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Old 17-02-2008, 01:23   #1
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"deal-breakers" in a project boat

In everyones opinion, what are the "deal-breakers" with taking on a project boat.

I am in my mid 20's, have a respectable stream of income and am working on developing sources of passive income...(building communications towers and leasing space)...All in hopes of eventually sailing off and being a liveaboard bum in the next few years.

I am looking for a project boat that I can work to fix up over the next 5 years or so while I still have to work anyway.

So, what should I look for as far as "what not to buy?" I want to buy a real beater and fix it up. I real super piece of **** beater for next to nothing.

I have access to almost every kind of useful tool, lots of free time on the weekends, and would not have trouble rebuilding a diesel. I also work in electronics so that end would not be trouble either. I have a 100'x50' pole barn stocked with tools that my grandfather left to me a few years ago. so i am in a position to do some major work on something. My grandfather was an avid boater and rebuilt several motorcruisers while he was still around, and all the tools he used are still around...that and lots of brass/ss! It's not so much the money thing, although I can't at present afford a $200K vessel...it's more that I would rather restore something so that I know for sure how everything works and in what condition everything is in before I set off on some kind of crazy circumnavigation adventure...and the booze and women are killing me! Killing me! I need a healthy and engaging hobby...like building a boat.

I am thinking that the hull has to be solid, the mast has to be in good shape, and rigging hardware should be OK/mostly restorable. If I could field most of the equipment in the head, that would be nice as well. I am not concerned about refrigeration or AC. I would be more than happy to live without if I can't find solar or wind power solutions to take care of those needs...and I don't need AC at all.

I am a bit old fashioned and am leaning towards a ketch, maybe something with a center cockpit but am undecided as to the center cockpit at present. I like having the main cabin at stern, but don't like the idea of trying to heat something that is pretty much cut in half. On the other hand I like that the engine room is usually a real engine room in a center cockpit...not only do you have excellent access to the diesel but you have a place to store tools and supplies in a convenient place...some of the center cockpit layouts are less than ideal though. I think that if i go with a center cockpit i will basically gut the front half and make it one big salon and galley...opened up like. most center cockpits have a head in front and back. i don't see any purpose in having more than one head...just more to break and take care of. so i would rip that out as well...I would like to outfit the vessel to be capable of single handing as I will probably basically doing all the work myself...

so back to the original question, if i am willing to put a few years of hard work into something to make it a nice blue water vessel, what should I look for and what should I look out for?

I am new to this forum so don't be too harsh! I have been reading for a few weeks and respect the opinions of most of the well informed users here and I want to get along with everyone!
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Old 17-02-2008, 01:41   #2
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Do you really want to ....

Do you really want to spend every spare minute of the next 5 years working on a boat?

Assuming that you do a little calculation will give an answer.

5 years holidays - 5 * 120 = 600 hours
5 years of weekends - 5 * 52 * 12 = 3120 hours
5 years of spare time - 5 * 52 * 10 = 2600 hours
Total 6320

That's about enough time to do a very nice job of restoring a 42' mono.

However if you spent that time working at your local burger franchise
6320 * 15 = $94800 (and you'd meet some really cute waitresses to go sailing with)
Interest (No financial calculator but say) $11850
And the money for materials, parts etc. $60000
Totals $166,650 which buys a very nice boat.
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Old 17-02-2008, 02:19   #3
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I agree that it probably isn't worth my time in a monetary sense considering how much I can make at work...but as I said in my post, it's mostly about the doing it.

There are all different kinds of sailors and we are into it for different reasons. I actually like working on on things and would take great pride in sailing off in a vessel that I had put a lot of work into rather than just buying it...not that there is anything wrong with buying something nice to start out.

Also, I am basically stuck where I am for now. I do communications for public safety and am basically on call all the time...also, when you are your own boss, everyone is your boss. I have just a few weeks a year that I can get away and do some sailing. In the meantime, working on a boat is the closest I can get most of the time...

So it isn't about money. It's about doing it. Even if it doesn't make sense. Seriously, do you think that most of the people on this forum go out sailing because it is a reasonable thing to do? It's the most unreasonable thing to do! That's why we all love it so much! Reasonable is an apartment, an office, and a commute...and that is no fun!
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Old 17-02-2008, 02:20   #4
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you don't buy a "do er upper" to save money you do it for the "joy" its the same for building a boat.
if you want to go boating you are beter of buying a glass production boat if you want to follow a dream buy a wooden boat !
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Old 17-02-2008, 02:21   #5
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Originally Posted by VV0]2M View Post
In everyones opinion, what are the "deal-breakers" with taking on a project boat.

On the other hand I like that the engine room is usually a real engine room in a center cockpit...not only do you have excellent access to the diesel but you have a place to store tools and supplies in a convenient place...
I wish - I am trying to find crew with 8 foot arms who can balance on their heads and know a bit about diesel engines. and also look good in a Bikini. Puzzlingly I am having a bit of difficulty

Quote:
I have been reading for a few weeks and respect the opinions of most of the well informed users here and I want to get along with everyone!
Nice touch I love the smell of warm smoke blowing up me a#se in the morning

Well, you sound like you have everything sorted - except for the boat - first thing is to decide on the size of vessel, I would suggest somewhere between 35 and 40 foot.......and given your facilities, wish for a doer upper and timescale would suggest looking at Steel.

Ketch rigged centre cockpit? The man has taste But I may be biased! - although I will admit (just between the 2 of us ) that 30 foot is a bit too small for a good aft cabin .
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Old 17-02-2008, 02:52   #6
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I respect your enthusiasm Boris, and I love wooden boats...I just don't have the desire to own one. I grew up on a 36' Matthews Cabin Cruiser with twin cumins diesels. Beautiful boat, but wood is just too much work! I think I will go with glass. I would be scared crossing the Pacific in wood...Although that would be stylin!

Also, just so you know where I am coming from, the Matthews was burnt, sunk, and full of ghosts (no really!) when we got it. Lots of love, teak, and brass later...it was our life and it was beautiful!

I have been looking at something around 40-50' and heavy. I would rather have weight at the bottom and more sail up top. And I am figuring on a two person crew and doing a lot of sailing without much help. So I will have to pay attention to the layout of the rigging and the controls/navigation. That is something that is nice about doing the work yourself though...you can spend some time figuring all that out and design what works for you. I know going much above 36' is a stretch for singlehanding...we'll say I am planning on singlehanding and a half ok...

back to the original question though. what about chainplates? If i am looking at glass, is it a big deal to change out rotten chainplates that have been laid inside fiberglass? Can I just cut out most of the old and put new fiberglass over the top, replacing the plates with new ones? What about water and fuel tanks? Basically is what I am concerned about is getting into something that is unrepairable without shelling out more cash than than I would have if I had shopped around a bit more...
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Old 17-02-2008, 04:27   #7
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My regret is...

My regret is not buying a 36' boat.

44' is just too large to manage easily.

A 36' fixer upper is going to come in at around half the cost and time of a 44'.

Spend the difference on some nice charters, and if you really need a bigger boat buy it when you need it.
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Old 17-02-2008, 04:46   #8
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The biggest concern when you buy a “fixer-upper” is latent defects, i.e. after you put tons of labour and money into getting the boat presentable, sea trials show that something structural, buried deep within the vessel is bad.

That can happen a lot with older glass boats which is why previous advice about buying steel is sound. You can ultrasound, cut out and replace like new in the early stages anything that is questionable.

The only deal breaker would be if the ergonomics and beauty of the boat didn’t grab me right from the start and said to me… “This is it!”
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Old 17-02-2008, 05:03   #9
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My question is always - Do you want to work on a boat or go sailing.

Seeing as how you've decided that you want to work on a boat the next question is do you have a place to work on the boat. If the boat is going to be miles from where you are the time available to work on the boat shrinks dramatically.

You won't save money working on the boat. You should end up with a great boat that is rebuilt to your satisfaction and specification - that's the big bonus.

In regards to what can be rebuilt I suggest that almost anything is fair game. It is up to you to decide what you won't get involved in. There are folks around here replacing cracked masts, delaminated cored decks, grinding out osmosis and restoring gelcoat, replacing structure and chainplates. It can be just about anything.

One consideration is what materials you feel best suited to work on. IMO wood takes a special kind of craftsman and a lot of special tools, steel takes the welding skills & equipment, fiberglass is probably the easiest once you learn the basic skills.

You may lean towards a sound boat that "only" requires refitting and therefor avoid the structural work. Don't underestimate what you are getting into and have fun.

I kind of like the working at the minimum wage job analogy above. Interesting way to choose how to spend the time...
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Old 17-02-2008, 05:21   #10
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Waiting patiently for Wheels to come in with the ferro alternative ..... and a worthy alternative it is too.
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Old 17-02-2008, 05:28   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VV0]2M View Post
Basically is what I am concerned about is getting into something that is unrepairable without shelling out more cash
I am just starting the 5th year of a project....a couple of points:
1. If it is made by man, it can be repaired / replaced by man
2. Extra cash is mostly needed if (when) you can't do the work yourself - due to lack of skills, enthusiasm or whatever.
3. Start with a proven design, so you have a fair chance the boat will sail well after you have poured in 5 years of sweat.
4. Decide beforehand if you are willing to carry out major hull / keel repairs; if not, get them checked out otherwise there goes that 5 year sweat again.
5. I would be cautious about "opening up" the foreward saloon / cabin, mostly you want small spaces below on a passage - for security moving around in a seaway.
My own "deal breakers" were keel bolts (had them X-rayed), unproven design, mast had to be in fair condition (i.e. did not have to be replaced) and most important, boat had to look / feel right even when run down. I was happy to replace the engine, prop shaft, tanks, chain plates etc. There is a certain intimate feeling that comes with knowing every last inch of the boat and its fittings.

Steel is pretty easy to work with if you have the space and skills to sand blast, grind and weld. Wood requires a different temperament and I don't know what glass requires, maybe just enthusiasm.

I would rather be refitting a boat for 5 years than flipping burgers for 5 years.
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Old 17-02-2008, 11:11   #12
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For me, having spent nearly 30 years running and repairing boats professionally there are several deal breakers. They are:

"Project boat"
"Needs TLC"
"Light 'cosmetic' work"

As far as I can determine the last successful completion of a "project" boat was accomplished by Joshua Slocum.
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Old 17-02-2008, 11:25   #13
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If you want to get somethign that is really derilict and re-biuld, I suggest you take one step sideways and biuld from Scratch. It will cost you no more. You have the joy part of doing it and you have a brand spanker at the end of it, which is possibly worth a little more. The rebuilt will always be worth what they are now on the market. Spend just a little more for plans on a design that has a good name. It will be well worth it in the end.
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Old 17-02-2008, 13:27   #14
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If you want to get somethign that is really derilict and re-biuld, I suggest you take one step sideways and biuld from Scratch. It will cost you no more. You have the joy part of doing it and you have a brand spanker at the end of it, which is possibly worth a little more. The rebuilt will always be worth what they are now on the market. Spend just a little more for plans on a design that has a good name. It will be well worth it in the end.

That's excellent advice
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Old 17-02-2008, 14:10   #15
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I agree with Wheels, but if you are determined to take on a project:

1. Even if it's a free boat, pay an experienced marine surveyor who you have some reason to trust to inspect the vessel.

2. You want sound keel/hull/DECK/rudder/steering, masts/steps and engine (if you enjoy removing/rebuilding, mounting and aligning engines - maybe not).

3. Don't worry too much about rigging as long as it's there - most boats need standing/running rigging replacement sooner or later. On a 40-50' boat standing rigging is not cheap and you won't save much by trying to replace it yourself.

4. Chain plate replacement/reinforcement is usually straight forward provided you don't have to destroy the boat in order to get at them.

5. You have a lot less free time/money than you think. It takes at least twice as much time as you anticipate to fix/rebuild something on a boat. And, it costs twice as much as you think it will. Except, if you double all your estimates, then it takes/costs 5 times as much .... unless, of course, you multiply your estimates by 5, in which case .... well, never mind.
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