Losing a Friend… I Start to Wonder

Losing a Friend… I Start to Wonder

Opinion:  A friend of mine, a fellow boat-nut, just died last night, a month after a sore shoulder turned out to be cancer. My brother-in-law has stage four cancer, as does a good friend of mine from a place where I spend some time volunteering. A friend since grade school was placed on palliative care two weeks ago, suffering from MS and now, some raging infections.  A good friend of my wife has stage four cancer, while another is in the hospital with a series of serious issues.  My son’s future mother-in-law has stage four cancer.

A very close family member is going in for treatment with an unclear diagnosis.

I am the same age my father was when he died.

I just retired to part-time after 38 plus years with one company.

Obviously, I am concerned about our friends and family.   I’m also extremely aware of the limited time I have on earth.  And… well, I am not sure yet.  I need to think.  This loss hits hard.

Then, as I was scanning our local Craigslist I see some homebuilt boats for sale (below), and I find it a bit sobering, too.  These people spent years building boats, used them a few times, and then one person wants too much money and I think is unlikely to get it, while the other is, to me, a more desirable boat at a price lower than costs.

Do I love building enough to end up like this?

  • Having a hard time selling my labor of love
  • Only using it a handful of times
  • Spending hundreds of hours building it instead of… lots of other things.

They just beg the question, at least in my current sobered mood, is this how I want to spend my time?

I think I do… but I am going to be damned sure before I dive in for my fifth boat build… at this point in my life at least.  I’ve just figured out the full extent of what it means to say, “I don’t have forever”.

Exhibit A:   Listed in late April of 2018. – 17 foot unknown.

Listing says, “Custom one of a kind wooden sloop, designer unknown (project was started many years ago-build just completed last year), hull is yellow cedar on oak (16.5′), yellow cedar decks, mahogany seats, ipe floor boards, wooden blocks, bronze hardware, new sails, weighted centerboard, hung rudder, internal ballast, can be rowed (oars and paddle included), 12v bilge pump and battery, trailer included (with 8′ extension tongue, new tires, wheels, and bearings), currently out of the water and on display in Port Hadlock, $4500.”


That is a couple of years worth of work and with sails, trailer, wood, paint epoxy and on and on… I don’t think I could build it for that.

Exhibit B:  Listed in late April of 2018. – 17 foot Skipjack

Listing says, “Attention Wooden Boat Lovers!

Here’s your chance to purchase a NEW, beautifully finished Stevenson-designed Super Skipjack gaff-rigged sailboat, with King galvanized trailer.

Finished in 2017, construction began in 2015 with meticulous attention to detail, using only the finest materials:

–Okoume and Meranti marine grade plywoods.
–Sapelle Mahogany hardwood structure in the hull and brightwork.
–White oak bowsprit with dolphin striker.
–Top quality clear Douglas Fir spars.
–Harken rigging.
–Interlux Brightside topsides paint.
–Pettit anti-fouling bottom paint
–Deck and spars finished bright, with several coats of marine varnish
–Sheathed in epoxy-saturated 6-oz fiberglass cloth for abrasion resistance, water intrusion barrier and durability.
–Built with top quality System Three Silver Tip epoxy and adhesives
–All hardware is new and top quality.
–New Roly Tasker main and jib sail set.
–Custom weighted kick-up rudder and tiller
–Trailer was purchased NEW in 2015 specifically for this build.
–Unsinkable! There is positive flotation foam in bow and behind benches in sealed compartments.

No expense was spared creating this “work of art” sailboat. Built to last a lifetime, given proper care.

Sailed only three times in Lake Washington as shakedown test sails. Kept under cover during construction and garaged since completion.

Best of all, this sailboat fits in a standard garage stall, is light enough to be towed by a four-cylinder car and can be set up for launch in fifteen minutes.

There are over $9,000.00 in materials and countless craftman’s hours put into this build. Serious inquiries only. Be prepared to make a reasonable offer. No dealers.

Images note: The first eleven photos are of the finished boat. The last nine photos were taken during construction.

Will consider trade for a late model travel trailer (less than 10 years old) between 18 and 23 feet and under 4000 pounds dry weight, in excellent condition. No 5th wheels, slide-in truckbed campers or pop-ups.”

I don’t think he is going to get anywhere near $9000, though it is a beautiful boat.  Sailed three times?  This person clearly liked building far more than sailing, and I know that right there is a part of the answer.

And I realize that we build because we enjoy it, not because it is profitable.   But these boats took years to build, or at least hundreds and hundreds of hours, and they weren’t cheap to build, either.  I’m also running out of space to store all my “things”.

What’s my point in this opinion piece?  Well, I am thinking aloud, sharing my glimpse at the human condition, thinking…

  • Life is short
  • Go for what is important to you.
  • But really know what you want from the project.  Do you really want to sail?  Did you choose a design that makes sailing a real hassle, especially in setup and take down time?  Sometimes small is better… a LOT better.
  • Will you tire of it before completion, and if so, did you pick a boat that is so big you really can’t afford the space to store it, or will it fit in the back garden shed?
  • Don’t hesitate too long, but do be clear with yourself.   Life may be short. This is a big commitment.

What else am I saying?  I don’t know yet, except life throws us all some challenges… we don’t know how long we have to live… and I need to think on this a bit.  Some may think their answer is obvious.  Good for you, truly.  I just need a bit more time to think.

I also miss my friend.



4 thoughts on “Losing a Friend… I Start to Wonder

  1. I think you’ve spent some time in my head. How ever did you find your way out? I’m gonna be building soon. First time. Just turned 50 and boy do I feel it. That one in Port Hadlock looks like a serious find. Hope you see many days of sailing yet to come. Would love to run into you out in the Sound.

  2. I’ve been building and restoring for 30 years – barely used any of those boats. Always found a new project more interesting or needed the money invested for other things (such as paying the bills!) Now getting a divorce at almost 70 after 33 years of marriage and one of my wife’s main complaints is that we never had any fun on the boats (although I thoroughly enjoyed working on them). Now I’m going to buy an actual completed boat and hope my old dog and I can have a few summers of the enjoyment we missed with all of those other boats. Yep, life passes you by quickly.

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