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Meet the owners

Richard and Cindy Randall are proud to be the current owners of COMPADRE. But "owners" is not quite the right word. "Custodians" is more nearly correct, as we are conscious of the fact that 2009 will mark the 80th anniversary of COMPADRE's launching, and with good care she could well last another 80 years. Our task is to maintain her to the best of our ability and to be sure we pass her on to the next owners in better shape than when we received her.

We are experienced boaters, but COMPADRE is our first power boat. Richard grew up in a family where sailing was a passion. He and Cindy have owned several sailboats, most recently a Tartan 31 named NORTHERN LIGHT. We have other interests, of course. When Cindy is not onboard COMPADRE, you might find her gardening or bird watching. We both enjoy hiking, snowshoeing, and generally exploring the Northwest outdoors.

So how do two sailing people end up with an old wooden power boat? It was not as big a leap as you might think. We arrived in the Northwest from Houston in 2005, attracted in part by the endless cruising opportunities and scenic beauty of the region. But after two cruising seasons we were beginning to think about alternatives to sitting in a cold, wet cockpit. Powerboats have long been favored here in the Northwest, where the waterways tend to be long, narrow, and relatively protected from strong winds and seas. Being inside out of the weather appealed to us, but we had trouble picturing ourselves in a modern fiberglass power boat.

Shortly after moving here we discovered several beautiful classic cruisers at the annual Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. We have always been interested in vintage stuff, including furniture, cars, and houses, so needless to say we were fascinated by these old boats. It didn't take long before we were talking to the owners and asking what was involved in owning a classic. The rest, as they say, is history.

Owning a classic vessel

So what's it like to own a classic yacht, or... "How could anyone be this crazy?" First we should emphasize that COMPADRE is an active cruising boat and not a show piece. We enjoy showing her at the various classic boat festivals in the region, but our main goal is to enjoy cruising in a boat we can be proud to own. So functionality sometimes prevails over authenticity when it comes to equipment decisions. We have modern electronic instruments, radar, hot and cold pressure water, refrigeration, etc., so we're not that different from your typical boat owners. But no microwave or TV-- you have to draw the line somewhere!

The big difference in owning a classic vessel is (you guessed it) the maintenance. We've heard owners say there is 3-4 hours maintenance for every hour of use. One has all the normal boat systems to maintain (plumbing, electrical, heat, engine, bottom paint, etc.) plus issues unique to wooden boats. It is not uncommon to have to replace the hull fasteners at some point, and perhaps replace some frames, floors, or planking. Each boat will have its own requirements, depending on its age, original materials, and the care it's been given. This is one area where wooden boats actually have the advantage, however. Unlike modern fiberglass boats, on a wooden boat virtually all the components are replaceable, provided you have a talented shipwright and the proper materials.

Having said all that, few can afford to have all their work done professionally. If you are interested in owning an classic boat, it helps if you have at least some basic boat-maintenance skills, and the time and interest to learn more. As with any boat, the various systems must be maintained regularly and repaired as needed. And then there's the varnishing, or "bright work". Most owners, including us, do their own varnishing, but other opt to have it done professionally. The important thing is to keep up with maintenance of all types, so that small problems don't grow to be large ones.

In any case, covered moorage is essential to preserve these old boats and to maintain them properly. We are fortunate to have affordable moorage at Bremerton Yacht Club, where we own our own boat shed.

You might say owning a classic is like owning any other boat, only more so! A certain pride of ownership is something all boat owners share. With these classics, however, there is the additional element of stewardship. These boats would not exist today if it were not for the interest and care taken by previous owners. Our responsibility is to continue that tradition.

You can learn more about practical aspects of classic-yacht ownership by following our Classic: Compadre blog.