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Old 13-02-2014, 03:32   #1
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Upgrading an ex charter boat.

Hi Guys n Gals

I am slowing coming around to the idea that in my search for a boat I might do well to buy an ex-charter boat and upgrade it.
Think $200k and maybe a Lagoon 38 or 410.
Most of these are fairly under equipped for any liveaboarder (?) but serve the purpose for the charter company.

What I am puzzling over is what Nav / Computer equipment (same thing these days) to install. The is a mass of useful threads on the subject all over these boards but they all seem to start from "I have this and that, what should I add to it to make it do X" and how much might that cost.

My question is then, how would you set-up from an almost blank canvas.
I have a Ham and Long range radio licence by the way
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Old 13-02-2014, 04:11   #2
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

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Originally Posted by Captain Ludd View Post
Hi Guys n Gals

I am slowing coming around to the idea that in my search for a boat I might do well to buy an ex-charter boat and upgrade it.
I have had similar thoughts. I reckon (rightly or wrongly) that most charters are new and are sold off at 5 years or so. Boats being boats, 5 years "wear and tear" is nothing as many boats last 30 or 40 years.

So, assuming that they have not had their keels damaged or been run into the pontoon or had a cooker fire, they should be in good order. With one exception - the engine.

All the ex-charter boats I have looked at have had high hours on the engine and this can be a significant portion of the engine's expected life. Engines are not cheap. There is also the VAT issue and most of these boats are exVAT.
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Old 13-02-2014, 04:15   #3
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

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Originally Posted by beverley View Post
I have had similar thoughts. I reckon (rightly or wrongly) that most charters are new and are sold off at 5 years or so. Boats being boats, 5 years "wear and tear" is nothing as many boats last 30 or 40 years.

So, assuming that they have not had their keels damaged or been run into the pontoon or had a cooker fire, they should be in good order. With one exception - the engine.

All the ex-charter boats I have looked at have had high hours on the engine and this can be a significant portion of the engine's expected life. Engines are not cheap. There is also the VAT issue and most of these boats are exVAT.
Thanks Beverley

Certainly worth keeping an eye on engine hours as you say.
I'm not too bothered about the VAT to be honest as I probably won't buy a boat in the UK and I'd rather be in the Sea of Cortez than the North Sea :-)
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Old 13-02-2014, 04:37   #4
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

Does it have any workable nav system? Even a handheld gps or tablet can get you going. If possible, I prefer to get to know a vessel before making major changes and upgrades. This way I can tailor the systems to fit our needs and styles as the boat and I get to know each other. That said, somebody smart and reasonable can recommend a certain system and it most likely would turn out satisfactory. I believe, however, that the advantage of a blank canvas is that you can paint an image to reflect your very own values and beliefs.

I don't have much experience with installing integrated systems, but if that is what you are leaning toward, the main thing is compatibility between components. Most new items will be wired NMEA 2000 which is making "plug and play" possible. I like wireless comms between components. An IPAD or other tablet makes an easy interface, but you may prefer a notebook/laptop or marine specific interface made by Garmin or Furuno. Somebody else will know much more about this than me, I have relatively basic systems. I just wanted to encourage you to consider waiting until you were able to clearly envision a design that fits your specific needs and style.
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Old 13-02-2014, 05:20   #5
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

The subject of ex-charter boats is a touchy one, with very polarized and firmly entrenched opinions. I believe that while ex-charter boats are not used carefully by charterers their selling price reflects that and there are some good deals to be had.
I bought an ex-charter Jeanneau 43DS and was very happy with the result. The insides and deck had seen a lot of use and had quite a bit of wear-and-tear but it was mostly cosmetic and easy to deal with.
The instrumentation was basic for charter boats in the Caribbean. Raymarine autopilot (somewhat undersized) and a VHF with a little chart plotter belowdecks. It had a small generator and A/C and all of the equipment was functioning.
I decided to wait before getting new equipment which would have included a radar and a wind generator and today I would also add an AIS transmitter/received to that minimum equipment list. The boat I chose came with sufficient anchor chain, something that most charter boats do not have and this would be an essential upgrade. The battery bank will be shot when you get the boat, as charterers will have run them flat many times and their capacity will be diminished and the bank itself will probably be too small for your use.

I have a SSB aboard my current boat and it is nice to use, but depending upon your cruising plans it might be too bulky, expensive and have too much of a battery drain for your planned boat.

My advice would be to ensure that you get a good pre-purchase survey and then sail the boat for a year before deciding upon adding big electronics. The engine hours are indeed high on charter boats, but the maintenance that the charter companies put into the engine is usually better than what private owners with low-hour engines do. The charter companies will ensure that the oil and oil filter changes are done regularly and marine diesels are pretty hardy beasts.
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Old 13-02-2014, 05:21   #6
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Ludd View Post
Hi Guys n Gals
My question is then, how would you set-up from an almost blank canvas.
Buying an ex-charter has been discussed a few times over the years, opinions vary - not something I would automatically exclude if the circumstances arose (albeit unlikely to ever to). A well used engine would not worry me, IMO all about maintanence history and current condition rather than hours. VAT? wot dat? .


On the Nav side I think that very much depends on what each person needs and wants.....and their budget!

Me would want (in no particular order):

- Echo Sounder
- Wind Speed indicator (my understanding is that cats a bit more big wind sensitive than monos)
- Chartplotter - detachable from helm.....anti theft! and usable at Nav Station, albeit mostly used for pilotage / course keeping rather than for Passage planning so jumbo size not uber criticial.
- Laptop, dual use (inc for CF!) - but also with Nav Charts loaded (passage planning and redundancy). Likely I would also have AIS on it.
- Screen / Monitor installed down below, a nice big screen would be on my "I want to have one" list!, even with a laptop (for me both bigger is better and I like using dual screens).
- AIS (on Laptop - see above)
- Weather info, would like something that provided weather info pretty much anywhere in the world......am not up to date on what is "Out there", but likely something down the pipe onto the Laptop.
- Sat Phone, only if some capacity was needed for the Weather Info.
- Smartphone and Tablet, redundancy and because it is the 21st Century and would have them anyway!
- Extra GPS units, including handheld.....redundancy and because I have a few floating around anyway
- Paper Charts! Me likes paper for passage planning, but I appreciate that a personal choice. Not a full set for RTW!, but enough to enable me to navigate self into reach of a coast using a handheld GPS and a pencil, or simply a pencil and DR (WAG!).
- VHF, a fixed set and a handheld.
- a Log, I like the paddlewheel simplicity (and independence form electronics) for speed.


- Radar? Unless in Foggy areas and / or heavy shipping lanes. for me on the nice to have list only - accepting that their would be times when it would be on the "I wish I had it" list
- Ham? Not for me, but if of interest to self then no bad idea - especially if it provides weather info.

I should also make clear that am not one of the (many!) CF members who are or have voyaged far and wide - but been "messing around in boats" since I was a kid, that includes pre GPS.........at the moment(?!) me is on an (endless!) refit of........a Seadog 30 (life has intervened more than a few times over the last 5 years or so - that and laziness. lol ).
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Old 13-02-2014, 05:21   #7
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

I can only speak for the charter boats around here, but most these days seem to come equipped with a basic array of electronics including a chartplotter. You'll probably find they'll need an autopilot in most cases as who in their right mind would trust a charterer with one on their boat? They don't have radars either. A lot of stuff these days integrates with other stuff using either NMEA 0183 or NMEA 2000 networking so various brands of stuff can often play together without too much trouble. The boats around here all carry VHF radios but they no longer have SSB radios because extended coverage of the chartering grounds is catered for by VHF repeaters.

As one who derives hours of entertainment listening to charterers during their "scheds" on the VHF I can tell you that the engines and batteries need to be inspected very carefully as they can be badly mistreated (e.g. run whilst overheated, props tangled in dinghy painters, run with no load to charge batteries for hours and hours, batteries totally discharged often etc etc). Funnily enough I never hear any charterers declaring they've run aground - unless of course they are unable to get off without calling for help!

From my observations, things with ex-charter boats to keep in mind is that they will come with only basic sails and sometimes a more conservative rig than an equivalent "owners version". The other big drawback is that the charter layouts tend to be crammed with additional heads and berths in order to squeeze as many people on board as possible.
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Old 13-02-2014, 06:31   #8
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

This is a period of huge disruption in the boat electronics sector with the emerging separation between hardware, software, and data. The data providers are now offering apps and applications that will run on commodity hardware, while there are software packages that also run on commodity hardware and use anyone's data. And the manufacturers of dedicated units are in turn upping their game and offering some pretty amazing technology.

If you go with dedicated, purpose-built hardware, you get reliability, simple installation, support, and some features you won't find on the PC/software front. If you go with PC/software you get more flexibility and update ability at lower cost, but with the headaches that go with PCs and networking.

While there are plenty of people who swear by their PC-based systems, and with good reason, I think it's still a few years away from what I would be comfortable with, and I'm from the technology industry and very comfortable with PCs. If I were buying right now, looking for an integrated suite of instruments and electronics, I'd probably go dedicated.

I've been pretty impressed with the current B&G Zeus line. Their instruments/plotter/radar suite is pretty killer on the functionality front. The SailSteer presentation of wind/nav data is totally brilliant. For radar you can use the SIMRAD 4G radar which is a bit ahead of the game ATM. If I was updating right now that is what I would go with. Raymarine, SIMRAD, Garmin, et. al. all make good stuff these days. It's largely a matter of how data is presented and which system "just makes sense" to you when you play with it and works for how you operate your vessel.

I would be sure to invest in a good set of wind instruments. While I sailed for decades without them, I now consider them to be one of the most important pieces of safety equipment that you can install on your boat. When you're at sea and it's pitch black with the wind topping 50 knots, having that information can be hugely helpful in handling the boat and making well informed decisions. Also, many systems integrate the data directly into the nav data calculations and presentation.

On the radar front, I agree that unless you're navigating in poor visibility it is of limited usefulness unless you're doing a ton of single handing on longer passages. It's an energy hog in many cases it can lead to a false sense of security. I once crossed paths on a long passage at sea with another 50' sloop and neither of us showed up on the other's very good and expensive radar. Rather disconcerting if you're relying too heavily on it to identify traffic.

If you're traveling far and wide I think SSB is mandatory...mostly for the community chit chat that you find on the various ad hoc nets in most areas, lol. It's a great way to stay in touch with people that you've met and find out who's at or arriving at your next destination, and for getting up-to-the-minute information for your area. Sailmail is nice to have too when you're off the internet. And, with HF WeatherFax, you can get weather fax right on your smart phone or tablet without even connecting it to the SSB.
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Old 14-02-2014, 08:51   #9
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

Thanks guys.
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Old 14-02-2014, 09:13   #10
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

in 2003 we started out with a blank page as we bought a new jeanneau with very limited electronics - we chose a total raymarine package - from wind, speed, depth, autopilot, radar and chartplotter --
first major additions were solar panels
we have since upgraded our chartplotter and radar to ais capable and added ais -
i have my ham and installed an icom 802 -
we added a fuel tank later and a watermaker in 2010

NOW -- the real question is what are you going to do with the boat -- it really makes a difference -- if saling at night radar is a must (in our opinion) --
but if you are just going to sail the cheaspeake you need less
so it really help to know what you are planning

for us our boat is in a constant state of upgrades
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Old 14-02-2014, 09:19   #11
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

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Originally Posted by chuckr View Post
in 2003 we started out with a blank page as we bought a new jeanneau with very limited electronics - we chose a total raymarine package - from wind, speed, depth, autopilot, radar and chartplotter --
first major additions were solar panels
we have since upgraded our chartplotter and radar to ais capable and added ais -
i have my ham and installed an icom 802 -
we added a fuel tank later and a watermaker in 2010

NOW -- the real question is what are you going to do with the boat -- it really makes a difference -- if saling at night radar is a must (in our opinion) --
but if you are just going to sail the cheaspeake you need less
so it really help to know what you are planning

for us our boat is in a constant state of upgrades
Thanks Chuck, exactly what I wanted.
So you are an "integrated" man.
I would also like a Radar and it is on my A list.

Do you find the solar panels enough ?
I was thinking I might need to add a wind generator (or two) as well.
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Old 14-02-2014, 10:17   #12
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

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.NOW -- the real question is what are you going to do with the boat -- it really makes a difference -- if saling at night radar is a must (in our opinion) --
but if you are just going to sail the cheaspeake you need less
so it really help to know what you are planning

for us our boat is in a constant state of upgrades
Sorry I missed the real question :-)
I guess it depends on where I finally buy the boat.
Truth be told I am not planning to bring the boat to the UK although if I buy the boat in the Med (EU) I may drift around a bit refitting/equipping before heading off.
I am probably going to end up in the Caribbean and go through the Panama canal at some point. Mostly I will be single handed but will probably bring my son to do any serious passages (he is a master 200).
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Old 14-02-2014, 11:09   #13
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Ludd View Post
Most of these are fairly under equipped for any liveaboarder (?) but serve the purpose for the charter company.
They are not under equipped. They are equipped to be independent of the base for a one week period, have a few hours resupply and then out for another week from base.
So the longest passage I have done (in time) is just four of these weeks - without the reprovisioning.

Its not a matter of the boat being good enough for you. Its a matter of how much unnecessary stuff you want to pile aboard!

I have put on NOTHING in 5 years including a circumnavigation!



OK now the slight adjustment to the above comment!
What I put on immediately before the first 1,000 mile passage:
EPIRB.

After 11,000 nms:
Additional house batteries, second hand, free
Addition 50 meters chain making 100 meters
2 x 220 watt solar panels.
Given an outboard

After 25,000 NMs
New Mainsail
New Oven

Completion of Circumnavigation 30,000nms
New VHF
New Dink
New second hand Genoa for free
New house battery bank
Replaced some rigging
AIS
Freezer

Coming up for this year:
Davits
Spray Hood/Dodger
Big haulout, incl through hulls.
Increase Battery bank and solar.
Modify Refrig and Freezer system


So my advice is to pile huge amounts of money into your new boat! Spend lots! Then when you find you have wasted tons of $$$ on things you never use then you can sell them for 10% at a swap meet.

Or, buy the boat, go sailing and in a years time start adding the things you really need

The time you buy a boat will be expensive enough as it is without tossing money into the air.


Finally the philosophy: Charter guests were paying $5,000 to $7,000 per WEEK to hire your boat. And you want moooooore?!







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Old 14-02-2014, 11:17   #14
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

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Originally Posted by Captain Ludd View Post
buy the boat in the Med (EU) I may drift around a bit refitting/equipping before heading off.
I am probably going to end up in the Caribbean and go through the Panama canal at some point. Mostly I will be single handed but will probably bring my son to do any serious passages (he is a master 200).
Then I would buy as little as possible, till you get to the Caribbean.
Reason: Gives you time to work out what you need and then the Caribbean is full of the cheapest chandelries in the world outsoide the USA. Also duty free ports etc.
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Old 14-02-2014, 11:59   #15
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Re: Upgrading an ex charter boat.

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Then I would buy as little as possible, till you get to the Caribbean.
Reason: Gives you time to work out what you need and then the Caribbean is full of the cheapest chandelries in the world outsoide the USA. Also duty free ports etc.
I didn't know that. Thanks.

So you say "not under-equipped for a liveaboard" and then you say what you have added over the years :-) Perhaps I should have not said "any liveaboarder" but for "me to live aboard".
I'd like to start off with some of these things tbh.
Just a question of what really.

Please bear in mind that this is at the discussion/learning stage, perhaps when faced with the costs I may decide to scale things down a tad.
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