I know there are a lot of regular followers of this blog and as I’ve said it seems as if I’ve just about “maxed out” on finding new content and the blog as been languishing. I feel guilty about that but I also don’t want the blog to die.
What inspired the blog was my idea of retiring to Panama (I’ve been working on that and have received my Pensionado visa but my inability to sell my Boston Whaler Revenge has been keeping me in Fort Lauderdale.) and building a shanty boat to live the last of my days in the Bocas del Toro Archepelego. I have bought plans and have a couple of boats in mind. But I doubt they’ll ever get built for several reasons, not the least of which is financial. Another reason is the ability to move a houseboat/shantyboat from one place to another. You need an engine and an engine needs fuel and fuel is expensive in Bocas and it isn’t going to get any cheaper. I’ve looked at the possibility of putting a sail and lee boards on the thing but hours, days and months of reflection combined with over 30 years of professional boating experience tells me that isn’t such a good idea. Not that it couldn’t be done, but just not one of the greatest light-bulb above the head ideas in the long history of nautical ventures.
I grew up in austere New England and honestly am the descendent of real Puritans who, while they didn’t come over on the Mayflower, actually knew people who did. Both sides of my family were ensconsed in Massachusettes and then coastal New Hampshire and Maine and were among the first to be stealing the land from the natives. With that heritage and a lifetime of living on the edge of poverty I embrace minimalism naturally which is probably why I’m so attracted to the whole concept of shantyboats.
But I’m also a sailor. I worked professionally as a captain for nearly 20 years and spent another dozen repairing and restoring boats. I ran an 85 foot ketch on the French Riviera and the Spanish Costa del Sol for three years before sailing across the Atlantic in ’91. That’s really not a big deal and no great feat of navigation is involved. After all, in the Atlantic if you sail due east or due west eventually a large continent will appear.
When I returned to the States after my European adventure I bought a beautiful 26 foot Kaiser sailboat (hull #24 of 26 built) that I single-handed from Fort Lauderdale to Mexico, Belize and the Rio Dulce in Guatemala and back on a nine-month vacation. Although the houseboat idea has been rolling around in my mind for a long time so has another one. That of buying a sailboat and sailing it down through the Bahamas, through the Windward Passage and on to Panama. And as I keep lowering the price of the Whaler the size of the boat I would do this with keeps growing smaller.
But that’s not really a bad thing. I’m looking for another good adventure and lots of circumnavigations have been done on small vessels. http://www.microruising.com/famoussmallboats.htm About three years ago I had the money in the bank where I could have bought a 30 foot boat and done the trip. I should have but I didn’t and with the recent economy I no longer have the money.
Here is my thinking at the moment.
Buying a boat rather than building one has the advantage of an already existing boat generally has a lot of “stuff” with it…spare parts, compasses, etc. Things you don’t have to go out and buy.
A smaller boat fits in with diminishing physical condition. I had a heart attack a year and a half ago and a life time of abusing my lungs with smoke leaves me sometimes short of breath. I can handle a small boat a lot easier than I can one of even 30 feet.
I am going to expand this blog to include small, minimalist sailing craft as well as houseboats and shantyboats. The change will be made in the next couple of days. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the blog in its revamped form.