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Old 16-09-2007, 14:41   #1
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Boats on the block

Sailboats going, going, gone

In Texas there's another way to get into boating on the cheap... The Watergate Yachting Center on Clear Lake recently held an auction of 14 boats. 5 boats weren't even bid on, the others went for 300-1000USD. The largest was a 1971 Ericson 32, went for $800.

If you're a handyman, or willing to pay the difference between the auction price and the average asking price on Yachtworld (17,900 as of just now) and have it professionally fixed up, you might be able to get a pretty nice boat this way.
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Old 16-09-2007, 15:57   #2
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Along the Scout pier at Watergate there are a number of boats in "Boat Jail", chained to a piling with a sign to contact the marina. It is really a shame that so many boaters will just quit paying slip rental and let the marina take their boat. Many are small and in rough shape but last year two S2s were up for sail. One year a guy known only as The Coach purchased two boats, took the mast and rigging off of boat one and put it on boat two, then hauled the hull of boat one into the bay and left it at anchor there. I'm guessing that the 32 this year was Three Quarter Time, named for Buffet's before the beach period. Every year there seems to be a rough gem or two.
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Old 16-09-2007, 16:45   #3
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Looking on the chart

I was looking at Clear Lake on the chart, and I was curious if it is fresh or salt water?
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Old 16-09-2007, 16:53   #4
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Amgine, those boats being sold under a mechanic's lein or storage lien often are worth just about what they are sold for--sometimes well less. In the US it is common for boatyards to have abandoned boats, and then sell them at auction. Sometimes they do the title paperwork, sometimes not. Most of the time, the boats have been semi-stripped and thoroughly water damaged (from rain accumulating for years) before they are sold, and it often would cost substantially more to put them back in condition than it would cost to simply buy a boat. Substantially.

Bargains? Few and far between on the US "yard queen" market. Not impossible--just unusual.
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Old 16-09-2007, 17:24   #5
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::nod::

Oh, I agree in part but...

If I had $18k cash in hand to spend for an Ericson 32, and was able to pick up a yard wreck for $800, that would leave me 17,200 in cash to spend on the rebuild. I don't know about TX, but here in the PNW I could have the boat gutted, rebuilt with custom cabinetry, repowered, new spars and rigging, and a simple suit of sails made, all done by professionals and probably with a few hundred left over for a short shakedown cruise.

Sure it would be a pretty simple, basic set up on an old hull design, but I'd get the same thing buying the sail-away boat only most of the gear would be in need of replacement - if not now, then soon.

The point is, if it gets down cheaper than the cost of a new mainsail, rebuilding it from scratch may be financially better than buying a cream puff. Not as good an investment, though.

Caveat: this would be less of the case if I a) didn't have the cash in hand and b) was silly enough to think I could save money by doing it myself. Almost always a DIY who hasn't a *lot* of experience will not save money either because it costs more for them to do the repair, or the results do not increase/maintain the value of the boat as much as the cost of the repair by a professional.
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Old 16-09-2007, 17:52   #6
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Clear Lake

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Originally Posted by Amgine View Post
I was looking at Clear Lake on the chart, and I was curious if it is fresh or salt water?
Clear Lake is considered brackish. There is noticable tidal flow where the Clear Creek channel enters Galveston Bay but nothing like you get in the PacNW. The weather influences the salinity of the lake more than the tides. Subsidance has made many of the older charts show the lake as more shallow than it is. The lake and bay are polluted, one chemical engineer joked that the only thing he could get out of his watermaker is paint but recent declines in fish stock has a number of groups working to clean up the area. Maybe more than you wanted to know...
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Old 16-09-2007, 18:22   #7
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"If I had $18k cash in hand to spend for an Ericson 32, and was able to pick up a yard wreck for $800, that would leave me 17,200 in cash to spend on the rebuild."
Whether it is in dollars or loonies, I can't believe that. The typical $800 yard queen would need an engine ($10-12000) or a major rebuild. Plus sails (4000? For a simple main and genoa?). Interior woodwork will run over $100/hour in the US before materials, and there's usually extensive rot in the bulkheads and floors in a yard queen. Add the typical deck rot as well--and the deck can be anywhere from a couple of grand to more than the price of a comparable boat.
I've seen a lot of "needs some work" boats, and know folks who've looked at a lot more. On the US auction market there's too much "auction fever" and boats are commonly bid up well over "retail" price, unless there's way more damage than the casual bidder would notice. Maybe it is just different markets--but if you really think you can do that well on auction boats, you've got a great investment opportunity down here. [g]

Most of the yard queens also have been stripped to some extent. The price of rebuilding a boat, one stanchion, one block, one boom at a time, is untenable down here. Maybe if you've got a local scrapyard, and you don't mind building a boat with "this is close enough" you can do it. But down here? For every bargain boat that has been put back on the water, there are probably 50 more that have been money pits, either abandoned a second time, or quietly resold at a loss. When you mention "new spars and rigging" do you have any idea what shipping alone costs for a new spar?! Once it exceeds 40 feet in length (and heaven help you at 45') the shipping itself can go into four figures. Unless you've got a local breakers' yard...Ouch.
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Old 16-09-2007, 20:04   #8
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Not to enter a specific dispute, but your numbers seem somewhat exaggerated over prices available on the net.

  • Rebuilt Atomic 4 - $4500, + 20 hrs yard rate labour in Port Townsend, WA $1000
  • SailRite Kit sails: Genoa $916, Main $774. In my quest for sails this summer the SailRite kits quoted out about 80% of the professional lofts, which results in a rough estimate of $2112.5 for the sails.
  • Yard rates in PT run about $50, and yard rats will all charge exactly and no less than half that, more for specialists or a reputation. While I couldn't give an exact number, I know a 28' boat which had the deck removed, simple 2-settee/v-berth installed (no head, simple insert galley aft) for $3,500. And that boat was considerably heavier than the 8800 of the Ericson. Mind you, the deck was not cored.
  • I haven't found a quote for the 32' mast. I expect it would be rather less that you assume, in part because Texas is home to a couple of spar makers.
As I said from the outset, I don't know what the total cost would be to rebuild a boat. But if one has cash in hand, and a floating boat being sold for less than the cost of the lead inside her, it suddenly becomes *much* more feasible to have a reasonably well-finished boat done by professionals for you, rather than by you. Even if everything cost twice as much as the above estimates it would still end up being rather near the budget I gave of 18,000. Even if it ran over by 25% it would end up being less than the two cream puff Ericson 32s for sale on Yachtworld.
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Old 16-09-2007, 20:28   #9
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I don't think this is a "debate" but it is a good topic of discussion. There is a Maxi 77 on the hard at our club. It's been there a while and the boat owner owes the club a fair amount of storage money. The mechanic we use pulled the inboard and saildrive and sealed the hull for the owner. Installed an outboard bracket and a couple of other jobs and has not paid any of that bill. The bottom is "half sanded and the rudder is missing.

I got offered this boat this weekend for about $700 USD. Hmmm.. I thought. Maybe I could fix it up and flip it.

Oh, the mast is cracked, there is no interior and there is two foot of rainwater in the cabin.

Mast boom & standing rigging - $14,000
Sails - $3-4000
Sheets, lines & incidentals - $2500
Bottom Paint - $1000
Top Paint (30% bare fiberglass) - $700
New Rudder - $750
Rewire + battery - $250

~$23,000+ - After that the boat is worth about $10,000 on the local market.

There is a 30 footer (not sure of type) fully complete with inboard power, solar, 8 foot dinghy & motor and basically sail away condition with an asking price of $20k.

It is sad to see a boat get to point that repairing it is more than it's worth repaired. If you take the long view you could justify putting $23,000 into it, sail for 5 years and convince yourself the boat will sell for $10,000. Then it's $13k for 5 years of sailing + whatever routine maintenance is. But that's not how most people look at it.
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Old 16-09-2007, 21:20   #10
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This one was auctioned off twice in our yard. The last time they just crushed it with the big fork truck.
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Old 17-09-2007, 11:30   #11
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::nod::

When I moored in Port Townsend I spent a lot of time hanging about in the yards. The problems always seemed to be the folks who had a lot of heart and dreams, but bought a fixerupper boat with every last dime they had with the plan to work while rebuilding it. It's very hard to maintain the dream while working one or two jobs and only being able to put a few hours a week on the boat.

It's one of the reasons I bought the best small boat I could with cash, so I wouldn't have anything on credit and nothing required before I could go sailing. Yes, there are things I need to upgrade before my next big cruise, and a lot of the gear is well-worn and could be upgraded. But only two jobs aboard will cost more than a single month's paycheck (motor and mast), neither of which need to be done yet. Well, I want to replace the propeller with an auto-feathering... so three things.

But looking back I do wonder if I might have been further ahead going with a yard wreck and paying to have it fixed up.
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Old 17-09-2007, 12:07   #12
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It is all in the timing. There are always going to be bone yard boats that no amount of money can save. But there are also going to be reasonable purchases. Both of the S2s mentioned before could have easily been resold for the price and both were in good shape. I know of a Flicka that sold for a couple of thousand dollars and it was seaworthy.

Anyway I have the secret for timing these penny on the dollar sales. They always happen within a month of me buying a boat and leaving the market.
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Old 17-09-2007, 13:12   #13
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This thread made me think as I have been eying this boat.
http://yachtworld.com/core/listing/boatDetails.jsp?currency=USD&units=Feet&currencyid =100&boat_id=1772480&checked_boats=1772480&back=%2 Fcore%2Flisting%2Fcache%2FsearchResults.jsp%3FtoPr ice%3D40000%26fromYear%3D1977%26type%3D%2528Sail%2 529%26sm%3D3%26cit%3Dtrue%26currencyid%3D100%26luo m%3D126%26fromLength%3D43%26slim%3Dquick&searchtyp e=
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