Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Low-Buck Files

       "She keeps naggin' at you night and day, enough to drive you nuts..."

     Boating can be an expensive lifestyle.  In fact, the third most popular topic among boaters, running right behind "Weather" and "You Think Those are Real?"  is "I Can't Believe How Expensive ______ Is!"   To enhance discussion, there's a whole subset of  nautical cliches devoted to the crazy high cost of boating:

Boat= Break Out Another Thousand

A boat is a hole in the water you pour money into.

The six most expensive letters in the alphabet are M, A, R, I, N, and E.

     Let me know when your sides hurt from laughing so hard, and I'll stop.

     Or, I can stop now.

     Good call.

     Yes, boating CAN be as wallet-emptying  as hitting a peeler bar after a day at the casino, but it doesn't HAVE to be.  A few years ago, I started documenting my "low-buck" projects.  What qualifies as a low-buck project?

1) Gotta be under $100 US, or equivalent currency.

2) You must have done it yourself. Although, if you found someone to work on your boat for less than $100, feel free to post contact info.

3) bonus points will be given for elegance and ingenuity.

   My first foray was a cockpit table.  I needed a cockpit table. Well, I, personally, didn't need a cockpit table, but SWMBO did, and I need a warm place to sleep, so you can see how the stars aligned on this one. I sussed out commercially available, marine priced cockpit tables and promptly gagged. So, I thought to myself, "Self, you could make it yourself for a lot less." One problem. Well, four actually. 
1. I have limited woodworking skills, 
2. limited woodworking tools, 
3. and limited time. oh yeah, and 
4. I am cheap.
So, I went to plan "c".

     I spent some time eyeballing the cockpit in question:

     Then I moseyed into action. I bought one of these for $29.99

     A frenzy of measuring, remeasuring, cutting, screwing, drinking, varnishing, etc. later, and this is how it finished up:

    As an added unplanned bonus, the table is reversible-  install it aft of the wheel while Dockside for easy companionway access, mount it ahead of the binnacle while underway.  When not in use, it simply stows under the salon table below.

     I used up the rest of the table I sacrificed for the project that started this thread, and built a hinged double sided chartboard:

        It's sized to fit standard charts folded in quarters. Course can be laid out on the clear cover with grease pencil. Next step is to build a pair of hinged stowable knees in the cabin of my boat to create a small-space nav station.

     I needed duckboards, or a cockpit grate if you will, to replace the nasty looking deteriorated weird rubber mat that graced whiskeyjack's cockpit when I got her (see pics in first post of this thread). I priced having a teak grate custom built, my daughter burst into tears when I told her she was not going to be going to college, so then I decided to find an alternative. I bought two 8' cedar 2x6s and ripped them into 1 3/4 x 1/2" strips, measured and patterned my cockpit floor, started cutting and epoxying and gluing and screwing and varnishing and $32 later, this:

     is now this:

     My low-buck dinghy needed a place to live. So I had to build some low-buck davits.

  I built a cockpit table for a friend's boat. $25 worth of mahogany and pine, $5 worth of epoxy and varnish:


$5.99 Sunbrella remnant.
Scrap of pvc pipe.
$5.55 of line.
Being able to sleep in past sunrise, and keeping the hatch open when it rains? priceless.

     One issue on almost every small boat is no room for a garbage can. Another issue on "Whiskeyjack" is the amount of dead space below the galley countertop. Think, mark, cut, trim, screw together a couple of pieces of scrap luan for a lid, sand, varnish, Ta-freakin' DAH!

       Along the way, I have learned that this stuff can be a hell of a lot of fun, and there is some real satisfaction in learning a new skill or refining what I thought I already knew.  The money part was a big motivator as well.  The more that you know how to do, the less you have to pay someone else to do it for you, and the less you pay for necessary maintenance, the more you can spend on unnecessary frills, like more expensive rum.

     Let's see your own low-buck projects.  Fire me an e-mail and some pictures and I'll add them to the "Low-Buck Boating" page and make sure you get proper credit.  

     As always, thanks for taking the time to join us here on the Dock.  If you like what you've seen, please  pass the word, link the site, become a follower, or just tell your friends!

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