A lot of people have very pessimistic views on projects and project boats. For most, its probably due a bad experience in the past.
Depending on your skill-set a project boat could be very rewarding and enjoyable. For me, working on my boat is a significant part of the joy of ownership
. Many others dread having to pull out a wrench or a paint brush.
There are a few things, if you have never refitted a boat, that you should understand.
To give you an idea where I am coming from (to put my experiences into perspective), I have a lot of trade
skills. I worked for 5 years as an auto mechanic
owning my own auto shop, I am also quite knowledgeable with electronics
(both house wiring
, and circuitry/theory). I also have done a fair bit of carpentry, both on boats and buildings, and finally I also have some painting experience (automotive bodywork/spray). Right now I have decided to go back to school
and i am working on a degree in electrical
The first thing that you NEED to know is boats aren't houses. Everything takes about 100x longer.
I did a total renovation
of a 4000sqft commercial
building in 3 months with a crew of around 5 people. We redid EVERYTHING. After demolition, we were left with 2 free-standing brick walls, a foundation, and some roof trussing over half the building. At the end of 3 months, we had a new building. If you put this amount of effort into the interior of a 40ft boat, you might be able to refurbish the existing layout if your lucky.
To put it into perspective, the time it took to do around 1500sqft of laminate flooring
, and 500sqft of tile (including cutting the corners off every tile and putting nice little "diamond" tiles at each corner) took less time than doing 80sqft of teak hardwood in my old 32ft bayliner express cruiser
When you can't really use trim to hide things, and everything is at odd angles and curves, every piece needs to be carefully templated, cut, and fastened. The cost is also at least 10x more for materials. No steel
, no wood that rots, no laminates, etc. Even wiring
is 3 times the price for marine grade.
My point is, it is very easy to bite off more than you can chew. My current
boat, a 49' defever power boat
, was definitely a project when I got it, however it was still fully functional and usable. I took it 1300nm up the west coast
when i bought it. So far I have spent a good 500+ hours refinishing the decks, repainting the hull
and cabins, and working on the wood trim. I have no yet even touched the interior.
I expected this amount of work, since this was not my first boat project, but to the non-marine trade
expert looking at the boat, they would likely say "meh, perhaps a couple weeks work".
I think the best statement i've read in here is "buying a project boat is like an flexible financing
plan". That is a great way to put it. In my case, i was able to use my trade skills and spare time to get into a boat, that in good condition, was beyond my means at the time. Also, while you most likely will NOT save money
, you do have the potential to increase quality. For example, after doing all the work on my boat, I could likely purchase
a similar boat in good condition for the money I have put in. But this boat would likely not have "stuff" brand new in the past 2 years (new paint, all wood freshly refinished/no buildup, new mechanical components, etc.).
In closing, my advice to you is, for your first boat project, buy something that "looks" like its in "well used" condition, with perhaps a couple broken pieces of equipment
... you'll soon find that this is actually quite a huge project. Take any estimates of cost and time and multiply by 10 (seriously).
If you approach project boats from this standpoint, there are still great deals out there (hell, you might even come out ahead if your really lucky), and you won't disappoint yourself.
Ps: the advice on layout is good. Trust me, you won't be significantly changing ANY boat's layout. Get this out of your head
now and it will save you regret, and possibly destroying a perfectly good hull.
pps: local classifieds are a good source of project boats... craigslist, local paper, etc.