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Old 14-09-2010, 01:03   #1
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Splurge or Economize ?


My wife and I have been dinghy sailors for many years, and are now preparing to purchase a sturdy, cruising sailboat to (i) cruise off of Long Island on weekends, (ii) venture further afield in the northeast on holidays, (ii) in time, perhaps, head offshore and overseas for extended periods.

Left to our own devices, we would probably look to spend $50K-$100K on a used blue-water cruiser with a good pedigree (Pacific Seacraft, Westsail, Hans Christian, Island Packet, Tartan, etc.) and in good condition. We would look for something in the 27'-33' range, assuming most designs of that size would be comfortable for me and my wife for extended periods, with friends invited aboard for occasional weekends only. It would also seem to be a good size for adjusting to something larger than a dinghy, and if properly rigged could be single-handed on occasion.

However, my father is now looking to sell his 2002 Island Packet 350. It is in excellent condition and he has outfitted it with all the bells and whistles (including many we might not need until we are comfortable going offshore a few years from now). It is a bit larger than we think we need, although the added interior comfort cannot be denied. It is also pricier than our preferred budget - he would probably sell it for about $160K, which is a bit below market for its condition and outfitting, but not much. We could afford that price, but in doing so would eat into savings that is nice to have as a safeguard in uncertain economic times.

Leaving family issues aside, we are trying to decide how much of a "premium" we should be prepared to pay to buy a very well-maintained boat we know from a known and inherently trustworthy seller that may be a bit larger than we need now (but which we might not feel any need to upgrade later). Or whether going with the pricey sure-thing involves unnecessarily shelling out money that could be better saved (or used customizing a boat closer to the size we want).

Any views on the relative merits of a $160K 2002 Island Packet 350 versus a somewhat older, smaller boat of less certain provenance (but proven design) in the $50-100K range would be most welcome. Your greater experience in buying, maintaining and sailing boats larger than a dinghy may give you perspective on this dilemma that we do not have.

Thank you!

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Old 14-09-2010, 02:32   #2
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G'day, mate. Splurge! Did a Caribbean 1500 in 1995 on an IP35, despite the fuller underbody, we won our fleet and placed in the top 5 overall. There's one down here in N.Z. that sailed across the Pacific a while back. Will take you were you want to go, plus you have the the first hand account of how your Dad took care of it. Cheers.

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Old 14-09-2010, 04:38   #3
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If you are happy with the IP's performance (the long keel is a disadvantage there), then I also say -- go for it! It is a huge advantage to buy it from your own family where you know all the ins and outs of the boat from the beginning, rather than finding out gradually about them in the first years of ownership (and paying to solve them). You can quickly spend the difference in price between a different, unknown and smaller boat, and that IP, on unexpected repairs and upgrades. Sounds like a good deal to me.

35 feet is not big for a couple plus occasional guests. Beside comfort, you will get a big margin of extra seaworthiness, plus speed as a result of waterline length. I would not personally want anything smaller than that even if I were sailing alone.
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Old 14-09-2010, 05:10   #4
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The advantages of buying a boat you know has been well maintained are hard to quantify but they are huge.

Buying and older boat may end up costing as much in the long run when you start conditioning it for off shore work.

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Old 14-09-2010, 05:24   #5
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I love the 350 for a live aboard. We almost bought one (the husband wanted something faster). If you are ok with the perfomance I think you could be very happy on a 350. The fact that it is your dad's boat is a huge advantage- just knowing what was done and when is a big help.

I say go for it!

Edited to add: The 350 is plenty big for 4- maybe not 4 full time but for a week or two? No problem!
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Old 14-09-2010, 05:33   #6
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I really do love these little boats. My husband ( who is the sailor and therefore, sails me) admitted that it pointed and performed better than he expected.

GIven your budget, you will quickly get close to the price of the IP once you start refitting an older boat. So you might save some money if you go older and refit but what is your time worth?
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Old 14-09-2010, 06:56   #7
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First of all Welcome to Cruisers Forum.

reading your wants I think a 34-36 foot boat will be a lot more suited to your plans. 27-30 is fine for a couple but inviting weekend guests starts to get cramped, in my personal opinion.

I agree with all the pluses of buying from relatives. The only downside is reaching a fair market value especially in a bad sellers market. I don't know what a well found 35 foot IP is worth but a quick search of show a range of $89k-$200k for 35 footers. Search

An interesting thought would be if your dad wanted to go partner on the boat. That allows you to stay in budget, your dad to hang on to the boat. You still have the valuation problem.
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Old 14-09-2010, 07:14   #8
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One of the things that we got right when we bought our cruising boat, was to buy a boat that we would grow in to rather than one we would grow out of....

We also began by day sailing, then short cruisers and now with many miles of ocean under our keel we are so pleased we did.

At the time our 40 foot, blue water cruiser seemed a wild extravagance, especially as we were very much novices in the game. Ten years on we still have a boat that will take us everywhere that we want to go in safety and comfort.

Our boat came from a vendor who knew his stuff, spent a lot on kitting the boat out and understood all his systems, probably like your Dad.

In the long term we have saved a fortune on parts and gadgets that we would most certainly have incorrectly chosen. In effect we gave ourselves a real head start in the cruising game. We have never regretted the decision.

I say go with the IP, do let us know your decision, exciting times for you!
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Old 14-09-2010, 07:40   #9
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Jason, I hate to run against the current, but since you have only been dinghy sailors until now, I am not sure that you should eat into your savings based upon a percived notion of future plans. Yes, you could always sell the boat if it turns out that the cruising life is not for the two of you, but there will be brokerage fees, etc., that will dillute your return.

If your present need is only for a boat for weekendning and occasional near-shore cruises, why not purchase a 27 to 30 foot boat that is designed and equipped for precisely that? A Catalina 30, for example, would meet your present needs at a fraction of the cost. It would enable you to become familiar with docking, anchoring, boat maintenance etc. on a keel boat with much less fiancial risk should you make some (inevitable?) mistakes.

Furthermore, the offshore gear/equipment that is currently on your father's boat is bound to be outdated by the time you are ready (if ever) to venture offshore. I suggest that you buy a popular cruiser/racer-cruiser (like the Catalina 30), which should be easy to resell down the road. In the interim, gain experience, find out if the crusing life is really for the two of you and then refine your plans (and tastes in the boat of your dreams).


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Old 14-09-2010, 07:46   #10
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Jason from NYC,

Welcome to the forum. My wife and I are also former dinghy sailors, turned cruisers, mainly in New England.

It's hard to argue against buying a boat that you already know well. On the other hand, if you decide not to buy the IP 35 from your family, and if you are willing to put off for now the idea of extended long-range cruising, then you might be happier with a boat that is optimized for Long Island Sound and the Northeast in the summer. I would look for a boat that is a pleasure to sail in 5-15 kts of breeze, so you spend more time sailing and less time motoring. Not too much displacement, sufficient sail area, and probably a fin keel and balanced rudder. You don't need huge amounts of tankage or stowage for summer cruising in the Northeast. You want a sound hull, good mechanics, and minimal corrosion. You don't need to spend a fortune. If at some point you opt for live aboard, extended cruising, you can always consider a boat suited for that journey.
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Old 14-09-2010, 08:17   #11
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Go for it!

Jason..I can't tell you how many people have told us to start with a "small" boat and work up to the desirable size. We fell into a beautiful IP 40 that was well maintained and had a "blue light special" sale price. Sorry...we couldn't pass it up.

We have been learning for the past nine months...taking sailing classes, doing day sails and weekends, practicing docking, anchoring, living aboard for a week or two when possible, and doing minor repairs. We're growing into the boat and can't ever see the possibility of growing out of it. The only negative to these fantastic sail boats is an aluminum holding tank... sooner or later it will require replacement.

The Island Packet will take care of you in conditions you can't even imagine. So, based on my personal experience, I say go for will not be sorry you purchased an IP, especially knowing it's history!

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Old 14-09-2010, 08:50   #12
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The fact that you are very aware of the condition and upkeep of a vessel is a big plus in my checklist.

I'd suggest checking around the web for similar year, model, condition, and enhancements and get a base price. You might consider talking to a broker as they have access to broker only databases that can help you refine the generally asked for and sold prices. Then you have to decide if the difference is worth the cost.

I'm looking at boats and since I don't have intimate knowledge of the boats I want (and they're all used) I know it's going to spend a few months on the hard as I check out all the systems, plumbing, thru hulls, and other important items. All that costs money and time. Depending on the amount of repair or correction, the costs can be considerable.

The IP is a well regarded blue water boat and should carry you well on any voyage.
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Old 14-09-2010, 12:59   #13
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Thank you

I am really grateful for all of the considered replies I have gotten to this post - it has given us some issues to think through and parameters within which to further consider our options. It is also nice to find such a supportive community as my wife and I embark on this next chapter of our sailing life. Cheers!
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Old 14-09-2010, 13:11   #14
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Big plus to a boat with a pedigree / history you can trust.

On the savings thing, why not ask your father to accept a Note on part of the purchase price? As you say, cash in the bank no bad thing in these times. I certainly wouldn't want to bet the farm over only a boat..............
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Old 14-09-2010, 13:21   #15
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I think you could spend ~80K and have something just as seaworthy and reliable as if you spent ~160K. The cost of the vessel often has a lot more to do with the fiscal means of the seller than the actual market value, and certainly more than it's "cruise-ability". A guy who's losing his house and behind on his slip fees will quickly knock 50% off his selling price simply because he has no choice.

In short, cost often doesn't buy you all that much.

We bought ours for ~60K, and have put about 20K into her in repairs and upgrades, and many hundreds of hours of work. But we've also sailed the hell out of her, and she's been our home for several years now.

I think you might want to ask what that extra 60-80K worth of stuff is of value to you. The previous owner of our boat spent a lot of money on things that I gutted when we took ownership. Engine driven hot water, pressurized water at the galley/head/bow, cellular amplified antenna, etc.

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