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Old 11-03-2012, 15:47   #1
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What to look for when buying a 1985 used boat?

Looking at a 1985 25-27 ft Hunter. We are new to sailing, but I am familiar with fishing boats. The hull looks good and has been taken care of. What are some things that I need to look at and what are some needed questions should I be asking?
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Old 11-03-2012, 18:25   #2
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Re: What to look for when buying a 1985 used boat?

My recommendation is to never buy a boat without a professional survey. In the case of this boat I am assuming that the price is relatively modest, so survey costs may be a larger percentage of purchase price than usual, but at least inquire what a local surveyor would charge you.

Given what I assume is a relatively low purchase price you might just choose to go without the survey, but I still recommend it.

Either way, a few key things to look for or make sure the surveyor checks out:

- soft spots in the hull or deck (deck is probably cored and could have wet/rotten areas) -- sound them with a small mallet and listen for "dead" spots. Small problem areas can be repaired, but big ones you probably want to avoid.

- A boat this size probably has a deck stepped mast: inspect deck and hardware which supports the mast -- any problems here are critical.

- Blisters below the water line. A boat this size may be on a trailer, but if not you will need to haul it or dive it to inspect.

- Condition of standing rigging. Look for rusted, frayed, broken wire rigging and inspect the condition of fittings to which it is attached. Important to inspect every inch of the rigging -- on larger boats this generally means spending a lot of time "aloft" -- on a smaller boat like this lowering the mast may be relatively easy to do (esp if designed to be trailered)

...I'm sure others with have more suggestions too...
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Old 11-03-2012, 18:35   #3
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Re: What to look for when buying a 1985 used boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swelbo1 View Post
Looking at a 1985 25-27 ft Hunter. We are new to sailing, but I am familiar with fishing boats. The hull looks good and has been taken care of. What are some things that I need to look at and what are some needed questions should I be asking?
For model-related stuff, check out the Hunter fora (Sailnet has one)

For a general checklist, Don Casey's "Complete Sailboat Maintenance Manual" has quite a detailed chapter on evaluation of the used boat, included a checklist that gives a final score. There's also his book on just inspection :

Amazon.com: Inspecting the Aging Sailboat (9780070133945): Don Casey: Books

The Maintenance Manual is basically a compendium of info from his other books (inspection, maintenance, electrical), including the above, so I think it's worth getting if you think you'll ever end up with a sailboat.

Last time I went to the library there were books specifically on buying a used sailboat, there.
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Old 11-03-2012, 19:41   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swelbo1
Looking at a 1985 25-27 ft Hunter. We are new to sailing, but I am familiar with fishing boats. The hull looks good and has been taken care of. What are some things that I need to look at and what are some needed questions should I be asking?
On a smaller inexpensive boat there are a couple of problems. Major items if needing replacement can quickly outsrip the value of the boat. A new engine professionally overhauled and installed could run $12k. Bad standing rigging resulting in mast lost. The mast, boom and rigging is worth $15-20k. A set of sails for the Hunter is probably $5,000.

There is a temptation to self survey or to skip the survey. Try to get a pro to look at it (unless you are very experienced with boat maintenance) but understand the limitations of most surveyors. They will look for and see the obvious stuff and assess current condition. They will likely not dig into maintenance history to assess "remaining" life of boat systems.

A 1985 boat is going 27 years old and probably has had lots of maintenance. I would want to nail down any maintenance records of standing rigging, mast and spars, engine, elecrical systems, batteries and the age and condition of sails.

Finally - Unless the boat has been really well maintained it is going to be old and tired and stuff will break relatively frequently. My boat was purchased at the tender age of 25 and I have replaced a lot of stuff. You will likely find all kinds of bodges in the electrical system. In assessing electrics the main thing is if it looks like a spaghetti crap it probably is crap.

There are a couple of Hunters here in that size range. Boats here tend to get a premium due to supply is limited but one Hunter might have closed a deal this week at about 20% off the asking price and about 16 grand less than asking. In addtion the owner has put in about 10k in upgrades in the last two years. So $25k "loss" in two years kinda stings. The second boat is not getting any offers in the last 4-5 months.

Good luck with the purchase and if you budget in some money in the first year to fix stuff properly you will be ok. I spent about 50% of the purchase price of my boat on needed maintenance and upgrades in the first year. The price was low so in terms of real dollars I spent about $7500 in maintenance in year one. Over 6 years of ownership I average about $400 a month all up including mooring and insurance.
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