Everybody wants a brand new boat built to their specifications, their own unique designs, an exclusive colour scheme, with the hardware in specific places.
However, with the continual escalation in the cost of raw materials used in the construction of GRP or other synthetic material boats, the dream just seems to get further and further out of reach every year. Add on to that the labour, transport, electricity, and a multitude of other hidden costs and it becomes quite frightening. But fret not! There are other means to keep the dream alive!
If you don’t already own a boat that has served you and your friends well over the years, there’s a massive used boat market that holds some absolute gems. A word of caution, though: all that glitters is not necessarily gold, so take your time and do your research. Buy what will suit your needs, your pocket and your logistics. In this article I’ll attempt to give you some guidance in choosing the right boat and turning her into that boat you always dreamed of.
Let’s start by considering where you live, what your most regular point of entry will be like, how far you’ll have to travel and how many people you’ll want to take out. Through years of living and operating boats in both the Indian ocean of the East coast and in the unforgiving Atlantic ocean of the Western Cape, I’ve found that these sea conditions differ greatly and each has its unique set of challenges. The East coast, and in particular KZN, has a multitude of surf launch sites and short seas where the Cape has harbours and large oceanic swells – the prevailing winds are also different.
So here we need to decide on a style of boat and luckily we only have two basic choices, a catamaran or a mono ‘v’ hull. There are noteworthy differences in the characteristics and performance but it comes down to what you prefer. Catamarans have two hulls or pontoons with either a round or square tunnel running between them. Because of the twin-hull design, cats are often praised for being more stable at sea where in fact the only difference is that they roll and lean less, they pitch just as much as a mono hull. So if it’s that sideways lean that you don’t like, get a cat; if you need to run side-on to a wave, get a cat; if you need agility and quick get-up-and-go in the surf, get a cat. Oh, and if you like a wider deck, ditto.
A mono hull is the oldest of our ski-boat designs and because it rides lower in the water, it’s best suited to handle big swells, to cut into a head-on sea, and give a smoother ride with less banging. These hulls don’t bob around on the surface, they wallow in it. So when selecting a mono it’s all about the hull rising at different angles from its keel, bow and stern. The sharper the angle at the bow, the better it will cut the sea but by the same token they will have more of a mind of their own in a following sea, this is called bow-steer or broaching. Bow-steer is caused by a swell pushing the boat forward but you can avoid this by keeping your bow up a little – not too much otherwise you’ll labour, and drive the boat faster than the swell. Mono’s have a tendency to lean while running which is caused primarily by the rotation of the propellers, especially with a wind from the side.
This can be countered with the addition of trim tabs on the transom. They not only level your boat while running but also allow you to get the bow down further in a head-on sea for a faster and more economical run.
So now you’ve decided as to what hull you want, and perhaps your fairer half has decided on what the top should look like, the colour scheme and the interior décor.