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Old 07-05-2015, 07:46   #1
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first boat project

Hello all,
I have recently been bitten by the cruising bug and have decided that it is time to buy a boat so maybe i can sail by next summer or in two. I live in Oregon and would mostly be using the boat as a costal cruiser in the region. At first I wanted to build a small boat like a core sound 20 but then decided that before I built a boat from scratch I might try my hand at refitting so I can get a handle on smaller projects before attempting to distill the totality of a boat on my first attempt. Thus I have decided to buy a project boat and get her seaworthy for my first boat. While looking for boats on CL I emailed a man with several projects. One of these is a 32' Cheoy lee from 1980. The hull looks good and the interior seems fine from the pictures. I am going to see the boat in person this weekend. The asking price is $6800. Is this a fair price and how expensive is it normally to refit these boats. I have been reading up on the manufacturer an I know that often the teak decks must be replaced etc. I am taking a year off of school to work on a project so i will have time to spare to focus on the boat. Is this too adventurous of a project for a first boat or is it reasonable to assume that I would be able to fix it up. I know that every boat is different so I will take any general suggestions as well as pointed criticisms haha.
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:53   #2
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Re: first boat project

Placing a value on a "project" (especially) boat is much more difficult. But it should be a small fraction of the value of the same boat in average condition. In other words, close to zero. And depending on your skill set, "cruising by next summer" might make you laugh when you think back on this, years from now...when you're still trying to get it ready for your cruise.

Buying a boat from a man, who also happens to own several other boat projects, should have raised such a huge red flag for you, that I get the uncomfortable feeling that you are about to have the adventure of your life. Not saying he is, but doesn't this sound like the proverbial corner used car salesman?

If you really want to be cruising by next summer, please spend the time it takes to find only a clean, well maintained boat that is ready to sea trial, and that will pass a stringent marine survey.

If the lure of cruising was simply the catalyst to bind you to a new career in used boat repair, then by all means proceed.

1st rule of yachting: When a collision is unavoidable, aim for something cheap.
"whatever spare parts you bring, you'll never need"--goboatingnow
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Old 07-05-2015, 09:24   #3
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Re: first boat project

That's a lovely boat and would make a nice project for the right person.

You are correct, the teak decks on these boats are often an issue. We almost bought one some years ago but changed our mind due to the decks.

Just keep in mind that depending on the extent of her needs time most likely will not be the only issue. (And depending on the extent of the refit, a year isn't a long time either.) Refitting an old sailboat isn't a cheap proposition. As a matter of fact we have learned (over and over and over) again, that more often we would have been way ahead of the game financially if we would have invested in something in better shape to start with.

When we started out restoring old boats we started small, with a Catalina 22, then graduated to a Bristol 24, a Cabo Rico 38, a Cape Dory 22 that was badly damaged in Hurricane Katrina, a Cape Dory 28, and now our Cape Dory 33. If we had started with one of the larger boats first I suspect it would have been way too overwhelming because you would be amazed at how much even a small boat can need if it has been neglected over a long period of time.

It is possible that this boat may be a good bargain if it is in good structural shape, is complete (not missing anything major) and has all of its hardware and gear in more or less working condition. But if it is little more than a shell, even if it is a sound and beautiful shell, you are not looking at a cheap way to get into cruising. You are going to need to size it up very carefully. Depending on your level of knowledge and experience this may or may not be something you are equipped to do. If not, and if you aren't willing to hire a surveyor, find someone who knows old boats, particularly sailboats, preferably of this type and vintage, and take them with you. Get Don Casey's book Inspecting the Aging Sailboat, and go over things item by item. Even after all the boats we have done we missed a few things during our initial inspection of our current boat that is going to cost us substantially. Figure out what you think the restoration will cost and then double it....a couple of times.

Now...on the other hand, if you want to do this old boat because you genuinely delight in the work, love the sense of accomplishment that comes from saving a beautiful old boat and from taking something old and making it new again, and the idea that when it is done it will be uniquely yours and everything will be exactly to your liking and specifications (we do), if you are in no particular hurry to get out on the water, and if you aren't bothered by the fact that in the end the boat may only realistically be worth a fraction in resale value of what you spent restoring and equipping it, then by all means, have a wonderful time. You will no doubt have a classic, head-turning cruising boat when you are finished. If she turns out to be everything you wanted and you keep her for a length of time the costs averaged out over time will work in your favor, until she reaches the point when it all has to be done again.

I'm not trying to dissuade you if you know it's what you want to do and you realize what you are getting into. We were never dissuaded and I am speaking from 5 restorations of experience (working on number 6, and so help me God it is the last), but just infusing a little harsh reality into the situation because I have met so many many many first timers over the years who bought these old boats, then hemorrhaged time and cash until they ran out of one or the other or both, only to walk away (with no cash and no boat) and a year down the line we'd see that same boat still sitting in the boat yard deteriorating away again until the next person comes along to start the process over again, or until the boatyard takes possession and cuts it up.

It's easy to get caught up in the notion that somehow this is a "cheap" way to own a cruising boat. Occassionally it can be. We've had one (possibly 2 with the one we have now) where we actually felt we came out on the right side of the equation. By that I mean we got exactly the boat we wanted and that the end cost didn't go astronomically above what the boat was actually worth. But in the other cases I feel we could have come out way ahead of the situation every time by buying a better boat in a less needy state of repair from the outset. And we would have spent a lot of additional years sailing instead of covered in fiberglass dust. Lucky for us we have enjoyed the process, otherwise this realization would really tick me off.

In my humble opinion what you need to find is a boat that is needy in regards to elbow grease but not in the stuff that costs lots of bucks. i.e. the engine runs, the sails are serviceable at least for a season or two, the rigging (standing and running) are decent, all of the basics are in place as far as hardware, no rotting decks, no delaminating hull, tanks (fuel and water) are good, you're not going to have to rip out and replace all the plumbing and electrical on day one, bulkheads and cockpit sole are sound, then you can probably get it sailing in relatively short order and make all your renovations and upgrades as time and money allow. Sandpaper, paint and varnish aren't that expensive. Take your time and love on the boat, get to know all her nooks, crannies and curves. New cushions, some interior paint, varnish, and decorative touches can make it feel like home. You'll still get the same sense of accomplishment without over-investing either time or money.
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Old 07-05-2015, 09:38   #4
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Re: first boat project

If you want the experience of restoring an old boat, learning all the skills involved, go for it. Just understand that it will take a tremendous amount of time and money. You won't be doing any cruising for years and years.

If cruising is what you want to do, spend your $6800 on a good condition boat, like a Catalina 27.
Bristol 31.1, SF Bay.
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