You can’t be all things to everyone…

…not even to yourself.

It’s been a very frustrating couple of months. Mostly the frustration of having a job and business and also a boat to rebuild – and a dream that depends on the boat getting finished.

Or does it? Are the two inseparable?

That’s the question that finally presented an answer this week, and the surprising (to me) answer is that, no, our dream of cruising south for a few months – or a couple of years – is not dependent on my finishing the restoration of Renaissance. We could, in fact, find a relatively simple and inexpensive boat that’s already in the water and seaworth to carry out our dream. In fact, in the long run that would certainly be cheaper than rebuilding a 53-year-old sloop that’s seen so much neglect over the years.

But what about Renaissance? We’ve spent a few thousand dollars (a mere pittance in the boating world) to bring this boat home, build a shelter, start gathering gear, and a few hundred hours of labor stripping her down to the point where all that’s left is straight and sound, and it’s time to begin rebuilding. We’ve done the nasty part.

But I suddenly have come face to face with the reality of my life. My financial resources are pretty limited, so to restore a boat, I have to work. Work takes time – and when you’re self-employed, it sometimes takes more hours than a day contains. Rebuilding a boat also takes time. In this case, an inestimable amount of time, certainly thousands and thousands of hours.

Let’s do some math: there are 8760 hours in a year. I sleep for 8 hours a night, or I collapse into a quivering pile of uselessness, so that leaves 5840 hours.
Meals, brushing teeth and all the other things that life demands take up about 3 hours a day-we’re down to 4745.
The job needs the most – something around 9 hours, and sometimes more than 5-days-a-week, so we’ll call it 9.5 hrs in a theoretical 5-day week.  We’re down to 2275.
It gets cold in Maine, and our boat shed isn’t heated – or heatable. Paint, fiberglass, varnish etc doesn’t work in the cold, so figure that the period from December 15th through April 15 is pretty much a loss. We might get something done, but chances are, we won’t. Let’s be optimistic, though, and hope that perhaps 1/3 of that time we actually WILL be able to work, or we’ll find projects that can be done in the basement, where it’s warmer.
Our total available hours to work on the boat is looking like about 374 hours a year.
But wait – what about the occasional night out? Or spending time with my lovely wife?  Subtract a few more…
The cold, hard truth is that I’m not getting any younger, so I really need to be living this dream in the next 5 years if I’m going to be physically able to accomplish and enjoy it.

So here’s the rub:  Assuming that there are 5000 hours of labor in the restoration (and that might be overly optimistic!),  I’d need 13.4 years at my current rate of progress. Even if I could do it in 3000 (very unlikely), It’d take me 8 years.

So that was my epiphany on Tuesday – I’m not going to be nautically functional long enough to complete this restoration and still be capable of sailing the boat.

“Well”, says I, “That sucks.”

Then there’s the issue of changing goals.  When my wife and I got this boat, I was pretty certain that I wanted to do some ocean crossing. At least as far as the Azores, and perhaps even a circumnavigation of the North Atlantic, maybe the Caribbean Sea…

Now, though, we’re both recognizing that we may not need to do that, we might be happy just following the East Coast and crossing into the Bahamas, maybe the Leeward and Windward Islands…   We may never get around to crossing the ocean – so do we really need a boat that’s in many ways optimized for ocean passages? Might we be better off with a boat that has less draft (depth in the water) and a little more space and comfort? The Bahama’s are pretty shallow…

In other words, Renaissance might not be the right boat for us, both in terms of resources AND our cruising plans.

So Renaissance is for sale. If you’re reading this, and were thinking to yourself “Boy, I could do that, especially if someone else did all the nasty tearing apart for me…”  this could be your big chance!  I’ve got engines and gear and a sound hull that’s ready to start going back together, all in a classic CCA yacht of excellent pedigree. To the right craftsman, she’s ready to be reborn.

Meanwhile, we’re back to looking at used boats again. Looked at a beauty today, in fact. Let me know when you’d like to come look over Renaissance – I’ll cut you a good deal.


11 thoughts on “You can’t be all things to everyone…

  1. Too bad. It was a good dream. Love,


    • Actually the dream is quite intact! It’s just that the dream is separate from the boat. I’d forgotten that in my zeal, but the truth is that the dream – to own a boat we can spend a significant amount of time on exploring warm climates – is still very much alive and well, and we’re pursuing it as avidly as ever. Just not in that particular boat or manner.

  2. Hi,

    I have recently been following your blog as I have a 1966 A35 with rare dinette option. I do understand your situation since I have thought of doing the same with my refit, ie buy a ready to go boat, skip all the work. I might say that my project is not as big as yours and my standards are likely lower, so I am hoping to get in the water in the next 12-24 months. In any case as I said I do get your situation, life is short after all.

    The reason I am writing is since you are looking at selling, you may be in a position, maybe not now but later in selling some of your equipment. Perhaps a new buyer may not want this or that, but I may want it. You would likely get more for your money by selling some of the newish stuff you bought. I am looking for an Origo oven/stove, rudder, storm sails, Plus all kinds of other stuff I have yet to figure out I need. You may also want to keep the new stuff for the sale but have functional older stuff that I may be interested in.

    In any case let me know and I wish you luck with a newish boat purchase, there are certainly allot of good old boats out there.

    Marc Ottawa, Canada

    Sent from my iPad


  3. I’ll second Mark’s comments. I have hull #200 and similarly, rescued her from years of neglect and 3 years on the hard. Not in as bad as shape, but yeah, full engine replacement, rudder replacement and lots of electrical done this past summer. Did get her out on Lake Superior toward end of season and she sailed wonderfully. Anyway, would also be interested in where this project sits today.

    AND… still got that old Mahogany?

    Scott Muggli
    “Anna Rita” – 1966 A35 #200

    • Hi Scott,
      She stands as she has – in the shed, waiting. We’re close to negotiating a deal for a Triangle 32, and Renaissance is still looking for a home. It may be – as many wiser folks have tried to tell me – that she’s bound for the scrapper, but I hld out hope that someone would like a project. How about you?

    • Hi Scott,
      You’d asked about the mahogany – indeed we do have it, and have plans for it in several possible areas. Holding on to that for a while!

  4. I too have an Alberg 35: Pendragon, originally from Chicago, last few years in Baltimore, which is where we keep her. We think she is #175; there doesn’t seem to be any way to check this. She is the sloop rig, traditional interior except a PO built a beautiful chart table just forward of the galley. Also the v berth was cut down to starboard only; we hope to put something more like the original back in. Fortunately, ours was well cared for over the years and we are learning to sail her.

    I understand you want to sell yours as a package. If you do decide to sell parts, I’d definitely be interested in the boom. We have the original spruce wooden one and I’ve been looking into replacement.

    If you’re ever going to Baltimore in season, let me know, I’m always looking for someone to go sailing.

    James Eaton
    S/v Pendragon

    • Hi Jim,
      If the boat has been documented, you can find the hull number by going to the Coast Guard website for the list of documented vessels – it will be listed there, and in fact that’s how I found the number for Renaissance.
      Unfortunately our boom was already trashed by weather exposure when we got her, and I’d planned to replace it with a used aluminum boom I have. Never got to the point.

  5. […] me it happened near my 53rd birthday, when I realized that restoring a boat (that’s a link to my prior blog about it) was quite likely going to take all the […]

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