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Old 30-07-2009, 22:47   #1
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Buying an Unfinished Boat

I've been giving some consideration in the purchase of an unfinished Fraser 41. However I keep talking myself out of it because I don't know what it will cost in terms of money and time to finish it.

The deck is bare. What would it cost to buy a good used mast and hardware?

The interior is really amateur, but I think I can make it into something with a bit of work. It will never be a proper yacht interior though.

Has anyone here bought and unfinished boat and completed it? I would like to hear from you.
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Old 31-07-2009, 02:54   #2
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Tripple time...

I brought an in-the-water steel Roberts 44, needed total interior, new engine, hatches, electrics, sail management gear.

I'm closing on 3,500 hours and $100+k.

I have gained more knowledge than I ever wanted about what makes a cruising yacht tick.

My wife is starting to talk about sailing, no complaints about spending nights on board, has agreed to come cruising in two years.

If I could have kept on working I would have been way better off to make the money and buy a cream puff.
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Old 31-07-2009, 05:28   #3
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We bought a fixer-upper about 15 years ago, largely a bare hull that needed everything (engine was supposed to be good but that blew up first time we ran it). By the time we got finished fixing it up, we could have just bought a boat in excellent condition and had some change left over. But then I wouldn't have learned all the things I did. What did I learn? Don't buy major fixer-uppers.
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Old 31-07-2009, 05:45   #4
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We purchased a 33 year old Mariner 40, no engine, no plumbing, no steering, no electrical, just a sound hull and deck. It did have the two masts but no spreaders. Got a great deal, its always a great deal....As some of the others have said, I have learned more than I thought I would ever know about a crusing sailboat and still going. I had purchased houses like this (200 year old fixer upers) so I knew what I was getting myself in for. I wanted to understand my boat from the bottom up. We were able to get her in sailablecondition after a few years, enough to go from CT to FL this past Winter while living on here. But there is still lots to do, most of it is now astetics (sp). I wont do it again, but glad I did this one. To save money we did 90% of all the work. I could have purchased a boat in very good condition for what we have put into Tivoli. But again, I knew what I was getting into. It is a lot of time, money and work, and money and time and work, and work and money and oh yes time....
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Old 31-07-2009, 05:59   #5
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boat building

I built our 50' boat from the ground up... from 20' lengths of angle iron, 5'x10' pieces of steel, and a lot of teak. It basically took about half a life time... 35,000 man hours, because life kind of gets in the way.

It's not the way to get a boat to go sailing now, because you really don't save any money and it takes much longer than you think. But it is a way to self finance the boat that's right for you, and it is a tremendously satisfying and rewarding thing to do. Plus, of course, you know the boat.

I only have two regrets... that I didn't have more money to pay for competent help, to speed it up, and that I didn't start when I was 20, instead of 30. Given life to live over, I'd do it again, but I'd time things differently.

Best, Bob S/V Restless
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Old 31-07-2009, 06:18   #6
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Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
If I could have kept on working I would have been way better off to make the money and buy a cream puff.
sometimes i think that refinishing a boat is a career choice. just maintaining one takes enough time
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Old 31-07-2009, 06:55   #7
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Do you like to sail or do you like to fix boats? Some people really enjoy fixing them. If you are one of those folks, you should indulge your passion.
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Old 31-07-2009, 07:21   #8
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Thanks guys. It's kind-of-like asking a question you know the answer too. I'm going to pass on it. At age 53 I don't want to spend the next 5-10 years doing that. I'd rather sail. You provide advice right from the horses mouth.
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Old 31-07-2009, 07:28   #9
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I have owned three boats so far. Spanning 30 years. Before boat 2 I considered building a kit type boat and talked to people who did build kits. One guy was on year 7 and ready to launch. I decided not to build a kit as cost (not including labor) was equal or greater than a ready made. After boat 2 I decided on going the bottom feeder route. That is, purchase a "fixer upper". I bought a hurricane damaged boat and spent a year on repairs rebuilding keel and some interior. I think this was the right choice for me as most gear including engine was in great shape. The boat is 30 years old but I know it inside out. Looking at market listing on similar boats I may have saved 20 to 30 k (compared to same year boat with unknown potential problems). My biggest fear was engine being shot but engine showed 300 hours on clock from previous rebuild. I am happy with my choice.

But, I did not purchase as investment.
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Old 31-07-2009, 09:14   #10
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It will take longer then you plan, cost way more then buying a boat complete and ready to go, and there is a very good chance you will not finish it and will loose your investment.

Hats off to Bob Kingsland, simply phenominal. You are the rare exception.
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Old 31-07-2009, 09:27   #11
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The decision really depends on how you prefer to spend your time. If you prefer sailing over working thousands of hours, and then sailing, then the answer is obvious.

When you consider building your own, you must also consider what your time is worth and add that cost to the cost of materials.

With the market for used boats being so soft, chances are you will not come out ahead by spending your money on new parts to fix up your boat versus buying a used boat that is ready to sail.

As far as the family is concerned, having a project boat is much like having a second wife, the first wife will not like the time spent away from her.
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Old 01-08-2009, 17:04   #12
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It's a tough decision for me too, but I've decided that I'd rather have a boat I could sail and work on, rather than have one that I had to work on before I could sail it.

When I looked at the fixer upper I made a list of things I needed to fix. Then I spent some time getting prices for these items. Next, I had to figure out what my time was worth. Unfortunately what I make an hour seems less than what shipwrights, mechanics, and riggers charge, so the scales began to tilt. I also added a big chunk of money for things that the surveyor missed or simply broke.

I also looked at the boat carefully. Did the previous owner show some love for the vessel or did he drill before measuring? Was there anything in my evaluation that I found disturbing or curious? Do the surveyor and I agree on items he commented on?

In the end, I bought a sailable boat but one that needed work. The deck showed no softness, there weren't an excessive amount of blisters on the hull, the ports and hatches appeared water tight, and the lockers and storage clean. I did the important stuff first: keeping the water on the outside, the mast up, and the engine running. I made a list of things I could do on the hook and ones that needed yard work. When I felt that the boat was ready for a few days on the hook, I sailed to an anchorage, dropped the hook and went to work. It's surprising how much you can get done when there are few distractions, parts are an hour away by dingy/car, and there aren't any restrictions on working late or making too much noise.

I did that for a number of months, spending a few more days each month on the hook or sailing, testing systems, deciding if the changes I wanted to make were worth the expense and time, and getting to know the boat.

When I knew the boat was basically sound, that the systems worked well, and that I knew how to repair them, I sailed away. I'd sail from anchorage to anchorage, spend a few days doing boat work, and enjoying the time. I made plans to stop in largeish communities where I could have FedEx ship in parts or they had a reasonable chandlery. After stocking up, I'd sail off to an uninhabited island or an anchorage with no other boats. And work, enjoy, and learn.

I'm a believer in KISS. For me, the only way I could decide if I wanted an item was to be on the hook or under sail. My personal sailboats have always been ones with simple, robust, and maintainable systems. I'd rather have fans and an awning than AC, wash my clothes in a 5-gallon bucket than have a washer/dryer, chose a pressure cooker over a microwave, and solar panels over a wind generator. I do have a freezer/fridge, pressure water, a proper head/shower, and com/nav gear, so I'm not camping. I also have a roller furling jib, electric windlass, and new cushions, mattresses, and stove (from alcohol to propane).

But that's me, and what you idea of KISS and required aren't necessarily mine. There are a lot of boats out there, a few of them very well maintained and loved, and probably an equal amount that should be made into artificial reefs. Don't buy in haste. If the price is absurdly low, then chances are there's a reason.
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Old 02-08-2009, 05:04   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solosailor View Post
I've been giving some consideration in the purchase of an unfinished Fraser 41. However I keep talking myself out of it because I don't know what it will cost in terms of money and time to finish it.

The deck is bare. What would it cost to buy a good used mast and hardware?

The interior is really amateur, but I think I can make it into something with a bit of work. It will never be a proper yacht interior though.

Has anyone here bought and unfinished boat and completed it? I would like to hear from you.

Ok, I know this is a 'Thanks; I'll pass" but here are the only ways I would do it if I were you.

1) If I was commited to building a boat because, in essence, that would be what you are doing.

2) If you were in the trade. Then again, you probably wouldn't be asking us then, would you?

3) If you had a very clear idea (from long experience) of what you wanted in a boat was something you could not get in a stock design and/or at an affordable price.

4) If you had more money and time than sense.
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Old 02-08-2009, 05:38   #14
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I see some of the boat projects that are being built on the web. and I've got to say, WOW! From small 8' dingies to 50' cats..... my hat goes off to those that have the skills ans time to do them.
I on the other hand I bought a 40 year old boat for the name, it's shoal draft, and size because.....well, that is what I wanted at the time. I'am one of those that enjoy fixing up older boat, houses, toy projects because I can.
The time and money spent on my 30' Morgan was a learning process and not sure I would get into a boat project that deeply again. The boat turns heads and people compliment me on it all the time...I'm proud of the work I did on it and that alone is enough to have done the project. Oh, and by the way, she is a delight to sail also!
I'll be a lot smarted for doing this on my next boat purchase when the time comes.....I hope!!!!
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Old 02-08-2009, 13:31   #15
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I'd do some sleuthing on the internet, visit used boating outlets, boatyards, other Fraser 41 owners as well as boaters, and riggers. With the standard mast info (height, diameter, # of spreaders and size) you should be able to get an idea of what's out there. A damaged mast can restored by cutting out the bad section inserting a new matching section and sleeving it.

Spreaders may be a bit harder as there seems to be a lot of ways to attach them to the mast.

As for rigging, I'd be very leery of using used rigging gear to hold up a used/repaired mast. The cost of the rigging new isn't much more than used, and I'd sleep a lot better knowing that the mast was being held up by new stuff.

The interior, if it works for you, that's what counts. I've helped folks doing interior work and they took it one part of the boat at a time. They didn't go top shelf, but marine grade plywood, good veneer, common sense, and a bit of TLC can work wonders. The biggest benefit is that the interior will suit you. Whether you buy your interior from a marine catalog, Home Depot, or the nearest RV store, it's your choice.

As for cost, it'll cost what you want to spend. I'm not trying to be smart, just realistic. Chances are you'll never recover the cost you put into getting the boat seaworthy when you sell it. I'd look at high end same year selling prices and compare that to what you offer for the boat (minus any "dings" the surveyor found and a slop fund for things that simply got missed. The difference is what you could spend.

I helped a fellow sailor repair his 45' sloop after a hurricane. It was dirty, hot, and exhausting work. Days went by with little progress indicated but in the end the boat floated, then the masts went up, and the interior work began. We worked long 7 days weeks and it took months to get the basics done.

My personal opinion is that I wouldn't buy a boat needing that amount of work unless the mast and rigging was lying next to the boat or the price of the boat was $1. But then, I fell in love with my first boat, and that was that. Since the divorce , I've decided that I should be stronger. My next boat will be sailable but not blue water ready. I'm willing to pay more for the boat knowing that the sale price is a better deal than finding out the mast you need isn't available used and a new one is a custom job. I want to work on it less and sail it more.

Good luck.
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