Squaring the Currency Circle for Keeping an Old Boat
Couta Boat Fitting
Another rainy, windy weekend. Perfect for reading my sailing magazines. The following piece written by Guy Venables brought a smile to my face.
The reason one can always find, in every yard, boats which have slunk off to the corners to slowly and painfully die of boredom is often simply due to bogus mathematics. Enthusiastically, the new boat owner will bring thought patterns from his old life to this new one of boat ownership and restoration.
The most common, totally erroneous approach is to equate time with money. In boat restoration it can be mentally harmful. In fact to do so is to play by the rules of the very thing we are actively trying to avoid.
Take my friend Paul , a Portsmouth car salesman by trade and just the sort of person who, for want of any other way to make sense of the world, leans on the time/money way of thinking as a reliable way to justify all work. Halfway through restoring a 1940s speedboat he turned to me, exasperated, and told me that even if he’d only paid himself £5 an hour, his restoration would have cost him £1,900. This is the sort of mathematics that finds one in a negative word where paint ain’t, the stays go … and knots turn to nots.
The mere notion that he should be paying himself was, of course, ludicrous. I worked out that without his self-inflicted imaginary wages his restoration had so far only cost him £600. This was more like it and he cheered up and tried to sell me a van.
However it troubled me that he’d so utterly missed that the actual process of doing it should be pay itself. Secondly, once you embark upon the journey of restoration it should not be judged within the confines of hourly rates but by the parameters of the rest of your life. To do it by hourly rates would be akin to attempting to tell the time by only ever looking at the second hand of the clock.
The other well-used and dangerous equation is the one dividing the money spent on upkeep and mooring by the times the boat is taken out per year, concluding in the terrifying realisation that each trip out costs around £780. This equation should always be kept secret. From yourself if possible, from everybody else, definitely.
Once out in the open this is a monetary unit often wielded by unhappy partners or spouses to dissuade the continuation of a life with a boat, often citing the number of nights out, shoes, babysitters or non-boat fixing holidays that a mere six months of marine payments could pay for.
Even to the salt-keen partner the legitimate question pops up as to why we don’t hire a boat for half the cost and hassle. Ignore this question as no one has ever successfully answered it. In fact, ignore most questions and when doubt seeps into your mind’s bilges, look ahead and always remember where you aren’t. You are not, for instance, in an office at Portsmouth selling cars. This pastime should not be judged by maths. If it were, boats would have far more straight lines.