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Owning a Wooden Boat

Pilot Cutters out in Falmouth

Want to Own a Wooden Sailing Boat?

Many people never get beyond the fantasy of owning and sailing a wooden boat, but remember adults that dream in the daytime - with their eyes wide open - are the dangerous ones. It might just happen...

Every wag in a boatyard will bore you with, the phrase "The happiest day of your like will be when you buy a wooden boat, and the second happiest is when you sell it."

As most my dearest friends own wooden boats with bowsprits and or sailing ships with traditional rigging, I would disagree. Firstly a wooden sailing boat is a 'she' and not an 'it'. Secondly most of us have enjoyed years of pride in our vessel, winter refit job satisfaction, compliments from passing plastic yacht owners,  and a bond that is very hard to break, after shared sailing epics together.

We all like to think that we will go into a new adventure like boat ownership with a pinch of caution, a sensible testing of the water by trying similar vessels, and asking around for advice, and buying our boat when everything we need is in place....but then we go and fall in love with a boat project that is a bit more than we bargained for.

For those of you who have a sneaky suspicion that becoming the owner of a wooden boat the easy bit , the Classic Sailing team have come up with a few tips.

Oh my God, I've bought a Boat - Now What?

Firstly, be bloody sure she is going to float.

It is easy to be smug, after 20 years running a wooden charter boat, but even newly built boats do strange things when you get them in the water.

Here are a few things not to do. I had a new boat owner come on a RYA course having bought a old wooden boat in the hot Majorcan sun. He was planning to put her in the water and straight away sail her to mainland Spain. Horrified, We advised him to try a bit of coastal hopping first. A new motorboat business on the Roseland launched their new baby (not wood) and left her on the mooring without checking on her. by morning she had nearly sunk due to an unforseen defect.

After a winter or refit period ashore and first launch of the season, you will find all seasoned wooden boat owners, ourselves included, calmly checking bilges, stern glands and hull seams - hourly, then daily once we know the planks have 'taken up.' 

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