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The Best Equipped 25-foot, 37-year old Cabin Cruiser in North America

When my muthah-ship, a 1972 Carver 2565 Santa Cruz, is finished in the Spring of 2010 it will be the best equipped 25-foot, 37-year old cabin cruiser in Puget Sound and possibly all of North America. And it will be done for a total cost of about US$11,000

The Best Equipped 37-year old Cabin Cruiser in the PNW

The Best Equipped 37-year old Cabin Cruiser in the PNW

(US)! Now eleven grand may sound like a lot of money but it’s less than one-tenth of a new boat which would come with far less equipment and almost none of the teak and mahogany that are trademarks of older boats (with fiberglass hulls). It is also about the cost of three new high-quality sea kayaks (or two in kevlar!) or a couple of Feathercraft folding kayaks.

This was not my original ambition for Add Hock, my “muthah-ship”. Originally all I wanted was a safe, clean, dry, comfortable place from which to explore the Pacific Northwest of the USA and the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada by kayak. Two things fueled the plan: 1) I have a business from which I cannot spend unlimited time away; and, (2) I’m over 65 years of age. The business is a network engineering firm and is depended upon by a dozen high profile customers in Grant County in central Washington State. We do a lot of work in Linux and Unix and there simply aren’t a lot of people with that expertise around here.

The second speaks for itself. Although I was officially disabled when I was 49 in an accident while returning to my tanker in a crew boat off Santa Monica, California I had managed to work myself up to a point where I could again function physically with help from crutches and canes. One of the reasons I returned to kayaking was that it was again possible to be athletic while still sitting comfortably on one’s butt. But as I got older the longer paddles and the contrary conditions of Puget Sound became less and less attractive. I still wanted to adventure paddle the islands and islets and rock gardens but I no longer wanted to endure the 15 nm paddles to get there; not to mention the 15nm paddles to get back.

So in 2007 I started exploring the possibility of using a powerboat for basic transportation of me and my kayak into the areas where I wanted to paddle. I discovered that newer boats were not exactly cheap. In fact, a new boat in the 24 to 26 foot range would cost somewhere between $100,000 and $160,000 (US)!!! Unfortunately for me my bank account was nowhere near that well endowed. Fortunately for me there was a plethora of older powerboats being offered for sale on a new-fangled thing called the Internet. Specifically, an advertising venue named craigslist.org was chock full of bargain priced boats. Some of these boats were crap, of course… little more than scrap on a trailer. But others were good boats whose owners had either died and left them to disinterested relatives or who had moved on into other interests. And as the economy of 2007 became the economy of 2008 and 2009 there were even more good values available.

My choice, in December of 2007, was a 1974 Carver Santa Cruz 2565 with a 350 cubic inch (5.7 liter) Chevrolet engine coupled to an OMC “stringer” outdrive. The power train was not ideal but it had just had a $5,000 overhaul by a respected group of mechanics in Portland, Oregon. The owner had also had the decks replaced and recovered but had purchased a 28-foot boat while the work was being done and no longer was interested in completing the project. Purchase price was $3,500 including an EZ-loader trailer. Susan and I towed it home the next day and I began working on the boat right away. Fortunately I had built a sailboat in the 1970s and still had a good deal of mahogany and teak left over from that which had somehow not gotten lost or stolen or sold off in the intervening 30 years. I also had craigslist which provided much of the parts including the Mercury outboard, the Zodiac dinghy, and the Webasto furnace. Another source for gear was Second Wave of Seattle which provided the KVH digital compass, the VHF radio and the propane safety solenoid and sniffer.

The single engine was both a requirement and a concern. It’s a 37 year old engine and even though it’s overhauled and runs well there is some concern over its reliability. But twin engines offer, in my opinion, twice the problems and more than twice the chances of something expensive failing. The solution was to find a decent outboard motor and install that as a “kicker”. It would provide the safety of a “get home” power source (and charge the batteries) and also do double duty as a trolling motor. Originally I wanted to be able to use it on the Zodiac but the weight of the Mercury 9.9 hp 4-stroke outboard was way too much for safe transfer. We’ll make do with rowing; after all, the Zodiac is mostly going to be used for safe entry into the kayaks.

The result so far is fantastic. My wife actually likes the boat and helps me with maintenance and even goes along. She doesn’t kayak much (she was never that hot for kayaking anyway) but just having her along is a plus and a serious advantage for a solo paddler in Puget Sound. Two of us can live comfortably out of the weather for a week at a time. We don’t have the storage capabilities of a larger cruiser but all that means is we pack light and move stuff around a lot. The LED interior lights make for a pleasant interior after dark and comfortable reading in a dry bunk. Portable radios and ipods provide music and our laptops and the occasional DVD provide entertainment when we get tired of reading books.

The boat can do double-duty as a fishing boat (we’ve got downriggers) and scuba diving platform (although we don’t do that any more). I can install amateur radio and antennas (already have those) if I want. There is room for bulkhead-mounted LCD television if we absolutely have to have that. The enclosed head can be used to hang drysuits and fleece and wet gear.

Best of all, the boat is towable so we can take it to northern BC and launch at Prince Rupert to cross and explore Haida Gwai (the Queen Charlotte Islands) or down to Guaymas to re-visit the Sea of Cortez or to the Great Lakes or even Florida. And we can store it at home where I can work on it all winter. Here is a rundown on costs so far.

Original Equipment: Engine and outdrive with zero hours since overhaul; fly bridge with full controls, inside steering with full controls, a Bruce anchor and chain and rope rode, an older VHF radio but no antenna, teak exterior trim, mahogany interior trim, 120vac refrigerator in working order, Princess 2-burner propane stove but no propane tank nor locker, porta-potti in an enclosed head compartment, beat-up dinette table, incandescent running lights (disconnected and in a box), incandescent interior lights (4), newer upholstery on interior cushions of the dinette and vee-berth, one disconnected cockpit flood light, assorted removed trim pieces, broken fly-bridge plexiglass, trailer with incandescent lights, non-functional electric winch on the trailer, bare plywood floors, and a piece of plywood nailed over the fore hatch (but with an unfinished frame to fit the hatch).

Installed and servicable summer, 2009:

Electrical: LED interior lights ($150), LED running lights ($150), LED trailer lights ($89), LED cabin lantern ($5).

Electronics: Sony VHF Radio with DSCC and new 6db gain vertical antenna ($225), KVH digital compass with NMEA0183 output ($175), Garmin Colorado GPS ($400 including all US charts), Acer netbook computer with US/Alaska charts and GPS ($400), Digital and paper charts for B.C. ($250).

Mechanical: 12vdc fuel priming pump ($110), Garlick stainless steel outboard mount ($90), Mercury 4-stroke 9.9 hp outboard with charging cables ($900), 10’2″ Zodiac inflatable sport boat ($700), lightweight propane tank ($89), propane controls and solenoid ($89), propane locker and regulator ($20), rebuilt forward hatch with lexan and teak (on hand), rebuilt dinette table with teak fiddles (on hand).

Miscellaneous: marine exterior paint and varnish ($150), folding aluminum director’s chairs ($65), fenders ($50), cooler ($49), dishes, pans, eating utensils, etc. ($50), paper and digital charts for BC ($250).

Purchased and ready to install winter, 2009:

Webasto 4000btu diesel furnace ($400), Garmin 3006 GPS plotter with 3 chart chips covering Puget Sound, Outside Vancouver Island (B.C.) and Olympia to Prince Rupert ($700) plus depth sounder modules and network adapter, trailer load guides with LED lights ($90), Scotty downriggers (2 @ $50 each).

Planned for installation spring, 2010 (not yet purchased):

Garmin GMR radar unit with ARPA capabilities (used with KVH digital compass) ($900), teak and holly cabin sole ($200), mahogany and teak laminated kayak rack ($200), lexan fly-bridge wind deflectors ($100).

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