the next 3 months underway and aboard.

Boat is in Port Bruce Ontario, on the North shore of Lake Erie about mid-lake.

Current plan is to head east, go though the Welland Canal to Lake Ontario, and make my way liesurely to Kingston.  Then up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa.  Beyond that I’m flexible.  Probably down the Ottawa River to Montreal.  Would like to visit the Chambly Canal and maybe areas downstream of Montreal. 

I’m quite happy and comfortable traveling by myself, but hope that friends and family can join for some segments of the trip.  I’m going to try to document my plans here as they unfold to help with coordinating those visits.

Why a power boat.  Aren’t you a sailor?

Yes, sailing used to be a big passion of mine.  But really I just like boats.  In addition to Mazurka I have a Laser dinghy, a couple of canoes and a small fast inflatable.

As with many things, it comes down to the use case.  I’ve lived in London, Ontario for 24 years, and there isn’t much boating close by that interests me.  I took a pretty much complete break for 15 years – busy with family, career, homes etc.  I traveled a lot to race Lasers in Masters events for a few years, which is a ton of fun.  

I’ve had a long-standing interest in seeing North America from the water.  More specifically from the inland waters.  I was hooked the first time I went down through Virginia and North Carolina on the intracoastal waterway (ICW).  There are thousands of miles of navigable waterways, and my goal is to travel them all.  I’m not a fan of open water. 

Given that, a power boat is the right choice.  Not just any powerboat, but one that is easy on fuel and reasonably self-sufficient.  I’ll try to go into more details on my selection criteria and the purchase process, but that’s the short answer.

FAQ – Cost

Q:  Wow.  That’s a yacht!  You must be rich…
A:  Really I’m not.  Well, I am.  But I’m not any richer than you.  We’re both rich!

That often leads to things like a comparison of other lifestyle attributes.  I’m happy to talk endlessly about my daily driver car – a 2005 Prius – that I’ve driven 100,000 km in the last 24 months at a ridiculously low Total Cost of Ownership.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that most people I know spend what seem to me to be exorbitant sums on things that I don’t got and don’t miss.  I view having this boat as a privilege, but its not as big a deal as it seems.

I bought this boat with a notional budget of $5,000 per year for all operating expenses – fuel, insurance, maintenance, winter storage, docking and lock fees.  That’s not very much in the boating world, and if you put it in terms of a car ownership cost, I could be driving a new car instead of my 12 year old hybrid.  Nobody would think I was rich if they saw me driving a 2017 Accord 🙂

Q: Ah, but how much does it cost to buy?

I paid us$24,000 for the boat, about $37k landed in Canada.  I had a top budget of $50k.  I had an inheritance of about $60k and wanted to fund a couple of years of cruising from that money, as this is Jeff’s boat rather than a family boat.  Again, I am fortunate.  

So I go to boat shows and I see boats that are essentially a modern version of my boat, and the prices are in the mid-high six digits.  That to me is for the rich folk.  This boat is the floating equivalent of my old Prius – functional, efficient, and relatively affordable.  I like that.

I should also say that I am an obsessive DIY boater, and that I spent 15 years of my young life working on and around yachts, including a successful 4 year stint as a broker.  So I came into this with a background and skill set that I felt comfortable with in terms of identifying the right boat for my needs and budget, buying the best boat I could find at the best price, and maintaining the boat myself.  I’m also completely comfortable selling stuff, and am confident that I can sell the boat when I am done with it, and that there is a good chance that I can recoup a significant portion of the purchase price.

Whew.  So bottom line is that it probably doesn’t represent as big a financial burden as you thought.

I’ll talk about money lots here.  It matters to me, and maybe will help others who are contemplating doing something similar.

Q: what about fuel costs?

I did keep a detailed spreadsheet last year.  Don’t have it handy, but I did do some detailed fuel consumption analysis.  I wanted a boat that I could travel on without worrying about fuel costs.  And I’m a greeny sailor.  In 2016 I traveled about 3500 km over three months and used about 2300 l of fuel.  That’s more than I’d like, and I hope I can reduce my per km consumption this year.