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Old 21-05-2013, 23:06   #1
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Need Advice - What to do With my Old Boat?

Hello, first post. I'll describe the situation as briefly as possible.

I bought a 1980 Hunter 37, cutter rigged, fourteen years ago to sail around the world. I was naive enough not to know this wasn't the blue water boat I thought it would be. But in the next ten years I discovered her limits and learned a great deal as I sailed around Florida, Georgia, the Bahamas, and eventually down the thorny path to St Thomas. I lived in St Thomas for five of those ten years and sailed nearly daily all through the amazing US and British Virgin Islands and around Puerto Rico.

Then I met a tourist, got married, moved to Chicago, and had three kids

My poor boat has been sitting on the hard for four years in St Thomas. My wife is practically frantic for me to sell her, as she looks at the $500/month I have been spending for four years as a complete waste of money. Of course she has no idea of the sentimental value, the bond, the not entirely eliminated (though dusty) idea of long term trips, though it isn't really big enough for our whole family now.

In addition to having no TLC for four years, the engine is out of the boat and probably done for. The windows leak, the cushions are all wrecked and all the electronics are most likely useless. I basically have a hull that would be hard to sell, even if it wasn't in St Thomas, which only makes it harder. No broker will speak to me about her. I could list her on craigslist or something similar I suppose, but meeting anyone there to look her over would be difficult if not impossible, and certainly not worth the money to fly considering what I might get for her.

So on to the advice, and my hairbrained idea. I think I might be hoping someone here will talk me out of it

Though minus all the comforts that made her such a joy to liveaboard and cruise, she is a strong boat, and the sails are in good shape. I am thinking that if I could just get her to Florida, anywhere, I might be able to sell her there, or even fix her up to sell her in a yard. I am considering glassing over the shaft thru-hull, getting towed out of the harbour, and sailing non-stop to Miami (or some other East coast harbour if I can find the right yard), where I could be towed in, hauled out, and could re-assess the situation.

Of course I would have to spend the least amount possible to do this. Handheld GPS (maybe two), handheld VHF radio, satellite phone, kerosene lanterns, some foam for the forward berth, a sleeping bag, a pillow, some clothes, and canned food. I don't expect to have any electric power at all. If I do the trip in the next few months I should have a beautiful downwind run or broad reach pretty much the whole way, with current to assist. I figure a week to ten days. The only hesitation I have is self-steering gear. My current system (wheel drive) requires too much power. Would love to find an inexpensive vane system. My hero Bernard (Moitessier) made his own out of parts in a dumpster in Africa... would that still work today? Of course that was a tiller rather than a wheel.

So how crazy am I? Would I find a yard in Florida or Georgia for < $500/month where I might be able to put her back in decent enough shape to sell? My wife is suggesting I simply abandon her, which I'm fairly certain I cannot bring myself to do. I would love even more to find a way to get her all the way to Chicago, and even spent the last few days looking over the New York Hudson river passage to the Great Lakes. That seems even more far fetched.

One last thought before I close - one reason to try and fix her up for sale is to get cash enough to put a down payment on a larger boat here in Chicago. The dream to sail around the world is still quite strong, and would now include the wife and three daughters... in six or seven years I would like to teach them all to cruise in Lake Michigan on our new boat, eventually leaving by way of the St Lawrence waterway.

Thanks for reading to the end - and for any thoughts on my predicament.



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Old 22-05-2013, 00:18   #2
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

What does the wife say? Do that.

Your plan is trying to recoup some investment while you prolong the inevitable. You will spend loads of money to rescue the boat for someone looking for a project. In the meanwhile it will likely result in friction in your family. A quick consult with the Goracle shows the asking price on this boat is $34K to $26K. What you propose doesn't pass the test on many accounts.

To get this to sink into your man-sized brain put it this way. You will have to hire a team to 1)move the boat; 2)do the work; 3)list the boat; 4)inspect for sale all the while you 1) pay the hourly rate; 2) pay for all materials; 3) pay dockspace somewhere; 4) pay insurance, at least hull if not liability too.

EDIT: I'm not in the ins industry but I wonder who would provide hull insurance to a wreck. So that leaves liability for the tow, yard, etc while you leave yourself open to risk of damage to the boat. Something to think about.

Cut your losses, have a beverage, relax as you bask in the knowledge you choose wisely to keep momma happy.

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Old 22-05-2013, 01:40   #3
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

ignoring the fact you could find a similar condition boat locally for a few $1000 my guess is if you make it ok then your wife would have some serious words to you...

although, since you have already have 3 kids a free vasectomy is probably not unwanted. Perhaps it might be wise to ask her first if she is going to use ANY pain killers, i think i know the answer.

laser 2 with a 470 main = tippy little boat
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Old 22-05-2013, 03:23   #4
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

Is it possible to gift the boat to a charity and claim a tax deduction?
Failing that, sell her to some dreamer for one dollar, and cherish the great memories she gave you.
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Old 22-05-2013, 04:19   #5
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

Sell it as is, where is!
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Old 22-05-2013, 04:26   #6
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

Have her sunk in 100+ ft of water so that SCUBA divers and fishes would enjoy her; a man-made reef with the blessings of the Coast Guard. Contact local dive shops for advice. Mauritz
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Old 22-05-2013, 05:07   #7
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

Originally Posted by Teknav View Post
Have her sunk in 100+ ft of water so that SCUBA divers and fishes would enjoy her; a man-made reef with the blessings of the Coast Guard. Contact local dive shops for advice. Mauritz
All of us who operate Diving Businesses would love to see this happen more often. I think the reason it doesn't is often because the cost of cleaning her up to make her envirnmentally sound before scuppering are quite prohibitive - cleaning her of engine fluids and other toxic materials etc, added on to the cost of towing etc...

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Old 22-05-2013, 05:11   #8
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

you may wish to fix her up and take sweetie and kids sailing. when momma says no mas, then sell for under 10k, as will everyone with similar issues. good luck and have fun
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Old 22-05-2013, 06:57   #9
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

1. Relocate from dreary St. Thomas to breathtaking Chicago
2. Have 3 kids in 4 years...
3. Demands to sell your boat against your wishes

I suggest you do a search for Dr. Emmett Brown and see if he can help...
In the harsh marine environment, something is always in need of repair...

Mai Tai's fix everything...
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Old 22-05-2013, 07:17   #10
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

You could sail her to florida and have her towed to a yard in Chicago. But really it does not seem financially sound. I think abandoning her is probably not such a bad idea.

You have probably paid more in yard fees than her current value by the description.

I know it's hard to let go of something that has brought so much joy, but better to save the $$$ for something that will bring joy once again to all of you.

My $0.02.
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Old 22-05-2013, 07:35   #11
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

Sell her "as is, where is", donate her, abandon her - just get rid of this boat! Enjoy your memories and start stacking up money for your next boat - provided your wife doesn't oppose it too much.

Good luck!
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Old 22-05-2013, 07:39   #12
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

Hello, lacoursj:

You describe a fantasy, whereby you would be able to make everything come right, in which you'd suffer minimal inconvenience. ...And you'd alll live happily ever after.

Remembering that you'd already spent $24,000 keeping this particular dream alive, and that your plan for repairing it once in Florida (if you made it there) would involve a lot of time separate from your family, maybe you could give it to the marina or one of the guys there. In other words, say to yourself that it was a lovely dream, but dream it was, and is now time to let it go and move on.

Of course, it's only my opinion, but if you're devoted to wife and family, the boat is already a big problem. And would be a big problem even if located in the US, because there's going to be a money hemorrhage fixing it up at long distance. Especially if your good lady already sees it as an unnecessary expense and correctly thinks that the longer you wait to sell it the worse your (joint) loss will be, she is not going to like this idea; also there's the issue of husband not being present (whole burden of child and home care w/o support system). If you want out of the relationship and back to the boat, that would be a different deal altogether. But if you want to keep the relationship, I'd suggest (as did one poster above) that you discuss your idea with your good lady and see what she says.

I'm sorry to rain on your parade, but I think this is one of those cases where the decision to leave the boat in pieces, and far away, did not work well for you; and it's time to deal as constructively as possible with its consequences. In order to do this, perhaps a close detailing of all the anticipated costs to bring the boat to a salable condition vs. what you could possibly hope to get for her might help.

I hope this helps.
Who scorns the calm has forgotten the storm.
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Old 22-05-2013, 07:44   #13
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pirate Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

But its a 1980 Hunter 37C... likely a Cherubini..
they're all in that state.. or close to it...
mine was like that in 2005.. had an engine.. once I finally fixed the problem when I got to the Azores... she still got me to the UK..
How the hell did you get her from a beautiful live aboard to a wreck in your time away from her.. or is it a rose tinted rear view mirror..

Born To Be Wild
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Old 22-05-2013, 07:50   #14
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

There is no "fix her up to sell" option here.

You either fix her up and keep her, or give her to someone willing to take on the task and love her. You've let her go a bit too long at this point.

I disagree with some comments here though. When you met your wife, you came with a boat. That means it's one of the last items that you have exclusive domain over, so the choice is yours.

Just like with houses, boats are maintenance items. Way too many people find themselves in the situation you're in. People hold on to their boats long after they're using them, but not providing the maintenance they need. Then they overvalue their boats, and can't let them go for what they're really worth. In the mean time, they pay thousands per year in slip fees and marginal maintenance.

Good luck, and let us know what you end up doing.
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Old 22-05-2013, 08:09   #15
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Re: Need advice - what to do with my old boat?

Sail it to the boatyard in Green Cove Springs, FL. Use an outboard for power. There you can let it sit on the hard for about $150 per month. If you choose not to pay, they have a business that cuts them up..

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