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Old 26-11-2014, 14:34   #1
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Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

My wife and I have been planning on buying a boat for several years now and are finally ready to make the jump. We are looking at power boats in the 45-55 foot range and we plan to keep it 3-5 years before we completely retire and move up to something bigger. We have ruled out buying new because we just can not stomach the huge depreciation hit.

We are trying to decide whether we should buy a recently used boat, perhaps 5 years old in the $325k range or go to something 15 years old in the 125k range.

We know there will be more maintenance with the older boat but is it significant enough to over come the higher price tag of a 5 year old boat.

Bottom line, should we buy a good 125k boat and spend 50k bringing it up to snuff, or buy a 325k boat that is already there, for the most part? Obviously the first boat will cost half the price, but will it require enough additional maintenance that we should just go with the newer boat? Can we expect the 125k (plus 50k in upgrades) to have roughly the same maintenance costs as the 5 year old boat?

I know, not easy questions to answer, but we would appreciate any input.
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Old 26-11-2014, 14:46   #2
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

To me if you are truely planning on retiring on the boat etc you should get the boat you want for that now. Getting the older boat is basically throwing money away on upgrading and maintaining it plus the depreciation and commission loss on sale (if you can sell it).

I got an older inbetween boat to start and kept it for 2 years. All it got me was 2 years of being on a boat that I knew wasn't the one and a loss $15k of upgrades and maintenance along with the loss of the money on payments.
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Old 26-11-2014, 14:56   #3
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

I'd keep my options open. There are a lot of very well maintained older boats out there, often with refits to make them exceptionally good value for a buyer. You have to look, and sift the wheat from the chafe, but you could get very lucky in this buyer's market.

And if that isn't successful, watch the newer boats too. Just don't eliminate a boat just on the basis of age.
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Old 26-11-2014, 15:02   #4
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

Thank you for your input Sailorboy. I should probably clarify our situation.

We are not looking to retire on the boat. We are fortunate enough in that we can afford to maintain our regular home and still escape to the water for half the year. Right now we are looking for, sort of, a starter boat. Something where we can find out if we will enjoy life on the water as much as we think we will. We just do not want to waste more money then we need to.

It is likely that we will sell this boat in 3-5 years and buy something a little nicer. I guess we are asking, if we are working on a 3-5 year plan, which is the best way to put us on the water with the least expense.

One of our thoughts is, the depreciation on the older boat will be very small compared to the 5 year old boat. But, will the added maintenance more than offset this amount.
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Old 26-11-2014, 15:13   #5
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by edpolton View Post
My wife and I have been planning on buying a boat for several years now and are finally ready to make the jump. We are looking at power boats in the 45-55 foot range and we plan to keep it 3-5 years before we completely retire and move up to something bigger. We have ruled out buying new because we just can not stomach the huge depreciation hit.

We are trying to decide whether we should buy a recently used boat, perhaps 5 years old in the $325k range or go to something 15 years old in the 125k range.

We know there will be more maintenance with the older boat but is it significant enough to over come the higher price tag of a 5 year old boat.

Bottom line, should we buy a good 125k boat and spend 50k bringing it up to snuff, or buy a 325k boat that is already there, for the most part? Obviously the first boat will cost half the price, but will it require enough additional maintenance that we should just go with the newer boat? Can we expect the 125k (plus 50k in upgrades) to have roughly the same maintenance costs as the 5 year old boat?

I know, not easy questions to answer, but we would appreciate any input.
The best value in a boat is one which has just had a major, no-expense spared refit by an irrationally loving owner. As SailorBoy above said -- money put into improvements of used boats is generally not recovered on sale. So why not be the beneficiary?

The worst value in a boat is a project boat -- unless you intend to do the work yourself, and value your own labor at zero. Most project boats are worth less than zero -- that is, free, is too expensive. Because the value after a major refit will be less than the cost of the refit.

Don't dismiss new out of hand. You pay for depreciation in lieu of repairs and upgrades -- and depreciation is a lot less hassle and detraction from cruising. To paraphrase the old divorce joke "why do people buy new boats and take the depreciation hit?" Answer: "Because it's worth it."

Boats are a bit like helicopters -- collection of parts, all with limited lifespan, flying (floating) in formation. At 5 years, many systems are getting ready to give up the ghost. By 10 years, you will have replaced most things already. The fact that you saved money on purchase price and can afford to spend something on replacement is cold comfort when that thing broke down in the middle of your irreplaceable summer cruise.

If I ever have another boat -- doubtful after all the vast quantities of time and money I've poured in to my (8 years old when I bought her) used boat -- I will buy new. YMMV.
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Old 26-11-2014, 15:13   #6
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

Howdy!

You pose an interesting question/scenario.

My first inclination is to say: "Buy the boat you want to keep."

But, after reading your responses to others, I think I can empathize with you, as I might find myself in a similar situation.

Given the expectation to keep the first vessel for a short time (3-5 years) and with the expectation that you will sell it later for a better/bigger boat, AND with the stated purpose of LEARNING how you might like owning and living on a boat, my suggestion then is:

Buy the older, less expensive boat. It may require fixing more things, and some things may break requiring expensive repairs. This IS part of learning and will prepare you in one way for the more expensive boat in the future. At the same time, you are learning as a couple of owners what you REALLY need and want in any boat. This is worth some investment. I would NOT spend a LOT of money on refit, given the short time you expect to own it.

I remember many times hearing that "No boat is a smart investment."

So, I don't look at the boats as investments that pay a return when sold. I look at them as investments in myself (and what I learn and enjoy while on them) and that IS worth spending some money on.

Life is short. Enjoy a boat, whichever one you can, while you can.

And, if you need someone to boat-sit your new yacht while you spend the other 6 months of a year in your home, let me know. I might be talked into it.
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Old 26-11-2014, 15:17   #7
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

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Originally Posted by Prairie Chicken View Post
I'd keep my options open. There are a lot of very well maintained older boats out there, often with refits to make them exceptionally good value for a buyer. You have to look, and sift the wheat from the chafe, but you could get very lucky in this buyer's market.

And if that isn't successful, watch the newer boats too. Just don't eliminate a boat just on the basis of age.
That is what I was thinking. On a new boat, the depreciation alone, over a 3 year period, would exceed the total cost of a 15 year old boat. I could buy a 125k boat and throw it away in 3 years and still be ahead of a new purchase, as longs a I do not get killed in maintenance costs.
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Old 26-11-2014, 15:28   #8
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

Thank you Dockhead and Steadyhand. I appreciate your comments and it has given much to think about.
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Old 26-11-2014, 15:30   #9
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

Before purchase you might want to contact your insurer to see at what age they will cover your new to you boat.

I am of the opinion that older is just as good as newer if it has been well maintained. Sometimes even better quality build. If you are in Washington State I can refer you to a beauty. Not mine and no kick back to me. Just a real beauty maintained wonderfully.
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Old 26-11-2014, 15:31   #10
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

Hi Ed and welcome to the forums!


How much handiwork and maintenance on your house do you do yourself? All boats need work/maintenance/upkeep, and not always but older ones need more than newer ones do in general. If you can do most of this yourself then you are essentially paying yourself $60-$130 an hour. On an older boat this all adds up. So if you feel like it and have initiative with the right boat you might be able to possibly break even when you sell.

Anyway, without knowing more about you, if you plan on working on the boat yourself mainly then an older boat might be the best choice, but if you are planning on hiring someone then a newer boat might be most cost effective in the long run.
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Old 26-11-2014, 15:32   #11
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

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Before purchase you might want to contact your insurer to see at what age they will cover your new to you boat.

I am of the opinion that older is just as good as newer if it has been well maintained. Sometimes even better quality build. If you are in Washington State I can refer you to a beauty. Not mine and no kick back to me. Just a real beauty maintained wonderfully.
Thanks. I will call my insurance agent.

I am actually in the Philadelphia area. I plan to sail the Delaware and Chesapeake area for the first couple of years.
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Old 26-11-2014, 15:50   #12
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

Potentially... any boat over maybe ~ 8 years could have a lot of repairs needed. For a power boat it's much about the engines as they are expensive. A lot of things go wrong with a boat due to lack of use also.... so it's not all about hours.


Do some research on the engines on any boat you consider. Try to glean the internet for repetitive comments.
Watch out for any cored hulls and decks.. make sure they are good.
Watch out for Teak decks that are screwed down.
Watch out for any fuel tanks.... especially in the Bilge area/under the floor boards.
Consider old electronics to be of little value.
Buy a boat with a molded deck/ cabin structure, not fiberglass over ply.
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Old 26-11-2014, 15:57   #13
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

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Hi Ed and welcome to the forums!


How much handiwork and maintenance on your house do you do yourself? All boats need work/maintenance/upkeep, and not always but older ones need more than newer ones do in general. If you can do most of this yourself then you are essentially paying yourself $60-$130 an hour. On an older boat this all adds up. So if you feel like it and have initiative with the right boat you might be able to possibly break even when you sell.

Anyway, without knowing more about you, if you plan on working on the boat yourself mainly then an older boat might be the best choice, but if you are planning on hiring someone then a newer boat might be most cost effective in the long run.
I actually built the house I live in, with my wife, over a ten year period. So I am no stranger to getting my hands dirty. However, I am a bit older now, and would really prefer to give much of the work over to someone else. Still, I have a feeling that I might get a bit bored on the water and take to doing my own repairs, just to keep busy. I get your point though. That is why I am not generally afraid of an older boat.
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Old 26-11-2014, 16:03   #14
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Potentially... any boat over maybe ~ 8 years could have a lot of repairs needed. For a power boat it's much about the engines as they are expensive. A lot of things go wrong with a boat due to lack of use also.... so it's not all about hours.


Do some research on the engines on any boat you consider. Try to glean the internet for repetitive comments.
Watch out for any cored hulls and decks.. make sure they are good.
Watch out for Teak decks that are screwed down.
Watch out for any fuel tanks.... especially in the Bilge area/under the floor boards.
Consider old electronics to be of little value.
Buy a boat with a molded deck/ cabin structure, not fiberglass over ply.
Thank you. I find that kind of info very helpful. I am a novice to boating. My wife grew up around them but it is new to me. Any comments on what to look for are greatly appreciated.
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Old 26-11-2014, 16:26   #15
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Re: Help - how old of a boat should we buy?

Ed,

I have another suggestion.

During the last year, a relatively new to boats forum member (I believe it was her first big boat) posted many questions on the POWER boat forum here on this site. There were hundreds (if not thousands) of comments from experienced boaters (motor boaters) who expressed ALL kinds of advice on what to look for, what to avoid, engine matters, refit, maintenance, and related topics as part of their answers to her general questions.

Using the search function of this forum should help you find the many threads/topics she started.

Some of the topics she started have over 1,000 COMMENTS or REPLIES from forum members! That is a lot of discussion!

I did a quick search for topics/threads/discussions STARTED by GalaxyGirl and came across many. Use the ADVANCED SEARCH function in that forum. It is very easy to use. The SEARCH tab is at the top half of the screen. If you click on the following link you should see the results of my quick search.
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...archid=7402696

Here is a link to the POWER boat section/forum of this site.
Powered Boats - Cruisers & Sailing Forums

She eventually purchased a 56 foot Hatteras Motor Yacht (as I recall). It was used, and now she is spending the winter living aboard it in Boston (as I recall).

I suggest you look for the threads (topics) started by Galaxygirl in the POWER boating forum here (you can use the link I posted up above to see the results of my search). I am sure you will find many answers to many questions within those discussions (as they do tend to go on and on and often cover issues not posed by the original question).

Good luck on your decision.
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