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Old 08-11-2012, 08:25   #1
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Bruce Roberts offer too good?

Hello:

I've come across a Bruce Roberts steel hull ketch. It's a 57 footer, launched in 88'. In all photos she looks perfect, and I fell in love with her immediately. She's simply georgous, inside and out, based in the carribean, and they only want around 100k. Too good to be true? What's a boat like that worth? I'm mostly an aficionado relatively speaking, and not as knowledgeable as I should be. I know it's not a starter boat ... but what would I look for in terms of explaining the price?

- Hutch
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:47   #2
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

steelies sell short as is more difficult to insure them. some roberts designs are wonderful, but i have seen some i do not like at all... good luck and may it all work well for ye.
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Old 08-11-2012, 09:39   #3
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

As steel boats age the steel tends to get thin in spots and needs replacement. Only way to tells is with instrumentation. There was a beautiful steel boat (guessing at about 60 feet) in my marina that the owner sold recently (went to Australia, as I understand, after sale). He was frustrated with boat. Replaced boat with fiberglass power boat (25 footer) with two outboard motors.
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Old 08-11-2012, 09:58   #4
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

Located down there, and being steel.... which isnt as popular as glass. .... it might be a good price, but not so far out of line as to wonder why. A friend of mine just bought a 53 fiberglass ketch, that had been a 20 year project... it's officially a 2006 (year it was finished) Mostly unused but needing some tlc. The cabinetry rivals Taiwan work. I has every option you could think of... and the sails, rig etc are near new. (AC, Heat, SSB, Ham, Multiple VHF's Multiple plotters, watermaker, gen set etc etc..) He paid $140k
By any chance is that Roberts light green in color? or named Ptarmigan? I might know the boat....
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Old 08-11-2012, 10:02   #5
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

Do you now who built it, and how has it been maintained? The problem I found with mine is how the spars ( I dont know the correct trem ) were connected. On My boat the internal hull supports were put together as lap joints and this alowed rust to form between them. I cut them out and replaced them with butt joints. Steel boats rust from the inside out. Look closley at the internal framing in the bilge and in the hard to get to places.
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Old 08-11-2012, 13:03   #6
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

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Originally Posted by Matt sachs View Post
Do you now who built it, and how has it been maintained?
These are the keys. The Roberts designs are good, but they're often built by amateurs. As such, the skill and diligence of the builder can make all the difference between a wonderful sturdy boat and a piece of junk that's about to fall apart.

And then, with any steel boat, how well it has been maintained is very important. As others have pointed out, rust can be a very sneaky enemy. The interior may look beautiful and perfect, but it might hide problems that make the boat worth less than nothing.

In any case, for a boat like this $100k is definitely not "too good to be true."
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Old 08-11-2012, 15:08   #7
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

Crap steel boats are cheap.

Good steel boats are expensive.

Step lightly, many things look great, in pictures.

b.
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Old 08-11-2012, 15:16   #8
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

Any pictures?
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Old 08-11-2012, 15:55   #9
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

Make sure your surveyor specialises in steel or at least is very experienced. Steel boats rust from the inside. He will know what to look for. You should also get a good engineer to go over the machinery. An engine rebuild could be thousands. Aside from those major issues, any other things should be visisble. sail quality, electronics, rigging etc. But the price sounds cheap, but not too cheap.
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Old 08-11-2012, 16:57   #10
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

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Make sure your surveyor specialises in steel or at least is very experienced. Steel boats rust from the inside. He will know what to look for. You should also get a good engineer to go over the machinery. An engine rebuild could be thousands. Aside from those major issues, any other things should be visisble. sail quality, electronics, rigging etc. But the price sounds cheap, but not too cheap.
All good advice. I have an '88 steel cutter...not a Roberts and professionally built, but as it's been 100% in fresh water, I don't have much in the way of rust issues.

Warm salt water? Could be problematic. A survey is essential, as is knowledge of who built it and to what scantlings.

Bruce Roberts' designs are all over the world. I have seen many around here. I would say that perhaps 1 out of 5 weren't absolute crap overbuilt by amateurs in the backyard and six inches off their lines.

The one out of five I've seen that weren't crude bins were usually in the middle of extended cruising. If done right, to Roberts' specifications, they are slow, stable, go-anywhere boats, but examples of "not done right" are rusting with the crumbling ferrros of the same vintage, examples of home schooling gone wrong.
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Old 08-11-2012, 17:14   #11
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

24 years is just about the time where things get ugly...don't bother...after working on boats for 30 years I would never own a steel boat...sorry.
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Old 08-11-2012, 18:06   #12
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

Yes, get a good steel surveyor. But..........

Do the survey yourself, leave a minimum of 2 full days. Steel will rust from the inside out. You need to assure yourself there are no real bad problems.

You need to look at very square inch of hull, from the inside. If you can't see it, then he didn't paint it. Assume it is 90% rusted through and figure cost of gaining access into the purchase price.

Bang on the hull with a hammer, pretty hard. Ultrasounds are OK, but they can miss areas. Rusted out areas can be quite small, an inch or so in diameter. You can't do that many soundings. In fact, if you live in Florida, go to the Indian Town Marina. They probably have a rust bucket or two there. Say you are looking for a steel boat and go bang on a few to get an idea of what good and bad steel sounds like. I saw one there with half the rudder and half the keel laying on the ground. Come to think of it you want to look at a few steel boats before going to look at your dream. You DO NOT want to buy the first steel boat you look at. I did, but I got real lucky.

The problem with a steel boat is it will rust from the inside out if not properly treated with paint and maintained. I've had surveyors who just don't know jack. The best surveyor I ever had told me he felt he was not qualified, and worked twice as hard. We walked away from that boat.

Beware of freshly painted bilges, what are they hiding? Talk to the owners, ask what kind of paint they use and how they apply it.

Ans: Two part zinc epoxy with two part primer. First clean to near white with sander or brush, then ozphane or other acid wash, then clean with water, then dry, then paint.

If they don't know that then they didn't do that. NOT GOOD.

I love steel boats. Very few will pass my muster.

You CAN do this, not rocket science, but tedious. When you are done you will likely have an answer you are comfortable with, either way. But YOU will know.

Don't let anything I said discourage you. Steel is a great material. If you find a good one it may be at a very good price, simply because many are not finished and maintained properly and that drags down the entire market.

Best of luck.
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Old 08-11-2012, 18:26   #13
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

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24 years is just about the time where things get ugly...don't bother...after working on boats for 30 years I would never own a steel boat...sorry.
Fish, me and my wife owned a 31 years old steel 30 footer. When we bought it, there was a real garden growing in the cockpit, and the mast was vertically split in four pieces. We made it as new and sailed two years with it without any problems. No problems at all with the hull, inside or outside. We sold it to emigrate, but it was a fantastic boat.
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Old 08-11-2012, 18:37   #14
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor_Hutch View Post
Hello:

I've come across a Bruce Roberts steel hull ketch. It's a 57 footer, launched in 88'. In all photos she looks perfect, and I fell in love with her immediately. She's simply georgous, inside and out, based in the carribean, and they only want around 100k. Too good to be true? What's a boat like that worth? I'm mostly an aficionado relatively speaking, and not as knowledgeable as I should be. I know it's not a starter boat ... but what would I look for in terms of explaining the price?

- Hutch
Hutch, look to the pictures of the boat on the hard, especially number 3. You can see that the hull is defenitely not straight. Looks like a self build with thin steel plates.
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Old 08-11-2012, 20:17   #15
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Re: Bruce Roberts offer too good?

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Fish, me and my wife owned a 31 years old steel 30 footer. When we bought it, there was a real garden growing in the cockpit, and the mast was vertically split in four pieces. We made it as new and sailed two years with it without any problems. No problems at all with the hull, inside or outside. We sold it to emigrate, but it was a fantastic boat.

I know what your saying, in fact I use to love steel .when I was young 18-21 my dad had a 40’ mariner (wood boat) we sailed that thing up and down the coast allot…well he sold it …I was devastated, so I began searching for a way to get another sailboat…I thought well why don’t I just build my own….steel was the best for me because I could weld.
So I get two sets of plans one Bruce Roberts and a Glen-L…and three books on boat building with steel, good books if you’re into steel, I studied those plans and books for years…. I meet this guy in welding class and become friends….we go to his house for lunch one day and he’s got all theses toys ,big screen TV’s… two corvettes…jet ski..Conv bug…sun bed…? Lol…I thought and asked what the hell do you do? He said I commercial fish…( Fast forward) ,after working on steel boats, thinking back on what I learned/read on the proper way to build a steel boat…when I was upside down grinding, needle gunning, welding, endless painting…I thought , the people that built this thing were idiots!
So now I have come full circle…what led me to a great career (sailing) I’m searching for another sailboat…..Hutch there’s is a Bruce Roberts 55’ 175K fiberglass on yatchworld by me…go glass.
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