The cheapest way to own a wooden boat is to rebuild or repair an old one yourself. It can also be the most rewarding. Not only can projects be picked up cheaply but also the costs of restoration can be spread over time.
The biggest problem for the amateur isn’t the lack of skills but not knowing what to do. Even if he has a reasonable idea of what needs to be done it’s the little tricks of the trade or that odd snippet of advice that can save hours of work. There are times when you can’t find anyone to advise you, that’s where some of the many books on the subject can be worth their weight in gold. They are usually written by people who have gained their knowledge by doing the work. However, even the experts will have different ideas on some subjects. When undertaking a worthwhile project it’s best to check out as much information as is possible. However, beware of the guy in the bar who knew someone, who knew someone, who did it this way.
Restoring rebuilding and even repairing an old wooden boat is not a quick fix exercise. It will depend on how much work needs to be done but it’s best to think in years, rather than months. Time, care, and dedication are required if you want a beautiful boat that floats.
Remember that you will need to remain solvent if you are to enjoy the fruits of your work. The costs will rise exponentially with the size of the boat, not just for the rebuilding but also for maintaining her as well as for mooring charges. Therefore, your project needs to be scaled to your pocket, as well as your dreams. Before even looking for a boat, you need to get a clear notion in your head as to what your requirements are. That fifty-foot Scottish Fifie would look wonderful when restored but will you need to hire a crew to sail her. On the other hand, a seventeen-foot mini-cruiser won’t be ideal for living aboard. This might seem obvious but it is so easy to allow the imagination to run wild when looking around for a project as there are some wonderful old boats just begging to be restored.
So where to find a boat that will satisfy the type and size you want and will fit your budget? Some are advertised nationally in boating magazines however, there are gems to be found very cheaply in many boatyards and marinas. Often owners have lost interest in them or grown too old to maintain and sail them. Yard owners to cover outstanding charges repossess many abandoned boats and they will sell them off just to cover their costs. You just have to take the time to search them out.
Restoring a wooden boat will require hard work and take time but with a little advice from those who have done it, anyone can turn the dream into reality.