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JanetAnne

"what Future A Wooden Boat" & Water Rail Update!

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What future a wooden boat?

I write this seeking ideas, advice and feedback from you all regarding the future of wooden broads cruisers in general. As most of you know, I am quite heavily involved in the wooden boat scene and I am painfully aware of the amount of old cruisers sat out there rotting away unwanted and unloved yet, on here there is such enthusiasm for these graceful old ladies. What has also become apparent is that, whilst everybody rather likes the idea of having a wooden boat, the horror stories that come along with wooden boat ownership are enough to turn even the most hardened enthusiast into a nervous wreck. In the meantime yet another phone-call comes my way with an offer of an abandoned project (I get a couple a month these days) which, “if you cant rescue it this week, is heading for a meeting with a chainsaw”. Of course we could never save them all but maybe saving one or two wouldn't go amiss? But how do we do it?

Syndicate ownership?

Works superbly well for the huge range of syndicate boats out there. There are many different syndicate formats, some run by their own management committee's and some through commercial companies. Would syndicate ownership be the way to go?

Buying into a syndicate normally means that your capital investment is safe because you can sell your share again and recoup that investment, give or take a bit. However, as we have already said, people are scared of wooden boats because of the unexpected bills. Selling a wooden broads cruiser is pretty hard and owners can, and sometimes do, wait years for a buyer. Yes, of course there is a certain amount of over valuing to take into account which doesn't help but how easy would it be to sell part of a wooden boat?

Another possible issue with syndicate ownership is that you would still be liable for the ongoing costs until you do find a buyer and that could include winter maintenance programmes

Syndicates tend to have management committee's who vote for upgrades, maintenance etc as part of their day to day running. That may be a perfect scenario for a wooden boat or may be counter productive if maintenance was compromised in favour of upgrades etc.

I think syndicate ownership is possible for a wooden boat once its finished but would value your thoughts...

Shared ownership?

Not that dis similar to syndicate but on a smaller scale run and managed by the owners rather than company and management committees. A very good idea and works really well for Broad Ambition (eg.) though her running, maintenance and upgrade costs are a bit eye watering! An equal share of a boat with everything split evenly. Shared ownership needs a group of very like minded friends who are in it for the long term rather than syndicate which can potentially be dipped into and out of more easily. I know of a shared ownership wooden boat that had two owners pull out when a restoration was needed. Fortunately the remainers were able to keep going and the end result was a success. I also know of a shared ownership boat that looked for and found someone to come on board part way through the restoration when money was running out which also ended in success though these examples are rare yet relevant. There have been many many more wooden boats broken up and destroyed in the last couple of years than restored and that is a fact!

A Boat Buddy Scheme?

I had never heard of the boat buddy scheme until Chameleon (Mike) told me about one he was involved in some years ago. His scheme didn't quite work out for him but he was able to just walk away and do something else which is a point mentioned above.

Now here is where it (possibly) gets interesting. A boat has a set of costs for a season, tax, insurance, moorings, servicing, maintenance etc. These costs are divided between the boats owner and boat buddys – friends of the boat. The owner retains ownership throughout and the buddies pay whatever proportion is agreed in exchange for use of the boat. Its not hire, there are no damage waivers and you would be responsible just as if its your own boat whilst it is in your care. Absolutely no profit is made from boat buddy schemes and the spending is transparent for all to see.

The advantages of this sort of thing with wooden boats is that you get to walk away, no millstone round your neck so to speak. End of the year, season or whatever period is decided you can just move on. Maybe such a scheme is just what the wooden boat scene needs to encourage new blood aboard?

Water Rail

In the meantime, while all this was being talked about Water Rail came on the market and was offered on this forum amongst other outlets. Of course WR attracted lots of interest, not all of it favourable, but ultimately there were no genuine buyers... until we had a chat! Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I have bought Water Rail with the proviso that Liz has first opportunity to buy her back in the future should circumstances dictate. WR will continue her guardship duties with Liz should she be required as well.

With this in mind I took things a stage further and did some pricing, took advice from the Broads Authority regarding appropriate tolls, Navigators about the insurance requirements, got a quote for gas bottles, breakdown cover, prop cover, section 10 bss (that includes all the safety requirements that hire craft comply to) gas safety check, a couple of oil changes and a lift out for end of season inspection and antifoul etc, oh yes, and an accessible mooring with parking!

Water Rail works out at £4539 for the season give or take a bit (one or two prices were estimates and obviously next years toll will be a bit more). With a season from Easter to October thats a what... £250 a week roughly? All restoration costs are mine alone as her owner by the way. Whatever Boat Buddy type of scheme we put together, if any, is purely based on the years running costs.

I would love Water Rail to be enjoyed by people who are as enthusiastic about her as I am and who are interested in our historic fleet. Water Rail is a little darling, almost 90 years old and offers a true boating experience from the past.

So I am throwing it out there to see what you all think, and whether there is any genuine interest in being involved in Water Rail for the 2020 season? And yes, I am mad!!

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The other week I priced up the average annual cost of a 110 year old sailing cruiser over a ten year period of ownership, your costs for WR are about the same, frightening!

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An idea, I don't know if it's practical or worth the effort, so just an idea but have you considered setting up WR as a charity? A local group where I live is restoring the village's No1 Lifeboat on this basis and it seems to be working well.

This opens the door for fund raising, sponsorship and tax breaks etc.

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The trouble is that even in the Broadland area, there are just too many worthy charities and there are even more projects some people think are very worthy! Against that, is that all these do in reality, is spread the available pot, more thinly!!  Believe me when I say that I understand the issues very well - but there is just not an easy answer!

The costings given are an approximation at best but if the boat is used on a more intensive basis, i.e.  equivalent to "hiring", then I reckon to absorb that, you may need to double them!  There is a great deal of difference between using your own boat, and maintaining that, and it being used by other people on a regular basis, who don't own it! No disrespect to them in any way, but its like a holiday cottage, it is not treated by others, the same as if it belonged to you, and you alone! An old lady such as WR needs to be used "sympathetically" and like other older ladies, not overused - it is easy to overuse such an asset but you are torn between overusing her to provide revenue, but at the same time, not overusing it, to help preserve her!!

Setting it up as a charity helps in getting funding but be mindful of the strings inevitably attached to most money "freely" donated or given under a scheme - is that the best way forward? It is often easy to accept with enthusiasm the efforts of volunteers etc, to restore something BUT that's not the real problem - ongoing maintenance is just as important and just as expensive and where most of such operations fall down beyond the initial flush of enthusiasm of restoration.

Believe me when I say, I would wish to encourage the restoration and preservation of all aged Broadland craft, but the reason why there are so few "publicly" owned ones are the very many pitfalls and problems about securing the longevity of such operations!!

 

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1 hour ago, marshman said:

An old lady such as WR needs to be used "sympathetically" and like other older ladies, not overused - it is easy to overuse such an asset but you are torn between overusing her to provide revenue, but at the same time, not overusing it, to help preserve her!!

An excellent post.

This mirrors exactly, the conundrum which faced us in the Wherry Trust in the late 70's.

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44 minutes ago, Vaughan said:

An excellent post.

This mirrors exactly, the conundrum which faced us in the Wherry Trust in the late 70's.

Agreed. Unless its possible to pick and choose syndicate members then I would suggest that syndication on WR is not the best way forward. As for charities, enquire by all means but I'd be very wary of that route, not least the subsequent H&S requirements and liabilities surrounding any public access demands.  

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as an serial wooden boat hirer, i would certainly be interested in maybe a couple of weeks in the year (that would depend upon the weeks in question, a certain week in august maybe?) plus  i would be willing to assist in maintenance as far as my skills go. its certainly of interest to me as it would give me a way into at least a part of a wooden boat, 

whilst i cant promise too much time at present i am sure i could at least make some time available to assist in the renovation and preservation of other basket cases too, even if it is just constructing parts in my home workshop to contribute to the cause.

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You must know that I am desperately trying not to comment on over using wonderful older ladies etc JA. I mean, would I? :default_norty:

With this in mind, I can offer no advice worth listening to I am afraid (as you'd have figured out already with my constant ramblings :default_biggrin:) unless you need any knock off smoke alarms or anything that I have in the back of the van of course :default_wink:

Seriously however, I wish WaterRail, Liz, yourself and any future custodians the very best in wherever your decisions take you. I hope any advice you receive and your choices thereafter allow me to look forward to seeing you all around the rivers (pubs) in the future.

Good Luck :1310_thumbsup_tone1:

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Water Rail is a lucky boat in that she has been in sympathetic, capable ownership for a large part of her life. 

22 hours ago, JanetAnne said:

There have been many many more wooden boats broken up and destroyed in the last couple of years than restored and that is a fact!

So true, was down at Broadland Boatbuilders today, St Olaves, where there is a lovely HW built sailing cruiser up on the bank with a clearly obvious six foot oblong of rotten planking in her side. Without looking inside I suspect that the area of rot corresponds to the area where there is a bunk within the main cabin, an area that has been excessively lined and probably to such an extent that ventilation was next to nothing. Got into conversation with a  passerby who turned out to be a boatbuilder and we chatted about that particular boat as well as some of the other wrecks laying about. He went on to tell me that in his experience such damage is more common than I probably realised and inflicted by well meaning people who treat their boats as houses rather than boats, fitting them out with a complete disregard for the all important ventilation. I'm sure that this particular boat will be saved but there are regretfully many that won't.

 

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13 hours ago, Jayfire said:

You must know that I am desperately trying not to comment on over using wonderful older ladies etc JA.

That's two of us Jay. :-)

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And yes, I am mad!!

Sometimes,  just sometimes a statement is made that needs no debate or alternative viewpoints

Griff

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A very good idea and works really well for Broad Ambition (eg.) though her running, maintenance and upgrade costs are a bit eye watering!

Hmmm, but are they?  split 5 x ways calms down the pain of open wallet surgery to a manageable level.  There are five 'Shares' of 'B.A' but only 4 x owners.  Me and Bro' shoulder the financial burden of that fifth share between us for no extra benefit whatsoever - That's just the way it is.  Mind you if any suitable like minded woody lover out there wanted to purchase that share, it might be considered.

Griff

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Well done @JanetAnne, Only just seen this. WR is an amazing little thing, I truly think she's one of the best preserved original cruisers still afloat today.. I had a couple of sleeplesness nights thinking of "Things" around her when I saw Liz's post and I know if had the money in the bank I would have done "Things" but it looks like you have worked out a top plan there, and it's so nice to see Liz still able to be involved too. 

Sadly financially I can't do anything really at present as my work situation has been crap and obviously own too many boats as it is (not to mention I've failing out of love for the broads lately).. But I love the idea of a hired weekend on her if this is possible sometime?.. Just a warning before you say yes: You may have to have a few security guards present to forcefully remove me from her at the end of the weekend though.....Balls actually reminds me I still need to hire a hunters.. can you buy one of them too?

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Thank you all for your responses so far as well as the very interesting points raised.

Being flat out at work is currently keeping me from answering but I will have some time next week to reply at least in part to your comments. 

Cheers everyone

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