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Old 13-02-2015, 09:53   #1
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New owner-refit questions

I just purchased a 1983 Tanzer 27. It has been sitting for 10 years. It comes with a yanmar diesel (condition unknown). I am a complete newbie and would like to get started refitting her. The boat is at a yard and because of weather conditions I cannot move it until we get rid of this snow and ice. In the meantime I would like to get some things done and plan to have her in the water this sailing season. I will make an inventory of everything on board as a start and then go on to.....? I realize the motor maybe toast but if it is I plan going with a outboard. Your thoughts and ideas are greatly appreciated from this newbie.
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Old 13-02-2015, 10:28   #2
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Re: New owner-refit questions

As someone whose 1st and 4th boats were in similar situations, my first advice would be - if you are not a mechanic yourself find a good diesel mechanic independent of any boatyards or who can work in his spare time at less than boatyard rates ($25-40/hr vs $75-100/hr). Most diesels even those left sitting for a long time are repairable, often with minimum of effort, as long as the person doing the repairs does not have incentive to gouge you or sell you a new engine installation. With a knowledgeable mechanic and parts from a distributor or online most of these old work horses can be brought to life for under $2-3K, a fraction of what it would cost you to re-power.

My second advice would be if the engine is toast and you go to outboard installation don't pull the old motor out. Or at least pput a large water tank in its place. I learned the hard way when the diesel on my first boat quit after 3 years of faithful service (by that time it was 30 years old and quite neglected to begin with). We pulled it out (surprisingly easy when done by a pro with me assisting) to be either repaired or replaced only to find out that the parts for a rebuild were more than $2,000 (pricey Volvo parts syndrom) plus labor (although the labor part would have been reasonable as the guy was moonlighting on weekends from his day job as a diesel mechanic to build up his cruising kitty) and I could not find a reasonably priced replacement in good condition. So I got a 9.9HP outboard and installed the outboard bracket using boat's waterline but of course with the engine gone the boat sat higher in the water and this led to cavitation issues, even with the bracket at the lowest position.

Third advice would be - don't get to hung up on cosmetics and such. Just get the boat in the water making sure she's tight and leak free. You will either outgrow her in few seasons or find another deal in better shape. That way you're not wasting valuable time and $$ which you will never recoup. Or if you do decide to keep her you'll have plenty of time to spruce her up at leisurely pace and finding parts cheaper since you will be in no rush. My initial goal in buying my first boat was to learn to sail and not to win mooring field beauty contests. Think of it as your very first car when you were a teenager - better others be afraid of you hitting them than the other way around.
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Old 13-02-2015, 10:43   #3
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Re: New owner-refit questions

Thank you for the reply, what you said makes lots of sense it sums up my situation. I am pretty handy and thought of tackling the motor myself but for a few hundred dollars I probably could have a mechanic check it out.
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Old 13-02-2015, 10:49   #4
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Re: New owner-refit questions

We have been "in the same boat" as you with every boat we've bought. Don Casey's book; "This Old Boat" breaks down a) what jobs need to be done, b) the order they should be done in (i.e.: structural, safety, cosmetic) and helps develop a plan with which to attack them.

Without this book we would have been completely overwhelmed by the projects.

Good luck - we've been at it for 8 months- structural is done, safety is being worked on, cosmetic - well we're putting that off and going sailing for the summer and will attack it when we come back!
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Old 13-02-2015, 11:01   #5
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Re: New owner-refit questions

When I got my first boat, about 10 years ago, I was watching it for sale for about a year. So meanwhile I joined that brand's forum, which was not very large but very useful as far as all kinds of info, specs, etc. What I noticed right away is that there were basically two types of members. Ones would buy a boat, do the basic structural/safety work and splash her in the water ASAP. And the others (surprisingly more than a few) whose goal was to restore their boat to as pristine condition as possible.

I was on that forum about 5 years and when I sold that boat there were still a few people there who were already tinkering with their boats for few years when I joined and were still not in the water when I left. And all that time they were proudly posting pictures of their "progress", when their fellow members were on their 2nd or 3rd boat by that time.

So my basic advice, learned from an old salt and a marine pro - get on the water ASAP and start sailing. Your boat will thank you for that.
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Old 13-02-2015, 12:33   #6
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Re: New owner-refit questions

The recommendation of the Casey book is worthwhile. You will tend to get overwhelmed. I am on my second boat and I still am.

But regardless, you do want to address your understanding of the boat as a first step, after you know what the heck you even need to understand. Where are all the thruhulls? Where are the fire extinguishers? How does the toilet work, or does it work? How to use the radio? How to handle the sails? How to fuel the boat? Is the fuel clean and the tanks don't leak? But if it were me, I would only plan on motoring out a few times to get used to the boat. But I'm pretty chicken. Others would say just the opposite.

First of all, you want a safe boat. Keeping the water on the outside of the hull is most important. Anywhere water can come in you need to figure out asap - thruhulls, hoses, hose clamps, rudder packing, shaft packing, god-forbid hull cracks/holes.

Then you want to make sure you can get from A to B safely, etc. etc.

But in my experience, while you want to do all the mechanical and safety bit, it makes it easier if you can mix in some things that just make you prouder of your new boat - cleaning it up some, etc. You need to do the major other things but if that is all you do, you can get pretty burnt out. But don't go unless you do the minimal requirements. But a good wash, getting rid of mold, smells, etc. will help you feel better about your new purchase.

Oh - you better prioritize your projects by money you can spend. Does you no good to get a new expensive radar and not get the engine working well.

Have fun. Been there done that. Sometimes it seems endless and impossible but keep going. But - whatever you do - don't put the boat in the water and go until you know you can get back to your slip safe and sound without a tow or a swim. Or at least pretty sure.
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Old 13-02-2015, 16:57   #7
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Re: New owner-refit questions

If you want to get a ton of experience start a refit. If you want to go sailing get a boat in good condition.


You might want to take a read through my haulout gone mad thread. It's 2+ years in the making. I may be premature but We have a splash date scheduled this Monday - I plan to update the thread some time next week.


- Engine We had a Volvo MD2010 that lost compression - I stuck a 5 horse outboard on the back "temporarily" and was going to repurpose it for the dink later - I ended up sealing the diesel holes and the two complete engines may never get back together
- Top sides paint - the original plan was to paint topsides, anti-foul and get the diesel fixed. Life took over (work and personal ****) and lost almost a year.
- The next haulout was planned to do the interior refit so what the hell - we ripped it out last July. New cabinets and wiring.


So here we are in Feb almost done.


Here is the biggest lesson - The man-hours involved are way more than you think. Your "friends" will help out but only on their schedule - they have lives. So you are putting in sat-sun (16 man-hours) and maybe your vacations. Unless the boat is in your backyard or you are retired this is about what you'll do.


I love the experience of refitting the boat - I will never do it again if I can help it...


Here is a my haulout thread - Getting Dirty - Haulout
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Old 13-02-2015, 17:45   #8
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Re: New owner-refit questions

depending -motor may have seal probs in injection pump but most other will work out with careful TLC.I always start with specific engine manual/parts/repair.Get a small out board to sail with and do slow engine repair as you go.


All the Best
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Old 14-02-2015, 16:54   #9
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Re: New owner-refit questions

Took a visit to the boat today to inventory everything. To my delight the sails look to be in very good condition. I was able to hand turn the engine without issue so it is not seized. Thank you all for your replies. This boat will be in the water by late April.
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