Sunday, May 3, 2015

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How to Find Your Dream Boat. Choosing the right Boat for You.

Octopus Yacht

I know every boater has their dream boats. That handful of boats that they know one day they may have to be able to fulfill their cruising aspirations. I'm not talking about those fantasy boats, the boats that most of us will never own, those 100'+ mega yachts. For us budget minded people, the ones who would be deeply impacted by a major purchase mistake, I'm going to show you how to truly dial in to that one boat that you will be most happy with. The one boat out of all others that will be most suited to your lifestyle, values, and priorities. In the end I will share a worksheet with you so you can start analyzing your dream boats, ending up with boats rated so that it is easy to see which boat is the best match for you.

Anyone who has shopped for and bought a boat knows every boat is a compromise in some way, shape or form. But how do you weigh which compromises you can live with and which ones will get annoying really quickly, maybe making you regret the purchase altogether? It was this problem that prompted me to dive into my "day job" toolbox and borrow some techniques for prioritizing and weighing software requirements. I call this the Weighted Quad Method for making major purchases. Here is how it works.

Start with 4 categories:
  • Must Have
  • Should Have
  • Could Have
  • Won't Have
 Must Haves are features of the boat that you cannot live without. Things like size, # of bedrooms, and even your budget limit. The full list of must haves constitutes your Minimum Viable Boat or MVB. You really shouldn't even consider a boat at all if it does not meet at least these conditions. The MVB list is great to initially pass onto a broker if you have one that is aiding in your boat search. Here are some examples of possible must haves.
  • <= $180,000 (if that is the absolute maximum limit on your budget)
  • >= 40 feet long
  • <= 50 feet long
  • 2 bedrooms
  • Walk around Master berth
  • 2 heads
  • Flybridge
  • Lower Inside Helm
Should Haves are attributes of the boat that you hold in very high regard. Items that are boarder line must haves and if the boat doesn't have this attribute it better have a lot of other things going for it. Above and beyond your MVB, this list will provide the heaviest weight in turning you to one boat over another. Here are some possible examples of should haves.
  • <= $150,000 (in contrast to your must have price, this is your preferred budget)
  • >= 1 Nautical Mile Per Gallon at cruise speed
  • Twin Engines
  • Large Galley for cooking
  • Late model chartplotter/radar
  • >= 150 gallon fresh water capacity
  • >= 50 gallons of waste capacity
Could Haves are items that would be a real bonus if the boat had them, so much so that if the boat lacked some important should haves, and it had a lot of could haves, it might offset what the boat is lacking from your should list. 
  • Dingy, motor and davit
  • Autopilot
Won't Haves are features that the boat probably won't have but in the slim chance that the boat does, you want to highlight them. This list will be small, if there is anything on it at all. It may contain things like the following examples.
  • Trash Compactor
  • Dishwasher
Weighting the Categories
The next step in the Weighted Quad Method is to weight each of the 4 categories. This is done by assigning the following numbers to each category.
    • Must Have = 4
    • Should Have = 3
    • Could Have = 2
    • Won't Have = 1
    What this does is provide a score for every item that falls into that category.  So take the 7 Should Haves listed above, for a boat to have a perfect Should Have score it would have 21 points (7x3). To complete the scoring based on the examples above a perfect boat would look like this and have a score of 59.

    Category Weight # of items Total
    Must Have 4 8 32
    Should Have 3 7 21
    Could Have 2 2 4
    Won't Have 1 2 2
    Perfect Score 59

    To fully see how this works lets take a pretend boat that fails to have one item in each category. That boat would have a score of 49, which is a 83% match to your perfect boat.

    Category Weight items for Boat 1 Total
    Must Have 4 7 28
    Should Have 3 6 18
    Could Have 2 1 2
    Won't Have 1 1 1
    Boat 1 Score 49
    Match to the Perfect Boat 83%

    Obviously the higher the score and percentage match the better, but what is more important when comparing multiple boats is which boat is higher in score and percentage compared to the others.  The more criteria you have in each category the lower the overall scores are going to be for every boat, simply because the likelihood to matching more is less. For example in my own personal experience with this method, the sweet spot was boats at about 75% and above, and very rarely would a boat breach an 80% match. Your mileage may vary.

    So now that you have an overview of the method its time to try it out on your own boat list. Take this worksheet, fill it out with your criteria and the exact boats you are looking for. If you have a Google Drive account then you can make a copy under the File menu. If you don't have a Google Drive account then you can download it as an Excel file under the File menu.

    I'd be interested to get your comments and feedback on how useful this has been to you or if you have any ideas on how to make this method better. In my next post I'll show you some of my criteria and how it helped me choose the boat that could very soon be mine.

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    C-Shel's Move From the Rideau to the St. Lawrence River

    I really do enjoy writing for our blog, however, you would never say it, by the amount of posts I put here giving updates on our travels. Such is life I guess, with the demands of work, and leisure for that matter. 

    The biggest news is that the C-Shel has left the Rideau. Last year, given all the talk of the mismanagement of the system by Parks Canada, we thought there might be a mass exodus of boaters off the system to the 1000 islands, St. Lawrence River. This we thought, would cause a shortage of available dock space in the 1000 Islands region, so we decided to get ahead of the game and put our name on the 3 year waiting list at Gananoque Municipal Marina. So instead of 3 years going by, about half a year did. Gan Marina called us and said we have a slip on a set of new docks that are going to replace the break wall, it will have a wonderful view, and will be ready for spring 2014. Since we are the type of people who seem to thrive on change we decided to take the slip. I am able to live and work aboard for the summer, so commuting from Ottawa to Gananoque wouldn't be an issue, it seemed like the right thing to do.

    We took a week vacation at the end of May to bring the boat down the Rideau to Gananoque. We only needed a weekend, but wanted to take our time and fully enjoy and say goodbye to the river system that gave us so many memories over the last 15 years. The Rideau was like a ghost town at the end of May. Very few boats, and we even stayed as the only boat at the ever popular Davis Lock. Our only company was a family of Geese tending to their Goslings.

    After saying good bye to the Rideau, we stopped into Kingston's Confederation Basin for provisions and some eating out, then the next day off to Milton Island for the night. We rarely stop at Milton, it is usually packed. This time however, we had the island to ourselves. The water looked inviting for a swim, clean and clear. However, one touch and that idea soon dissipated. The water temp was much colder that the Rideau. About 12.5 degrees celcius, the Rideau at that time was around 16-17 degrees. I know this first hand because I fell in during our trip down the Rideau...

    While on a mooring at Colonel By Island, on Big Rideau Lake, I decided to take a kayak ride in the cool calm evening to take some video. We had just purchased a new Hobie i9s inflatable Kayak and we were still smitten with the novelty of it, using it whenever we had the chance. I was a little over confident in the stability of the kayak, I laid Cyndi's Canon HD Camcorder with expensive wide angle lens attached on the Kayak before getting on from the swim platform of the boat. Stepping aboard the kayak a little to much to one side I immediately knew I was in trouble. In the millisecond it took for the boat to flip I was already thinking about my wife's video camera, the very video camera that was used to take all the videos on our YouTube Channel. As I was completely submerged and my body going into shock from the cold water, especially my lower extremities, I managed to swipe my hands a few times to see if I could miraculously get ahold of the video camera. No such luck. As Cyndi came out of the boat after hearing the splash I made on entry, she could do nothing but laugh, and continued to even after I told her I had lost her video camera. I had a hoodie and pants on so I looked like a drowned rat. I promised we would get another camera, and that was that.

    ...Back at Milton, with the fresh memory of how cold the Rideau felt, there was no way I would enter the St. Lawrence River on purpose in May.  

    The next morning with a cruise though the thick fog down the Bateau Channel, we arrived at our new home base for the summer of 2014 in Gananoque. 

    Docked at Milton Island
    C-Shel Docked at Milton Island

    Now that it is the end of July, do we regret out move? Not in the slightest. Just as the Rideau is a boaters paradise in its own way, so is the 1000 Islands. So many places to go, so many anchorages, the water is beautiful, and we are having a blast.  A few weeks after the video camera incident, we bought a new GoPro Hero 3+. The 1000 Islands video below is the result. I think Cyndi is glad I lost that camera overboard. 

    Though we have plans on another boat to get us down the intra-coastal and to the Bahamas, I don't think we will give up our dock at Gan. We will more than likely be back up here for the summer months to enjoy the world class freshwater boating Eastern Ontario has to offer.

    Thursday, July 3, 2014

    Tollycraft 34 Walk-through Video

    Well we finally got around to doing a video walk-through of the C-Shel. This was taken in June 2014. You can view it below, on our YouTube Channel, or on the 1989 Tollycraft 34 Sport Sedan For Sale link at the top of the page.

    Stay tuned as more video is coming very soon, as we get back to our regularly scheduled programming.  :)

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    Boating on the Rideau 2013 Video

    Summer 2013 was a rather quiet and reflective boating season. We didn't get much vacation time because of a new contract, so we did not get a chance to venture out of home waters. However, there is certainly nothing wrong with spending the summer on the Rideau. We spent many beautiful nights anchored, providing the perfect ambiance for dreaming, planning, and preparing for the new boating adventures that may be coming in our not too distant future.

    Here is a little of that ambiance the Rideau so graciously provides. 

    Saturday, January 11, 2014

    Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee... in Boats!

    Forget about the frilly orange Jolly car, Louis CK takes Jerry Seinfeld to his boat for a cruise and a coffee. I'm pretty sure the boat is a 47 Grand Banks Heritage EU. Nice boat Louis! He gives Jerry some fender lessons, and it's then off to an anchorage. I really enjoyed the cruise around New York, and especially enjoyed Louis animated story about being stuck on the mud at low tide with his kids. This is the best episode of CiCGC so far, don't miss it.

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

    The Launch of C-Shel Photography

    C-Shel Photography
    If there is one thing I became passionate about during all these years of boating and taking in the natural surroundings, it is photography.  I make no claim to being some great photographer, I have a lot to learn. However, one this is for sure I really do enjoy it, and will continue into the future and grow as a photographer. So I am am officially starting C-Shel Photography. A place where I will share my best work to date. It will only have the top 15-20 photos in the available portfolio, as more current work comes up I will be taking others down. So each print will have a limited time to purchase. You have the option to purchase different sizes of prints on a wide variety of medium, like traditional canvas to modern aluminum.

    We are destined to travel by boat (the C-Shel of course) and capture some of the most beautiful places on earth. Reaching for imagery that is in some small way a capture of that deeply intense emotional experience I and others feel when we are on or near the water. There is just something about a boat, silky water, and a sunset.

    The main theme of my photography is nautical, but to me this includes a wide variety of categories such as the voyage and the destination, the people and the places, the boats and the equipment, the rivers, lakes, and oceans.

    We believe that life's journey is meant to be shared. Join us through imagery on our journey as we share ours with you... Even hang it on your wall if you like.