Sailing on tthe cheap: Playing a rich man’s game with pennies.

Hello, Aces!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve had a post, but I’ve been coerced into decided to lend a hand, with this project! So for my first post, I would like to introduce our readers to our ‘new’ sailboat: Kiwi! Image

Alright, alright, let me explain…

Yes, it is, quite derelict. Nobody at the marina has any recollection of it ever leaving its slip, or the mast being raised. I’m also told that the poor thing weathered Hurricane Ike in that slip! She’s a tough little boat! This little boat came into our possession, via eBay. Quite simply, we were the only bidder, so it sold for the opening bid. Buying a boat without being able to inspect it before hand is a risky proposition. There are a great many things that really can’t be seen in pictures, however, this often keeps the bidding low. After the auction ended, we sent our payment, and a week later received documents and the location of our prize. It was a cold, rainy day as we walked down the maze of piers and at the second to last dock, was without a doubt, the scrubby little boat from the auction. It looked just like the pictures. I clambered aboard and pushed open the companion way hatch and found: A TREASURE CHEST!!


That is, if you consider dry-rot and mold to be treasures… So it was every bit as ugly on the inside as it was on the outside.


so gross… Note the filthy open compartment. It had a through-hull fitting that was removed years ago letting it flood and it was full of barnacles.

All, in all, this doesn’t seem like a very promising prospect in the least, BUT, it was floating and had a decent set of sails!

Now the thing that makes any old derelict worth buying at all, is the ability to fix things yourself. Luckily, the vast majority of marine repairs involve these four actions: Scrubbing, Sanding, Scraping, and Painting.


A quick Tutorial:

1. Open your dominant hand

2. Place it on a flat surface

3. Slide your hand 3 to 6 inches away from your body

4. slide your hand back to it’s position as described in step 2

5. repeat steps 3 and 4 for an indeterminate (long) time.

Congratulations! You can now do 90% of marine maintenance

(later you can practice this with a piece of newspaper on the floor)

Using the described methods above, for about 4 days, resulted in this!




The paint needs a little touch-up, and the toe-rail needs some screws replaced on the port-side, but other than that, She’s looking nice!


Interior is coming along, nicely, but obviously still needs some work. (the gross water on the floor was my fault.)

A little bit about what, exactly Kiwi, is:

Kiwi, is a Chrysler 22 Sandpiper (yeah, that Chrysler). They were built in Plano, TX, the hull was designed by Herreschoff. She has sleeping accommodations for five, a small slide-away kitchen, and a place for a portable toilet. It’s got a heavy iron keel for ballast, and a hull-mounted rudder. The intent was to make a small, trailerable sailboat with the stability and handling of a much larger boat. At a hefty 3000lbs, she is probably the heaviest of all 22′ sailboats. Though this may sound like a bad thing, the extra weight can help it carry more sail in heavy wind, and improve stability in heavy seas. The best feature of all, is the unusually large v-berth. It will sleep two people very comfortably. Over all, they are a fine little boat, but their resale value suffers from her unorthodox lines, and quirky engineering.

On buying a derelict boat:

If you’re handy, then by all means, go for it! Most of what you do is what I had mentioned above. Cleaning, scraping, sanding. etc… There are boats all over the place just waiting, and often even for free. The trick is to make sure it has a mast, good sails, and no major structural defects. Everything else is pretty manageable. At the very least, you can end up with a nice floating cottage to enjoy your weekends on!


Oh, one last thing… The winning bid: $200.

18 thoughts on “Sailing on tthe cheap: Playing a rich man’s game with pennies.

  1. That’s pretty! Got one here that needs a good cleaning. Oh, and I suppose something to pull the trailer would help too. Seems the vehicle for that moved to Houston. o.0

    • Trailer hitches are fairly inexpensive and pretty easy to install! Of course… you really need your lakes to be in liquid form for optimum performance. I’m guessing open water is a bit of a rarity in Michigan right now.

      • Yeah, there’s that too. I think one of our cars might handle putting Sonnet in and out. Heh. There’s open water on the Saginaw River. DNR is investigating a snowmobiler who went on the open water and killed a bunch of ducks.
        Also, it’s supposed to be above freezing next week! We have RAIN in our forecast! Heck, it got up to 31 1/2 today! Short sleeves!! Haha.

  2. Wow! Congratulations and thank you for sharing this process with all of us! The photos made it seem so much more real–you really did take an ugly duckling and make her beautiful. It certainly helps to be handy…and while I appreciate the lessons–I think I’ll leave the hard work to the three of you. I’m looking forward to many more photos and stories of your sailing adventures! ~Kathy

  3. Congratulations on your beautiful new boat! She’s scrubbed up well and what a pawesome project I’m sure she’ll be! It always makes me sad to see boats unloved in the marina… Kiwi is already glowing from your efforts and I’m looking forward to following your progress with her.

    • Adventure is waiting in Houston! Scrubbing the boat is way more fun than shoveling the snow. One of the best features, is that it’s perfectly acceptable to have a glass of wine while you work!

  4. What a steal! Your directions for cleaning a boat are pretty much what it takes to refinish most furniture, sanding and paint (or sealer) use the same basic motions. Isn’t it a great feeling to watch the beauty develop as you work? That’s one of my favorite parts.

    I hope to hear more about Kiwi.

  5. Thanks! Oh, it’s been extremely rewarding. I was really amazed to find that the fiberglass was in such good condition. In the auction pictures, it looked like it had rubbed against a dock for a long tie and had destroyed the color coat, but it turned out to be algae. The gel-coat is long gone, but that’s to be expected.

  6. Amazing transformation and what a great way to go about getting involved in boating! We’ve always been put off by the initial costs, but are fairly ‘handy’ so this may spark some interesting debates…

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