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Old 26-07-2016, 10:04   #1
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Used Boats

I have a question for those of you who have purchased used boats. I'm going to also post this in the multihull forum as we have been looking at both monos and multis.

Since we will be live-aboards, one of the important things we've been looking for is a boat that is in good shape on the inside. (this, of course comes after safety and performance). What I am finding in used boats, is that most of them look like crap on the inside (at least to my standards). I'm not talking about boats that have been severely neglected, or abused. No derelicts. What I mean by that is 10-15 year old boats with filthy cushions and mattresses... damaged interior woods, worn counter tops, appliances that look like they are FAR older than the boat they are on, bathrooms that are outdated, with questionable sanitation, etc. and very stinky!! I'm not so concerned about the appearance of the outside of the boat, but, this will be my home, and I want it to be clean, and attractive, and not disgusting on the inside. If some of these boats were homes, we would have to remodel 75-100% of the inside to bring it up to our level of comfort, sanitation, and pride of ownership. I have all the skills to do that for a house (as we've remodeled our current house from the studs to the roof and everything in-between) , but remodeling a boat is daunting.

Has anyone bought a boat that was in the condition described above, and were able to a remodel it without gutting it? are there easy repairs for worn wood? how easy (and expensive) is it to replace counter tops, sinks and appliances? What about the fiberglass walls on the inside? What are the steps involved to painting it, and maintaining the beautiful gel coat like finish, without it looking painted? what about cushions, and matresses? and of utmost importance, sanitation, and that awful smell that comes from an old boat?

Any advise from you all would be greatly appreciated...
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Old 26-07-2016, 10:40   #2
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Re: Used Boats

If you are buying a 15 year old boat it's much like buying a fully furnished house that's 15 years old. All the furniture (cushions) is likely to need replacing, the walls need painting (wooden bulkheads), and the appliances are due for updating. Nothing's unusual about this. Except that for some reason people seem to think that boat gear should last longer than stuff in their house. Despite that boats are in a far harsher environment, everything gets wet, and limited space means you are constantly banging around.

A filthy head however is just gross. Call a maid service and have them clean the piss out of it.
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Old 26-07-2016, 11:35   #3
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Re: Used Boats

You don't mention what kind of wood is inside the boat. A friend just re-varnished his teak floors and it looks gorgeous. I'm unsure what restoration is done for holly. Countertops are relatively easily replaced and the choices are expansive. Appliances that are 10-15 years old may be nearing the end of their serviceable life, so your budget needs to be adjusted appropriately. In many cases, you will notice new appliances have been improved significantly for features and power consumption. You didn't explicitly mention it, but I suspect some of the older boats you're looking at may have mold that will need cleanup. There are many mold and mildew removal products on the market. The entire inside will need to be meticulously cleaned. Then, you need to reduce the humidity somehow (e.g. air conditioning, moisture absorbing products) to control it. The sanitation smell you mention might not be from the head itself or the holding tank. I would suspect sanitation hoses or a holding bladder (if that's being used instead of a solid tank). Most of these things need to be addressed on older boats. All these things can be addressed satisfactorily.
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Old 26-07-2016, 11:43   #4
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Re: Used Boats

Wood can be sanded and refinished. Fiberglass can be detailed using a anything from wet sanding for heavy oxidation, to very light cutting agents like a 'cleaner and wax'. Interior fiberglass rarely gets oxidized.

I can't see much need to replace sinks and heads unless they are not functioning. soft goods like carpet and upholstery can be replaced. Gutting would only be necessarily if you're replacing structural elements (soles, bulkheads, etc).

Sanitation lines can be replaced. If they are the older black lines, they are probably starting to permeate and need to be replaced with newer, non-permeable lines. bilges can be cleaned.
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Old 26-07-2016, 12:31   #5
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Re: Used Boats

since my first in 1990,
all my boats have been used , from derelict and shabby to derelict and requiring a lil tlc. elbow grease and new or steam cleaned cushions and mattresses are almost mandatory in any used purchase. i donot like sleeping on someone else´s ..... just does not make my sleep comfy.
this boat i am cruising is 40 yrs old this year.
i will be changing some things but for the most part the interior is as i bought it, just cleaner, some.
the heads usually improve with a lot of water, usually from below boat, flushed thru completely.
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Old 26-07-2016, 12:33   #6
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Re: Used Boats

Keep looking there are very good older boats out there too, mine was 27, and honestly the interior looked new, the foam in the cushions need replacing, just age makes foam bottom out easier, but the fabric wasn't worn at all.
This is her before we bought her, remember this is a 1987 boat, everything is as it was from the factory except for personal items and the rug on the floor.
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Old 26-07-2016, 12:53   #7
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Re: Used Boats

I bought a 12 year old boat 18 years ago. It was pristine, because the PO was fastidious.

What's so hard?

Keep looking.
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Old 26-07-2016, 13:15   #8
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Re: Used Boats

I bought a 12 year old boat 16 years ago in which the interior looked like new. It still does with only normal cleaning and a few spot touch ups to varnish. Cushions are now nearing the replacement point but the fabric still looks good. So much depends on initial quality and ongoing care.

There is no need to buy a used boat with a disgusting interior unless you are getting such a discounted deal that it is worth the cost of a major interior refit.


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Old 26-07-2016, 13:16   #9
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Re: Used Boats

Sorry, but I can't help but to think that either your standards are skewed, or a broker is testing you/wasting your time trying to sell you his hard to place listings. As in several decades of sailing, on hundreds of boats, I've only run across a handful in the condition you're stating.
Worn, & dirty is one thing, but you make them sound like flop houses. Got pics?

Also, 15 years for a boat is akin to something double that for a house, in terms of wear & tear. And some of what you're likely seeing, & or smelling, can easily be the result of "deferred maintenance".
Such as when the owner puts off changing out the hoses on the head because they're difficult to reach to work on. And good hose isn't cheap. With the result being that the boat smells like the commode. Basically because the old hose absorbs the smell, & the smell also penetrates the cheapo hose that was used when the boat was built 20 years ago.

It's an easy fix, relatively. Costing perhaps $100 max. But if one's not aware of what makes boats tick, then such an issue will turn a lot of buyers off. Use it to your advantage.

The flip side to this is that shiny sells, & people know as much. So if you run across a boat that you like, but for some interior cosmetics, then more often than not you can get a much better deal. The real question in such a case is do you want to spend the time & money refurbishing such a boat? And do you know how?

For example, when I was 22, I picked up a 33'er with a headliner that was beyond dead, for 20% less than any of her sisterships on the market. And it took me $150 & a weekend to make her look better than new.
I couldn't have afforded her had she been priced like her sisterships. And her owners were exceedingly kind to me, which I definitely let them know that I appreciated such. Telling them that they could borrow her for a weekend almost any time they liked, though they never did ask to, but...

BTW, she had the issue of needing new hose for the head. And said accompanying odor. Not a big deal to me, as I knew what it was, having been around boats all my life, since the venerable age of 3.

One other key thing about such situations though. You need to be able to tell the difference between cosmetic, & costly. Usually the first is fairly easy & inexpensive to fix, while if any systems of significance are in need of repair or replacement, then it could involve big dollar signs. Plus a lot of time, & possibly marine professionals.

Anyway, rant done. And Nigel Calder has some wisdom to share on this theme. A Refit Reality Check | Cruising World


PS: Some smells in boats are nigh on impossible to stop, especially in the Summer time, if they're close up a lot. Think of Porta-Jon's.
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Old 26-07-2016, 13:38   #10
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Re: Used Boats

I should add to my above post for clarity that over 16 years of ownership we have done many replacements and up grades inside the boat including sanitation hoses, fresh water hoses and pumps, batteries and charger and engine maintenance. And we dealt with a fuel tank leak and lots of the things that need dealing with on a boat over the years of use.

That said, never once, not when we first looked at her or any time since, would anyone describe her as you described the used boats you've been shown. Keep looking. I'm sure you will find a boat in a condition that pleases you.


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Old 26-07-2016, 13:39   #11
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Re: Used Boats

Quote:
Originally Posted by scarlet View Post

(...)

Has anyone bought a boat that was in the condition described above, and were able to a remodel it without gutting it? are there easy repairs for worn wood? how easy (and expensive) is it to replace counter tops, sinks and appliances? What about the fiberglass walls on the inside? What are the steps involved to painting it, and maintaining the beautiful gel coat like finish, without it looking painted? what about cushions, and matresses? and of utmost importance, sanitation, and that awful smell that comes from an old boat?

Any advise from you all would be greatly appreciated...
You can hire a competent boat restoration company (a.k.a. boatyard), sit down and tell them clearly (in writing, best) what you want. Then they are off to work and you check the progress and the quality on a regular basis, so that they can adjust their work to your tastes.

In some areas, you will not find one company to do it all. But there are few thru the US that can do a complete remodeling.

Frankly though, if I were to remodel a lot, I would simply buy another boat.

Remodeling is cost. Because the boat is old while the remodeling materials and workforce are present, you can easily spend a multiple of the purchase price on the whole project. IMHO not worth it if all you ask for is a good liveaboard boat. Possibly worth the effort only with unique, collectable or antique boats.

Have fun.

BTW I must admit my impression of s/h boats is different from yours: I did see boats 15 to 30 years old that looked 'as new' in and out. Mostly Scandinavian and Dutch craft held by consummate owners (I am EU based). I cannot understand why such boats could be rare in the US. I believe I have seen a good handful of US old boats on the yachtworld that were Bristol condition. I have also seen US visiting craft at the dock that was outwardly immaculate.

b.
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Old 26-07-2016, 15:15   #12
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Re: Used Boats

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Keep looking there are very good older boats out there too, mine was 27, and honestly the interior looked new, the foam in the cushions need replacing, just age makes foam bottom out easier, but the fabric wasn't worn at all.
This is her before we bought her, remember this is a 1987 boat, everything is as it was from the factory except for personal items and the rug on the floor.
I love Island packets! We saw one last month that was in beautiful shape! we would have cut a check right there, but the Master Cabin wouldn't work. it had a semi V berth that was only as wide as a full size bed, and narrower near the bow. NOT big enough for 2 full size adults to sleep comfortably in. Other than that.. we would have bought it on the spot. But, it was at the top of our price range as well..
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Old 26-07-2016, 15:29   #13
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Re: Used Boats

Our dear girl Gitana is 37 this year. Shes been around 2x with the former po and, 1x with the original owner.
Yes, she looks her age inside. We do plan to up date her. But Im loathe to make her like new. There is history in her dings and clinks. Too much work would be like too much plastic surgery on an aging actress.
Of course you must live with whatever you do. But keep a story somewhere in a locker. You can reflect on how your story is merging with the boats history.
It sounds silly but these dings are testiment to her sea worthiness
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Old 26-07-2016, 15:45   #14
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Re: Used Boats

Make sure you know what the smells are. Many boats are permeated with diesel smell from small leaks that can really stink a boat up. Diesel leaks are not hard to fix (unless it is the actual tank) but I think the smell is harder to get rid of than head odors. Also see if you can tell if it is nasty smelling mold or the head. I agree with what has been said. Most 15 year old houses or RVs need a major sprucing up, so I would expect that of a boat also. Good Luck. _____Grant.
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Old 26-07-2016, 16:35   #15
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Re: Used Boats

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Fiberglass can be detailed using a anything from wet sanding for heavy oxidation, to very light cutting agents like a 'cleaner and wax'. Interior fiberglass rarely gets oxidized.
What about fiberglass that is yellowing? Anyway to whiten it?
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