Season Statistics

2011 Engine Hours: 65.5 hours
2011 Generator Hours: 4.4 hours
2011 Fuel Purchased: 365.1 gallons

First season of power boating

That was an exciting and challenging season, full of fun and discovery.

© 2011 Hugh MacLeod's gapingvoid

It started in January with a four month long power boat research, selection, and boat purchase process. We have decided on and purchased a 2007 Chaparral 270 Signature cruiser in April. Our floating dock preparation took most of May. The new dock edging was installed, the existing shore water and electric services were redone.

Later, in June, the Canadian boating safety course and the exam ... passed ... score 94%.
Update: Grace has passed her boating exam in December ... score 94% as well!!!

In June, the insurance for boat and trailer, and the boat marine survey were arranged just before my trip to Idaho for boat delivery. Next, a long distance haul to Ontario with the USA/Canada border crossing. After that, the boat was serviced and launched. Later, the trailer was serviced, new tires were fitted, and the trailer was inspected for import to Canada. Finally, the boat and trailer were registered with the respective Canadian government agencies.

Okay ... the boat is in the water, all systems are ready, all taxes paid, all licences and registrations done ... enjoy the raid ... right? Well, no ... not so quickly. What else?

The top to bottom boat cleaning, carpets, upholstery, bilge, engine room, and never ending maintenance punch list, a marine version of a "honey-do" list. Also had to acquire and install new lines, fenders, fender racks, safety equipment. and replace a few worn or damaged items ... and the list goes on.

The mid-season boat bottom cleaning happened in August. It's a must maintenance item since the boat sits in water all the time and does not have any (ugly) antifouling paint on its bottom. The growth of organisms that attach to the hull over summer is significant, and affects the fuel economy and performance of the boat. We'll have to do something about it next year.

The season has ended in late October with the boat taken out of water for winterization and maintenance service. Finally, the boat was towed to a heated storage facility in early November.

The most important discovery

Operating a sterndrive powered boat is like sailing a sailboat without a rudder but only worse. Cut the engine and you lose any ability to steer the boat.

Another challenge is the ongoing boat maintenance and service. There is a lot to do before, during, and after the season ... especially on a power cruiser equipped with all the systems of a boat and of a small house, and then some more on the dock and shore. Operating a power boat is involved and expensive, and requires considerable amount of owner's time and attention.

State of boating industry

I have also learned that the boat building is still a very much a manual process, uneven, and prone to error. I was told numerous times that this is the state of the entire boating industry (in North America specifically, I presume). This leads to a lot of operational and quality issues with the boats manufactured here. The Chaparral boats are considered to be the top tier in their class ... it's hard to believe ... see the example below of how the lift for 300+ pound engine cover was installed. I can only imagine what type of issues the owners of lesser brands encounter.

That short-sighted culture of "good enough" and lack of leadership extends to the network of boat dealers. The boat dealerships and marine services are notoriously subpar as well. On the other hand ... I can sympathized with the boat dealerships which are between a rock (consumer) and a hard place (subpar boats coming from factories). There are some good boats, and even great places to buy and service your boat, but they are too few and far between.

The situation is somehow worse in rural parts of Canada where most marine services are mom-and-pop shops operated the same way for decades with little incentive to change, and with little funds to invest in service facilities, diagnostic equipment, and in computerized process and records. The end result ... the service is haphazard, and the service records are sporadic and scattered at best.

In addition to the inherent complexities of a power boat, there is a lot of issues with boat builders workmanship and with inefficient marine services. That creates a cumbersome and unnecessarily expensive proposition for the boat owners. Therefore, as I learn more about our boat and about power boats in general, I take on more and more of service and maintenance tasks to lessen my dependance on the dubious marine services out there.

All this is somehow reminiscent of the car industry in North America in the 80's and earlier. The boat industry, with some exceptions, seems to be stuck in the second half of the 20th century.

Season summary

In any case, it was great fun to get back on the water.

The weather was strange, sometimes hot and windy, but mostly sunny and good for boating. The Storm Irene disrupted the season in late August, and did a lot of damage on the East Coast of USA and Canada. The nearby areas, including Lake George in NY state, were hit hard. Although our summer location in Canada escaped the brunt of the storm, there were still strong winds and waves ... luckily, I was there to make sure the boat was tied down and secure. Grace happened to be in New Jersey right in the path of the storm's eye.

The Canadian Thanksgiving weekend was just awesome. True Indian Summer, sunny with temperatures well above average. We had great time and a relaxing long weekend cruise.

The season has ended with yet another weather incident ... the gale force winds in mid October. Note the extra lines going across the dock. It was an unexpected extension of the season since I could not get the boat out of the water as planned.

We have enjoyed the time on our new-to-us boat immensely. We have explored the new sites and took another look from a different perspective at the places we already knew. We have met new interesting people. We like the 1000 Islands region even more.

The only problem ... the boating season in Canada is way too short ... only five months, from mid May to mid October. Okay, five and half if you want to start early in May and freeze your chops in late October.

From the X-Files

Shit happens … or … who stole my drive cover?