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Thread: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

  1. #1
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    Default The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    My lovely 30’ mahogany yacht is just finishing up in the remaining local yard which no longer wants people to work (begrudging allows it) on their boats anymore. I learned first hand how things have changed in the last 2 years here. Mine is blamed on stricter boat yard environment impacts. The packaged bottom job I chose so I could just get in on time was at 59 dollars a foot not including materials and paint (ran far above an estimate.) I was fined 150 dollars for long boarding the hull in prep to paint it after I had rented and used the yard vacuum sander all day due to environmental impact. It is highly discouraged to cut anything in the yard. There is no longer any water which to use clean or wash the boat let alone oneself after working. Bathrooms are locked and secured nearly all the time. (This may be due to the homeless population which live close by). Much of the pleasure and do it yourself is gone as it becomes even harder to pull it off without losing a shirt. It is these very facts that fiberglass boats with gel coats are the only alternative to many boat economically minded owners who want to keep their boats and “do” their own limited work.

    in all truthfulness and economics, most wooden boats are worth less than the cost of a yard doing a bottom job. To spend more than 4,000 dollars on a boat worth 4,000 dollars to be worth 4000 after is, well you know... Do it yourself yards in my area are done. Wooden yachts have begun to pass on to the very wealthy who are willing to pay the $5,000 plus rates for simplest of work for boats like mine. The joy of a wooden boat can not be measured by economics but by use, touch and sound which is are it’s truest pleasures. This is some of the greatest trade offs which is causes us to take note.

    6503EBCE-ADEB-496A-8609-58C068EF964C.jpg
    Last edited by Ted Hoppe; 07-08-2019 at 08:54 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    Do owners of fg boats in the yard have more DIY work access than you?

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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    Do owners of fg boats in the yard have more leeway than you?
    Yes, because seldomly do they need to cut, drill, repair or replace a plank like we do with tending our wooden mistresses. Blisters, throughhulls replacement and repacking drive shafts require less visible open work. It is in this open work that causes longer days, more days and more scrutiny from the yard and concerned public determined to eliminate the boat yards from polluting.

    In most Bay Area yards, they have a wooden boat specialist who is engaged in overseeing all wooden boat work. Rarely is wooden boat work is allowed without a consult and a service fee. To bring in an outside specialist to work in the yard requires a special costly $1,000,000 insurance policy payable to the yard if something goes south.
    Last edited by Ted Hoppe; 07-08-2019 at 10:47 AM.
    A large nose is the mark of a witty, courteous, affable, generous and liberal man. My feature suggests an excellent side kick of good index.

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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    I have sympathy for you AND the yard.

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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    I have sympathy for you AND the yard.
    It is spread sympathy for us all as we step into the future. This is the new normal.
    A large nose is the mark of a witty, courteous, affable, generous and liberal man. My feature suggests an excellent side kick of good index.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    I don't think it's all sunshine and roses in fiberglass land either, there's been several manufacturers shooed off waterfronts by encroaching condos.... and because of that even if your yard is sheltered from the direct ire of the people who wanted a marina view as long as marina remains appropriately picturesque and doesn't do any of that actual day to day marina stuff, the taxes are getting huge. All the yards that did stuff at prices the working boats found fair are pretty much gone, leaving no competition. I don't have any inclination myself to own a boat that I can't ramp launch and recover, since alternative of needing a berth and yard for the winter seem like putting your boat in a hostage situation, whether it's it's wood or frozen snot.

    Anyway, at least when the last yards go out of business, the cities seize the property for unpaid taxes and the waterfront is a wasteland, the homeless people will get a few years of shelter in the abandoned boats and it will really piss off the condo owners, so you can content yourself with that thought.
    2019: returning from being sidelined with medical probs, crossing fingers worst is over, still in "armchair enthusiast" mode for time being.

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    I think the economics apply to small boats and old boats, regardless of their construction material.

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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    We have similar issues here in NY, there may be options. Here the restrictions are related to businesses close to the water. The yard I use has another facility located about a mile inland where DIY is permitted. Of course, it costs to move the boat there. You can also work on your own boat on your own property, but still need transport, and may run afoul of zoning or cranky neighbors.
    Take a deep breath and go sailing, you'll feel better. Then make a plan for the future.

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    With the cost of waterfront land in a lot of places there must be a business model which involves a travelift, one of those clever hydraulic adjustable heavy boat haulers, and a workyard/shed inland.

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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    With the cost of waterfront land in a lot of places there must be a business model which involves a travelift, one of those clever hydraulic adjustable heavy boat haulers, and a workyard/shed inland.

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    My brother winters his boat in just such a situation. It's in Maine.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    Numerous hydraulic trailer businesses here in Maine do a lot of that work with 'travel-lifted' yards and launch ramps, moving boats seasonally to owner's yards and rented spaces indoors and out inland. The small boatyard I worked at some years ago does that for the bulk of their business now: a hauling and storage service.

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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    That model (hydraulic trailer to less costly acreage inland) is becoming more common here as well.

    Last year I noticed that one local yard seemed to have gone all-sailboats. The truth of it was that everything that could fit under the power lines had been trucked to the new "facility" five miles inland.
    No adversary is worse than bad advice.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    With the cost of waterfront land absolutely through the roof, more & more shops are off the water & using trailers. One problem is that it is definitely tougher on the boat getting bounced down the highway & some haulers seemingly have little concern. I rode a Hinckley Bermuda 40 to fend off branches on a private road & the driver was going so fast the boat was oilcanning. Having that happen to a Hinckley is no mean feat.

    I'm lucky to have a fantastic hauler (my boat takes a triple axle trailer) - but unfortunately for others, he's not taking on any new customers. He ramp launched a 70 ft. schooner in York a few years ago - now that was a sight! The boat traveled about 8 miles from the shop to the ramp.

    Another piece is that a hydraulic trailer to haul a 40 ft. boat is not cheap. One to haul a 50 footer is even worse - somewhere in the 350K range for a triple axle trailer + the cost of the tractor to haul it. Then there are tires - roughly a thousand each - so new tires on a triple axle means 12K - and that's not counting tires for the tractor. Dipping a steel trailer into salt water several times a day does not help its longevity.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  14. #14
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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    Dipping a steel trailer into salt water several times a day does not help its longevity.
    Truth! The shop i was at had a pretty beat-up trailer and the hydraulics often gave trouble. One day the yard manager was working on the hose fittings. The wrench slipped and swearing a blue streak he flung it against the paintshop door wherein it lodged itself firmly. Us guys on the crew looked at each other in some concern. Our painter opened the door from the other side, looked at the wrench stuck there... and went home for the day. All for the best since both of those guys had bad tempers.

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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    Truth! The shop i was at had a pretty beat-up trailer and the hydraulics often gave trouble. One day the yard manager was working on the hose fittings. The wrench slipped and swearing a blue streak he flung it against the paintshop door wherein it lodged itself firmly. Us guys on the crew looked at each other in some concern. Our painter opened the door from the other side, looked at the wrench stuck there... and went home for the day. All for the best since both of those guys had bad tempers.
    Ha! In my former life as a mechanic I worked with a guy who had a real temper. One day he got pissed & threw a 1/2" ratchet. Problem was, it nicked my ear as it went by. No damage, but if it'd been an inch closer, I would've been in the hospital. My first reaction was to get PO'd myself, but then I realized that would do nothing. I walked over to where the ratchet was embedded in the sheetrock, pulled it out, walked over to his less than a month old Snap-On rollaround toolbox (he'd only made one payment on it) & slammed the ratchet down in the top tray - purposely bending the front lip about 3/4 of an inch (so the top wouldn't close & he couldn't lock it). I then turned to him & said "Just putting your ratchet back" & returned to work.

    The look on his face was priceless & he never again threw a wrench while I was in the shop. Did you know that Snap-On sells touchup paint for their toolboxes?
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    All this talk about $350k trailers and not allowing DIY work in boat yards really drives home that smaller boats that one can trailer are probably the best choice for recreational or day sailing. Maybe get a larger boat only for long term cruising.
    Will

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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by willmarsh3 View Post
    All this talk about $350k trailers and not allowing DIY work in boat yards really drives home that smaller boats that one can trailer are probably the best choice for recreational or day sailing. Maybe get a larger boat only for long term cruising.
    Well - when properly taken care of, the trailers can last 15-20 years.

    For example, a 40' boat taken 10 miles is about $600. IOW - 1200/year - definitely not cheap when added to launching, stepping a mast (& the opposite in the fall) & a mooring. However, all the other costs are the same as if you kept it in a yard.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    All this makes me realise how lucky we are at our club. Benfleet yacht club was founded nearly a century ago & we moved to our present site in 1967. Some far sighted men made the decision for the club to buy 80 acres of saltmarsh, 52 years on we have developed 20 acres or so & have a large clubhouse & bar, large slipway with winch capable of hauling boats up to 40ft, roads, power points & water laid on to all areas, Tractors, workboat, safety boats, rowing section etc. It gives boat owners somewhere that costs a fraction of the commercial yard next door (or anywhere for that matter). It was all built & paid for over the year by the members with most of the labour being provided by the members themselves. It is still run by volunteers. 30 odd miles from central london & our total bill for all my boats (7) & family is less than a grand a year.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by keith66 View Post
    All this makes me realise how lucky we are at our club. Benfleet yacht club was founded nearly a century ago & we moved to our present site in 1967. Some far sighted men made the decision for the club to buy 80 acres of saltmarsh, 52 years on we have developed 20 acres or so & have a large clubhouse & bar, large slipway with winch capable of hauling boats up to 40ft, roads, power points & water laid on to all areas, Tractors, workboat, safety boats, rowing section etc. It gives boat owners somewhere that costs a fraction of the commercial yard next door (or anywhere for that matter). It was all built & paid for over the year by the members with most of the labour being provided by the members themselves. It is still run by volunteers. 30 odd miles from central london & our total bill for all my boats (7) & family is less than a grand a year.
    You are lucky for sure! Foresight is a wonderful thing.
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    Huh. It turns out that boats are expensive. Who knew?

    Seriously, these are real problems but I have been hearing (and voicing) the same basic complaints for at least thirty years now. Yes, the number of yards allowing DIY work, or wooden boats at all, is shrinking. Yes it takes more effort to comply with environmental regulations than it used to. Back in 1981 or thereabouts I remember watching my mother paint the bottom of a big powerboat right on the marine railway over the water. Can't do that now. It's all vacuums and tarps and tents. And yet people still own, maintain and cruise or live aboard big wooden boats and I suspect they will still be doing it thirty years from now. We will adapt as we always have.

    And Ted, I have a comment about your OP. I don't mean to pick on you. From all of the posts I've seen it sounds like you are a knowledgeable and conscientious boat owner. But the reason that yards don't like DIY work and wooden boats is because people pull stunts like longboarding their hulls without tenting. All it takes is one EPA inspector to see that happening and the yard gets fined. My first goal whenever I am hauled out somewhere is to make sure that the yard will want me back as a client next time. I am religious about policing my work area regularly throughout the day and I *always* leave it clean at night. I follow every regulation regarding environmental protections, including tenting and vacuum use as needed. And I check in regularly with the yard manager to make sure they are ok with how I'm doing the work.

    I only wish other wooden boat owners would do the same. If as a group we were routinely better at following environmental procedures than the FG crowd we could easily become preferred clients. But sadly that's not the case.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: The economics of wooden boat ownership by going to the yard (maybe a rant)

    Well said Chris. I think we're all conscious of the waterfront we love and wish to keep it clean. I have dealt with yards that are very straightforward about the rules and others that seem to look for opportunities to fleece boat owners.
    I agree that we need to be careful but also creative to find ways to still afford ownership. I like many of the suggestions in this thread.

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