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Old 22-12-2008, 21:57   #1
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Buying a boat - help!

I'm looking at a few different boats and I need some salty sailor advice. We're going to liveaboard and go cruising. We need a good boat for the two of us.

So we've came down to these finalists:

32' 1984 Union
34' 1984 Hunter
43' 1970 Columbia

Naturally space is a concern so we lean towards the Columbia, but the Union is a great little "offshore" boat from what we hear.

Which of these boats do you recommend? Would love to hear some nice salty tales about any of them.
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Old 22-12-2008, 22:15   #2
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Oops! Here's the links....

32' 1984 Union
34' 1984 Hunter
43' 1970 Columbia
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Old 22-12-2008, 23:35   #3
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The Columbia 43.....hands down. I delivered one just like that from Hawaii to California. Very comfortable, sea kindly boat. She takes a beating too. Doesn't go to weather like a modern race boat but is a real decent cruiser.

Bigger is better. She looks to be well cared for and decent upgrades.

I know I will get flack for this but that Hunter can pound like crazy going to wind.

I don't know anything about the Union. It looks a little like a Hans Christian. Typical Taiwan boat with tons of teak. Beautiful boat but you will hate yourself if you go cruising with those teak decks. I seen too many people (myself included) have to tear them off because they leak after a few ocean crossings.

You won't be sorry if you go bigger. Don't let the size intimidate you. Bigger boats are actually easier to sail.
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Old 23-12-2008, 00:03   #4
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Buying a boat - help!

Take two asprin and Call your psychologist now!..
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Old 23-12-2008, 00:03   #5
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Pre survey calculations...

The Columbia is 38 years old. It may need some very serious maintenance/upgrading/fixing etc.

You really need to work out what needs to be done to get it into a condition suitable for the cruising that you want to do.

This means a budget, work out how much and then triple it - and maybe add on some more.

And plan on some very serious time on the hard.

The smaller boats may not be as spacious, but they will be way cheaper to keep.
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Old 23-12-2008, 10:00   #6
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WTF?

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Buying a boat - help!

Take two asprin and Call your psychologist now!..
Which boat makes you think that?
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Old 23-12-2008, 10:02   #7
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The Columbia 43.....hands down. I delivered one just like that from Hawaii to California. Very comfortable, sea kindly boat. She takes a beating too. Doesn't go to weather like a modern race boat but is a real decent cruiser.

Bigger is better. She looks to be well cared for and decent upgrades.

I know I will get flack for this but that Hunter can pound like crazy going to wind.

I don't know anything about the Union. It looks a little like a Hans Christian. Typical Taiwan boat with tons of teak. Beautiful boat but you will hate yourself if you go cruising with those teak decks. I seen too many people (myself included) have to tear them off because they leak after a few ocean crossings.

You won't be sorry if you go bigger. Don't let the size intimidate you. Bigger boats are actually easier to sail.
So you would not recommend the Hunter based on this?

We're thinking really hard about that Columbia for space considerations. Would you say that boat would probably handle better than the Hunter?
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Old 23-12-2008, 10:53   #8
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I would have to flip a coin to choose between the Columbia & the Union. The Union hands down is prettier, and I don't know them personally. The Columbia is a tough boat, and a lot of bang for the buck. You have to take into consideration what boat needs what to come up with a final choice. Between these boats the Hunter isn't even in the running IMHO..................i2f
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Old 23-12-2008, 11:19   #9
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One thing that is holding me back a little on the Columbia is the hull. One of the pictures shows the hull repairs done. Should I let repair scars like that freak me out on a boat like this?
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Old 23-12-2008, 11:20   #10
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So you would not recommend the Hunter based on this?

We're thinking really hard about that Columbia for space considerations. Would you say that boat would probably handle better than the Hunter?
I have sailed both of those vessels. I am not saying that the Hunter is a "bad" boat. It is not as "Sea kindly" as the Columbia. That has more to do with size than anything else.

I lived aboard and cruised for 14 years straight. Trust me......bigger is better in every respect except maintenance. As the boat gets bigger, parts and labor cost more. The trick is to do everything yourself.

If I were to purchase that Columbia, I would remove the mast & rigging. Go through it thouroghly. I'd remove all of the chainplates and have them x-rayed.

I wouldn't care if the previous owner says that he just had all that done. If I were going to do extensive cruising on a 40-year-old vessel, I would want to KNOW the rig intimately. It will also increase your confidence in your boat.

I would also add a wind-vane to that boat.
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Old 23-12-2008, 11:27   #11
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I would have to flip a coin to choose between the Columbia & the Union. The Union hands down is prettier, and I don't know them personally. The Columbia is a tough boat, and a lot of bang for the buck. You have to take into consideration what boat needs what to come up with a final choice. Between these boats the Hunter isn't even in the running IMHO..................i2f
The Union is prettier and in the best shape of all of them too.

Do you think the Columbia is capable of going offshore even at her age? Or would that be just plain stupid?

I want a really sturdy boat, but I can't help but think that I need one of good size too. I found this impressive 34 Catalina and I'm thinking about calling these guys to take a look.

So far, I think I'm hearing, don't get the Hunter, the Columbia is old but a good boat, and the Union is pretty. Where does a 34 Catalina fit in these rankings?
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Old 23-12-2008, 11:36   #12
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One thing that is holding me back a little on the Columbia is the hull. One of the pictures shows the hull repairs done. Should I let repair scars like that freak me out on a boat like this?
I just wrote a long post and I lost it.......

Bottom line is "NO".

Get the boat surveyed and point that area out to the surveyor.

If you are looking at the white patch forward of the keel, that's pretty normal. That has a bolt-on keel. The seal often cracks and usually cosmetic. Have the keel bolts checked.

BTW.......offer the guy a lot less than he is asking. This is a buyer's market.
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Old 23-12-2008, 11:37   #13
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I just wrote a long post and I lost it.......

Bottom line is "NO".

Get the boat surveyed and point that area out to the surveyor.

BTW.......offer the guy a lot less than he is asking. This is a buyer's market.

I've been thinking about that. He's asking $49K, what should I offer in your opinion?
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Old 23-12-2008, 11:39   #14
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Remove the Hunter from the list as i2fro says its has nothing to do there.
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Old 23-12-2008, 12:27   #15
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I've been thinking about that. He's asking $49K, what should I offer in your opinion?
Offer him $35K....all he can do is say yes, no or counter-offer.

No matter what happens, have any boat that you buy surveyed. Buyer pays for the haul-out & survey if the boat is in the water. You may want to arrange an in-water survey before making an offer. Then haul the boat and have the survey completed.

The Catalina 34 sails nice but it's a pretty light boat, like the Hunter.

I'll bet the best built boat, in the 3 that you listed, is the Union. It looks like it was built in the same yard as my Passport 45. That thing was a tank. I just hated all that teak. The decks leaked like hell. I ended up cutting off the entire top layer of glass on the decks to get rid of the teak and the soaking wet core. I put in a new core and re-glassed the decks. Never had another problem with that boat. I just hated all the work that the teak trim was. The only way that I would buy a boat with teak decks is if the decks were installed with the vacuum system instead of screwing it down to a perfectly good F/G deck with 4,000 screws.

All that being said.......BIGGER is better........trust me.

My 1st circumnavigation was on a '69 Columbia 36. It was OK......I had to do a lot of reinforcing on that boat and it was not comfortable. It was more like "Camping" than "Living aboard". When we bought the Passport 45, we thought we died and went to heaven. Long ocean Passages became a lot more enjoyable. Foul weather was more of a nuisance than a threat. There was all the comforts of home and plenty of storage room.

The big draw-back was all the work on the teak. It looked terrible most of the time because we just didn't want to spend all of our time in port varnishing. When we did take the time, it was brutal because we had to take off all the old varnish and put on 6-10 coats. If I had it to do all over again, I would do a nice varnish job, let it sit for 3 months then sand and paint it. After I finished cruising, I'd sand off the paint and add a coat of varnish to bring her back to beautiful. The fact is, paint would look better than the old worn out varnish that we had most of the time.


EDIT:

I just looked at the hull pic again. It's pretty clear that he grounded that boat. There's a big chunk out of the bottom-front of the keel. That's why there was some separation in the front of the keel. That may or may-not be a big deal. Again, point it out to the surveyor.

Best case scenario, the keel bolts will need to be tightened. Make sure that they put a big leveraged pry-bar on the keel bolts, to make sure that the bolts don't turn inside the keel.

Worst case scenario, the keel bolts need to be replaced and maybe a hull stringer needs to be repaired. All that stuff can be repaired and the cost negotiated with the seller.
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