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Old 23-04-2010, 07:03   #1
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Boat Search: Does Fresh Paint Raise a Red Flag ?

Hi there, long time lurker here who finally got registered.

First about me, and what I want in a boat. I've been sailing for 40 years, everything from sunfish on a lake to a 33' sloop on short coastal cruises in New Hampshire/Maine. My plan at this point is to buy a smallish sailboat and single hand cruise back and forth between the Bahamas/Caribbean and New Hampshire/Maine (avoiding hurricane seasons and visiting family up north.)

The time frame for purchase is two to three years from now, when my princesses leave the nest. My cash budget will be about $17,000 for down payment and maintenance/upgrades. For example $10,000 down payment and $7,000 to get say a newer Catalina 309, or say $4,000 down pay and $13,000 to get a vintage boat in cruising shape. Then I'll have some $2,600 a month to make ends meet. Higher loan costs and mandatory insurance vs. higher maintenance costs, seems like it will come out more or less even financially.

Here's my dilemma. Hull blisters and sloppy repairs of them. I love the lines of old boats, I like the heavier displacement, I don't even mind boat maintenance and small repair projects. But the thought of having the boat up on the hard for months or a year while the hull dries out makes me sad from a liveaboard perspective.

I've seen a number of 1964-1969 boats that I'd love to purchase and which seem to be largely restored, including "recent" bottom, hull and deck paint. It seems a mushy core in a deck should be fairly easy enough for a surveyor to spot, but with new bottom paint, there's pretty much no way to tell if there's a chemical stew of bad repairs underneath, short of destructive testing. I've entirely left any 1980's boat out of my search.

Am I being paranoid? I do a whole lot of googling to see if specific models have specific problems. Does fresh paint raise a red flag when you're buying? Or is it just evidence of an owner who takes good care of their boat?


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Old 23-04-2010, 07:57   #2
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Fresh (bottom) paint is an indication of regular, routine, normal maintenance; not "good care".

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Old 23-04-2010, 08:02   #3
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You could "dig deeper" into the bottom without being too destructive. A small and shallow core should show you want you want to see as far as what has been applied under the bottom paint. However, it might take some expensive analysis to look at that sample to qualify what it is and if there are multiple layers of different goops and barrier coats that have been applied over time to create the chemical stew to which you refer.
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Old 23-04-2010, 08:43   #4
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Yes you are being paranoid Most boats built before 1973 don't have blister problems. They do have some blistering but it's usually minor. Carefully look through the interior of the boat where furniture meets hull looking for loose tabbing etc for any problems with the hull.
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Old 23-04-2010, 15:01   #5
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What's the rest like...

I'd interpret "fresh" paint as part of the overall condition of the boat. If it's clear that the boat has received regular maintenance/upgrades/repairs and the fresh paint is in accord then it might be OK.

Can you find a good local surveyor and discuss this with them?

The numbers you quote hint that the boats you are looking at are marginal on your budget.

The Catalina 309 looks like a nice boat but a quick search has them selling for about the $100k mark. That's a 90k loan which could take a large chunk of your budget.

I'd suggest thinking of fibreglass as being directly related to age. I very much doubt if 1980's boats are any worse than 1970's boats and in most cases I'd expect them to be better.

We've had a couple of posts about nice looking 36' boats with an asking price of around $30k with the feeling that for a good boat that may be considered a bargain.

Some may consider 36' to be a nice size for a cruising boat. Small enough to single hand, large enough for a couple to cruise. Mostly off the shelf parts are strong enough. Reasonable slip and marina fees. Big enough to live aboard if one has to.

So hows about looking for the next size up from the Catalina, hunting for that elusive bargain, waiting for the pennies to accumulate, and using a little of that money to bribe annoy help your Princesses for a little longer.

I'm not a big fan of fresh paint. If a boats going to be painted I'd like to be the one who does it.
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Old 23-04-2010, 16:19   #6
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Welcome to the forum.

I doubt you'll find much fresh paint on a boat you can pick up for $4,000. Especially not in the 36' range.

Regardless, you'll be less likely to see fresh paint if you purchase the boat in the late fall than in spring.
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Old 23-04-2010, 18:06   #7
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Thanks for the responses thus far. Just to clarify, I'm looking at boats in the 20 to 50K range. The 10K and 4K figures were down payments.
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Old 23-04-2010, 19:50   #8

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Puddlefish, in the Northeast US it is normal to paint the bottom in the spring before launching, annually. Painting in the fall, after hauling, would be unusual and more of a question.

You could always ask the seller (not the broker, they always claim to know nothing) if there was any blistering or blister repairing, and ask them to put that comment in the sale contract. If they're being honest, someplace between "clean as virgin snow" and "very few minor blisters" should be acceptable to both parties. Then at least if you do find extensive pox, you've got some recourse. Someone who's totally afraid to make any statement, probably has their reasons.
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Old 23-04-2010, 21:04   #9
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Also do not rely on a "surveyor" to find faults serious or minor in a prospective boat. Research, visit boat yards, and learn how a boat is built. There is a huge amount of information available in books, tapes(cd/dvd), and just watching what is being done in various boatyards.
- - There are plenty of "non-invasive" ways of examining and detecting problems with a prospective boat if you are willing to spend the time to learn. But in a low-end price range the bigger the boat the more problems you are likely to find. Studying the market values/sales prices of different styles and sizes of boats will show you the average price range for that size boat. If a particular boat is "low-balled" in its size/style range there is usually something significantly wrong or different about the boat.
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Old 01-08-2010, 14:45   #10
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"Also do not rely on a "surveyor" to find faults serious or minor in a prospective boat."
I love this quote, You MUST hire a surveyor, MUST, no ifs, ands or buts, if you want insurance or a boat loan, but don't expect the surveyor to be any good. There should be surveyor bonding and recourse for the customer if the insurance company and the bank are going to make you hop through that hoop. Why would a bank want this done if there is no recourse? With title insurance on your house at least you have someone to sue if they screw up.
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Old 01-08-2010, 15:31   #11

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"Why would a bank want this done if there is no recourse? "
I guess you missed the news about the housing mortgage crash in the last couple or three years, huh?

The banks want a survey so they can say there was a good reason to make a loan based on the surveyed value of the property. (House or boat.) If that value happens to be twice what it should be, that's OK too, because the sucker is still on the hook, the due dligience on the appraisal supply is done, and now some other sucker gets to buy off the loan.

I know someone who took out three mortgages, totalling $220,000, within one year for a property that was worth no more than $125,000 at it's peak according to all county comparables and local comparables.
Fraud is the new norm, all three lenders knew the property would never be worth that worth--but they had the appraisal.

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