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Old 29-10-2013, 21:51   #1
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Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

Hi All,

My wife and I are a bit past the initial planning stages of a 5-yr global cruise with the kids. Our children are getting older so the plan was always to do one round-the-world cruise prior to the eldest heading off for college. She is 11 now, so we're in the final stretch towards the actual boat purchase and then leaving land. We're almost done with the downsizing. We have moved out of our house and into a small apartment. We're all learning how to live on less. Now we have our house up for sale a a fairly aggressive price. So the boat search is getting stepped up.

The original plan was to buy a 2008 Lagoon 440 for cash. But we won't be clearing as much as we anticipated with the home sale due to closing costs/ realtors commissions/ the market, etc. And I want to cruise without a boat payment. So we've had to scale back our expectations in boat model year and maybe size. Plus, my Investment Advisor just broke the news to me that I am waaaaaay off in my retirement planning goals so I need to be putting even more away each month than I already have been. Accordingly, we decided to look in the $100-170,000 price range vs the $250-$300,000 range (this will be a work/ cruise program... 6 weeks of cruising/ then work for 3 weeks to keep the income coming and and continue saving for retirement. I am 42).

At this moment, I'm looking at buying an older Tri or Cat, 45-55' in length. Living on it for a year with the family to get them their sea legs (I'm a sailor with an extensive seagoing background, they're city folk) then either dealing with what we have or doing a refit before we begin the cruise. I've found a few boats where the motors/ genset are low time and a majority of the higher-cost items have been re-done or upgraded. So those costs would be out of the way, but I was hoping to achieve the warmth of a modern production boat feel in the cabin interior via a boatyard total cabin refit process. I'm talking about gutting and redoing the entire cabin in modern look and feel.

I have read on here and elsewhere that work can be done rather inexpensively in the Philippines or Thailand so I'm trying to do more research on that subject. Does anyone have any experience in these areas? What about India? Indonesia? Or even in the caribbean? Say the DR?

Specifically, I would be purchasing the cat or tri, most likely in the US, because that's where the most supply and best prices seems to be, in the aforementioned size range and sailing her to the best "bang-for-buck" boatyard in Asia or Latin America (preferably Asia as I live on this side of the world) for the pre-cruise refit. I have done three major refits myself in the past so I know a bit about what needs to get done; but I also know it's not something I am interested in doing myself any longer. At my stage in life it's easier for me to go to work and make the money for the refit than to do the work shipwright myself.

So, if y'all wouldn't mind, I would be interested in some direction from the cruisers in the know about where is the best place to go in terms of VFM (value for money) but also quality in terms of shipwright knowledge and craftsmanship.

Thanks for all the advice.
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Old 29-10-2013, 22:17   #2
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

Yes work can be done in Thailand and other Asian counties on the cheap by good tradesmen in the right yard.

South east Asia is the end of many dreams as people head from the Americas, get there after doing the milk run, only to find out that to continue, they have to either go through Suez and risk piracy or head down and under south Africa. There is a small flottilla of boats in Asia for sale as a result. So plan well. Plan that leg of your trip before you leave. Or expect to join the other sellers in asia. Having said that. Prices in Australia are high, if your willing to pay the duties to have it officially "imported" and sell it in sydney or qld.
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Old 29-10-2013, 22:28   #3
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

Wow,you are in a position a lot here would envy. It seems to me though you are juggling a lot of different scenarios. Almost future proofing yourself...
You still have more than enough to buy a cat in reasonable shape, cruise wherever you want with that kinda dough.
good luck and bugger off now
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Old 30-10-2013, 02:11   #4
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

I forgot to add that I have looked at the rates for Phithak. They looked pretty reasonable but not sure if that's considered "overpriced" for what I am trying to accomplish (major refit in Asia vs US).
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Old 30-10-2013, 02:20   #5
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

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Originally Posted by salticrak View Post
Wow,you are in a position a lot here would envy. It seems to me though you are juggling a lot of different scenarios. Almost future proofing yourself...
You still have more than enough to buy a cat in reasonable shape, cruise wherever you want with that kinda dough.
good luck and bugger off now
HA! Hardly. When the goal was a newer (post 2005) 45-50 footer and now having to ratchet that back, I don't call that as having more than enough. I guess it all depends on what is reasonable to you. For me, I could cruise the world in my Holder20. My expectations for life on the ocean are low. But my wife and kids are city folk. So I need to find a boat with all the creature comforts of home to keep them from going off the rails with respect to my plan. As it is they're barely on-board with it now (I think i scared them too much taking them on monohull races with me). I'm trying to pass on to my kids what my father taught me, sailing and the sea. I don't want to wait till my kids are in college to do it. The time is now so we're executing, albeit on slimmer terms. Not easy to do when you marry a girl from a big city like Mumbai.

As far as future-proofing my life. Like most, I put off retirement planning (saving) for far too long. But better late than never. To put it off at this point would be just plain foolish, IMO. After I get the kids sent away to college, we'll do the next cruise on a much better/ larger boat. So this first go around is on a budget and on tighter terms to get back on track with retirement/ college saving. In America, very few have much saved for retirement. Sure they complain that they don't have enough discretionary income but their choices as consumers are the issue. When they chose, for example, the latest Ipad over diligent saving discipline, well, that's their own fault. Nobody elses. Plenty has been taught and written about how to plan for retirement. But one has to follow-through. I'm trying to be a responsible person by putting aside the propensity to overspend on useless crap from China and instead pay as I go (no credit cards) and save.
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Old 30-10-2013, 02:27   #6
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

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Yes work can be done in Thailand and other Asian counties on the cheap by good tradesmen in the right yard.

South east Asia is the end of many dreams as people head from the Americas, get there after doing the milk run, only to find out that to continue, they have to either go through Suez and risk piracy or head down and under south Africa. There is a small flottilla of boats in Asia for sale as a result. So plan well. Plan that leg of your trip before you leave. Or expect to join the other sellers in asia. Having said that. Prices in Australia are high, if your willing to pay the duties to have it officially "imported" and sell it in sydney or qld.
That's good advise Oz. Where do I find leads on these boats? I've tried sailboatlistings.com, yachtworld, and a handful of smaller sites but haven't come up with much on this side of the world. Believe me, I'd MUCH rather find a cat somewhere in Asia and avoid the delivery costs from the US. But I can't find much except for a few over-priced boats.

A buddy suggested checking out yacht-clubs up and down the PI coasts but that's not an efficient process.
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Old 30-10-2013, 04:00   #7
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

It may be that having work done in Asia is not as easy as some may suggest, that skilled tradespersons are harder to find and that costs are much higher than can be anticipated.

Prior to buying Boracay I traveled through Asia and out of curiosity evaluated building/having built a Roberts 31. I just did not find the facilities, the workers and it looked like it would cost more than I could afford.

I did find a couple of locations in the Philippines but they all involved me living with the project, training workers and considerable financial risk.

I saw a boat at a nearby pontoon recently that had some stainless work done in Thailand. However I got the impression that it was not cheap, that it was not as "yotty" as may be desired and there was no suggestion that the work was done quickly.

I don't think there is anyway of getting a quality yacht cheaply, particularly a catamaran.

You're not considering sailing a large catamaran in need of repairs across the Pacific are you?
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Old 30-10-2013, 04:27   #8
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

Here is a link to a couple refitting a 46 ft cat in Thailand.

Very well documented and they are currently in week 103 of their refit.

Highly recommended reading for you. s/v Ocelot Cruising the World

Refit Summary 2013
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Old 30-10-2013, 04:32   #9
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

i would be looking much closer to home,like the carribean to buy an excharter cat,and trinidad to get a refit done
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Old 30-10-2013, 07:48   #10
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

Dammit, someone must have hacked into my account because, gregger, you and I are in the exact same situation. Our house is on the market, big apartment in the city...with a private garden! It's going to sell in a flash says every agent so far. We are now 6 weeks on the market and just a few nibbles. People aren't interested in a garden during the winter for some reason.

When we started this project I wanted a cheap mono. Growing up in S. Fla you can practically find them abandoned on the side of the road. Now, we are planning to do extensive cruising (2-5yrs) and only a cat will do, I feel. My first plan was a Lagoon 380. But being on this forum made me feel like a 440 was definitely it. But having the house stay on sale for so long and the weakening market I think we've walked it back to a 380 or Lavezzi.

Also, not to get political, but people aren't saving enough because of a concerted effort to extract every penny from them. My parents had $80,000 go up in smoke because of the financial crisis. People buying iPads has very little to do with it.
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Old 30-10-2013, 16:33   #11
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

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i would be looking much closer to home,like the carribean to buy an excharter cat,and trinidad to get a refit done
Agreed. Except that "home" is Guam... 3 hrs East of the Philippines/ 3 hrs South of Japan. Hence the interest in Asia boatyards.

I'll likely buy a boat in FL or the Caribbean, purely due to the vast supply of ex charter yachts. But I'd prefer to do the refit closer to home, meaning Asia.
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Old 30-10-2013, 16:55   #12
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

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I did find a couple of locations in the Philippines but they all involved me living with the project, training workers and considerable financial risk.



I don't think there is anyway of getting a quality yacht cheaply, particularly a catamaran.

You're not considering sailing a large catamaran in need of repairs across the Pacific are you?
I full expect to live with the project. Else it won't get done right. I use to rehab and flip houses on the side. If ever I left a contractor alone, things just weren't done right. At least with respect to huge jobs, I'm either on-site or don't do the project at all. I have a job where I can fly in/ fly out pretty easily. So commuting from Thailand or the PI to work is doable.

As far as no way to buy a yacht cheaply. That's using too broad a brush on the idea. I will agree, most sellers are on crack when it comes to what they think their yacht will fetch, and they remain fairly firm on price. But if you can get in light, the right rehab is possible and then the refit is done in a way that you have the bot the way you wnt it for cruising. Every situation/ every boat/ every deal is different. Using that knowledge, and factoring in total project costs, I'd formulate my offer accordingly.

For example, the boat I found in California, though already significantly marked down, would require another $40,000 in upgrades/ work just to leave the dock on a long distance voyage... that's NOT including the project refit costs. I dont' think the seller will want to hear that but it is what it is. Either he adds those features to the boat, or he doesn't. Which is likely why the boat continues to sit unsold. Unless and until someone comes along who is oblivious to the cost of some of the more basic items like radar, navigation systems, solar and wind generation, and a list of other minor but costly items, he'll be forced to entertain some low offers and/ or just continue to hold the boat.

Oh, and regarding your last question, of course there's no way I would cross the Pacific, or any Ocean, on a yacht in need of repairs. I'm merely looking for a yacht that is fully seaworthy (any boat I buy will get an extensive survey), but that could use some aesthetic updating to the interior.
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Old 30-10-2013, 17:40   #13
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Re: Best way to go about total cabin and pilot house refit

Some comments from an experienced cruiser with a boat that we bought off charter in 1996--a typical bareboat mess--and we're now 1/3 the way around the world. (see svsoggypaws.com)

If you are really already in Guam, you should look around in some places near you, like Thailand. With the piracy issue in the Indian Ocean, and the high cost of shipping the boat from there, we believe there are a lot of "around the world" boats kind of stalled in Thailand. I can't recommend any boat brokers there, but there must be some.

The Ocelot link is a good one, to give you an idea of what you might run into, but those guys (I think) are a little more "high end" than you probably are. (We have been following them for years).

Having done several major refits in the last 20 years, we have have quite a bit of experience with 3rd world "refits". Though you can get some great deals, we believe that you must spend a lot of your time watching and working alongside those cheap laborers carefully (just like you SHOULD spend a lot of your time watching the expensive laborers carefully in the U.S.). You can find labor in a number of places at literally $10-$15 per day. Guatemala, Ecuador and Fiji are some we have experience with. (and Trinidad a long time ago). However, the $10/day people are usually eager and hard working but mostly unskilled, and without ANY tools. You will need to provide the tools and supplies, and teach them the skills.

Most of these places with the great labor rates are non-English speaking places, and your ability to find, teach, guide, and keep good laborers for cheap, depends a lot on your language skills and people-handling skills. The people who make an effort AND SUCCEED to some degree in learning the local language are a lot more likely to successfully take advantage of the inexpensive labor pools. Otherwise, you will have to use a "middleman" who will double the prices.

Typically, the places where cruisers find a good cheap labor supply, and the yards to support the "refit" business... the word gets around the cruising community quickly and the labor rate quickly doubles. The good skilled workers quickly become more expensive, and it becomes hard to avoid getting burned by the bad workers. (ie Trinidad 10-20 years ago, Ecuador 5-6 years ago, and perhaps Thailand right now).

Have you thought about taking your family on a two-week charter somewhere?... before you invest too much money in your plan?

If you can't take your family to someplace like the BVI's and make them happy, you won't do it in Ecuador or the Cook Islands, and it will be a lot worse problem to solve at that point. We have met a number of Pacific crossing boats whom part of the family basically said "I can't do this" and flew home.

One boat, mother and teenage son flew home from the Marquesas, and father and teenage daughter carried on across the Pacific (with pickup crew to help out). Another boat was leaving Tonga to head back to California, because the teenage son was so unhappy he was making everyone miserable. There are lots of single-handed guys out here, who's relationship didn't survive their dream of cruising.

You might consider two strategies with the reluctant family... one is the "defined period" approach, where you promise you'll get them home by Christmas, for example. Buy a boat, make the Pacific crossing, and sell the boat in Australia and fly them home to the U.S. within a year. The other alternative is to "ease into it" and spend some time in nice cruiser places like the Baha, hoping your family will learn to love the life as much as you do.

My experience with my own kid was that kids are easy to take to sea until they get to be about 12 years old. At that age, they want friends their age, and they will (most of them, anyway) whine until you give them what they want. A few, a very few, will "get" the life and be happy.

You might give your kids (and your wife) Jimmy Cornell's daughter's book for Christmas...

Also, check out this blog: S/V Totem - a family sailing the world

Good luck!!

Sherry McCampbell
s/v Soggy Paws
Cruising with Soggy Paws
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