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Old 17-06-2013, 10:08   #1
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First Boat Purchase... Going to Have a Look at a Bristol 32

Hi all,

The joy and nerves of purchasing one's first boat are upon me. I've gone from pining for a boat from my "dream list", all of which are very much out of my price range, to shopping for something I can afford now. Enter the Bristols: from what I have read, they came from a respected yard where they were well designed and well laid, capable of passage making (yes, with upgrades), popular with a decent owners organization, and surprisingly affordable today.

Cutting to the chase, tonight, I'm going to view a 1968 Bristol 32 that's being offered for sale at a price that generated my interest. I've been more successful at finding data on the more popular 24's and 27's than I have the 32. That coupled with the fact that this is the first time I'm shopping for a yacht, I have (a myriad of) questions. I'll limit them.

Main concern: The boat is on the hard in the owner's driveway. The owner purchased it 1.5 years ago, then was in an accident that rendered him incapable of sailing. He's never had it in the water. He purchased it from a local marina (whom I've contacted; they don't remember the vessel off the top of their heads but are researching for me) who was selling it for an elderly man. The current owner seems knowledgable enough, but, I'm leery of purchasing without knowing when it was last in the water. Owner says that the seacocks, stuffing boxes, and fuel filters have been serviced along with new bottom paint, "amongst others". Most of his attention/work has been paid to the cabin.

If the first looks today are good, I'll be seeking someone with more knowledge than I to come and have a look see with me. But for tonight, here's what I'm looking for, please add to this list:

Leaking tanks (water in the bilge, fumes), engine run?, mold / signs of leakage in cabin, state of the electronics, quality of included sails, crazing, chainplates, condition of rigging...

Your experience and knowledge are always appreciated.
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Old 17-06-2013, 11:30   #2
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Re: First boat purchase... going to have a look at a Bristol 32

I love the way those Bristol 32's look. I have always wanted one, but their water line is only like 22' which is less than some of those 27' boats you have looked at. She'll be slow, but you'll probably be getting a lot of boat for the money.
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Old 17-06-2013, 11:36   #3
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Re: First boat purchase... going to have a look at a Bristol 32

Try this:

Boat Inspection Trip Tips - SailboatOwners.com

Good luck.
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Old 17-06-2013, 11:45   #4
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Re: First Boat Purchase... Going to Have a Look at a Bristol 32

ONE word only comes to mind: surveyor!
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Old 17-06-2013, 11:48   #5
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Thanks for the comments and link all.


After tonight's visit (as well as tonight's dock/marina/mooring cost & availability search) we'll see how it all feels. Being that its on the hard and has been, a surveyor is almost a without-question necessity.

Anyone know a great surveyor in the Long Island / NYC area who has a soft spot for eager, youthful adventure seekers?

-K
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Old 18-06-2013, 07:19   #6
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Old 18-06-2013, 07:52   #7
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Re: First Boat Purchase... Going to Have a Look at a Bristol 32

I would look for a sample where all the basics are sound: hull, bulkheads, deck, ballast, rudder, etc. Think of the boat as a system where some replacements and repairs consume plenty of time, skill and money while other elements can be repaired or replaced easily and at moderate cost.

Look at your present set of skills and see if you will need to outsource any possible works. Then value (get quotes) the missing part and add it to the straight purchase price.

Make a list of the regular things we do sometimes repair/fix: full bottom job, standing&running rigging replacement, a new sail, a new engine, etc. Have a good long look at this list and go over some 'what ifs'.

It is a very fine design and if built well, will last. If all structural elements are fine, she should be inexpensive to fix up and maintain, a joy to look at and to sail!

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Old 18-06-2013, 08:10   #8
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Re: First Boat Purchase... Going to Have a Look at a Bristol 32

You (and Surveyor) can do 90% of the inspection needed on the driveway - and if still interested the sale can be subject to a satisfactory sea trial (at your cost, including for the splash and return if no sale)....at that point will discover if she floats! and the engine works well (can usually start on the hard with a hosepipe, but owners often a bit reluctant - in any event that not the same as using her under load for a decent period).

Every used boat (and new ones!) require a couple of k of bits and bobs, some needed and some wanted.....whether these are paid for by cheque or by sweat (usually a mix) is down to the new owner - not always immediately though. not always!.....so don't expect perfection, nonetheless do expect to be replacing / fixing stuff at the getgo.....your inspections(s) are about finding out what and when - not so much about if!.......and do your own research (Google, Here and direct with suppliers / yards) for ballpark figures on what things cost to address, in cash and your time......and remember that if the Vendor can't prove when something was replaced then assume it hasn't and test. If it can't be tested then you need to consider replacement to be prudent.......of course that does not mean you always do, but it does mean you can't later claim to be surprised that the mast fell down or the seacocks failed.

Have fun looking!
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Old 18-06-2013, 08:18   #9
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Re: First Boat Purchase... Going to Have a Look at a Bristol 32

Quote:
Originally Posted by Navatech View Post
ONE word only comes to mind: surveyor!
BINGO!
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Old 18-06-2013, 08:49   #10
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Re: First Boat Purchase... Going to Have a Look at a Bristol 32

How are the maintenance logs onboard? Not just the engine, but essential components notes and service dates (rigging, sea cocks, etc.) go a long way, or at least receipts with dates. Particularly with stainless steel, even if the owner believes it to be in good shape and the surveyor doesn't find any defects, it's still a bit of a roll of the dice. Would be pretty nice to know if, say, that shiny-looking SS chainplate is 5 years old or 25. A good boat purchase survey is a must, but still has it's limitations in scope and detail. For instance, the surveyor will not be able to remove the chainplates to inspect for crevice corrosion.

I just bought my boat 2 years ago and this was my biggest take-away from the buying process. Of course, YMMV and when you buy an older boat, you can't expect everything to just be ready to go. May be room for negotiating on price if the records are totally lacking tho.
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Old 18-06-2013, 08:58   #11
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Re: First Boat Purchase... Going to Have a Look at a Bristol 32

The Bristol 32 originally came with an Atomic 4, which is a gas engine, but was later offered in diesel versions as well. If the B32 you're looking at has the Atomic 4, this would account for its affordability. Many sailors would walk away from the prospect of owning a sailboat with a gas engine. If that doesn't scare you off, just realize that the boat will be difficult to sell when the day comes to move up.
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Old 18-06-2013, 09:21   #12
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Re: First Boat Purchase... Going to Have a Look at a Bristol 32

Friends had a Bristol 29. The stuffing box was aft of the engine, and they couldn't access it to tighten it without removing the engine. The stuffing box is an item you want to have easy access to, to tighten (as needed) to limit water ingress.

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Old 18-06-2013, 09:57   #13
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Re: First Boat Purchase... Going to Have a Look at a Bristol 32

You can run the engine with a hose in the sea strainer.... If the boat is old and the fuel tanks are in the bilge (as opposed to aft or under setees) the tank is supect for sure. If not leaking now it will be soon unless it's Fiberglass or plastic.
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Old 18-06-2013, 10:26   #14
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Re: First Boat Purchase... Going to Have a Look at a Bristol 32

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
You can run the engine with a hose in the sea strainer.... If the boat is old and the fuel tanks are in the bilge (as opposed to aft or under setees) the tank is supect for sure. If not leaking now it will be soon unless it's Fiberglass or plastic.
.........and fibreglass or plastic tanks do split!, including from old age. But you will know that before even visiting, the visit about seeing how (much of the boat to be disassembled!) to remove them........and what tools needed, screwdriver (dream on!) or chainsaw ........or a cunning workaround, temporarily or permanently (either now or later - just in case old age catches up). Part of the fun of boats (at least for me!) is puzzling stuff out .

If possible I would want the engine run via a hosepipe (albeit some owners are reluctant), but really to see if it does run! - for a decent test will need to be run under load for a while (an hour or so) and for that will need a sea trial. But no harm in waving a Marine Engineer (mechanic!) at the engine beforehand for a look over, whether started or not - wayyy cheaper than a Surveyor and IMO can tell a lot about how the entire boat has been looked after by the state of the engine (and engine compartment!). Could even bring him (or another?) down for the seatrial later.......whatever the Vendor says, I would budget for a major service after purchase and useful to glean from your mechanic what you should be considering doing over the next few years / what to look out for and how.

Fingers crossed we get a few pics turn up in this thread in due course .
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Old 18-06-2013, 21:43   #15
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Re: First Boat Purchase... Going to Have a Look at a Bristol 32

A big thanks to everyone who has been contributing to this thread. I've read your advice and appreciate it all. I'd like to respond to each of you but time is short today.

I was able to see the boat last evening just after sunset. The initial looks from my inexperienced eye were good ones and I walked away excited. I woke up this morning more critical and grounded, enjoying the back-to-reality effect "sleeping on it" has had.

For various reasons (time, fear that I've already advertised this boat way too much on my own here and elsewhere, not wanting to bore, etc…) I'll not go into deailed specifics nor post all of the photos taken (there are many). For anyone who has taken an interest in this little quest or who is just curious to hear more or perhaps lend some more advice, PM me and I'll be glad to go over everything in detail as I'm wanting to do by the minute.

I liked the current owner / seller. Seemed as genuine and humble as a man can be. Gave me full access and answered all questions as best he could. Was proud of what little work he had done to the boat (new floor, little bits of cabin upgrades). Having never been able to sail the boat, there's little he could tell me regarding anything related to performance / seaworthiness / etc… He seems to be the 3rd owner…and I got the story of how it got to him: At his time of purchase, the then owner thought the boat may have been struck by lightning in a storm while moored and had the rigger at a Long Island marina go through the boat looking for signs of said strike. The rigger found none. Current owner says marina's rigger gave the standing rigging a good bill of health (chainplates, stays) except that the main shroud was 3/16" instead of recommended 1/4". This was 1.5 years ago. There is good stack of documentation that we did not have time to go through. You can tell it pains him to have to let it go and he seems to genuinely care for the boat. I like to think of myself as an empathetic person, but, I'm doing well to keep business and emotions separate.

Pros - She's pretty. She's clean… very clean, inside and out, lazarets to head. "Full keel" / non-centerboard, main traveler aft, tiller. Free of any hull defects / concerns. Looked straight to the naked eye. Paint looks OK but could probably use a fresh coat of bottom paint for good measure. Decks are solid, no soft spots, research confirmed that they're not cored. The Universal 3 cylinder diesel (age/hours unknown, forgot to ask) started up in 3 seconds from cold and was killed / restarted several times and purred like a kitten. Batteries well maintained as well as essential electronics. Very little slack in tiller / rudder. Prop spins nicely. No signs of leakage anywhere that I could see/stick a camera into (it had rained that day). No water in the bilge (thankfully since it has been on the hard for years). Water tanks are stainless. Holding tank plastic. Fuel tank stainless. Owner reports no leaks whatsoever from tanks. No fumes. All lines NOT led aft (hallelujah!). No crazing and only 2 cracks found in cabin fiberglass (corner of companionway on ceiling, and above port side ports at the curve of the cabin roof -- this last does cause a bit of concern as there looks to be water marks / stain around it).

Concerns - Being dismasted and rigged for transport, mast and standing rigging were hard / impossible to inspect last night (important bits hanging off the bow and stern a good 11 feet in the air, in the dark). Boom was free and looked good. Access to chainplates and through hulls from inside the cabin was blocked due to interior woodwork (see photo). Stanchion bases and other bolted hardware on deck showed signs of rust (see photo). A previous owner had replaced all ports and did a **** job / unfinished job of it on the interior; current ports are sealed (non-opening) and caulked/RTV'd; concern stems from the reason why they were replaced and not that they don't open. Winches have not been updated. Sails in questionable condition. Ancient roller furling. Will need new running rigging and possibly new / upgraded standing.

That's the short version of the long and short of it.

I'm now piecing together a financial picture of just what it will cost to: survey, purchase, insure, transport, step the mast, re-rig standing and running, launch, clean, paint, repair sail, find berth, prepare for everything to break, and stock the cooler

Unless some invisible-to-me-yet-glaring problem shows up, I think I'd be very happy to have this as a first boat. But, one careful step at a time.

Again, many thanks for all of your knowledge, opinions, and advice.
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