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Wooden Boats Opinions Please


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Evening all, I have been recently pondering wooden boat ownership as I love the style and feel of them and I like the idea of being able to prevent another one being lost to history. BUT I simply do not have the woodworking skills to confidently take one on in the same way that I have GRP boats. I can do most other things to a standard that I am happy with including the donkey work associated with woodwork (sanding, painting, rough prep etc etc) but the proper skilled stuff is above me.

My question is this.......if I were to purchase a basically sound (!) wooden boat, what sort of annual budget for proffessional woodwork would be realistic to allow? I know this is a bit of a 'how long is a piece of string' type question and I certainly wouldn't hold anyone to what they have said but currently I don't have the foggiest as to how much these things cost.

 

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I take mine out of the water every year and try and do one big job as well as the smaller one to keep on top of things.  Last years winter budget was around £2500 plus under cover storage.

you don’t need to have the boat out every year and lots of small jobs can be done in the water, every two to three years should be ok as long as the boat is sound the problems come when you leave it for many years without maintenance. 
 

I would budget around £2 to £3k every couple of years for major hull work.

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36 minutes ago, BrundallNavy said:

I take mine out of the water every year and try and do one big job as well as the smaller one to keep on top of things.  Last years winter budget was around £2500 plus under cover storage.

you don’t need to have the boat out every year and lots of small jobs can be done in the water, every two to three years should be ok as long as the boat is sound the problems come when you leave it for many years without maintenance. 
 

I would budget around £2 to £3k every couple of years for major hull work.

Based on twelve years of ownership of a wooden sailing cruiser I'd up that to  3 to 5 grand and I did the annual decorating. 

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AND prepare for the unexpected!! Nothing is ever straightforward and you will always have obstacles to overcome.

What you have to remember is that wood and freshwater make unhappy bedfellows and generally these boats were not built to last for the period they already have - having one and preserving it is a labour of love. Even the old wherries had limited life spans and they were made of chunky old bits of oak - that rots too so something more lightly built may well rot quicker!

To my way of thinking a wooden boat needs to be kept away from freshwater ( rain! ) and left afloat in it as little as possible!!!!!!!! But people with more experience will tell you otherwise I guess:default_biggrin:

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'how long is a piece of string' type question

You're not wrong!

I could If I had the time and inclination to go back over years of open wallet surgery and answer this to within a few quid.  But the simple answer is, if you have to ask you probably cant afford it!

However that is unfair and way off the mark.

If you were to compare a true full woody to one that is GRP hull and wooden topside, leaving aside the hull - then the costs are about the same.  What we find is upgrades and keeping up with technological improvements are where the major costs are. (Having a Robin doesn't help with the cost but the improvements he brings to the table, you can't put a price on)  The hull is what it is, you start with what you inherit and try to at the minimum keep it to what it is but ideally improve on it all the time,  Every two years we take 'B.A' out for hull work, we never know just how much she will need, but whatever she needs - she gets.  My advice is to keep them in the water, keep them out for any length of time and the shrink and dry out - Not good repeating this over and over

Without coming across as a 'Money No object' kinda guy (I'm light years away from that) the biggest obstacle is getting hands on help when its needed, that is to say hands on help that really know one end of a chisel from t'other end, you can't put a price on that

Another way of putting it, Woodies and GRP boats cost within a few quid exactly the same to maintain and operate

Yes they do.

All the internal equipment be it mechanical / electrical / plumbing / furnishings / fittings etc -  Don't make a jot of difference in the wallet department as they surprisingly don't know if they are in a woody or a tupperware - They just don't,  and cost the same to maintain / replace.

The only difference is the Hull.  Now this needs anti foul as does a tupperware, it needs painting, a tupperware ware needs the same or a hull polish.  Woodies need planking changed, tupperware needs osmosis looked at or ignore it as many do

If you really want a large woody - go for joint ownership unless you have deep pockets and/or plenty of willing knowledgeable  mates.

Any woody if you inherit it as fully restored can be enjoyed / loved and used for the same cost as a tupperware

Hope this helps

Griff

P.S - Did I mention there is a share available in 'B.A' ?

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Wooden boats are very nice but they do need more maintenance. This is why commercial fleets dropped them in favour of g.r.p. many years ago. We used to have them out of the water every year and take everything out, take up floor boards and provide good cover and ventilation. Often planks needed replacing. If you can replace planking and frames yourself it is o.k. but if not it will cost. I have worked on both. Martham Boats are one of the few yards to still run wooden boats and they are the people to ask about costs as they still have the skill.

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Thank you for all the replies and input, it has certainly given me plenty of food for thought. I am nowhere near the point of buying anything new for the forseeable as I have a fair way to go with my current craft but it has been a question sitting at the back of my mind for some time and I am glad to have asked it.

1 hour ago, BroadAmbition said:

Hope this helps

It very much has actually, thank you.  Quite a fresh way of looking at the topic which makes a lot of sense:1311_thumbsup_tone2:

1 hour ago, BroadAmbition said:

P.S - Did I mention there is a share available in 'B.A' ?

Don't tempt me!

 

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Very interesting thread and a lot of sense spoken.

I would say there is no easy answer to this as it depends on several factors :

1/. The condition of the boat when you buy it.  If it has been recently restored then you just have to keep it that way.  If you have got to do the restoration, it could cost very dear.

2/. The material the boat is built from.  Some woods last a lot longer than others and some woods rot more easily than others.

3/. Never buy a wooden boat without a survey, done by a real professional, who is himself a boatbuilder.

4/. The best way to keep them is in a wet boathouse.  That way they stay in the water but they (and their varnish) are protected from the weather.

5/. Haul out for maintenance for as short a time as possible and hopefully not in the spring, when the March winds are blowing under the hull and opening up the planking.

6/. You will have to do a lot of work yourself and will need basic skills, especially in painting and varnishing, as these take up a large amount of labour hours, that you don't want to have to pay a boatyard to do for you.

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5/. Haul out for maintenance for as short a time as possible and hopefully not in the spring, when the March winds are blowing under the hull and opening up the planking.

 

This is a fair point but imho needs further debate.

We do any major maintenance to 'B.A' every two years, this then is when she is out of the water for a short a time as possible.  in the early years (2007 - 2016) we did this during the winter months, which avoids the March winds as stated above however carrying out renovation in the dead of winter causes problems, mainly drying / curing of paints / adhesives / varnish and the like, it takes an age and we found ourselves using gallons of diesel on space heaters, not good having a space heater blowing onto a woody, then there is the team of helpers - if it's cold and damp then keeping spirits up is a challenge, artificial heat helps but costs and again not good for a woody.  Then there are the early dark nights, this too can restrict progress when time is of the essence

So nowadays we go for April / May time. The Wx is better and warmer, gear can cure overnight usually, more daytime light, crew of helpers seem more 'Up for it'  the yards are traditionally less busy too as their winter work is usually completed and most privateers want their craft back in the water by end of April latest. 

Woodies are always a compromise and a balancing act in all departments, they can cost terribly if you are taking on a full restoration as I know only too well.   When we put R641 Ivy Lady into 'Our Boat Shed' up here in Blaxton in 2002, we optimistically stated, 18 x months and £10k, how fortunately naïve we were.   Five and half years down the river, 8'500 man hours and £69k later she was recommissioned and even then not quite fully finished - Are they ever?

Griff

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I would suggest that anyone really interested in wooden boat ownership pops along to Beccles Wooden Boat Show (14th August in 2021) where you will find a huge selection of craft and a proper insight into ownership from their respective owners. 

None of them bite.... well most of them don't :default_biggrin:

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I never thought much about woodies to be honest, was just used to driving into Richo's and getting all excited when I saw the wonderful orange, blue and white creations there :default_biggrin: When I joined the Forum I started to read stuff on woodies and the pics that were posted sparked my interest

Then one day chugging into Ranworth Broad, there she was, moored stern on at the Staithe looking absolutely stunning, Broad Ambition. I totally fell in love with her from that moment as I waved like a crazy lady even though, I don't think anyway, there was any one on board (probably in the pub :default_biggrin:) Always after that moment whenever I've been on the rivers I've looked out for her and others

Amazing boats and so beautiful x

:default_xmas6:

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Make friends in a knowledgeable boatyard,

Prepare for the unexpected ( how can a plank seemingly go soft overnight)

Make friends with other wooden boat owners,

Visit the wooden boat show at Beccles, without doubt a not to be missed weekend .

Don't think to hard about it, its only money if it all ends pear shaped.

 

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