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Old 11-05-2017, 13:09   #1
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Ok to buy older boats?

I notice that older boats often sell for 1/3 the price of similar boats that are newer and have the same general condition. For example, the new boat might be $500-600K, the same boat 10 years old might be $400K, and a comparable boat from 1980-1985 might only be $150K or even less. I guess part of this might be hours on the engine and part might be the styling. The boats from the 80s tend to have dated interiors.

I am familiar with aircraft and in that area it is ok and normal to buy older aircraft because other than engine hours the quality of the aircraft tends to remain stable over long periods of time.

Is this the case with boats, too, or are there hidden gotchas?

For example, with aircraft the integrity of the fuselage and structural members stays the same over time, but with a boat I could see there might be the possibility of rot hidden in cores and hidden corrosion that might be difficult or impossible to correct. Is that a worry, or do old boats hold up as well as aircraft?
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Old 11-05-2017, 13:28   #2
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

The hull can be compromised, hence a good inspection. Every boat is broken, just how bad and is it worth fixing.... I bought a 20 year old boat, cheaper to fix and build what I want than buy newer for me. There are great boats from the 50's, 60's out there as long as they have been taken care of. Brand, type, systems, style all come into play. It is often desirable to buy an older boat based on design and do a refit.
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Old 11-05-2017, 14:23   #3
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

I think that you're required to do the scheduled maintenance in a plane in order to be allowed to continue to fly it, and you must keep a log of the maintenance and repairs. With boats there's no such requirement for private owners, so you could have a boat that has just been kept up aesthetically but not mechanically or structurally.

Maybe a good compromise would be a seaplane? That way you get the worst of both worlds.
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Old 11-05-2017, 14:28   #4
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

No, buying older boats is not ok. Who gave you the idea that it would be! I demand they make themselves known!!
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Old 11-05-2017, 14:42   #5
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

No, monkey, say it isn't so. I'm in the process of buying a 30 year old boat; I sure hope it's okay.
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Old 11-05-2017, 15:13   #6
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

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No, monkey, say it isn't so. I'm in the process of buying a 30 year old boat; I sure hope it's okay.


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Old 11-05-2017, 15:31   #7
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

I'll take an old, well maintained production boat over a brand new production boat any day.
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Old 11-05-2017, 16:08   #8
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

Hey JSC,

It seems I'm not the only smartass here, so please bear with us. I think that pretty much everyone will agree that there's always something wrong with a used boat, but there are often things that could need to be addressed on newer, and sometimes even new, boats, but you're going to have more issues with older boats. Boats are more like houses in that they can look good at a quick glance, they can also look fine if you really go over them, but you should really have a pro take a look at them. This means a home inspector for a house, a surveyor for a boat. Even then, you need to find someone who's good and, even then, they'll miss stuff.

One of the members here, Boatpoker, is a surveyor in my neck of the woods and he has an incredibly detailed and helpful webpage outlining what you should be looking for at Marine Survey 101, Do your own marine survey Like a house, if you can do your own work, it's far cheaper and makes owning a used boat more palatable. From what I've read here, though, you're far better off in terms of overall cost and time commitment if you buy a boat that's been re-fitted than restoring one yourself.

It seems like there are two types of boat owners, those that know how to do the work themselves and those that can/chose to pay to have it done. There's probably a third type, those that just don't take care of the boat.

I'm cheap, so even if I had a million, I'd still be looking in the $50k range, though I'd be awfully tempted to stretch that for a Bristol Channel Cutter With an older boat you won't have the depreciation hit and you can get a great boat if you shop wisely. Hope that's helpful.

Mark
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:16   #9
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

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Originally Posted by jsc7 View Post

For example, with aircraft the integrity of the fuselage and structural members stays the same over time, but with a boat I could see there might be the possibility of rot hidden in cores and hidden corrosion that might be difficult or impossible to correct. Is that a worry, or do old boats hold up as well as aircraft?

In all seriousness, we've got a 41 year old sailboat, that has lead a hard life. At this point in time I would not hesitate to take it RTW, but deferred maintenance as well as sloppy practices by previous owners caused me to put about 1-2 years of labor and cash into it to revive it. I knew this going into it and have a skill set that allows me to do this. If you don't have the skill set and time/money, then an older boat is still an option, perhaps even a better one.

My reasoning is thus, an older boat In excellent condition has had a skilled or concentous (sp) previous owner who has taken the time and money to properly care for the boat. If not for this care the boat would be obviously deteriorated. A newer boat can be a deferred maintenance pit but not be obvious to the casual observer. My unscientific observation is that the decay rate of components without care is not linear, rather its exponential. For instance, the 2 year old boat that's been ridden hard and put away wet will look great for another 2 months after you purchase it, then it will begin to have rapid expensive failures. A well cared for older boat generally will not.
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:44   #10
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

I think comparable older boats are usually a much better deal than newer boats. In some cases the cost building to the high quality available in older boats is so high they are not available new anymore.

There are some materials that do not age well unless meticulously maintained. Steel and timber for example. Fibreglass tends to age better.

There seem to always be countless used boats on the market where the owner has spent years preparing the boat to cruise only to cruise a short period or not at all. These can be a good deal if the work has been done well because they include a lot of cruising goodies. $100,000 in upgrades may only change the asking price of the boat $10,000.

There are also risks buying new boats. Construction flaws. Unproven designs and technology. Risk of the builder going bankrupt before completion. Real risks that have cost new boat buyers many hundreds of thousands.
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Old 12-05-2017, 06:52   #11
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

A nice couple we knew way back. They bought a brand new boat because they didn't want to deal with the issues with a used boat....

This was in the Great Lakes and by the time the dealer got around to doing the warranty work on the engine, they effectively lost an entire year of use. It was covered under warranty but how much value is a lost year of use because you are waiting on the dealer who has you as a captive customer.

I will say, at 20-30yrs, the flaw in your analysis is to find an "equivalent" boat. Technology and style do move on. If you like the old salty boats, that can be a positive. It's hard to find wall to wall teak in new boats because it's gotten too expensive but it is likely to have odds and ends that need to be addressed. In the long run a used boat will typically get you more boat for the money even accounting for maintenance but you lose that "new car smell" factor.
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Old 12-05-2017, 07:25   #12
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

I have an older boat, 27 years. It is a complicated boat with almost every imaginable crusing piece of equipment. It has taken about 5 years to get it right, but now I have a great boat at a far lower cost than a comparable new boat. I have asked several friends who have bought new boats whether they would do it again, and the answer was uniformly NO. Each had their boat for more than 5 years. The general concensus was new boats required more money than they thought to set up, and more time than they thought to get right. Additionally, the depreciation hit was staggering. And, after 5 years, they had a old boat.
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Old 12-05-2017, 07:41   #13
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

I had a discussion with a good friend, that is a car salesman, concerning new vs old cars. He winked at me and said "Everyone in America drives a used car." Think about that for a moment..

With new you get much greater depreciation but you do not get trouble free. Cheeky Monkey on YouTube bought a brand new FP Helga 44 and a year later they still had not gotten their ice maker or autopilot to function. The ice maker not at all and the autopilot was sketchy.

I much prefer 10 years or older but as other have pointed out, a good survey will help you decide if it is a good deal or a bad deal.
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Old 12-05-2017, 08:10   #14
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

You can find boats that are old, well built, well equipped, well maintained, and relatively inexpensive. Some of them may well be better and safer than new boats.
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Old 12-05-2017, 08:14   #15
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Re: Ok to buy older boats?

Some production boats are great from the mold, some not.Fiberglass was cheaper in older boats days hence some have thicker hulls.It depends on what you want and how much money you can spend, how much work you are willing to do or pay for. The key to an older boat is upkeep or lack of. I ve seen boats 4-5 yrs old and never saw an oil change, others like me try to change at 200 hrs. . ALL boats need work and maintenance. i have a 36 yr. old pearson and im happy on limited money. 😁
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