Can you really put a price on that?

A friend of mine asked me how much it cost to build the Puddle Duck Racer, and I had to tell him I wasn’t exactly sure. There are too many variables in that equation: What should I count? Just the raw materials? What about the tools I bought? Does the trailer factor in? I decided I wanted to give my friend an answer, as well as find out for myself.

And the only way to give a full answer was to include everything. This meant going over a year’s worth of Amazon, eBay, and Home Depot purchases. Scouring my memory for the odd parts I bought here and there. All told, it took about an hour to sort through and catalog the online stuff, then about as long again to try and remember all the errata that’s been added along the way.

Here’s the fruits of my labor:

The one factor I couldn’t add to the list was time. I honestly have no idea how many hours were sunk into this project, or will be going forward. But as hard as it would be to figure that number, it would be even more difficult to quantify that against the rewards. For one, I really enjoyed building the boat. I love tinkering on all sorts of projects, but this one has been hugely rewarding. I got to use my muscles moving that beast around. Sawing, gluing, bending the wood to the curve I wanted. It felt really good to use my body to create. Additionally, my mind was tested. Improvising with materials I had in the garage to make things work. How was I going to rig the sails? Do I want to use option A, B, C, or D for the design of whatever part I was working on at the moment. I loved that experience too.

The best part and the reason I would do this all again: The feeling of trimming in the sails on launch day and zipping away from the shore in a boat built by my hands and mind. There’s no way you could put a price on that feeling.

That said, if you are the type that needs figures, I can estimate that feeling at about $817.83, plus hours of enjoyment in the garage…

5 thoughts on “Can you really put a price on that?

  1. I am currently building a modified-hull PDRacer and have had the same experience, and likely expense of building. Building one of these boats is like going on vacation for a week (or however long it takes to build it.) My last entry in the spreadsheet for materials alone was about $408.00. I consider that a bargain for the enjoyment that I have had. Yes, I had to spend some money to by supplies and equipment just as you did, but I can use some of the supplies and the equipment on my next boat! Life throws enough stress at us every day. We owe this to ourselves to enjoy the little things — some of which have the dimensions 4′ x 8′ and are wind-powered!

    • I just checked out your google doc links to your boat project. Looks pretty sharp so far. How stable do your rudder pintels/gudgeons feel? I can’t tell from the pics how thick those metal brackets are, and they appear to be a tad on the long side… I’m worried about how they’ll hold up to the torque. (Again, I can’t tell how thick / strong they are from the pics.)

    • Nice. Once I pull Serenity down from the rafters next spring, Molly has requested I paint “I aim to misbehave…” along the sides.

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