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Cruising Life through the Eyes of Tom Neale

Project boat advice from the trenches

Tom NealeI’ve been buying boats for more than 50 years — sinking derelicts, kayaks, sailing dinghies, small power cruisers, center consoles and large motorsailers. Some have been new; most have not. I’ve learned some things in the process, through lessons hard and soft, and I’ll share a few here.

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My 50 cents’ worth on those 50 years

The cockpit of Tom's Tartan 27 served as a bathtub as did his Sportyak dinghy.When Soundings began 50 years ago, I was paying less than 50 cents a gallon to fill the 6-gallon tanks sliding around on the floor of my Glasspar Seafair Sedan. Now it’s going up about 50 cents a gallon every month.
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Sometimes a fix is easier than you think

Tom was liberated when he discovered bunk boards. No more trailer rollers to replace!When a problem pops up aboard a boat, it’s often just before or during a trip. When you got up in the morning, all you wanted was a good day on the water. What you’re getting is either a lousy day on the water or a lousy day wishing you were on the water and a boating budget once again blown.

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Red, right, return: buoys as rites of passage

Reaching the elusive Red Buoy as a youngster was just the beginning of Tom's cruising adventures.It was always out there. Way out there. Tethered by an old chain to a mushroom anchor at the end of the long shoal stretching between the Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers, where they joined in a Y to form the mighty York.

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The cruiser’s search for that plot of gold

Some opt to buy a waterfront lot and build a retirement home when their cruising winds down.Mel and I moved aboard full time in 1979. Since then we’ve traveled thousands of miles a year, spending 19 winters in the Bahamas and visiting many wonderful places. We’ve had some very tough times and some very good times, but we’ve loved the experience and would start again in a heartbeat.

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