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Old 07-07-2015, 10:54   #1
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Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

We have spent the past year researching what will be the best cruising boat for us, and have just started looking for real. Our "must haves" (and our budget) have substantially narrowed down the list of potential boats. In particular, we want to stay under 40' but we need headroom for Mr. cthoops who is 6'4". Despite this, we've managed to find a half dozen makes/models that could work, and one particular one that we really like and checks off basically all of our boxes.

There are usually only five or six of this particular boat for sale at any given time, and they are all from the 1970's but priced accordingly. Almost without exception, the boats that have been available have very old or original "big ticket" items - standing rigging, original engine, etc. However, we were thinking that unless the big items were reasonably new, we would want to be replacing them anyway before we head out.

Our plan is to purchase a solid boat with old systems for $25,000 - $30,000, and then budget that same amount to replace things (less any necessary engine work). We have no grandiose thoughts of trying to recoup the money that we will have spent. That's not a concern at all. We also have a long timeframe before we leave so the time it will take isn't really a worry.

I seem to read a lot of posts that say to take the money budgeted for a refit and simply buy a newer boat, but again, I would think that would just result in having to replace the big ticket items eventually, while "out there." Not to mention the headroom issue really limits our options.

Granted, buying a boat generally involves a bit of insanity (although we've found it to be completely worth it), but does our plan make it sound like we're certifiable?
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Old 07-07-2015, 11:02   #2
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

There is nothing wrong with your logic but really shop well and try to find the very best of the models you want to buy. You might also ask yourself if you are capable of doing a lot of the work to save the labor costs which are always high.
If you have a good hull, good rig, decent sails and dependable motor you will be good to go.
Yes, in your case/budget if you do take the extra money and buy a newer boat you will still need a sizable amount for refitting although if you could find a boat that was really ready to go (few actually exist) then that's a real good option.
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Old 07-07-2015, 11:19   #3
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

Is it insane? Maybe, maybe not. If you buy a boat that needs replacement of major systems then look at it this way.

What if you replace all the standing rigging (about $3000 since I just did this on my 42' cutter), sails, engine or whatever vs buying a boat that has had these systems replaced already? When you're done you may have a little more in the boat BUT it will have NEW rigging, sails, engine or whatever vs buying a boat that had them replaced. That boat these items are no longer new but now a year or two or five or more old.

So replace stuff yourself and have brand new stuff or buy a better used boat that had them replaced but are now used as well.

Don't forget to factor in the time the boat will be sitting while you do the work and are not sailing.
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Old 07-07-2015, 13:05   #4
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

No you don't sound crazy at all, so long as you're not afraid of hard work. We agree with the above replies. New rigging done by you just before you go is the best way of knowing just what you've got. It degrades even if it's not being sailed.

We're not afraid of a project and put 18 months of work into our boat ( which only cost us 10k USD) rigging, building our own new mast, hatch, bowsprit, rudder, an engine rebuild and a huge re-finish job had us spending only another 20k (and a lot of sweat and knowledge building) at which point we have a go anywhere trust worthy boat.
Most people spend a lot getting ready to go in any case, if you buy a simple solid boat which needs a bit of work you'll get to know what you want without spending a fortune. Hope you find a good bargain!
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Old 07-07-2015, 16:53   #5
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

We are all certifiable here. I think your plans make sense though. You are buying engine, hull, rigging and sails. Probably in that order. An older boat, well-maintained, with good old hand laid up thick hulls, molded in keels, skeg or keel hung rudders and a new or fairly new engine is a good bet. If the rigging is 10 years old or so you should think of replacing it even if it looks ok, it can get brittle. By the way, low hours on an engine is not all there is! Even a well-maintained older engine with low hours will corrode and get gummed up in the cooling system. (I learned THAT one the hard way.) You can do rigging yourself with a little guidance and save some money there. Bacon Sails and Minney's often have some good used sails too. Wheel steering? Check the pedestal installation and quadrant well! But the oft repeated line of saving half your budget for boat and half for fixing it up is probably about right, no matter what you get. I'd just say that beyond all the practical concerns, be sure she's a boat that inspires your affection, for whatever reason. There has been some discussion on threads as to whether it is sane to say you "love" your boat, i.e. an inanimate object... but for myself I'd say there are many boats I like, some I don't care for, and a few I... really, really like.
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Old 07-07-2015, 17:22   #6
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

It's a tight budget for that size boat. So shop well and don't get emotional about it.
Here are the big 9 high ticket items to determine: (you want to get as many of these that are GOOD as you can.)
-Tanks: fuel and water, often hard to replace.
-Engine: be careful, a little used engine/drivetrain can be more trouble than one that has had more use.
- Sails: and the right ones, focus on the Main, Staysail (if), and a Headsail in the 110-130% range for cruising.
-Rudder: many are waterlogged.
-Standing Rigging. Everything over 15 years is suspect.
-Keels: Bolt on keels are more suspect/$ than internal ballast.
-Windlass: on a boat that size you will want one. An Electric will likely set you back $3000 installed.
-Autopilot: Big bucks again.
-Blisters? $1000-10000+


This is just basic stuff. There are others to consider: refrig, electronics, dingy etc.
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Old 07-07-2015, 17:23   #7
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

I think it's a reasonable approach. It's essentially what we've done.

There's an added benefit as you say that you won't be leaving for a while. You can afford to buy the boat now and then add a major refit item per year, so the cash flow is better and you can enjoy and get used to the boat before you go.
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Old 08-07-2015, 04:44   #8
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

Thanks for the feedback. It's pretty much along the lines of what I've been thinking, but I just wanted to make sure I wasn't lying to myself.

Now we just need to find the boat in person vs. on paper.

Thanks again.
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Old 08-07-2015, 04:54   #9
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthoops View Post

I seem to read a lot of posts that say to take the money budgeted for a refit and simply buy a newer boat, but again, I would think that would just result in having to replace the big ticket items eventually, while "out there."
I feel you are making a big mistake in this thought line of assuming all "big ticket" items are going to need replacement on a newer boat. Project boats kill lots of dreams.
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Old 08-07-2015, 05:14   #10
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

I don't know if this approach makes a lot of sense. You have a $60000 budget, why not spend $55000 and leave $5000 to upgrade the electronics? You can get a pretty decent boat for $55000.

Part of the problem with buying and redoing is mechanical failures are unpredictable. You could spend $20k on a new engine today and wrap your prop tomorrow or forget to open your sea cock and your engine will be just as dead as if it was the 40 year old one.

I wouldn't buy a boat that I knew to have failing systems if I could afford one where everything was a little faded but running fine.

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Old 08-07-2015, 05:25   #11
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

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Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
I feel you are making a big mistake in this thought line of assuming all "big ticket" items are going to need replacement on a newer boat. Project boats kill lots of dreams.
I was just going to write the same exact words, but Sailorboy beat me to it.

Buy a decent boat to begin with, and not someone else's failed dream... or nightmare. A 45-50 year old boat is going to bury you in wasted time, money and BS that comes up unexpected.... and it will come up.

But hey... most of the folks on this forum disagree with nearly everything I say. So, if what you're really looking for is validation and consensus.... follow them straight into the money pit.

I'd rather be out sailing, even if it means bumping my head once in a while.
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:00   #12
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

Headroom is non-negotiable. We don't want a Beneteau/Hunter/Catalina. The boat must be under 40 feet, and preferably in the 35-37 range. Once those requirements (and others) are applied, and budget is taken into consideration, you'd be surprised at how few candidates are left. Believe me, we've spent hundreds of hours researching possibilities. There aren't many.


Frankly, I don't think the age of a boat automatically classifies it as a project, nor is it someone's failed dream. Our 1975 Bristol 24 is solid with zero leaks or soft spots. We have time, we like to keep things simple, and we're not going to pull the trigger until we find something similar. Own a boat long enough (and use it) and big items will have to be replaced. We'd rather head out knowing it's been done.


I'm not looking for validation since we've already decided what we're going to do. I guess just writing it down and hearing from a few other people who HAVE done it assures me that our instincts are right. LOL. I suppose that's a form of validation.


Thanks.
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:18   #13
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthoops View Post
Granted, buying a boat generally involves a bit of insanity (although we've found it to be completely worth it), but does our plan make it sound like we're certifiable?
When you ask for advice, then argue with a respondent who doesn't agree with your plan as being a sound plan..... Yes, that does seem a bit....

Unusual.
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:24   #14
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

folks forget that sailing the boat is important. mebbe this should be a start, instead of paperwork .. if you dont like how the boat sails, you wont use it....
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Old 08-07-2015, 09:30   #15
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Re: Buying the cruising boat - are we way off base?

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
I was just going to write the same exact words, but Sailorboy beat me to it.

Buy a decent boat to begin with, and not someone else's failed dream... or nightmare. A 45-50 year old boat is going to bury you in wasted time, money and BS that comes up unexpected.... and it will come up.

But hey... most of the folks on this forum disagree with nearly everything I say. So, if what you're really looking for is validation and consensus.... follow them straight into the money pit.

I'd rather be out sailing, even if it means bumping my head once in a while.
Actually Ken, I agree with most of what you say on the forum. Well maybe a lot of what you say. Maybe I just agree with some of what you say but I do think you're occasionally correct.

In this case I may disagree. Certainly I have seen many, many project boats left and abandoned, someone's dreams down the toilet and the dreamer taking a big hit in the wallet. On the other hand, I have also seen the same thing happen plenty of times when a dreamer spent more on a better boat and still lost it. In at least one case I know a buyer started with a brand new boat that he worked on for four years and never left the dock. Finally sold it at a huge loss.

No doubt failure rate on old, run down, fixer uppers is definitely higher but a newbie buying a newer or even new boat is still no guarantee of success.

In my case I bought a project boat but for my situation it made sense. First and foremost, I wasn't ready to take off and go sailing again. Wife needed 6 more years to qualify for her full pension with the state and our savings were not what I wanted, due in a large part to the fact that I spent ten years of my prime earning years cruising.

So for me taking time to work on a boat was not taking away from my cruising time.

Second, I've been there and done that before (although not so much all at once on one boat) so knew what I was getting into. Based on my previous experiences I felt like I had the skills and resources to do it myself, and I have. Looking back at the results overall I think most the projects turned out as good or better than they would have from your average boat yard.

Another huge plus, I was able to bring the boat close to where I live and minimize the commuting time. I've tried to be a long distance boat owner and realized it's almost impossible to get any serious projects done on a boat 1000 miles away. Also, I've done some major boat project while living on board and that's a nightmare as well.

One more plus of a project boat, as someone mentioned, it allows you to spread the cost out over time if your initial kitty is smaller but you have ongoing income. In my case I will end up with about 10-15% more in my boat when it's finished than I would have spent buying the same model but in much better condition. But for the 10-15% premium every major (and most minor) system on the boat except th engine will be brand new.

Bottom line, for the right person, with the right situation, skills, time and resources a project boat can be a great deal. For the wrong situation it can become a nightmare and a dismal failure. I totally agree that if the goal is to buy a boat and go sailing now then buy the most ready to go boat you can afford.

I also totally agree that BS will come up. I've had several on my project. Here's one classic example of a seemly quick, easy, simple job that turned into a nightmare.

Wanted to replace the hoses in the water supply, especially the one in the tank that I could see was very old, cracking and nasty. It ended up taking me (with several friends helping and offering ideas) many weekends and a few evenings just to get the old hose out of the tank.

The tanks are glass, built into the keel with a small inspection and access port on the top. When Pearson built the tank they made two little fiberglass loops on the bottom of the tank and ran the hose under the loops to hold it down. The problem was they also installed a check valve in the end of the hose that wouldn't fit back through the loops so the hose was captured on the bottom of the tank.

First try, reach in an pull the hose to see if the check valve would pop off or break off the loops or something easy. No go. Next see if I could pull the end of the hose out backwards. The tank was too deep and the loops too far back to reach without cutting the top of the tank off. So, lasso the check valve and pull the hose out backwards with a line. After multiple attempts and techniques I finally managed to get a line around the check valve but the rear loop was so far back that the check valve was up against the back wall of the tank and I couldn't get the hose to bend around and pull out. Another failure.

Next I tied a line to the hose with a rolling hitch, ran the line out the tank inspection port around a block tied to a forward bulkhead, out the companionway to a sheet winch in the cockpit. Cranked down until the line was ready to part and no go. The hose and the loops held like they were made of titanium.

Next got a 4' crow bar into the tank and tried to beat the fiberglass loops to pieces. This of course I had to do by feel since the access hole was just a little larger than my arm. Spent a few hours laying on the cabin sole with my arm in the hole up to my shoulder whacking the loops. No joy. While I was at it I also tried to wedge the tip of the crowbar under the loop to lever down and pop off but that also didn't work. I'm starting to wonder if Pearson used some secret, space age fiber to make those loops.

Next idea was to get some kind of saw into the hole and try to cut the loops. Went to Home Depot and found a small, extendable pruner with a saw blade on the end, a line operated clipper AND an articulating head. The clipper jaws were too small and light to cut the loops but gave me an idea.

I removed the saw blade and angled the clipper head to 90 degrees. Inserted the tool through the hole and was able to reach hose behind the second loop in the back of the tank. By touch and feel on the handle end of the tool (the loop itself was at least three feet further than I could reach with my hand) I was able to get the clipper jaws over the hose just in front of the check valve, pulled the line, cut the hose and pulled out the end with the valve (which I had previously tied to a small line) and then pulled the rest of the hose out forwards.

I estimated 30 hours just to replace a 4' section of water hose. Not the way of all boat projects but you can bet that things like this will occasionally jump up and bite you in the butt so be prepared.
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