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Old 06-11-2021, 10:57 PM   #1
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Looking for advice: Which boat?

I'll be moving to Vancouver Island in a couple of weeks. I only have experience with inland lake boating. I am single, retired and completely flexible about type of boat and location.

I'm looking for some advice or opinions on what type of boat I should be looking for. The only trawler type boat I have seen are Ranger Tugs, which I really liked.

Of course I would consider anything similar, Nordic, American, Helmsman are others I have seen online.

My general plan, such as it is, is to rent a place in Nanaimo and buy a 27 to 31 foot Tug to do short 1 or 2 day cruises until I gain some more experience, or until one of my family members with much more experience (being based in Esquimalt) can help me out and join me for a longer trip.

I was thinking of spending around $300k US on a lightly used tug.

My question is, should I maybe be looking at a less expensive 25 or 27 foot tug for my shorter cruises, or will I regret that when I want to do a much longer cruise?

Slower speeds are fine by me. I am at the stage where I am happy to cruise at 7 knots and see the sights. I have zero sailing experience though, and don't really want to learn, old dog that I am.

I am also thinking of buying property (water access, which I have had for decades on lakes in Ontario).

But with property prices being where they are, I am toying with the idea of a much larger boat, maybe a 42 footer? A little older but not too much, and use it as a liveaboard. Maybe up my budget to $500k USD?

I really don't want a much older trawler, much as I love how they look, because I am not mechanically inclined (I'm more a carpentry guy).

Reliability is a very high priority. I don't want to be breaking down, even close to home. I'd like to keep maintenance down as well. I'd be happy with all fiberglass and no teak, tbh.

That's why a newer tug appeals to me.

Thoughts? Suggestions?
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:55 PM   #2
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If I may speak frankly, you seem to have several ideas that are not necessarily supporting.

Getting an apartment and spending 300K on a small tug seems to to me to be a wholly different plan then spending 500K on real estate and a bigger boat.

I'll propose in terms of "dipping a toe in the water", get the apartment and a capable small outboard capable of 25Kts or so to explore great swaths of the area to determine best fit. Something like a C Dory for instance. Capable, sea worthy, over night able, indigenous to the area, plenty of examples around and easily moved, if properly maintained, when the time comes to move up.

This gives you the opportunity to conserve capital while doing your due diligence, explore the area with in hours of port that a slower speed tug would take days, be able to camp out aboard for overnights, (I'm sure some of the C Dory owners would chastise me for suggesting their accommodations are akin to camping) as well as having a very capable all weather PNW boat at your disposal.

The C-Brats :: Home refers.

Sounds like a wonderful opportunity, please keep us posted with your decision.

PS - Welcome aboard!!
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:58 PM   #3
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They’re akin to camping. No doubt about that.
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Old 06-12-2021, 12:15 AM   #4
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MRRiley: Yes, they are completely different plans, and I am considering each, although leaning quite a bit to renting an apartment and having a smaller boat to start.

So your advice is very helpful. I wasn't really thinking about buying something faster and smaller and then trading up, but that might be a smart way to go.

Especially since looking for a nice building lot or fixer upper in my travels is also very appealing, and what I want could probably best be seen from the water.

Much as I love the idea of cruising from the Gulf Islands all the way to Alaska, that sure is not going to happen this year.
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Old 06-12-2021, 12:25 AM   #5
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I'm quite sure C-Dorys and their kin have done the inside passage. Fuel planning would of course be important. Anyway, sounds like wonderful "first world" decisions to be had.
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Old 06-12-2021, 12:40 AM   #6
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First world problems

MRRiley: Never married, no kids, just sold a property in what might be the hottest market in the world (Muskoka).

Things could be worse!

(Nothing against kids, kids are great, especially when they belong to other people)

Only problem is I am heading into what's probably the second hottest property market in the world. Not to mention the boat market.

Definitely first world problems. Can I get lucky again and time this properly?
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Old 06-12-2021, 12:49 AM   #7
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I'm sorry, "kin" refers to several variations of the C-Dory that exist today, not children. Though, I've found my children to be the brightest light in my life.

In my experience, limited as though it may be, this is not a great time to be trying to "time" the real estate market.

Hunker down, invest wisely, and wait for the fallout. And live on Vancouver with a great small boat that can take you and a friend allover the area, fish, crab, swim, camp and enjoy the rewards for your risk.
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Old 06-12-2021, 01:07 AM   #8
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MRRiley:

Now that sounds like a plan!
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Old 06-12-2021, 01:43 AM   #9
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Welcome to TF and the island!
We have a nice 800 sq ft waterfront condo at the Palms marina and hotel that we rent out and in July will have a 46x16 slip in the marina. Sounds like it could work for you. We do plan on being at the condo for some time in July. The marina does allow some liveaboards. The Palms is at 1250 Stewart Ave just south of the Departure Bay ferry terminal. 780 718 3601

This is in Nanaimo.
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Old 06-12-2021, 08:24 AM   #10
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Transaxial:

Thank you! I arrive in VCR June 26, and will be staying with friends for a week or so.

A condo in Nanaimo is exactly what I am looking for, because there is no way in the world I will have any kind of boat by July.

My friend in VCR has a sailboat and he has offered to take me around the Gulf Islands for a look around, so realistically I wouldn't make it to Nanaimo for a couple of weeks.

But I will keep your contact info and look into the marina you mentioned, sounds like a place I should know about.
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:06 AM   #11
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Enjoy your summer and look forward to possibly meeting you later in July. I will have that cell with me.
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Old 06-12-2021, 10:55 AM   #12
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Jim,
Lots of issues to consider in your relocation. What will the real estate market do? How will the boat market respond to the "future, after Covid" (if that even exists for a while) economic changes? etc.
One thing I do know is that every time you buy and sell there are considerable expenses like realtor fees, sales taxes, broker fees, etc. For example, sales tax on a $300K US boat amounts to about $47,000 Can. That is not "chump change"!!
My suggestion is to look for a boat that can potentially meet your 'future needs" (as you allude to in your first post") now. In other words, buy your last boat first. I suggest looking for a Nordic Tug 37, or an American Tug 39, or a Helmsman 38 (for examples). These boats will allow potential live aboard, and will have the size, comfort and range to allow travelling all over BC and Alaska in the future. Your price range of $300-500K should allow for many of these boats. You can hire a professional to help you with "hands on" training on boat handling to ease your transition. You can take instruction from the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron to help with learning most of the other info needed to safely navigate, operate, etc. in our waters. Close quarters boat handling (like docking) will be your biggest adjustment as far as boat size goes. Other needed info include tides, currents, aids to navigation, anchoring, etc., etc.

When the time comes and you are looking for a mechanic, electrician, or fibreglass work, give me a PM and I can help with good references. I also know of an excellent person (Capt. on 100 foot plus yachts) who could provide instruction on your boat for boat handling. He was fantastic with us. He could also probably provide some "consultation" (if needed) when it comes to boat selection (not a surveyor).

If you want to talk about boating, Nanaimo, etc. send me a contact number and we can do that.

By the way, live aboard moorage in Nanaimo is very, very hard to find, but not impossible.
Good luck.
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Old 06-12-2021, 11:18 AM   #13
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Firehoser: Thanks for all the good advice.

A couple of things: I am acutely aware of the expense of buying and selling particularly newer boats in the upper range of my budget. Having Scottish heritage, I would not take $47,000 in transaction costs very well at all.

I'm hoping by hashing out my thoughts with experienced people here, I can avoid making an expensive mistake.

Captain: I have a brother who is extremely experienced and has his bags packed, just waiting for me to buy a boat. My nephew is a Navy officer experienced in diesel engineering, he's based at Esquimalt. In that regard, I am lucky and well set up.

Having just sold in an extremely hot RE market, and having sold 2 small boats that people were literally fighting over, I am also thinking now is probably not the best time to be buying either one.

But how about this idea: For the next year or 18 months, buy a large (42 ft?), old trawler that I could be comfortable living on (assuming I first had a slip secured) for say, $60k to $100k, and be prepared for some maintenance bills and even a few breakdowns, since I will probably not be going very far anyway, while I learn the ropes? I am thinking some day trips only.

Then in 18 months, take a loss on the old trawler, and trade up to one of the Tugs you suggest? Maybe by then there will be more availability, maybe better used prices (maybe not?)

And then I'd know if the lifestyle and location is for me, or not.

I figure the depreciation on a $100k boat must be less in $ terms than on a $500k boat, so maybe I even come out ahead?

Just thinking 'out loud'.
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Old 06-12-2021, 11:29 AM   #14
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C-Dory 25 owner here. No offense taken.

We (Admiral and I) have done up to 3 weeks on our boat. They are more like an RV when one considers size and accommodations. The boats are efficient and simple...not fancy. They are also safe and capable. This was our first boat, although I had some experience boating/sailing growing up in Hawai'i. The Admiral had zero experience. All are outboard powered and trailer-able. C-Dory boats hold their value (as boats go) and the build quality has been consistently excellent. Used boats in the PNW are plentiful but usually don't last long. If you want more volume/space, they make a 25' catamaran (Tomcat) with dual outboards. The three larger models (Tomcat, Venture 26' and 25' cruiser models) have wet heads, which was a big buy-in for The Admiral; no porta-potty for us. The boat can do 30 knots on smooth water if it's lightly loaded. I've done it once. It was "squirley" due to the flat bottom. We consistently travel between 8-15 knots, depending on conditions, our plans, weather etc. The boat will do that all day, every day. At ~12 knots we burn about ~6 gph on a Suzuki 150. Limitations are fuel and water. Boats are simple to upgrade as there is no cabin liner anywhere.

Some C Dory owners move up to Ranger Tugs. They are more "fancy" and refined; carpeting, lots of teak etc. They have some really nice features and use the available space very creatively. They have outboard or diesel options, depending on model. They are significantly more expensive however. Most are also trailer-able.

I'd love a larger trawler. I even considered a Willard 40 recently. But since we are still working stiffs, the timing was not right and we decided not to purchase it. From your description of needs, a C Dory would fit your bill. Low cost, efficient, simple, could be single-handed (I do it a lot), yet they are safe & capable. Once you get some experience and confidence, you could sell and move up.
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Old 06-12-2021, 01:25 PM   #15
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C-Dory outboard

Mark,

I have been reading up on the C-Brats forum. The C-Dory (which I have never heard of before) sounds like a very good option.

I have to confess, although I drove a Toyota for years, the Ranger does appeal to me and I have some $ burning a hole in my pocket.

I've also been reading the thread on outboards vs diesel. My diesel engineer nephew is of course a diehard diesel fan.

But I have had inboards on my freshwater lake boats, and I was extremely happy to finally get to an outboard that was simpler, less costly to maintain, and most of all: usable in cold weather (-18C). By usable, I mean it got me to the mainland and back to my home very early and very late in the season. I sure wasn't sleeping on it.

Regardless, I am partial to outboards, and I am definitely past the stage where I will be crawling around a crowded engine compartment trying to fix something. I wouldn't have a clue what to do even if I wanted to.

But this gets back again to the usual problem, if I buy a C-Dory or Ranger 23/25, which will be perfect for the first year or two, will I regret it and want to move up to a 31 or 37 2 years from now? Probably.

Not a big deal if the depreciation on the 23 footer isn't too bad, but I do agree with the philosophy of buying what you need from the start. If I am going to spend the money eventually, why wait and make it more expensive in the end?

(Can you tell that my brother is living vicariously and pushing me to buy the bigger tug? 'It's only money! You only live once! You can afford it!' are ringing in my ears lol. The inside passage and the Loop are my brother's lifelong dream. There's a lot to be said if we can do at least one of those together.)
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Old 06-12-2021, 01:42 PM   #16
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Who can really predict the various markets?? Personally, I am very surprised with the performance of real estate, boats, RV's etc. what with the economic activity especially as it relates to Covid.
I would take a wild guess and say that something has to give (eventually) due to Government borrowing, money printing (adding more money to the market), job and business loss, eventual removal of rent control, etc. When and if that happens we could see fairly large drops in prices and more "stock" being available?? So far, it has not been like that. It is a gamble either way. Supply right now is low, and pricing now is high, but could it get worse??? I would think not, but I did not see it coming for where we are right now. Spending $100K now for an older boat in need of much work will only cost you about $12K in taxes (now) plus the cost of any needed repairs and/or maintenance (which could be considerable depending on condition and past maintenance). If the market does improve for buyers and more stock is available and pricing falls, you could find selling an old, tired boat in potentially "poor" condition to be a problem in that kind of market?? Maybe not?
If you are not even sure that you like boating on the ocean or even Nanaimo, then "testing the waters" so to speak may be a very good idea???
However, if you know you like boating and want to eventually travel longer distances on your own boat, I still suggest (taking your time to find the right boat but acting quickly when you do (in this market)) that buying your last boat first may be the best and most cost effective choice?????
If going the other way, and you can "make it work" for you, then maybe a C Dory would be a good option, and you could trailer it and save on moorage and some related maintenance??
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Old 06-12-2021, 02:16 PM   #17
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Tom: I agree with all your thoughts there. As a retired economist/financial guy, I have some experience with trying to predict the future. It's close to impossible, as the last year has shown.

I am quite sure I love boats and boating as I have been living on inland lakes for years and boat just about every day, except when the ice is too thick to break through.

Part of my reasoning for heading to the PNW is be able to have a longer season. I am not a Florida sunshine type though, since my fair skin tolerates sun for about 3 minutes before starting to burn. I'm just looking for something better than -25C and 3 feet of ice.

The honest truth is, which boat I buy is probably going to be determined by what I find for sale in BC that looks well maintained and within my budget.

This exercise of getting advice is really helpful though, as I have already learned of a few new possibilities, such as C-dorys.

At least I won't walk into a boat dealer/marina to look at a used boat and not have a clue as to how the various boats/engines are regarded.

I have no plans at all to trailer the boat, with the possible exception of having it brought back to Ontario with me in a few years if I decide I like the Great Lakes better.

Cruising Georgian Bay in 31 foot Tug sounds pretty appealing, although the short season is a killer. I suppose heading South with it is a possibility though.

I have heard a few people say there are lots of good used tugs available but I haven't seen that online (yachtworld). Maybe I need to find out where these boats are located.
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Old 06-12-2021, 04:19 PM   #18
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Here's another PNW boat with a long history and loyal following.

http://bartenderboats.com/

Designed for the Colombia River bar, they too are safe, swift, comfortable, and reasonable to purchase with good resale. There is at least one done in aluminum designed for longer passages. I'll see if I can find the link.

http://bartenderboats.com/product/22-timbercoast/

A member here, Naval Architect Tad Roberts had a hand in the design.
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Old 06-12-2021, 10:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeMJim View Post
Tom: I agree with all your thoughts there. As a retired economist/financial guy, I have some experience with trying to predict the future. It's close to impossible, as the last year has shown.

I am quite sure I love boats and boating as I have been living on inland lakes for years and boat just about every day, except when the ice is too thick to break through.

Part of my reasoning for heading to the PNW is be able to have a longer season. I am not a Florida sunshine type though, since my fair skin tolerates sun for about 3 minutes before starting to burn. I'm just looking for something better than -25C and 3 feet of ice.

The honest truth is, which boat I buy is probably going to be determined by what I find for sale in BC that looks well maintained and within my budget.

This exercise of getting advice is really helpful though, as I have already learned of a few new possibilities, such as C-dorys.

At least I won't walk into a boat dealer/marina to look at a used boat and not have a clue as to how the various boats/engines are regarded.

I have no plans at all to trailer the boat, with the possible exception of having it brought back to Ontario with me in a few years if I decide I like the Great Lakes better.

Cruising Georgian Bay in 31 foot Tug sounds pretty appealing, although the short season is a killer. I suppose heading South with it is a possibility though.

I have heard a few people say there are lots of good used tugs available but I haven't seen that online (yachtworld). Maybe I need to find out where these boats are located.
Interesting dilemma. One I went through a few years ago. Like you, I boated my entire life. At retirement, I wanted to buy a larger boat. Waited a couple of years and then in 2016 bought a 2006 Carver. Really enjoyed the boat, but got tired of the cramped engine room, mechanics not showing up, yards doing terrible work after months long waits, and keeping the boat detailed and “ready to go” only to have family and others visiting and enjoying other toys.

Learned a tremendous amount by owning the boat, sold it last year for 4% less than I bought it for, and now in the process of having a boat built that will fit what I want to do.

The fact is that the boat was a lower risk way to learn how things work with a mid-size boat. Not only did I learn boat systems (forced to in some cases), I learned what I didn’t like about a boat that size, how the repair market “works”, and then got into electrical systems, and marine electronics.

It has been a real education, and there is a lot more to learn. My advice for you is to start low risk, and then decide what you want to do, after you gain some experience. By the way, look at insurance before buying. There is a tightening of the market going on right now, impacting the ability for some to buy some boats.
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Old 06-13-2021, 03:10 AM   #20
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The Nanaimo squadron of the CPS are a particularily good bunch of people. If you want some local knowledge about boats and boating you will find them very helpful.
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