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Old 30-01-2014, 10:19   #1
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How much trouble could I get into?

By buying a very old fiberglass boat with only a self-survey and no insurance to be used for a summer of coastal cruising in New England?

A few years ago, I'd saved up a pile of money and was convinced I was going to circumnavigate. I listened to arguably wiser minds and blew it all on going back to school instead. Now, my current job has a defined end date in April, with my next job not likely to start until late September or October. Obviously the circumnavigation plans are shelved, but I have a reasonable cruising kitty, a few months to fill, and a warm summer coming up in one of the most beautiful places in the world, New England! I've also been sailing extensively around Massachusetts on club boats, with and without motors, and feel confident in my seamanship skills and weather pragmatism for coastal cruising.

There's a number of 28'-30' monohulls in the sub $7,000 range locally, two examples:
An Albin Cumulus 1981 Albin Cumulus sailboat for sale in Massachusetts
A Pearson 30 1974 Pearson P30 sailboat for sale in Rhode Island
I've sailed both these models before and like them, and would expect the actual purchase price to be much lower.

Assuming my girlfriend lets me sail for a little while, the plan would be to self-survey the boat, pay with cash, and set off. At the end of the summer I'd try to turn it around for cheap, happy to take a loss in the process, or give it to my Dad who's looking for a learner boat.

What do you think is the worst that could happen and how would you mitigate it?

e.g. worst case scenario: keel falls off, mast falls down, rudder separates, and the engine dies. answer: buy Boat US tow insurance before heading out! Or, am I ignoring potential costs like creating a fuel spill where I'd be responsible for environmental remediation. Does liability cover this and could I get it? At what estimated price?

Thanks for the input!
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Old 30-01-2014, 10:39   #2
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

You should be ok if you buy some cheap liabilty ins. Im paying just over 200 per year
on a 29 footer.As for survey, just do a good sea trial.Pick a day blowing 15 to 20 kts
use the sails , motor against the wind,drink some beer .Most deficiencies should be exposed.
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Old 30-01-2014, 10:43   #3
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

many have done it.. oblivious to the possibilities! Just buy "smart" and not "heart". Tanks, rigging, engine, seacocks etc are the show stoppers. Sounds like you are not a total newbie so buy the mechanically best one you can get. Finding one without a bolt on keel eliminates one problem.... although a keel falling off is probably way down my list of worries. Tanks leak a lot of the time... check them out well. You could abandon a bad tank and put a 20 gallon one in somewhere if there is room. On a boat that size 20 gall is probably 50-60 hours motoring.
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Old 30-01-2014, 10:52   #4
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

A strange idea just occurred to me. Make sure the ballast is lead. Why? 'Cause if you needed to unload the boat (mast fell off, engine blew up, you don't want to deal with selling it) it's worth quite a bit for scrap. There's ads here for "free sailboat removal" - they'll pay the haul and disposal for the lead.

I surely wouldn't pay for a haul and survey on a cheapie boat. If you're any way mechanically competent you should be able to inspect the boat yourself pretty well. (Not as well as a trained surveyor... but y'all know what I mean here)

Get cheap ins. Mine is a whopping $70/yr for $300K of liability. Been thinking of upping it just for environmental reasons.
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Old 30-01-2014, 10:57   #5
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

A few tips on How to Do Your own Marine Survey may help.
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Old 30-01-2014, 11:00   #6
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

Go for it.

What's the worst that can happen? The engine turns out to be junk and the boat turns out to need a repower. If I were you, at the very least I would get the engine surveyed.
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Old 30-01-2014, 11:18   #7
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

My question would be how did you get talked out of your dream of circumnavigating? In any case my vote says " go for it ".
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Old 30-01-2014, 11:40   #8
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

On this site you will get lots of positive reinforcement even if you wanted to circumnavigate in a 16ft boat. I tend to be much more conservative. Even with my conservative view point I see nothing damming about your plans. The risks involved are pretty much in line with what life throws at us on land or water. You can lose some $, but you can do that on the stock market or on a house you buy. So long as you can handle and navigate your boat safely go for it.
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Old 30-01-2014, 11:52   #9
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

Seems like very little to lose, with the parameters you're setting.

The boat you purchase certainly won't depreciate.
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Old 30-01-2014, 11:56   #10
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

Excellent! As they say, you don't know what you don't know, so just wanted to get some perspective. Between BoatUS insurance, liability insurance, and an enclosed lead keel, any downside should be effectively hedged for not a lot of money I've got Don Casey's Inspecting the Aging Sailboat and have read through the Marine Survey 101 site in the past, and will refresh my memory on them.

One last question: a major concern of mine is hull integrity, which would argue for looking for a boat currently on the hard so I can tap test. If I find a great deal that's in the water, how would you evaluate the hull? Worth paying for a $300 short haul or is there a less-effective in-water technique (donning my 6/5 wetsuit and feeling for blisters)?

As for what convinced me to give up on a circumnav, or even just a year or two jaunt around the South Pacific: my girlfriend, and the grad school I got into was one of those that promise to make your (career) dreams come true
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Old 30-01-2014, 12:36   #11
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

Quote:
Originally Posted by brownoarsman View Post
Excellent! As they say, you don't know what you don't know, so just wanted to get some perspective. Between BoatUS insurance, liability insurance, and an enclosed lead keel, any downside should be effectively hedged for not a lot of money I've got Don Casey's Inspecting the Aging Sailboat and have read through the Marine Survey 101 site in the past, and will refresh my memory on them.

One last question: a major concern of mine is hull integrity, which would argue for looking for a boat currently on the hard so I can tap test. If I find a great deal that's in the water, how would you evaluate the hull? Worth paying for a $300 short haul or is there a less-effective in-water technique (donning my 6/5 wetsuit and feeling for blisters)?

As for what convinced me to give up on a circumnav, or even just a year or two jaunt around the South Pacific: my girlfriend, and the grad school I got into was one of those that promise to make your (career) dreams come true
I live just outside of Boston. If you need help, drop me a PM. I would be happy to help you look for a boat.

As to what you risk, as others have said you want to do a good self survey. Many things wouldn't be a big deal for only using the boat for a year or two. I think you biggest risk would be wasting your time. If you don't buy a boat in decent condition, you might spend the entire summer just working on fixing it without getting as much sailing experience as you can. I would look for a decent production boat (hunter, catalina, person, etc.) that is in good shape. I wouldn't worry about encapsulated lead keel vs bolt on lead keel. Just find something in the best shape for the money.

In a worst case scenario, you loose what ever you pay for the boat plus some money you put into it. In most instances, you will probably loose $1-2K but have sailed all summer.

If the boat is in the water, definitely have it hauled for an inspection.

You will need insurance that will cost you around $400 because all marinas will require it for you to keep the boat there. In a slip or on a mooring.

Most boats in your price range will have solid glass hulls. You might have some delamination but mainly the biggest issue will be wet decks and a bad engine. By going a little smaller than what you mentioned for boats (say 25-27 foot range) you can get an outboard boat. That would be easier to repower on the cheap. A lot of boats are out there sailing with wet decks. If they are not too bad they can be fine for short time periods. Again, might affect resale value.

A couple of hints in the Boston area, there is a marine junk yard at the rotary before the Fore River Bridge in Quincy. They often have boats for sail for cheap prices. If nothing else, they are a good source for cheap parts. Captain's Cove Marina in Quincy will probably be the cheapest place around to find a slip (~$95/foot). Marina Bay also has some decent deals lately.

Are you going to the Boston boat show? If you are, I will be at the Catalina owner's group booth on 2/22 from 12-4 (next to the Catalina boats). I would be glad to discuss it more in person.

My advice is go for it. Could be the time of your life.

Good luck and fair winds,

Jesse
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Old 30-01-2014, 13:40   #12
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

Brown - on a boat that old, I would not worry about blisters. If they didn't occur in the past 30 years, they are ever going to be a problem. And who cares if they are there. Look at the seacocks, are they all free (unlikely), does the engine start and run smoothly? Sails look decent? Not going to rip apart in a real blow? check for leaks (there will be some on an older boat), check the standing rigging carefully. Walk all over the deck looking for soft spots. Poke your head into ever compartment. Look at the wiring - do all lights work? Old corroded connections are a PIA. A dodger is a real plus as is a dingy. A proper size anchor with decent rode is a must. You will have a great time- great sailing area!!
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Old 30-01-2014, 13:45   #13
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

If you look hard you can find a lot of decent boats for your price range, no one buys 30' or under boats anymore, it's a shame. A starter boat is 30' or more these days. Look around the Mass/RI area, call the boatyards to look for boats that may have been sitting for awhile with storage bills. Sometimes it only takes a phone call to get a person to sell one they haven't used for awhile. Try Craigslist.
I live in the South Shore area of Mass but keep my boat in Narragansett Bay ( I'm originally from RI) because it's cheaper to keep a boat in that area than in Mass. I've found the Mass coast and Boston/ Quincy area to be more expensive for most marine services, of course it depends on how much convenience is worth to you.
Either way you should be able to find something in that price range that suits your needs, you will need a decent engine if you want to transit the Cape Cod Canal though, the coasties get a little testy if you can't get along there in a decent fashion, with good reason.
As for liability insurance? The chargeable limit for for spill cleanup by the Coast Guard is $854,000.00, they can charge you up to that but not over, it's not hard to reach that number with a sunken boat or fuel spill in the right area. They don't have much of a sense of humor about that. If your getting minimum insurance just check and see what the spill liability limit is, if your not worried about replacing the boat at least cover your butt on that score.
Also look into accident liability, on a small boat it shouldn't be too much. A boating safety course to get the boating safety card will also get you an insurance discount. Something to do during the winter months.
Sure hope you get a boat and get out there, there's so much good sailing on the New England coast, so many good places to go and see. Good luck. Please keep up the thread to let everyone know how your search goes.
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Old 31-01-2014, 05:05   #14
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

You can often tell a lot about how well a boat was maintained just by the ad, and by talking to the owner. Details about when the engine was last overhauled, or when sails were bought, or when bottom paint last went on . . . all that stuff, if known, shows that someone cared. Buying the abandoned boat in the back of the boatyard is much more of a crapshoot. I think the best deals can come when you find boat being sold "for health reasons" -- an owner getting too old or infirm to use it any more, but, damn, he loved that boat. . . .
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Old 31-01-2014, 06:02   #15
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Re: How much trouble could I get into?

I did just what you are planning except I didn't stop working. I found my boat a 1974 Bristol 27 out at a small marina in the country along the Chesapeake Bay.

(there is actually a nice Alberg 30 there for sale now with a newish diesel)

The old man that owned my boat left it there on his return trip from Florida back to Falmouth, MA. Lucky for me, he had replaced every old hose, shroud, etc as needed before he set off. The boat had been sitting there for 5 years when I found it still loaded up from his trip. He had died in the mean time.

I surveyed it as best I could and found no soft spots. I paid the $2,000 dollars the son (in California) wanted for the boat (it was probably worth around $6,000) then started cleaning it up.

I painted the bottom then screwed around with a couple diesels which was a waste of time and money. I should have gone directly to an outboard which I later did. A Mercury Extra Long Shaft 5HP 4 stroke on a bracket. Then replaced the main, added solar and an inverter etc.

Some of the pictures in this link are how it looked when I found it: (scroll down and there are also a couple videos of the boat sailing itself, one in 20 knots)

Bristol27.com Hull #335 – Winter Dream
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