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Old 15-07-2010, 21:20   #1
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Converting 4-Cabin to Owners Version ?

I've been looking at the used cat market in the 44-46 foot range, and there is a big difference in price between the same year model 4 cabin and owners version. For example, a 2007 Leopard 46 is about $550K in owners version, but Moorings is selling the same model for $420K. The difference seems a lot more than the cost to modify the 4 cabin. Am I missing something? Is it that the ex-charter boats are so trashed that it's not worth the trouble?
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Old 15-07-2010, 23:52   #2
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I'vve done some research on this and also found that used Cats out of the charter fleets are substantially cheaper than privately owned boats. Trashed...not really as the charter companies maintain 'em pretty well (though we brought a 46' something Cat back after a one week charter with a list of over 20 minor repairs that were needed). But you are dealing with heavily used equipt. Engines on a five year old boat are reaching the end of their life cycle and will need replacement at around $15k + each (cheaper if done in the "right" place in the Carib.) New working sails...another 12k +. If your handy you can deal with the "minor" stuff like refrigeration and AC also used heavily. Figure that a five year old charter boat is like a 15+ (or more) used privately owned one. Oh yes...get a really good pre-purchase survey from a non-local surveyor if possible.
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Old 16-07-2010, 00:23   #3
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Is it not true that the 4 cabin+4 head Charter Cats have smaller engines compared to the owner's 3 cabins+2 heads with better equipment??
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Old 16-07-2010, 06:27   #4
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..... For example, a 2007 Leopard 46 is about $550K in owners version, but Moorings is selling the same model for $420K. The difference seems a lot more than the cost to modify the 4 cabin. Am I missing something?
The charter boat has been 'ridden hard and put away wet'. Usually a serious refit is in order with these boats. If you do the work yourself, they can be a deal. However, if done in a boat yard, I doubt you'd come out ahead of the game.
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Old 16-07-2010, 07:41   #5
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The 4 cabin boats will usually see significantly more use during their life in charter so you may find that 3 cabin models are in a little better shape with lower engine hours and sails that still have some life left. The charter operators typically limit the number of 3 cabin boats they will take in their fleet because they produce less revenue.
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Old 16-07-2010, 09:51   #6
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Thanks a lot for the input! What about the work required to convert from 4 cabins to 3 with owner's suite? Assuming I can do all the joinery work myself, how complicated is it? What are the gotchas?
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Old 16-07-2010, 19:58   #7
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Depends on the construction of the boat. If it has fiberglass pan liners, modules etc, it will be a lot of work to make changes. If it is all carpentry work, it will be less of a problem. Moving/removing bulkheads that make up the individual cabins needs to be done with a knowledgeable eye on engineering and structural considerations.

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Old 16-07-2010, 22:59   #8
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The biggest challenge of converting to the owner's version is ensuring that there is adequate support for the mast by the bulkheads inside the yacht.

When we purchased our Privilege 39, the company told us to not cut into the bulkhead in the main salon or the two bulkheads that separate the forward cabins because the mast compression from the deck stepped mast might be too much for the bulkheads after they were altered.

On the Privilege 39, there are two bulkheads between the two forward cabins.

If I was going to do a conversion to the owners version, I would find out the structural/engineering differences in the construction between the owner's version and the 4 cabin version. There may be some big and important changes that need to be made bedside simply removing a bulkhead. You might have to put a double bulkhead across the salon athwartships to adequately support the mast.

If you don't get this right, you might find your mast step in your owner's cabin one day.
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Old 17-07-2010, 16:41   #9
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Just for grins I'm going to chime in with another view. First, using a diesel engine is good for it, Mack Boring themselves will tell you that the problem with most sailboat diesels is they aren't used enough. Powerboat diesels are used exclusively for all voyages and they often last for 20-30 years. Many owner boats may have more expensive gear, better quality electronics, far more expensive customizations. For instance a charter will rarely have Air Conditioning, but an owner boat would really need that if it will be kept in a marina. That will cost 12-20k depending on the models. A couple webasto heaters may be another 10k.

But the last thing to consider and perhaps most important issue is that the charter company is a business, they know what it costs to keep something they aren't using and plan for a 50 percent depreciation by the end of 5 years. Owners are often far more delusional, they were told by the brokers that they can sell their boat for what they bought it for, or the used boat broker gives them an extremely inflated potential selling price to lock in their selling commission, and then over the next year they gradually start to bring the owner down to reality of how bad the economy is. Often the owners keep their boats on the market for years waiting for a better price, thinking that its a great boat because they've actually kept it up, and because they are turtled on their boat loans.

The good thing about a charter boat (lagoon, FP, moorings) is that there are hundreds of them to choose from. Don't get married to a particular boat and do go for a boat that has been well kept BUT is also a good price. You can have both. When you negotiate have the market do the negotiating for you, one boat against another. Definitely go to a boat loan company and get preapproved for a loan. There's nothing more frustrating for a seller than to take your boat off the market, spend a couple months negotiating with one buyer, and then find out they couldn't buy the boat.

For a charter boat, sails will probably show the most wear and finishes such as gelcoat and inside veneers. I'd also be very surprised if the differences between owners and charters had anything structural in them. These companies make money by making a very standardized product, the differences could be cosmetic AND you may be able to find molded parts at the factory for the owners version you could have shipped from the factory for a fraction of the price difference. Ask the factory for what it would cost to do a change from a 4 bedroom charter to a owners model.
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Old 18-07-2010, 11:45   #10
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Quote:
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Is it not true that the 4 cabin+4 head Charter Cats have smaller engines compared to the owner's 3 cabins+2 heads with better equipment??
I have generally seen the reverse on engines. More power on charter cats to speed the return of the boat to the charter base. Less on owner versions as it costs less and who need all that extra power just to cruise?

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Old 18-07-2010, 13:34   #11
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I have just bought my second leopard ex moorings.the first was in 2002, a 45. i paid 235 000 $ and after a refit(myself) and 2 years cruising sold it for 315 000 $. A charter boat is not always trashed..they are designed to give min problems and robust enough to take a bit of abuse and not show too much wear and tear. New sails from Doyle cost 7000$ incl stack pack and shipping to the states from the Caribbean.You will be surprised what a good polish, new mattress covers and saloon seat covers can do. I bought new decal kits from spar craft and R&C and when people saw our boat , they used to ask us if we were delivering a new boat for moorings.Yanmar motors easily do excess of 10 000 hrs.When they are phased out , they rarely have over 5000 hrs on them ...half life left !I have just purchased a 2003 47 and will give it the same treatment. I live in cape town (that's in South Africa)I am busy getting together all the new gear to give our cat a face lift and when i am done, she will be good as new again and better equipped.I have stored the boat in NC and will be over in the states in Dec to start our cruising life again. In our country , owning a 10 year old toyota is pretty normal. I have just bought one of my workers a 1978 toyota pick up and its still going strong...see where i am going with this ?
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Old 19-07-2010, 10:18   #12
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A friend had a Lagoon 410 that had been a charter configuration and was converted to a 3-cabin/3-head. Whoever did it put the owner's suite on port, converted the port forward cabin to a very nice shower stall, office/workroom/dressing area. He took out the port forward head and converted the space to a well organized closet/store room (which was nice because it kept the weight in the center of the boat). The port aft head they kept as is, but just stopped using the shower.

In terms of functionality, I thought the modification was actually better than the Lagoon owner's layout. The only thing that worried me a bit was they cut into the lower section of the forward bulkhead, which is in front of where the berth was. My friend never had a problem with it, but before altering any bulkheads, I'd confirm with the designer that it would be OK.

Otherwise, the main point is that with some thinking, you might actually end up with something better than the factory. Don't expect to recover your costs at resale, though. Non-standard modifications to the layout never seem to do that.

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Old 19-07-2010, 13:37   #13
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Great thread! Very informative. I would like to see more on this subject.
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Old 23-07-2010, 16:17   #14
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Originally Posted by Poozer View Post
I've been looking at the used cat market in the 44-46 foot range, and there is a big difference in price between the same year model 4 cabin and owners version. For example, a 2007 Leopard 46 is about $550K in owners version, but Moorings is selling the same model for $420K. The difference seems a lot more than the cost to modify the 4 cabin. Am I missing something? Is it that the ex-charter boats are so trashed that it's not worth the trouble?
Poozer,
Generalizations about ex-charter boats are just that. I own one (2003 Leopard 42) that I bought new, put into charter (Moorings), sailed every year, and phased out of charter two years ago. You must compare similar model boats based upon age, condition and optional equipment. There are more used charter configurations (4 cabin) in the market than owners (3 cabin), and the owners configuration will generally include more optional equipment. That's the main price difference. Beyond rebuilding one engine, my repairs have been minor and my upgrades have all been for equipment desired for cruising but not normal in charter (SSB, Radar, Watermaker, EPRIB, stouter ground tackle, wind generator, etc..) Fortunately, I phased out with nearly new sails. A thorough pre-acceptance survey is very important regardless of seller.

I briefly considered conversion of my 4 cabin to a 3 cabin layout, but instead opted to change the 4th cabin (aft) into a storage / workroom and the adjoining head into a laundry room complete with washing machine. The other aft cabin is evolving to become a study / retreat.
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Old 24-07-2010, 15:18   #15
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Having been involved with the charter industry for a long time and owned two charter boats. I would agree with most of the above. Hours on the engines will vary depending on the type and setup of the electrical system. My current cat in charter has 3.5 years in charter and only 1300 hours on each engine. They can be expected to go 10,000 hours plus. The Moorings boats because of how they are set up will have more hours however rarely more then 5000.00. I had about 5200 on my boat with the Moorings at phaseout.
As far as engine size almost every charter company orders the boats with the largest engines available. My boat is standard with two 27 HP yanmars. The charter company insisted I order it with the uprated 40 HP yanmars. Each charter company puts different gear on the boats of different quality. The Moorings does go with lower cost and minimal gear. That can be good and bad. You can get the boats cheap and replace the gear and still have a great bargin. A typical Moorings cat will need a rework of the electrical system because the Moorings goes with a very basic system. No inverters and very small house banks even on the larger cats equipped with gensets.
Other companies go a different route. Voyage for instance uses all Anderson winches and top grade fittings. They have large house banks, 2500 watt inverters with Link 2000 battery management and add two extra 120 amp Balmor alternators to each engine. This is much as a owner would equip the boat. The difference however shows up on resale. You will pay more for a similiar Voyage boat. The Moorings boat however could be a great bargin and the refit would give you all new stuff. Charter boats can be a great bargin. There has never been a better time then today to grab one. Used Moorings 4700 are dropping below 250,000 in actual sale price. Thats a lot of boat for the money!
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