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Old 13-11-2005, 20:32   #1
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Making Ex-Racer My Cruiser . . . Am I Mad ?

I am in the process of purchasing an old racing yacht, with the idea of converting it into a cruisinf vessel.

The boat I am looking at was launched in 1985. It is a VandeStadt designed 40' IOR "1-tonner". I was built by a proffesional outfit that built a lot of racing yachts at that time (Manda Marine in South Australia). It is 3/4 fractional rigged with in line spreaders and jumpers, runners, checkstays, etc.
It has a "new" (i.e. "reconditioned") volvo penta 3cyl 29hp motor fitted which has done less than 100 hours since fitting

Obviously the boat has a "very basic" fit out at the moment, and has lots of other things that are less than ideal for a cruiser: i.e. Mast is rather high for a cruiser (66') / Draft rather deep (7'4") / Running backstays / Small fuel & water tanks (120L & 120L).

But, on the other hand, it is a big roomy boat with plenty of room and very cheap. Basiically, I cannot afford to buy a 40 cruiser, but I can afford this, and, hopefully, will fit it out over the next 3 years to be a comfortable cruiser. Am I being a complete fool?

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Old 13-11-2005, 20:56   #2
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I suggest you get a very experianced surveyor to look over the hull. The only issue I can think of is hull intergrity. If this boat has been built light for seriouse racing and has had it's life being thrashed, then ensure you aren't buying a hull that is starting to resemble the integrity of a wet paper bag.
Otherwise, nothing wrong with the name and nothing wrong a racer being converted. But it does need to be cheap. Have you really seriously looked around. There are a lot of cruisers going cheap out on the market att he mo.


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Old 13-11-2005, 21:18   #3
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Thanks for the advice Alan

I think that the boat is in relatively good condition for its age.
The IOR one tonners were, to my understanding, built for serious offshore racing, so that the lightweight mentality was not taken to it's (il)logical conclusion.

So, yes, it has been a racer, but as far as I have been able to ascertain, it has been reasonably well looked after. I have spent 3 hours sailing the vessel in open water (and very enjoyable it was too), and several hours crawling around inside and out.

I have had the boat surveyed, and the hull is in good condition (for a 20 year old boat). I am currently waiting for a rig survey.

I would be interested to hear what you think constitutes a "cheap" cruiser? This vessel is 40' long, from a respected designer, professionally built, 20 years old. $AUD69000. Are there other boats you would recommend I should look at in this sort of price range?
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Old 14-11-2005, 02:14   #4
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Racing boat - well looked after a slight contradiction in terms, not that this means she is ineligable.

However you say 40 ft at a price, and is there anything else to match that price. This is the big mistake. You need to look at her as purchase price plus price for conversion to reasonable liveaboard condition plus time for the conversion, and then compare with other offerings.

I am not saying it is wrong, but you do have to be very hard headed about this. If half the fun is working on the boat (and for some that represents considerably more than half the fun), and you dont mind the time taken (and nore does SWMBO) then you could end up with a nice fast cruiser. But do understand the cost and time requirement first.
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Old 14-11-2005, 04:12   #5
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Weyalan, there was a fellow here in South Florida (USA) who chose to do the same thing you are considering. He found a boat designed around the early IOR rule (which is not the basis of designs which become great cruising boats, as I understand it) and which had much local success and a good yard pedigree. It seemed like a 'lot of boat for the money' (the alarm bells should be ringing...) and his logic was that he could equip it for cruising, and be off for a low overall cost with a boat full of new systems.

The first glitch in the plan was that the rig, again just as you describe it on 'your' boat, required too much trimming (runners are not suitable for a short-handed cruising boat) so the mast & boom were kept but the boat was rerigged, leaving a dent in the budget and a still spindly main spar cross-section. Then they got into what seems like a small, isolated area of rot (this was a cold-molded boat; like yours?) which turned into a bigger than expected reglassing project. Dent #2. Meanwhile, our new sailing tyro was showing up every weekend with a car full of solar panels, wind gen, batteries et al. but simultaneously discovering he didn't know much about installing all this stuff AND finding it takes much longer than he expected. (He was commuting from another city and so could only work on the boat weekends). No problem, he'd just have the guy serving essentially as his General Contractor take on a few more of these projects...resulting in yet more labor cost. Dent #3. I should add that the contractor, understandably, provided cost estimates on the initial project but not firm quotes; after all, he couldn't be sure what he'd find when they got into the boat, and also owners have a way of changing their minds (this one sure did...) as the project progressed.

This boat was berthed next to us while we were preparing for an Atlantic Crossing and the contrast was pretty striking: he was going to end up with a quick-rolling hull form, long exposed cockpit, small cabin, an interior that simply couldn't be as comfortable, functional and inviting a 'home' as if it had been designed for that purpose initially, and the cost was going thru the roof. None of these things may exactly apply to 'your' boat, but perhaps the tale will in some ways give you additional things to think about. Conceptually, we are talking about adapting the equivalent of an off-road 4-wheeler or closed track racer into an estate wagon.

BTW in the end, this fellow's boat was 'stolen' one night and disappeared forever, according to the Harbor Master. The thinking was that the boat ended up being worth more for all the new equipment plus the hull insurance, and that the owner had finally if illegally come to his senses...altho' that's just dock talk as he disappeared, as well.

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Old 14-11-2005, 05:32   #6
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I am currently engaged in a similar project to what you are proposing. See

Pay heed to Alan's and Talbot's advice, and Jack's cautionary tale. Know what you are getting into. In my case, I have some previous "project" boat experience, and I payed attention to the overall cost/value/time equation in deciding to purchase Greyhawk.

I'm not sure of the currency conversion, or what the used boat market is like down there, but $69,000 -- whether AUD or US$ -- sounds like a lot for a "project" boat. I bought Greyhawk for 80 cents (US) per pound (US$1.76 per kilogram).

FYI, for the ultimate boat "project," see Tim Lackey's Glissando: This was an old Pearson Triton, which Tim has restored to Hinckley-like standards, at an estimated total cost of US$40,000 (not including his own considerable time).

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Old 14-11-2005, 08:48   #7
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Yeah, I bought a reacer once and was gone make her a cruiser but never really got around to it.

20 years ago I bought this old 44' Bermuda Racer, a famous old girl from 1956 named "Katingo"
She won the 1957 Bermuda race and since did some more ocean racing but ended up on a mooring in St. Croix in the 1980s as a charter boat.

Not knowing much about sailboats at all, or about wooden boats in the tropics, I figured I got a lot of boat for the money and purchased her boat to live on, sail the islands and to cross the Atlantic with my new bride. All is good when ya are in yer 20s, optimsitic and nothing can stop ya..

Found out real soon what "Boat-Poor" means.
We could not afford insurance or any of the cruising goodies that are so essential these days: Auto-pilot, wind-wane, solar panels, SSB, GPS, water maker, etc, etc.

Had fun sailing the boat in the Eastern Carib instead and enjoyed the benefits of an old racing boat: Seeing 10.5 Knots on the speedo...

All in all, we enjoyed the boat, the sailing and the liveaboard life style for 3 years back then, BUT if bulletin boards like this one was available back then and if I had asked advise from more experienced guys, AND if I had listened to the advise, I would never have done it..

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Old 14-11-2005, 09:19   #8
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IMHO there are ex racers and ex racers.

If you can provide the designer it might be easier for others to give more specific advice - but most IOR 40 footers of the syle you describe were not the best reaching boats - and sometimes dangerous when raced hard off the breeze, especially in bigger seas.

As these are the points of sail most cruisers and routes dictate - that would worry me both for your own time on her and also for when you eventually come to resell the vessel.

IMHO I'd suggest for the price you mention, you could check out similar aged Adams 40's in Oz - or any other aged cruiser / racer - and you'd possibly get better all round value.

Sorry if it sounds as if I am p*ss**g on your parade as I support and love fast boats - and I do appreciate it may seem like good value assuming nothing goes wrong.

But sailing comforts and resale apart - keeping a well specced racer up to that spec in hardware may cost you a lot more than you imagine - and the cost of goodies and conversions below should never be minimised.

Good luck whatever you choose to do - and if I ever see you flash past in your converted racer - I'll wave.

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Old 14-11-2005, 10:12   #9
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We owned a racer/cruiser [Frers36 / Carroll Marine] for a long time [11 years]. We raced her at the club level and cruised fairly extensively with her. Including a 3 month extended cruise.

While the boat sailed like a dream the ability to carry gear, supplies and tankage was very limited. Boat did not have an anchor roller, 25 gal of fuel, 30 gal of water.

While physically the boat could handle anything, in big wind and waves she pounded and was wet. No matter what we did certain things just are. Now on the other hand going to weather like a banshee, reaching and downwind really fast.

When it became time to move to a cruising boat we debated whether to try an convert the Frers which was an option as it was paid for or go and get a real cruising boat.

We decided that within a budget a real cruising boat was the better choice in terms of the ability to carry loads, and keep us dry.

Now looking that we have a 47 we clearly had some things go right but even without that we would have sold the Frers and bought a smaller [38-40] cruiser.

More food for thought
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Old 14-11-2005, 13:27   #10
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Thanks everyone

Wow! Thanks for all the responses and feedback. Here is a picture of the boat in question:

As I mentioned before, it is a VandeStadt design.

For information, $AUD 69,000 = $US 49,000

I have looked at several Adams 40' boats, and very nice they are too, but the cheapest are about $AUD110,000 ($US80,000) and go up as high as $AUD180,000 ($US130,000).

I realise that I am going to have to spend a lot of money over the coming years to convert the boat, but I am looking forward to the whole process, and I am not in a hurry. The conversion process is as much a reason for doing this as the sailing part

The boat is currently perfectly usable, so it is not as though I am not going to be able to enjoy the boat in the near future. There is plenty of relatively sheltered cruising here (I am in Hobart, Tasmania, with the Derwent and D'Entrecasteaux channel as amy "playground").

Anyway, thanks again, all, for your comments and criticism. I appreciate all the feedback and will no doubt continue to pester you all for more thoughs and wisdom as things develop.
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Old 14-11-2005, 16:19   #11
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The boat looks fine for cruising. But, the rig will require more care since it has runners, canvas may be harder to fit, and you'll have to either add roller furling or go to hanks on the jib and main. You can't have a loose luff without a full crew.

Good luck
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Old 14-11-2005, 16:31   #12
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a boat like that was built for one purpose and one race. if you ever follow thoes races, there all down hill and single handed .half to most dont return.the boats take a beating the sailors ifthere crasey enough to try again get a new boat. its the most grueling race in the world. most of it down hill ,30 to 40 knot winds in 20 plus seas. ....jt
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Old 14-11-2005, 17:17   #13
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captjohn360 once whispered in the wind:
a boat like that was built for one purpose and one race. if you ever follow thoes races, there all down hill and single handed .half to most dont return.the boats take a beating the sailors ifthere crasey enough to try again get a new boat. its the most grueling race in the world. most of it down hill ,30 to 40 knot winds in 20 plus seas. ....jt
As far as I know, many of the IOR "1-tonners" (and in Australia probably most of them) were built to challenge for The Admirals Cup. i.e. fully crewed harbor races and some offshore day races and one "long" offshore race (in those days, The Fastnet Race). They were never intended to be single-handed (what boat with runners is?) and are certainly not designed primarily as downhill boats. I could list plenty of 80's built IOR 1-tonners that are still racing competetively at club level today. I am currently crewing on a 1981 Dubois 1-tonner that has 6 or 7 Sydney-Hobarts to its credit that still gets along ok in our local Pennant Series and rates well on IRC.
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Old 14-11-2005, 17:51   #14
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I like to look at the numbers. Lately I have been looking at a project boats - actually tired racer / cruiser boats not labelled as projects (but they are). I still think it is cheaper to buy more boat, ready to use as intended, rather than modify or bring back a boat. While it is true I lack some of the skills of many others on this forum, I'm not helpless. When I look at the cost of purchasing furlers, windless, chocks, rigging, you already know the list, it adds up to more than the cost of buying it already done, even if I do the labor free (which is not honest, assuming I could be making money somewhere else). So, here's the part I don't get - if you can't afford the more expensive boat, how are you going to scratch up all that cash over 3 years. The loan is amortized over 15 years. I think it is cheaper to borrow more up front than to keep coming up with all that extra cash.

I love her name - "Insatiable" says it well. Don't get me wrong - I hope you do it 'cause it is very clear that you really want it. That's what boats are about. I just suggest you do the numbers.

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Old 14-11-2005, 21:42   #15
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A couple of glaring deficiencies that jumped out immediately were no toe rails, except in the forward 1/3rd, and no cockpit coamings. The toe rails are a safety issue and could probably be added by continuing the aluminum toe rail right around the boat. The cockpit coamings can be added also. Without them the cockpit is going to spend most of it's life full of water when the boat is being driven hard.

boat looks like a typical IOR design with very fine forward section. Hard to tell from the pictures whether the stern is also pinched. The bow will make going to weather the best sailing point. It may also be a little shy of buoyancy when running in heavy weather. The pinched sterns of the IOR boats made many of them a bit squirrely on a reach. Not a guaranteed problem but only sailing the boat in a strong wind will tell.

The cross section of the mast looks a bit anemic from the photos but that may just be the resolution of the picture. Running backstays aren't that big a deal unless the rig is so weak that it won't stand without them. Short tacking in confined waters, you usually don't have to set them up. That is as long as the mast section isn't so light and weak it really needs them at anchor. For open ocean sailing, runners are a great way to triangulate the mast even on the most diehard cruiser. I've sailed with runners for 10's of thousands of miles and grew to really appreciate how they kept the mast from pumping.

It looks like a typical IOR rig with all the power in the headsails and a skimpy mainsail. Not an ideal cruising rig as it takes big headsails and spinnakers to perform to it's best off the wind. Rig looks like it would be a good candidate for an inner forestay set up to be a true cutter rig. By true cutter, I mean sailed with a 100% furling jib and as large a staysail as you can fit even to the point of having it overlap if that can be done without fouling shrouds. That sail combination in conjunction with an asymetrical cruising chute should get you through most all wind conditions so you wouldn't have to be changing headsails all the time.

Looks like their are possibilites for the boat. At least the IOR boats weren't so light that they turned into pigs with even minimal cruising gear. Van DeStadt is an excellent designer so boat has a decent pedigree. Wouldn't be my cup of tea but then I'm a fan of old, heavy boats.

Peter O.

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