From the Boatshop
by Ron Magen

"It Costs WHAT !!??!!"

A few years ago the sailing press was running stories about craftsmanship and professional builders & repair yards. At the beginning of this year there were a few interesting articles; their order in the same magazine added to the irony.

On one, the 'Editor's Log' column was addressed - "Dear Boatbuilders".  It was an introduction to the "Boat of the Year Awards" article. It went on to say, "The average size & price for a brand-new {year 2001} cruising {sail} boat was, gulp, 43 feet and $370,000.oo" The comments were to point out to the production builders that they were pricing themselves well beyond the 'average sailors' wallet.

A few pages on {page 9 to be exact} there was a two-page double color spread article titled, "Leader of the Pack". It was extolling the 50th anniversary of a company's 'signature product' which included cruising & racing on Narragansett Bay. 50 years of production and going strong - the 13 foot, 10 inch SUNFISH !! [ " . . . a boat that at one time could have been bought with S&H Green Stamps !"]

In another periodical the article was titled "The Pocket Set". It was a review of - "Gunkholers, Daysailers, small 'Tow-Behinds' . . .". The size varied between 22 to 25 feet; " the popular range" 

Boat  Dry Weight  Cost 'Optimum Wind Range'
Catalina 250 3,250 lbs. $19, 200 8 - 18 knots
F-24 {catamaran} 2,000 50, 000 10 - 24 +
Hunter 240 3,600 17, 200 7 - 15
Marshall 22{cat rig} 5,660 54, 000 5 - 18
Precision 23 2,450 20, 240 less than 15
  To be sure they all have their points and the 'Traditional' Marshall cat boat with it's inboard diesel and nearly 6,000 pound dry weight is a real beauty. It's also something you pay for at $54,000.oo per!! Handsome, but not exactly something for a spur of the moment hook-up and go.

A sidebar at the end had a list of various manufacturers, and at the bottom was the West Wight Potter 19. The original design for this boat was for plywood construction. The P19 is actually an enlargement of the original boat - the P15 which is still being manufactured. [note to Potter owners - yes, I know the original boats were actually 14 and 18 feet, respectively] In fact more than one of these 15 foot 'Micro-Cruisers' has sailed to Hawaii and along the coast of Mexico. In addition, revelations of owners, both skilled and total novices, indicate this diminutive boat has gone out when some boats twice her size go home. Not bad when a nice looking used one can be gotten for $1,500 to $4,000 - motor & trailer included!

A long voyage might not be the choice for everyone, but that local lake or river is certainly available. Some are not so 'local' either - at approximately 400 pounds the P-15 can be easily towed and maneuvered by almost any vehicle.

For those who would rather 'Build than Buy' there are several plans available for small 'cruisers'. Some examples are:  Phil Bolger's ' 15-foot 'Bobcat' catboat is a 'designed for plywood' version of the famous "Beetle Cat". Relatively simple and straightforward, with delightful lines and a Gaff Rig. For the more skilled and ambitious there are the Hartley designs which go from 12 to 28 feet, with various keel & rig versions. For the more 'monetarily endowed' there is Sam Devlin's 'Nancy's China'. Supposedly named because she cost as much as Nancy Regan's tableware. If she's built and finished like Sam instructs, she will rival the Marshall cat in the looks department.

coverDon't believe me - get the book 'Devlin's Boat Building' and look at the cover. Get the book anyway - it's great bed time reading.



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