New Boat

We had decided to look for a new boat and also which model to look for.

Our decision process for seeking an HR 41 is detailed on another page (click here for details).

We have surveyed 4 boats and bought 2 of them – we used the same surveyor for each of the 4 surveys. We figure the cost of the survey for the 2 boats we didn’t purchase were good investments – the amount of time and trouble they saved us was well worth it. For the 2 boats we did purchase having an objective review of the boat and an independent valuation have proved worthwhile. For both the boats we bought the surveyor’s report has become the basis of our workplan. We were very lucky in finding our surveyor, Tony Staton-Bevan, when we first needed him. He also served as technical adviser when the skeg was rebuilt on out HR 41.

After 10 years in this game 2 points of consideration for buying a new boat are: maintainability and complexity. For the purpose of this page our meaning for the terms are:

  • maintainability: you or someone you can retain is able to maintain the boat as required
  • complexity: you are comfortable in being able to diagnose any fault or arrange a work around to get the boat to a safe point

Perhaps an easy way to explain what we mean is to refer to our own two boats.

maintainability (Maxi 95) We bought the boat in the harbour where it had been for 10 years or so, the people who had worked on it were there, the suppliers of any materials were nearby. Had we been completely unable to undertake the maintainability ourselves then there was a service organisation right there to do so for us
complexity (Maxi 95) Aside from the rigging most things on the Maxi 95 could be maintained by a layperson with tools. Certain boat specific systems such as stuffing boxes required some learning but lots of neighbors were there to ask.
maintainability (HR 41) We bought the boat in another country where it had spent its life. All of its equipment (e.g. radar and depth sounder) were in German and all manuals and documentation were in German. Some of the products that were used for maintenance were only available in Germany. These products were directly visible but we had no product documentation or brand names. Some of them we were never able to source and so had to use substitutes. Being a standard Swedish made boat the maintenance paths were very similar to the Maxi 95, and once again there were commercial organizations available to take on the maintenance if we were unable to.
complexity (HR 41) The HR 41 was much more complex than the Maxi 95 – pressurised water, heated water, bow thruster, radar.

Carrying on with the topic of complexity, the HR 41 had many more systems to deal with and keep happy. Complexity (at least in boats) is specific to the combination of the boat and person. When we first viewed the HR 41 we were concerned about some items (with respect to complexity and maintainability):

  • over sized engine (both physical size and power rating)
  • electric toilet
  • diesel heater in sea berth
  • radiator system throughout the boat
  • 3 kW diesel genset

Almost automatically we saw ourselves reducing this complexity. In their place we saw ourselves putting:

  • power manager
  • solar panels
  • wind generator
  • additional batteries
  • inverters
  • water cooled fridge
  • day tank
  • drip feed diesel heater

Now some people would certainly have felt more comfortable with the first configuration – it all depends on what you are most at ease with. And that is specific to the person in question. Did we raise or lower the complexity? Did we raise or lower the redundancy factor?

Once you own a boat and are considering modificiations then there is a third factor which we call “the test of time”: it seems that opinions on what to do or change reduce over time. At first you have all sorts of ideas but over time these decrease in severity and frequency and eventually converge onto a final plan – we always think over what we are about to do for a period of time. We often make mockups, either visual or real using some of the following tools:

  • pencil on paper
  • line drawing in AppleWorks drawing package (a polygon and line drawing tool is sufficient for our purposes)
  • 3D model in Google SketchUp (we only used this for conceptualising the galley construction)
  • drawing over a JPEG image in Photoshop or superimposing pictures, one on the other
  • cardboard mockups
  • light plywood construction
  • softwood construction

A visual or spatial representation does wonders for clarifying your ideas. The more complex the project, the more inportant and valuable this is.

In the end you have to be comfortable with what you buy and the extent of your modifications. How far you are from a support organisation will have bearing on your comfort level.

Comfort with your boat depends on maintainability and complexity. What ratio and level of these two is suitable depends on the person, also it depends on how much the person is willing to pay to have work done. The amount paid directly effects budgets which are also an important part of boats.

  • Tony Staton-Bevan at Abbey Yachts
    Note: Tony is now retired but has a reference for persons requesting surveys. We would like to thank Tony for his invaluable assistance over 4 surveys and 2 boat purchases.

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