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Old 05-07-2012, 14:34   #1
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advice on a project boat purchase...

howdy all,

relatively new to the whole liveaboard cruising concept but looking forward to getting into it in the next few years....

a wee bit of background... i will be working an offshore rotation for the foreseeable future (3weeks on 3 off, or 4 on 4 off) which will give me plenty of shoreside time to learn the ins and outs of sailing, attend courses, rack up crewed passage time etc... but this will also give me time to attempt a project boat.

everything i've read re liveaboard long term cruising points directly toward being intimately familiar with your boat. so given a three to five year timeline to prepare for my first trans oceanic adventure, I was considering taking on a project boat... this way i could get to be completely involved in every system on the boat and know everything was totally ship shape for departure... and as a carpenter with engine rebuild and electrical experience I would not be intimidated by any part of the project...

ideally I would like to think that something along the lines of a 34' to 38' monohull with big displacement would be ideal for me. something that could take 3 crew comfortably on transat transpac down the line, but could be singlehanded in the fun areas (carribean, coastal US etc).

anyway, i've a couple of questions

1. Where does one FIND laid up project boats???? I presume there's a whole load of boats out there laid up in peoples back yards or abandoned in boatyards that have been allowed to go derelict over the years and are just waiting for someone to turn up with a fistful of cash to take them off their hands? especially in the recent economic climate... and I presume that very few of these make it onto the web as they are not seaworthy...

2. Any suggestions on a particular model? so i'm ideally looking for a bluewater full keel boat in that size range with 13k -18k lbs displacement, cutter rigged ideally GRP hulled that I can strip out and remodel to my idea of what my boat should be. (for example, as an engineery type I like the idea of a largish engine compartment so i can attach home built water maker, oversized alternator etc to the inboard engine) ideally something which has space for a double stern berth (so maybe centre cockpit... can you get that on boats under 45'?)


any help appreciated....
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Allio
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Old 05-07-2012, 15:30   #2
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

Sounds like you want a livaboard and a project boat?

Having just put 5 years and a heap of cash into a project boat I can safely say that they are way overrated.

Reading between the lines you appear to be youngish with no committed relationship but with a good income.

If I were in your place I'd look for a good livaboard sailboat or trawler. Something like the Out Island 41 comes to mind, but the USA looks to be full of very used older fibreglass boats. I wouldn't be too fussy about the boat type or condition as long as the engine worked OK and it was comfortable to live aboard. You'd also need a live aboard slip that suited your work area and times.

A comfortable liveaboard may not be that much more expensive than a project. Good project boats attract a premium price tag - those who own them generally know what they are worth.

Put the money that would have gone into the project in the bank, or even, given your time frame, an investment like quality real estate.

I see quite a few advantages in doing this. First you're not going to be locked into one particular boat (assuming what you buy can be scrapped or sold after 5 years). After that much time living on a boat your ideas on what makes a good boat will change. You might even want (shudder) a catamaran.

Second, you should be able to build up a good nest egg. You should be aiming for financial security, not to be pouring money into a bottomless pit.

Third, what you buy will be useable, even if only in smooth water, and you'd build up boat handling skills that are much more important than maintenance skills.

Fourth, your relationship will, most likely, change. Not being locked into a particular boat will give you much more latitude in what you can and can't do.

And the fifth, and possibly most important advantage, is that once you start living on a boat your mindset may change. Your current desire to rip things apart and to create could evaporate and you could find yourself in a more relaxed and comfortable space.
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Old 05-07-2012, 16:09   #3
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

Though it seems to be a cheaper way into a cruising boat, many of the project boats you'll find are just somebody elses project they gave up on. Your project time is better spent making an income that can be saved up to buy a boat that's not a project but almost ready to go. I don't care if you bought a brand new boat, you'll always have plenty of projects to test your skills. The hidden costs in project boats are many. Work like a fiend, save like a miser and find a project dingy to keep you busy on your off hours.
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Old 05-07-2012, 16:19   #4
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

Having built three sailboats that were all project boats, I would consider carefully before you delve into one that is far from being finished. The reason as you stated is the economy. There are boats ready to sail in your size range at a fraction of the cost. If you think the housing market is depressed the boating market has taken even a greater hit.

I have right now next to my house in Florida an Allied 31 Seawind that I have been toying with for a few years. At it’s present stage it will be another 15K before she is seaworthy.

Up pops for sale a Slocum 37, a 14-ton true blue water double-ended gem for 34K. I got her for 29K and all she needs is some TLC (paint job, minor interior work and varnish) and some systems installed (holding and water tanks). She sails and has a Perkins 4-108 with low hours. The systems on board all work including refrigeration and marine air. The rig alone, she has a double spreader Isomat mast, cutter rigged with 2 Pro Furls and a Furlex after the mast extension for internal main furling plus 10 self tailing winches etc, etc.. The rig alone if purchased separately would cost more than the purchase price. Getting the point?

Before you go off on a project boat figure what it will cost you and the time you will invest doing it. Due to our economic times this is the time to buy a boat ready or almost ready to go, unless of course you’d rather build then sail.

RT
PS Want to buy a cutter rigged Seawind…….cheap? Any offer considered. My wife is on my case.
PPS Any suggestion on how to break the news of my new purchase to the wife would be appreciated. I’m in deep sh*t!
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Old 05-07-2012, 16:28   #5
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

Lot's of advice on the 'save up and buy when you can'. And in 20 years or so maybe you'll be able to take off over the horizon...if you still have enough strength to turn a winch.

If you want a project, I say go for it. My boat was far from a project boat. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to turn it into one

Being involved in the project is an adventure in and of itself. Sure, I could have avoided the project. Saved up money for another 10 years and paid someone to do all the work I've done. But this project has truly enhanced my appreciation and understanding of the vessel and of boat construction in general.

The first thing you need to do is put the idea that it will be 'cheaper' to get a project boat and work on it. As mentioned, it can often be more expensive, but that's only if you're truly dedicated. Financially, what you do get is what I call a 'flexible payment plan'. Need to go to Home Depot and buy 3 packages of SS#8 nuts? Well, you just paid Home Depot $4 to finance your boat.

I am in the home stretch of our rebuild. Even then we'll be at best 95% complete. The last 2 years have been some of the best of my boat ownership.

The worst thing that can happen, though, is if you lose your committment. Boat yards are littered with good intentions. Don't litter!
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Old 05-07-2012, 16:33   #6
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

If you don't have a great deal of sailing time under your keel then I would focus on that end of things, basically to see if you actually like it enough - before jumping in feet first to a project for a few years. FWIW, you sound better equipped than many to go down that road, whether it is sensible for you (or anyone else?!) is another matter.....as plusses and minuses - both of those are touched upon in the thread contained in my signature below. Well worth a read.
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Old 05-07-2012, 16:53   #7
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

cheers,

Some confusion maybe. I'm land based at the moment (farm near the sea when onshore) and will be for the foreseeable future, so have access to a large empty barn, lot's and lot's of relevent tools and have no fear of rebuilding a beat to **** engine...

I don't want to have to do the hull and deck but have all the skills to have a good go at the interior...

as i mentioned my motivation for doing the refit myself is that it will mean i will be fully familiar with every nut and bolt in every part of the boat. i'll gain all the maintenance skills that seem to be required for long cruising trips (rebedding thru hulls, repairing core damage, fibreglassing etc etc). secondly it will keep me out of the bar when onshore. A lot of perpetual cruisers seem to champion the idea of preemptive maintenace on the hard before departure so you know that the likelihood of failiures is low as everything is relatively new...

anyway, where did you manage to pick up the out island from. that's the point. the cheapest one i see ready to go on tinternet is $55000 and you got yours for 29k? does one just walk into a boatyard and start haggling? where do all the doomed/half finished projects end up? and how does one go about laying your hands on one?

alan
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Old 05-07-2012, 16:59   #8
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
If you don't have a great deal of sailing time under your keel then I would focus on that end of things, basically to see if you actually like it enough - before jumping in feet first to a project for a few years. FWIW, you sound better equipped than many to go down that road, whether it is sensible for you (or anyone else?!) is another matter.....as plusses and minuses - both of those are touched upon in the thread contained in my signature below. Well worth a read.
i've done a lot of watersports in the past (extreme kayaking, surfing, kayak surfing) and have been out to sea a good few times on fishing boats, small rowboats pulling lobster pots etc. I'm comfortable with minimalist living in a confined space (I spent six months living in a tent in WV working the whitewater rafting scene!!!). I plan on doing a day/coastal skipper course early next year and start doing passages as crew relatively quickly after that....
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Old 05-07-2012, 17:26   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allio
2. Any suggestions on a particular model? so i'm ideally looking for a bluewater full keel boat in that size range with 13k -18k lbs displacement, cutter rigged ideally GRP hulled that I can strip out and remodel to my idea of what my boat should be. (for example, as an engineery type I like the idea of a largish engine compartment so i can attach home built water maker, oversized alternator etc to the inboard engine) ideally something which has space for a double stern berth (so maybe centre cockpit... can you get that on boats under 45'?)
Welcome to the forum.

Your idea of stripping out an interior so as to remake it according to your own idea of what a boat should be sounds a bit naive. Much of the interior of a sailboat, especially the bulkheads, is structural. That bulkhead may be where it is because that's where it's needed to anchor the chainplates, which happen to be where they are because that's where the mast happens to be. You go moving that bulkhead to create a larger engine room and all the sudden you may not have a way to keep the mast up.

A better approach might be to find a boat you like to begin with. For example, your description of what you're looking for might match a Tayana 37, zillions of which were built. Not too hard to find one of those that could use a refit, although you'll probably end up dealing with teak decks at some point. The point here is to start searching for a boat you like rather than a boat that needs a complete refit before it can function.

The problem with project boats is that they never make economical sense. Guys end up pouring $150,000, plus years of labor, into a boat that they'll only be able to sell for $75,000.
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Old 05-07-2012, 20:51   #10
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

i'm 4 pages into the refitting/refurbing thread DOJ started....

I'm aiming for a boat that can tackle high seas and oceanic sailing down the line. from a personal comfort point of view, i'll guarantee my own work but don't know if i'd trust a boat that someone's selling on the cheap... surely the point of the refurb refit is that you'll know the boat will be good when you're 1000 miles out to sea....

my goal would not be pretty, don't believe in fancy pants, I believe in solid and serviceable.... another reason for wanting to prod into all the nooks and crannies that only a refurb would allow....
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:05   #11
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

The fundamental problem with a project boat is that most cheap boats will be old, an unpopular model and in poor condition.

You can fix the poor condition but the unpopular model and old issues are unfixable. You may end up with a good boat, but when resale time comes around it will be worth little, if anything.

Consider one of the all time classic cruising boats like the KP44. Note that the asking price is still round the $100k mark. Refurbishing a classic like these could be rewarding, but it's going to be a $200k+ and 5 year project.

Now consider a modern classic like the Beneteau Oceanic 473. A 6 year old one, ex charter, has an asking of under $140k, so it would be possible to be cruising starting anywhere in the world for about that figure, without 5 years of dangerous backbreaking work. In my opinion a shallow draft 423 could be a better cruising boat, just not as fast.

My point remains that for less than the cost of restoring an old boat you can step aboard a good cruising yacht in any major cruising area in the world for less than it would cost to rebuild a project boat.

Having built and refitted several yachts if I was silly enough to do it again I'd be looking at a 22 - 28' trailable centreboarder (I like the gary Mull designs), keeping the money in my pocket and buying a modern boat in good condition when i was ready to go.
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Old 06-07-2012, 04:27   #12
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allio View Post
i'm 4 pages into the refitting/refurbing thread DOJ started....

I'm aiming for a boat that can tackle high seas and oceanic sailing down the line. from a personal comfort point of view, i'll guarantee my own work but don't know if i'd trust a boat that someone's selling on the cheap... surely the point of the refurb refit is that you'll know the boat will be good when you're 1000 miles out to sea....

my goal would not be pretty, don't believe in fancy pants, I believe in solid and serviceable.... another reason for wanting to prod into all the nooks and crannies that only a refurb would allow....
I understand where you are coming from (and despite some of the comments from others in this thread, I suspect they do as well) - but the big caution is that it is easy (oh so easy!) to bite off more than can be chewed. and sometimes the sensible thing is to give up, despite the cost ($$$) of doing so. Go in by all means, but eyes wide open and accepting that nonetheless there will be a learning curve and the unexpected along the way. and more time and money than you thought.

I hope you got past page 4 of that thread - and picked up the things that tended to get repeated (from various people - I tried not to make that thread about me telling folk what to do (as if I know everything ), more about folks sharing their experiances / lessons learnt - including never again!).

I won't say there are any great "tricks" to success, but IMO at the top of the list would be buying the right boat (for the right price) - cheap does not always (usually?!) mean cheap in the long term, some boats can genuinely be worthless - no matter the sale price. and some can be even worse than that!.....and also very important is planning / management (of project and self!), sooner or later you will need to understand everything that is needed, when and how and how much it will cost, the more of that you understand before buying the boat the better (and less unexpected $$$$ surprises)....but have to accept that there will always be those. But a boat project plan much like any other - doesn't survive intact from first contact with the "enemy".

You also need to get something out of the whole project personally, whilst not neccesarily 24/7 enjoyment (dream on!) nonetheless more than simply a route to saving money and / or a fuzzy dream of palm trees at the end of it all. Probably something about the sense of satisfaction / accomplishment from the tasks involved (as well as the end product). or summit

The good news is that most things are within the scope of someone reasonably able and willing to give things a go / get stuck in (and you sound more able than some / many - and that indoor working area and extended working periods would be big advantages), accepting that some / much will require puzzling out and advice from others (welcome to CF ) - it is not so much the difficulty of each of the tasks required that defeats folks, it is the number of them. Time, money, enthusiasm (even wives) run out eventually for everyone.

Really the biggest factor in making a succesful project complete is you. Plusses and minuses to that of course!

The joke is that boat refurbs are the male equivalent of childbirth after each folks often swear never again!.......but memories fade .

Anyway, bon voyage / happy hammering .
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Old 06-07-2012, 06:48   #13
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

There are project boats and then there are project boats. You say you want a project so that you will know every nut and bolt on the boat. Okay, that's an admirable goal. The thing you need to be careful about is spending a lot of time and money on projects that do little or nothing to help you to "know" your boat better.

For example, will it make you more competent to deal with issues that might come up while at sea, if you have to spend hours and hours (not to mention thousands of dollars) repairing blisters and/or delaminated decks? No, not really. How about needing to replace stanchions, leaking portholes, or that sort of thing? Well, that's maybe a little more useful experience, but still not all that much.

The point being, for a project boat to serve the purpose that you want it to, it has to be a very particular project boat. Not just any old piece of junk project. So don't rush into this. Go slow. Do some research. Find the right boat for you. And most importantly, remember that any boat project--most especially a total refurb--will cost at least twice as much, and take at least twice as long, as you expect it to. And that is AFTER you have added a "fudge factor" to try and account for doubling everything!

Good luck.
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Old 06-07-2012, 07:03   #14
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

Every boat is a project boat. Some are just bigger projects than others. IMHO you've gotten good advice in this thread, but IMHO the best advice you've received is that, if you are determined to refurbish a boat, find one that's worth the time and effort. You need to scour the nearby boatyards to find a well regarded boat that has fallen into disrepair. They exist.
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Old 06-07-2012, 07:12   #15
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Re: advice on a project boat purchase...

I have a friend who built a boat, throwing $120,000 into it in the process. It was pretty. It was fast. Looking back he wishes he'd bought a boat already to go and gone sailing.
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