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Old 17-01-2011, 20:33   #1
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More Budget-Minded Monohull Questions

So as some have probably figured out, I'm one of those really budget minded folks trying to do this sailing life cheaper than the land life, and do it sooner than some may think appropriate (not that I care about the latter).

So another budget question. I plan to buy a boat in the 15-25 range, but I can't help but be enamored at the loads of 1970 something 30'ish monohulls in even lower ranges (5k-10k), especially in Florida.

Haven't yet gotten down to Florida to do my shopping, but can these really be worthwhile?

Anybody out there on a 1970 something boat?

I know about the importance of a survey for a newbie buyer and such, but I'm just speaking in general terms of worthwhile time spent shopping.

If it looks good (clean is all I really know about looking good thus far) are these a good lookout.

What's the obvious and non-obvious disadvantages to such an "experienced" boat. I'm sorta assuming that what I'd save in purchase I could make up or exceed in repair costs.
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Old 17-01-2011, 21:08   #2
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Yes, you can find excellent value in these boats.

No, the survey is not important.... so long as you carefully evaluate the boat yourself... if you have some knowledge you are likely to be more through then a surveyor anyway.... If you do not have the knowledge, remember that the survey may or may not identify the problems... and the ~ $800 you spend to survey a $5000 boat would go a fair way to fixing some problems.

The key IMHO is not to get over excited. Look at a boat with the most critical eye you can muster, and recruit help to find fault with it...

Know more about the boat (design, likely problems, real abilities) BEFORE you talk to the seller then the seller will. Avoid brokers, especially at this price point.

There are some killer deals out there, if you are wise and take your time you can find a very capable boat for a very reasonable price.
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Old 17-01-2011, 21:28   #3
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Look at a lot of boats. and then do it again .the more you look the more you learn .bring a flashlight .forget the aesthetics .crawl underneath and inside places you would'nt normally look. Before you drive somewhere to look at a boat over 2 hours away call a surveyor in the area of the boat and request a cursory walk through. Usually about a 100$ they will let you know before the drive what your coming to look at .Its worth its weight in gold and time A pre 1975 boat is going to typically have a robust build and its prior to the switch to cheaper resins ( that tend to blister profusely) after 75 through 80's depending on manufacturer
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Old 18-01-2011, 07:09   #4
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I am completely in line with this thinking. The cost of a survey would serve me well in repairs. The only problem is that I may in fact be a know nothing. I'd rather be a know something or know lots, so how can acquire such knowledge of sail workmanship prior to purchase? Book suggestions? Even better...free web suggestions?

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Yes, you can find excellent value in these boats.

No, the survey is not important.... so long as you carefully evaluate the boat yourself... if you have some knowledge you are likely to be more through then a surveyor anyway.... If you do not have the knowledge, remember that the survey may or may not identify the problems... and the ~ $800 you spend to survey a $5000 boat would go a fair way to fixing some problems.

The key IMHO is not to get over excited. Look at a boat with the most critical eye you can muster, and recruit help to find fault with it...

Know more about the boat (design, likely problems, real abilities) BEFORE you talk to the seller then the seller will. Avoid brokers, especially at this price point.

There are some killer deals out there, if you are wise and take your time you can find a very capable boat for a very reasonable price.
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Old 18-01-2011, 07:12   #5
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Well the plan to purchase is a bit different than some. The plan is to sell the house first, and then drive down to Florida and spend a month or so camping up and down the coast looking at boats before making any decisions.

I figure this is a beneficial approach. Forces me to look at many boats, gives me easy walk away opportunity without a 10 hour drive home, and by the time we move on to the boat after camping it'll seem like a huge home.

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Look at a lot of boats. and then do it again .the more you look the more you learn .bring a flashlight .forget the aesthetics .crawl underneath and inside places you would'nt normally look. Before you drive somewhere to look at a boat over 2 hours away call a surveyor in the area of the boat and request a cursory walk through. Usually about a 100$ they will let you know before the drive what your coming to look at .Its worth its weight in gold and time A pre 1975 boat is going to typically have a robust build and its prior to the switch to cheaper resins ( that tend to blister profusely) after 75 through 80's depending on manufacturer
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Old 18-01-2011, 07:27   #6
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I have had a coupla 3 early 70's boats the last couple of years and my early years...
your main problems are going to be deck leaks from dried out deck fittings, hatch/windows and hull deck joins....
strip it all off and clean and rebed everything....
Other place to check is mast step for stress cracks around base and inside underneath... and stress/wear/rust around shroud plates... if keel stepped check base for stress fractures etc... you'd be surprised how many boats get their rigs overtensioned under the belief that everything needs to be rod taut to achieve the best... load of bollox.... just impacts your base and banana's the boat....
Then finally your keel and rudder... are the bolts sound... if rudder on pintles of stern are they sound... if through hull... check tube and shaft...
The rest is elbow grease....
Note I did not mention 'engine'....
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Old 18-01-2011, 07:28   #7
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A book on buying a second hand yacht would give you a check list so you don't over look something in the excitement. Take a digital camera along too when you inspect a yacht to refer back.

This site is worth a read but please don't be put off, it would be easy to read this and then decide you wouldn't even step aboard a boat on a duck pond.

Buying a Boat or Yacht: Articles by David Pascoe, Marine Surveyor

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Old 18-01-2011, 08:11   #8
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Definitely get the book "Inspecting the aging sailboat" by Don Casey.

Very good advice already

I was shopping the late 60's early 70's under $10k boats exclusively. You can certainly find an excellent boat in that market. I would say a good 30 footer will lean closer to the 10k side of that budget, unless you happen upon a really good deal...

No matter how many people say it to you, you will still end up underestimating the cost of new parts and fixing all the 'little' things that you'll find on an older boat. So you want to start with the best foundation you can find. That means a solid hull, rudder, keel, mast (&step), good running motor, good sails, and a solid deck. the big stuff... at $10k everything should be rock solid.

minor soft spots are not difficult to fix, but if you're going to move into the boat right away, you are better off not having to do any structural work at all. You can always upgrade the rigging and all the gear over time while you're living aboard.

Even though I say that, I would still be looking for a boat that already has most of the things you want. Boat stuff is ridiculously expensive... things like a dodger, seat cushions, a working stove, roller furling, maybe an autopilot...any of those things are major bonus's that don't necessarily reflect in the price of a boat.

You can do without a survey if you are confident without one... My boat had a 4 year old survey (and a few older ones) that gave me plenty of information to work with. I would say an in-the-water survey isn't going to help much, since the most major concerns will always be the hull, keel, and rudder.

It would be wise to have a mechanic check out the motor if you are not confident with them. Surveyors won't tell you much about a motor, except that it's installed.... And you really don't want to repower. You can keep it simple by going with an outboard powered sailboat, they're much easier to work on and can easily be replaced.
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Old 18-01-2011, 08:41   #9
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FWIW Hiker.....I just bought a 27 ft Catalina in the Pacific Northwest. Paid $4500 for it. Looked it over long and close before writing the check and had it surveyed. It was in sailaway condition. Good motor, great sails, no blisters etc etc. Then to get it the way that "I" wanted it....I spent another $2500. Just to give you some sort of perspective. I installed remote engine controls and a roller furling Jib and several other Mods. I could have left it as was and been very happy, but as I singlehand 90% of the time and am on the cusp of my Geezerhood: I opted to make these changes for the sake of convenience. So...don't be afraid to jump in. Just study the water really closely. It can and is done all the time.
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Old 18-01-2011, 09:06   #10
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I'm going to disagree with the idea you should skip the survey. Yes, if you are experienced and know what to look for, but you aren't. Find a good surveyor who likes to talk and spend the day looking over his shoulder. I guarantee you will know more about the boat then you can imagine. And unless surveyors cost a lot more in Florida than they do in New England it's not going to be that expensive. We spent $800 last year ($20/ft) to have our 40' boat surveyed. I was with the surveyor from 10 in the morning until 10 at night. We ended up crawling around the aft lazerettes with an utility light in the dark. But I learned a lot. He looked in places I didn't know existed and pointed out things that would never have occurred to me. And this is my second boat.
So definitely go after that cheap old boat. You can get some great deals these days. But consider the cost of a survey as part of your education, not an optional unnecessary expense. You won't regret it.
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Old 18-01-2011, 09:21   #11
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It's probably worth noting that insurance will require a survey at some point. I don't know about the marina's in florida, but all the marina's i've priced so far, in VA have insurance requirements.

You can get away with getting insurance online without a survey, but they may eventually want one when it's time to renew. depending on the insurance company, it's possible if you just want liability, they won't require it. I haven't gotten that far yet. I'm getting just enough liability to make the marina's happy ($300k coverage) online from progressive, I suspect they won't ever care about a survey....

I guess I wouldn't advise not having a survey. but i don't think it's unreasonable to go without one if you know what you're doing. and it's not unreasonable to go from not knowing, to knowing, in a relatively short period of time given average intelligence and lots of hours of reading and looking at other boats.

This why I think it's very important to look at lots of other boats. It actually takes practice to become a knowledgeable boat buyer... I'd highly recommend going out and seeing boats ASAP and as much as possible. Check out lake lanier and the east coast of georgia. look at anything for sale. then when you get down to florida you will have a much easier time sussing out the good ones. You don't want to pay for a survey until you are very sure you want to buy the boat.
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Old 18-01-2011, 09:41   #12
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Having looked at quite a few boats in that age and price range I'd say yes, there are some diamonds to be found in that rough. I seriously considered getting a 78' Hunter Cherubini 27 that would fit your bill. It was in good shape with a lot of decent upgrades.

There also seem to be a lot of boats in this range in good shape except for one major thing missing, like an engine, or such.

I've found the best thing is to read up online, maybe a few books, and then get out there and get looking. There is no substitute for empirical knowledge! Also, I almost bought a boat at one time and got a survey. I backed out halfway through the survey as too much was turning out badly, but the 5 hours I spent with the surveyor were well worth the knowledge I gained.

One other thing: I'd suggest taking at least a short (2-3 night) sailing course on a boat about the size you are thinking of. It will help you think about accommodations, layout, comfort, plus be good experience in learning to sail. You can probably find a course like this for under a grand.

Remember, on lots of boats in this size and price range, the galley's were kind of designed as afterthoughts and might hamper a full time liveaboard situation.

Good luck!
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Old 18-01-2011, 09:41   #13
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Great Point Sluce.... half the time, I don't know where these cabins, and lazerettes you guys talk about are, or would look like.

I know the survey is a touchy subject on CF, and I'm sort of divided, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

I look at them sort of similar to home inspections. When I bought my first two homes I used one. First one was fine, second one missed a bunch.

When I started learning carpentry myself, I stopped using inspectors, and learned to crawl under houses, and know what to look for myself.

With boats, I can see a first time purchase with a good surveyor paying dividends in education...IF I can crawl around with them and see it all too Is that a common thing they allow? I realize you are paying them, so you should be able to do what you want, just wondering if that is an uncommon thing, and if there are surveyors willing to educate you as they look.

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I'm going to disagree with the idea you should skip the survey. Yes, if you are experienced and know what to look for, but you aren't. Find a good surveyor who likes to talk and spend the day looking over his shoulder. I guarantee you will know more about the boat then you can imagine. And unless surveyors cost a lot more in Florida than they do in New England it's not going to be that expensive. We spent $800 last year ($20/ft) to have our 40' boat surveyed. I was with the surveyor from 10 in the morning until 10 at night. We ended up crawling around the aft lazerettes with an utility light in the dark. But I learned a lot. He looked in places I didn't know existed and pointed out things that would never have occurred to me. And this is my second boat.
So definitely go after that cheap old boat. You can get some great deals these days. But consider the cost of a survey as part of your education, not an optional unnecessary expense. You won't regret it.
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Old 18-01-2011, 12:16   #14
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We're on our second 1970's era cruising boat and love her like she's family. Nothing wrong with choosing an older boat if you have the means to inspect, repair and maintain them.

As has been mentioned, condition is much more important than age so a careful inspection and/or survey (if you're not comfortable doing it yourself) are critical. Many issues you will likely run acrossed in an older boat are things you can fix and upgrade over time but shouldn't necessarily keep you from enjoying the cruising life, so long as you aren't planning a bluewater voyage prior to making the necessary repairs and upgrades.

We spent $400 on our first cruiser and $6000 on our current 28 1970's boat, which safely carried our family of four on a cruise of over 1,000 nautical miles this past summer.
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Old 18-01-2011, 13:01   #15
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I am in the middle of a restoration on a 1977 38-footer. Some of the issues I have encountered are leaking portlights, rotten engine logs (had to remove motor, rebuild logs then re-install motor...sounds worse than it really was, in hindsight), replace termite-eaten wood, remove fuel tank and retro-fit a new one, install a new battery charger, rework and replace some plumbing and then the usual day after day of cleaning. I'm sure I ran into more problems, but those are the ones that come to mind first.

I would say you need to look closely at everything. Check inside storage compartments for unseen water damage or termites. Check the deck for soft spots. Check the engine and engine room closely (if it has one). Play with everything onboard to make sure there is nothing obviously wrong.

Also think about maintenance. Just little stuff like teak. We have a ton of teak on our boat and it is gorgeous! On the other hand, I can't tell you how many gallons of spar urethane, sandpaper and sweat went into making it look that way.

I'm quite sure there is a lot more you need to look for, but I'm just telling you what I have run into from firsthand experience. Once you seriously think you have found what you want, if it were me, I would then get an inspection done because my knowledge of boats is limited and I know an inspector knows more than me. Besides, as mentioned before, you'll have to get it inspected at some point for insurance purposes.

I think older boats can be a really good buy, particularly in this economy.
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