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Old 18-03-2013, 05:49   #1
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Project Boat vs refitting?

Spending a lot of time reading everyone's posts on what type of first cruising boat they recommend for first timers. Most say don't start out with a project boat.
What constitutes a project boat, how much more work for a project boat instead of a refit? Is age any indicator or is as simple as looking at a boat and guessing it will take several months or even years to refurbish?

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Old 18-03-2013, 06:03   #2
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Re: Project Boat vs refitting?

"Project boat" can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me it means any boat not in good serviceable condition, or needing work to get it so. Refitting can be just as much of a project, but can also mean upgrading an otherwise serviceable boat.
Ultimately, virtually all boats are "project boats" but when you hear the term used by a seller, you just know you are referring to a "boatload" of work and money.

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Old 18-03-2013, 06:15   #3
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Re: Project Boat vs refitting?

There is no standard definition of a "project boat." It's just a matter of how much work it needs to get it ready to go. Any boat, and that includes a brand new one, will need at least a little bit of "outfitting" before it is ready for a long voyage. Older boats, obviously, are usually going to need more work.

For me the difference between a "project boat" and one that just needs some refurbishing is whether we're talking about normal wear and tear, and normal maintenance, or whether we're talking about a boat with serious problems caused by neglect and/or abuse.

So, let's take an example. Say I buy a 30 year old boat, built in 1983. Unless it has had things upgraded recently, I expect that it may need new standing rigging, running rigging, some engine work done, maybe replace some of the plumbing or electrical, possibly even new sails. Paint, of course, almost goes without saying. Even some minor moisture in the deck at the chainplates, or stanchion bases, so long as it is not too widespread. All these things are related to normal wear and tear, and should be expected on a 30 year old boat.

Combine them altogether and you're looking at a pretty major refit, but I still wouldn't call that a "project boat."

On the other hand, if there are large areas of the deck that are soft or delaminated, if the interior wood has extensive rot, if the engine doesn't run, if you have a teak deck that needs replacing, if there's indication of major damage to the keel or rudder that hasn't been properly repaired... All these sorts of things say "project boat" to me.

To some extent, of course, it has to do with what you feel competent fixing yourself, versus what you'll have to hire out. And that relates to how much time and money it is going to take to get the boat ready. The more work you can do, the more time it will take, but the less it will cost. And so, some people probably think more in terms of the total time and cost, rather than the particular types of repairs that need to be done.

In the end, though, what matters is what you think. If you look at a boat and think "project," or think "refit," then that's what matters. Not some arbitrary definition that others might apply.

Good luck.
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Old 18-03-2013, 07:05   #4
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Re: Project Boat vs refitting?

as said already - no real definition. Me would say (as a very rough guide!) that Projects are measured in years, refits & refurbs not neccessarily so.....but they might be! (me has the worlds longest refurb still ongoing! - I blame life interfering, plus me being lazy!).

It is as much about the volume of jobs that need doing as cost or degree of difficulty - some boats can have a lifetime of "small" jobs, or at least jobs that "You" figure are well within ability to cope (financially and / or with skills).............but it's the volume of jobs that gets yer!

Starting out I would avoid getting anything that you figure will take more than a few months to refit / add to - you will find plenty more to do (need and want) than you first anticipated (and that is not a Newbie thing!!).....of course if finances dictate a "Project Boat" (the poor mans HP / financing option!) and timescale allows then not much choice, but overall buying as good to go as you can will be cheaper.....of course no boat is perfect, and they all like some TLC with cash attached!

If not already, have a looksee at the link in my sig below on boat refurbs - and see if you can pick out some common themes and cautions from a myriad of people who have been there and done that with various degrees of success.
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Old 18-03-2013, 07:28   #5
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Re: Project Boat vs refitting?

Far as I'm concerned:

Project Boat = its' currently a piece of junk that can not be sailed
Refit needed = its' currently usable but needs updating and maintenance
stop blowing smoke up my rear, blow it at the sails instead
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Old 18-03-2013, 07:41   #6
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Re: Project Boat vs refitting?

Originally Posted by Don L View Post
Far as I'm concerned:

Project Boat = its' currently a piece of junk that can not be sailed
Refit needed = its' currently usable but needs updating and maintenance

some descriptions are short of mark.

i am refitting a project boat that actually sails.

a project boat has something wrong to be repaired.

is not necessarily derelict, which is a different entirely definition and description. this boat was derelict when purchased and is under my care improving to almost sea worthiness--sea worthiness meaning floating without leaks below,and able to make it to somewhere else from where you are currently located without help of uscg rescue. to uscg, means you have flares and noise maker and other irrelevant stuff for sea going fun and frolic.
in reality is different--if it isnt gonna sink out from under you when you face open ocean, is prolly sea worthy to a point. if it is--stay in harbor. preferably a calm one.

a refit is what one does with a project boat. you refit it for use.
any boat needing work is a project boat.

derelict is left neglected for a length of time. has become a derelict. same can be said for people.
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Old 18-03-2013, 09:23   #7
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Re: Project Boat vs refitting?

Are you new to sailing and boating or just new to cruising? There are IMHO substantial differences. Unless you live to rehab, I'd avoid a derelict and heavy duty project boats, or have another to enjoy while you work on the project.

If you've never sailed, go sailing, at least a few times! The feeling may or not be to you and yours liking. Why buy into something you might not like or can handle?

Now as to boats being more; turnkey, refit/outfit, project or derelict, you have to ask yourself a lot of questions. Example - In my case, I looked at boats that were smaller and turnkey, and some in my range for price and size that needed some refit. A few that would splash with a few projects outside of normal care, and two derelicts. In the end I got a boat that needs a few projects to splash her and if I pushed just the basics, we could splash sooner. For me part of owning a boat and being a boater means that taking care of it is at least half the game. It's why I own one of the cars I do. It's gorgeous and super sexy, it needs more care (not repairs) than a standard sedan, one of the copycats (the warm wet wallpaper paste manufacturer), hideous hybrid or econobox but when the hard top drops in the trunk and you go down the road, it is almost impossible to stop from smiling. My boat is the same way, it makes me smile to look at it.

In the end you need to look at your requirements and needs. Remember that having a boat you can use (at least within a few months of acquisition) has a far better chance of your getting projects done than one sitting on the hard for 6 months, a year or longer. Over W*nt*r is another matter, thoughts of Spring can keep the dream alive.
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Old 18-03-2013, 09:37   #8
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Re: Project Boat vs refitting?

There is a difference between a refit and a band-aid job. To refit generally means to replace worn out, broken items with quality marine gear. Way too many people use marine-tex, Hardware store valves, tarps to stop leaks, duct tape and bubble gum. I'm amazed when people use the excuse not to haul out when their shaft log is leaking and needs to be replaced and use the excuse that it is too expensive to do that. Sadly these boat end up as a sad derelict in a cheap harbor somewhere or abandoned on the hook.
All my boats have been fixers. I've had 7. Amazingly, averaging out what I had put into them, I have broken even when they were sold. If you're new at this boating game, it's best to stick when something that needs more elbow grease rather than big bucks. Best stay away from teak decks, dead engines and original electronics.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow - what a ride!"
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Old 18-03-2013, 09:39   #9
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Re: Project Boat vs refitting?

I dont know if there is a great definition, it's a continous line from "New" to "ready for the scrapyard". However, a boat needing the interior redone, with a tired old engine and requiring a refit also would be a project boat to me.
Maybe it's more about how long the list is and how big the things on the list are. A boat needing hull/deck work, engine work, rig work, bottom work, keel work as well as the usual long list of refit items would definitely be a project boat!
Frankly, even new boats are projects as all that stuff you need has to be added. My advice is to buy the most complete boat you can afford.... there is always a long list on any boat.
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Old 18-03-2013, 09:41   #10
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pirate Re: Project Boat vs refitting?

Originally Posted by shorebird View Post
... Ultimately, virtually all boats are "project boats" but when you hear the term used by a seller, you just know you are referring to a "boatload" of work and money.
In my case the seller thought boat could be in the water in "a couple of weeks."

Bwhahahahahahahah! Still, I thought it was too cheap to pass up... that was my first mistake. Buy something sailable now. In the water. There will still be plenty to do.
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Old 18-03-2013, 11:09   #11
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Re: Project Boat vs refitting?

I think the actual definition of what constitutes a project boat is moot in your situation. As a first time owner, buying anything that was even remotely close to being considered a project boat would be a potential disaster for a number of reasons.

First, you don't have the experience to do the work yourself. Yes, there is some work you can do if you have appropriate skills and the time and resources to learn along the way, but you'll need to pay professionals for the majority of the work if you want it done in your lifetime. And you don't have the experience and knowledge to both pick appropriate professionals and supervise and quality check the work that they do.

Second, expense. Systems on a boat are hugely expensive compared to what you likely expect. New quality batteries can be $1,000 each. Repowering could cost you north of $15k. Sails are very expensive as is the replacing the rigging...thousands of dollars each and up depending on the size and rig of your boat. In other words, you don't have the knowledge and experience to properly assess and budget what it's going to take to bring the boat up to a safe standard. Even experienced sailors often find themselves looking at costs that are considerably over their estimates.

Third, it's your first boat and chances are excellent that within a relatively short time you'll decide it's not the right boat for you given your use and needs. A project boat, unless it is unique and of a highly sought after model, will never have a value close to the money you put into bringing it back.

For your first boat you really want to find a well cared for older boat that has been refit relatively recently. This will give you the best value for your money and will hold it's value long enough that when you decide you want a different boat (which you will, most likely) you won't lose your shirt when you sell her.

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