As I was thinking this pursuit of a pursuit thing through some more yesterday, I realized something: there's no reason that said pursuit has to be aviation related. Having finally had the thought it now seems obvious, and it opened some doors into some long-forgotten pursuits that were never really completed to my satisfaction. Once I started traveling down that path, it didn't take long to find something that could be a pretty nifty mix of project and desirable result.
I've long had an affinity for sailboats. Not as long or as strong as the airplane thing, mind you, but a long time nonetheless. I actually owned a share of a catamaran once, but it never got used. It was too complex and difficult to tow/rig for a first boat; it was like jumping from a trainer straight into something as challenging as an RV-6. Oh wait, I did that. Well, the 60-some Mooney hours probably helped. In any event, lesson learned. If I am to pursue this sailboat idea, it must be a simple boat, one that is easy to rig, easy to store, and easy to build.
Yes, I said build. In this amazing world of IKG (Instant Knowledge via Google), it is a simple matter to find more than you could ever want to know about things like, say, 'boat kits'. Within moments of wondering if such a thing was commonly available, I was looking at the web site of the Adirondack Guide Boat Company. From there, it was but a short jaunt to the Cedar Guideboat Kit. Beautiful boat, but long story short: too big, too heavy, and too expensive.
Google is rarely satisfied with providing only a single lead, of course, so it was on to the next link. Eventually I came across the web site for the Chesapeake Light Craft Company. This is exactly what I was looking for! A diverse collection of boats (too diverse, actually - I'm still trying to decide which one appeals to me the most) designed to be built by novices. They use a patented (funny how 'patented' is always seemed to marketed as a benefit, as if merely holding a patent on something makes it superior) technology for making a lap strake boat using the stitch & glue method. Yeah, I didn't know what that meant either, but it's a very good web site and the question was easily answered.
I'm not going to walk you through all of the various designs I looked at, each in turn being selected (albeit briefly) as the boat that I simply must have, but will instead cut to the chase and present the two finalists (although I encourage you to spend some time looking at the others - some are quite beautiful):
Now, obviously one of those is not a sailboat, but keep in mind that I'm keeping an open mind. The sailboat is called a Passagemaker Dinghy, and details can be found here. The long, narrow rowboat is called an Oxford Rowing Shell. Details are here.
The sailboat appeals in the way a Cessna 172 would: room for guests and simple to operate. The rowboat has the appeal of an RV-3: easy for a single person to move around and propel, and a healthy, fun way to exercise. Ok, that second point probably doesn't fit the RV-3 metaphor, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to make this post at least minimally germane to this site. It also has the selling point of being damned sexy looking, while the sailboat is somewhat homely. On the other hand, the rowboat is like a Pitts biplane: it's very good at one specific thing, but that's it. It's a single-tasker. The sailboat can also be motored or rowed, and it can be easily trailored. Ironic isn't it? (Well, no it's not if you didn't follow the link.)
I had a lot of questions about what it would entail to build one (quick answer: 100 hours, $3,850 including tools), and Google again showed the way: here's a blog that goes through every single step of building a Passagemaker. I suggest starting here and working your way back to the top if you're going to read it all. Just like this blog, it's organized in reverse chronological order.
As far as securing financing, (which, it seems, is always the crux of these matters) I'm still trying to determine the appropriate tack to take when floating this idea.... (Pun(s) intended, and yes, you can expect a lot of that if I start going all nautical!)