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Old 10-04-2011, 10:39   #1
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SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

First time poster here, although I've used the forums a few times to find great bits of information.

Wife and I have plans for sailing/world travel in about 5-7 years. We've been sailing a few times and have recently purchased a small sailer (like a laser) to practice and get more comfortable. We are enjoying it quite a bit!

While browsing the net I found a Steel sailboat in need of rescue... possibly...
The boat is about 100 miles from our house and with everything considered I think we can get it back to our house for around 3,500

Yesterday we went out and went inside the boat, there is lots of surface rust, I didn't know exactly what to look for so I just looked for anything horrible looking... haha. I looked into getting a surveyor but they were charging as much as the boat is worth so I figured worst case scenario I'd end up with a 3500 mistake that I could possibly recoup via scrap steel.

Here is some more info and pictures of the boat:
Design: Hankinson Aquarian by Glen-L
Length: 35FT (38' w/ bowspirit) overall length, 30' long at waterline
Year: 1988
Made by: Retired Naval welder and part time boat builder with 45 years experience
Beam: 12'1''
Draft: 5'
42' mast (w/rigging in tact)
Cabin Height/head room: 5'11"/6' ish
70 gallon diesel tank, 70 gallon holding tank, 70 gallon water tank">fresh water tank
Approximately 14,000 lbs total weight +/-
6,600 lbs ballast (keel weight): steel weight = 2,800 lbs, concrete weight: 3,800 lbs
Keel is 3/4 inch plate steel
From Keel to 1' above water line is 3/8 inch plate steel
From the rest is 11 gauge steel
Total steel weight: 8,800 lbs. (est.)
Displacement (at D.W.L): 20,000 lbs +
No Main sail, Jib in good condition.
Rigging in tack
Winches and cleats all seem good.

Sailboat photo, picture, image on

So my question are:
Is this a good buy? The price seems right, but I don't quite know how much it'll take to make it sea ready.
What are some estimates to have the boat sea worthy for a lengthy live aboard? I realize this is sort of a silly question without knowing what's needed and what the specifics will be once complete, but just a general estimate is just fine.

Neither of us have any welding experience, however I have a couple friends who are pretty good and willing to help. We are decent wood workers, all that really matters is that we have a passion to complete the boat. If theres a will theres a way.

I understand this boat will require a lot of work, and we are fine with that. Our biggest concern is that we are wasting our money.

Thank you all so much in advance!

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Old 10-04-2011, 10:43   #2
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

Welcome to CF!
Steel is very forgiving and a lot of evils can be repaired. That said, I'd still hire a surveyor with documented steel hull experience!

Any fool with a big enough checkbook can BUY a boat; it takes a SPECIAL type of fool to build his own! -Capngeo
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Old 10-04-2011, 11:34   #3
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

WOW, what a question!

You realize that most, if not all, of the folks who respond to your inquiry will not have seen the boat in question nor will they have done much , if any, market research as to what other steel boats are going for. Keep that in mind when reading the responses.

Speaking of responses, you will hear that rust never sleeps but metal boats bounce off reefs, fiberglass is maintenance free but what about blisters?, my wooden boat has so much warmth and character so I excuse the rot, etc, etc.

If you really, really want to buy a steel boat I suggest you first go to a junkyard and buy a badly rusted door off an old car or truck,. Take it home and do all the body filling, welding, de-rusting, de-scaling, sanding, painting etc. to make the door as new and if you are happy with the way the door turns out then buy the boat.

Just my $.02.
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Old 10-04-2011, 11:42   #4
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

Surface rust, concrete keel,interior plating not painted and that is just a few things,that make this a very bad project. It is these types of home build steel vessel that give well thought out home build vessel a very bad reputation. All your skills,dedication and cash are better used on something more worthy. Any attempt at trying to revive this would only lead to succeed in failure and an expensive separation.
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Old 10-04-2011, 11:48   #5
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

There is a reason a boat like that is so cheap. Don't you think the owners know what is wrong, what it will take to fix, and how much that boat should be worth in good condition?

With the amount of money that boat is gonna take to restore, a survey is a drop in the bucket.
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Old 10-04-2011, 11:56   #6
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

I'm a two time steel boat owner. I would not touch this one, nor waste any money hiring a surveyor. Look at any of the pictures showing the bilges - the rust is well advanced, not just in the hull plating but in the frames. As others have said, look elsewhere.
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:04   #7
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

Well I have to admit, I was kind of liking this one a lot. But I'm glad you all responded with what seems like a unanimous "move on"

I called one of the previous owners of this boat and he sold it for 68,000 back in 2006. So what happened in the past 5 years to get it in it's present condition... I have no idea.

Apparently it's been moored in the same spot for over 2.5 years.

Is a full survey necessary or should I just get audio gauging done to determine the thickness and condition of the hull?
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:33   #8
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

Get a full survey, if you are determined to acquire this vessel. There appears to be so much rust, even bleeding through the sprayed on insulation and on the frames...I would be suspicious of this vessel. Was the original plating coated with anything? If it was it seems to have dissapeared.
I love my steel boat, but if she had looked like this one appears to, I would not have purchased her.
I also wonder what happened in five years...but there will be another boat out there for you.

Fair Winds
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:36   #9
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

Topfrog ,welcome to CF . Just from looking at the fotos I would say you have three issues .
1. structural rust
2. surface rust
3. yet undefined rust

If you buy this boat you will enter a time race to avoid 2 becoming 1 . My completely unprofessional newbie opinion would be that you would need to be able to invest in some fast,professional work to stop the already advanced rust so you can personally invest time in stopping the rust of category 2 becoming category 1.
Don`t rely on friends so much if you take it on. Even if they are your best friends they will need to commit themselves to hundreds of hours initially racing against time and they might just want to do other things in their spare time too, so you as the interested party will need to learn to weld and fast.

There is a shot of the insulation of the boat . Was it done profesionally or as a refit and with what ? What was used may have been aiding in the boat rusting more .

Reason I comment is because I was looking at a steelie with no experience of boats . I would recommend a lot of reading beyond this thread before you buy. If I can find them I will post a couple of links here .
We are all in the same boat. Be happy that not everyone is on your side.
Always bear in mind that I am total newbie .
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:41   #10
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

Welcome aboard CF and enjoy.
Formerly Santana
The winds blow true,The skies stay blue,
Everyday is a good day for SAILING!!!!
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Old 10-04-2011, 13:04   #11
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

If you have any doubts about the opinions given, go to these places, Metal Boat Building,, Metal Boat Building- Boat Design Forums and of course must not forget Origamiboats frameless boat construction. A wealth of information on these sites. Reading and researching these sites will give you answers to all your questions with a large diversity of opinions.
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Old 10-04-2011, 13:08   #12
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

Thank god the forum is talking the same language on this one, because I wouldn't touch it either. If you wanted one of these to sail off in a few years time I think it would be cheaper and less painful to have a new hull built and sprayed then fit it out yourself. Lets be honest, that interior is terrible, so its all going to come out to treat the rust and then need completely replacing. It would be easier starting with a fresh new basic hull.

However, why are the topsides so dented? that is shocking and whilst you could shot blast and stop the rust, those panels will always show.

Finally I do like the idea of using the propshaft to stop the wires handing in the bilges and getting wet

Sorry, but keep looking, there is the right boat out there for you, keep looking you will find the right one.

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Old 10-04-2011, 13:28   #13
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

You'd have to completely strip this boat, sandblast, steel repair, then repaint & refit. Do you want to spend time rebuilding her? If so, it may be worth it. In this economy, however, I'd suggest searching for better value for your money. That is a lot of work!
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Old 10-04-2011, 13:29   #14
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

so, if you have 5-7 years left before cruising, think about an entirely different tactic: instead of buying a cheap fixer boat that you will invest hours and hours of nights and weekends, why not actually take part time jobs, work those nights and weekends for an actual wage, and save every dime that you earn. You can "buy" boat improvements that are already paid for by a previous owner for about twenty cents on the dollar. It's the best bargain in boating.
"When one is willing to go without, then one is free to go." - doug86
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Old 10-04-2011, 13:31   #15
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Re: SHOULD I buy this boat? 35FT Steel ...

Metal boat maintenance-A do it ... - Google Books

page 14 for some hints what to look for.

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