Why do all this work to restore an old boat? Why not just buy a new, shiny one with all the equipment intact, ready to go? Well, there are several reasons. For one, I was raised in a commercial fishing family, grew up around boats and on the water, and spent 10 seasons working on various fishing vessels up and down the west coast of Canada. My father has fished for over 40 years. He’s not given to bragging, so perhaps few people know it, but he’s one of the best fishermen on the west coast. He’s consistently in the top 10 producing boats for whichever company he sells his fish to, and most importantly, he has an excellent safety record. He’s one of the few people out on the water today whose knowledge is so vast, seamanship so sound, and willingness to help others so great that everyone’s safety is improved just by having him out on the water. My paternal grandfather was a mechanic, aircraft engineer, and aircraft safety inspector. My maternal grandfather was a sailor his entire life, from the time he joined the merchant marine as an underaged kid right at the start of WWII, through to captaining various coastal vessels and his own fishboats. I’ve been surrounded by a wealth of knowledge my whole life, and I’ve had some excellent teachers.
A squinty-eyed old salt from the age of 5.
Commercial fishing is still the best job I’ve ever had, and I miss it terribly. However, for various reasons I made the career choice to be a knowledge worker, and now live in Japan where I work at a digital marketing agency and have a small internet company on the side. I spend my weekdays and a good portion of my weekends at a desk tapping away on a keyboard. I miss working with my hands, living outdoors, working in harmony with nature to produce a valuable product that feeds families. Meaningful, visibly productive work. I don’t want those old skills I was taught to get rusty. I want to improve my knowledge of the sea and seamanship.
The nature of my daily work leads to another reason for buying a boat, I simply need the stress relief. Living in the world’s most crowded city, surrounded daily by jostling crowds, ensconced in technology, materialism, and the never ending quest for financial success, gets very tiresome at times. It’s real nice to get outside the city. Nothing calms the mind like the solitude of being out on the water.
I also enjoy the process of restoring things. It’s a lot of work, but if there’s a good frame (or hull) to start with, the thing was built solidly and with pride in craftsmanship, and it can be considered a classic, it’s often worth it. I like working with my hands to turn what looks like junk into a treasure. My first car was a 1974 Valiant that I bought for a quarter when I was 15, had towed home, and spent a year restoring to the point where it would run. Dad helped and I learned about everything from electronics to bodywork (well actually, that’s not the best example, as even when I finally got it to run it was still pretty much junk. But I did eventually sell it to a wrecker for $25, so that was a 1000% profit. Minus 2 years labour and about $500 in parts that is). Anyway I like working on projects that breathe life into good old things.
After the Valiant finally died (I quite literally bent it in half trying to jump Dukes of Hazzard Style. Oops) I needed a pickup for fishing work so bought an even older vehicle.
And Dad still keeps one of these in the garage for us to tinker with from time to time when I’m home.
Anyway, I digress. Back to sailing. Another reason is that it’s been a long term dream to one day semi-retire and cruise the world by sailboat, hopping from port to port and working via laptop and cellular connection when conditions are right. I’m slowly trying to move all my work into the Cloud and automate as much as I can in preparation of this dream, to become a sailing Digital Nomad. Having a boat to hone my seamanship skills on improves the feasibility of this one day becoming reality. And more and more, as I get to know Watari and improve her systems, she’s becoming a seaworthy enough boat to make that dream of sailing the world a reality. So as of now, the main, motivating goal is to get her into good enough shape to sail the first leg of the journey, from Japan to the tropical cruising paradise known as the Philippines.