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Old 24-06-2013, 05:09   #1
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Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

At the moment, my wife and I are getting to the stage where we are preparing to sell everything up, buy a decent liveaboard cruising boat and float off into the sunset. Consequently, we've started looking at boats of the type we could see ourselves in at the cheaper end of the range that we could actually pony up the pre-sell off cash for straight away if the right boat came along. So far, a couple of boats have caught our eye that appeared to have very keen pricing and presented well in photographs in the for sale ad. Closer research has revealed both of these boats had previously run aground while cruising the South Pacific, been sailed to Australia and subsequently repaired. One boat we looked at, which we kind of liked, is a fin keeler that hit a reef with it's keel at a pretty good clip of speed and required, allegedly, about $80000 in repairs. I've actually sat on this boat for about four hours (it's on the hard stand) and done a fairly comprehensive inspection; even spoken to the shipwright that did the repair. Of course the problem was that most of the repair was re-hidden behind re-attached furniture and paint covered most of the rest. The most concerning aspect is that most of the impact from the upthrust of the rear side of the keel was directly under the engine. The engine had to be removed to affect the repair, although a lot of crazed and cracked gelcoat remains under the gearbox. The other we haven't seen in the flesh, but it has experienced a similar mishap with a significantly cheaper (value stated by the owner) repair. Of course without inspection, it is impossible to guess the quality of that repair and the owner didn't come clean about the reef strike. We can thank our Google-fu for finding the real story on that one! Both vessels have solid hulls.

So my question, speaking in generic terms and forgetting about selling price differential, would you buy a boat that has had to have significant repairs following a reef strike? By significant I mean to the point where the hull was not ruptured, but furniture, bulkhead tabbings and floor bracing broke away/came loose and left the keel displaced. In both cases the vessels where sailed to Australia from at least a 1000+ miles or so from the point of impact before being repaired.

I know in my mind, one side of me says a good repair is a good repair, but then the other side thinks of just how good will that repair appear to be when miles from land in a decent storm. What's everyone else think?
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Old 24-06-2013, 06:22   #2
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Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

First off I would stay away from the boat the owner did not tell you about the damage. no tell what else he is hiding or exactly what repairs were done. Why buy from a dishonest person? As for the other boat it all depends. What do you plan to do with the boat? coastal cruising or world travel? If the later I might keep looking. It really is impossible for anyone to give you a real answer though as we cannot know what the real condition is. I would suggest you hire a lamination professional to check her out and then go from there. Sometimes those good deals are not really a good deal.
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Old 24-06-2013, 06:48   #3
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Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

If the boat is a series boat I would not. If the boat is one-off and of historical value, I might consider.

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Old 24-06-2013, 06:51   #4
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Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

No.

There are too many boats out there for sale for you to pick one that has suffered major hull damage.

Consider it this way. You will aways have this nagging fear in the back of your mind that a shortcoming of the repair will rear it's ugly head at the precise moment that you need to have complete confidence in your hull. That's not the state of mind that you want to live with, I don't think.

BTW, and I've said this before, I think it's unwise to buy a boat that is advertised as having been around the world and back, outfitted as a blue water cruiser. People seem to think this is equivalent to "all highway miles" claim in car ads. Offshore passage making puts hundreds of thousands, if not millions of stress cycles on a hull that incrementally reduce it's lifespan. Buy a lightly used example of the boat that you want and add all the equipment you need for offshore use.
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Old 24-06-2013, 07:08   #5
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Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

run away. no forwarding address, just run.
there are other boats out there that are not damaged--remember--it still is a buyers market.
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Old 24-06-2013, 19:43   #6
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Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

Somebody built the boat in the first place so should we mistrust them also?Afterall, the lay-up guys were probably high on fumes anyway. Lots of repairs are overkill which is not a big disadvantage. If you compare this repair to lots of old Taiwanese boats, how could it be worse? You met the boat repair guy, did he seem full of BS? $80K, is a lot of labor for a not so big deal. If this were some wiz bang kanting keel thing you would need to worry lots but how many regular keels fall off from a hull failure? It's not rocket science here.
Do we assume you are getting a survey? If not you probably don't need CF advice anyway or if you do need advice and doing your own survey, well good luck.
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Old 24-06-2013, 19:54   #7
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Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

If the repair is made it properly i dont see any reason to negate a deal, there is dozen of ways if not hundreds to make a fiberglass repair stronger than previous ,, if keel , bolts and all the furniture , bulkheads , cracks , hull laminate is well fix it, nothing to worry.... now if this is the tipical patch that crack ,, run away!!! a competent surveyor and bills of the repairs can do the trick....
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Old 24-06-2013, 20:39   #8
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Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy View Post
Somebody built the boat in the first place so should we mistrust them also?Afterall, the lay-up guys were probably high on fumes anyway. Lots of repairs are overkill which is not a big disadvantage. If you compare this repair to lots of old Taiwanese boats, how could it be worse? You met the boat repair guy, did he seem full of BS? $80K, is a lot of labor for a not so big deal. If this were some wiz bang kanting keel thing you would need to worry lots but how many regular keels fall off from a hull failure? It's not rocket science here.
Do we assume you are getting a survey? If not you probably don't need CF advice anyway or if you do need advice and doing your own survey, well good luck.
Well, I worked at Seafarer, glassing hulls, as a teenager in the early 70's so I'll take the fifth on that. Let's just say that the answer to your first question is "maybe".

But your point is nothing but misdirection, anyway. The poster has no real information on the repair other than what it cost, which tells him nothing other than the size of the previous owner's checkbook. We've all been around boat yards enough to know that the quality of labor is highly variable even in the best of yards. There is absolutely no guarantee of the quality of the repair, whereas if you buy a new boat you can count on the hull meeting certain standards. From most builders that is. :P

The question is, why bother taking the risk when there are so many other boats out there that have not struck a reef? To save a few dollars because the guy is selling at a discounted price? Is that really prudent? I suppose if you really have to have that model boat and you can't afford one that has not hit a reef, then it really doesn't matter. But then you wouldn't be asking the question here in the first place unless you were just looking for pro forma reassurance that what you were going to do anyway was ok.
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Old 25-06-2013, 00:05   #9
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Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

Hi Guys. Thanks for the advice so far. Just to answer a query, both boats are mid range 80's production boats. We do want to cross an ocean in our next boat. And just as Suijin posted, I could well imagine that the nagging fear of "how good was that repair" would always be in the back of my mind every time it got lumpy and things started creaking!

Whilst I understand there can be good repairs, one of my main concerns is that, certainly in the case of the vessel we inspected and highly probable in the other case is that the repairs were done in preparation to sell the boat; and that does make me wonder just how extensive they would have been beyond cosmetic in that situation. From the technical perspective, my main concerns would be hidden fractures under the repair and misalignment/distortion of the hull. On the optimistic side though, I'm thinking a well done repair could provide a much stiffer vessel and support for the keel?
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Old 25-06-2013, 00:54   #10
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Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

"The other we haven't seen in the flesh, but it has experienced a similar mishap with a significantly cheaper (value stated by the owner) repair. Of course without inspection, it is impossible to guess the quality of that repair and the owner didn't come clean about the reef strike. We can thank our Google-fu for finding the real story on that one! "

A Van de Stadt Trintella?
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Old 25-06-2013, 05:40   #11
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Old 25-06-2013, 06:13   #12
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Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

He didn't ask if it was a buyer's market, he didn't say how he discovered the damage history. But that he did discover the history is evidence that perhaps the seller did disclose the facts.

If it were me, yes, I would consider the boat. If the shipwright is worth his salt, he did the repair more then adequately. If I were he who made the repair you can bet your bottom dollar you could sail her to and fro without concern of the repair.

Therein lies your question, how do you trust the skills of the shipwright? A vessel with damage history can be gotten at a discount. Judging by the some of the replies here I would say a vessel with such a history would be steeply discounted.

Consider that the shipwright has made repairs which exceed what the builder laid in. It's not unheard that a skilled professional make repairs better than new.
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Old 25-06-2013, 06:32   #13
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I had the same question when buying a boat and posted it here and the people without emotions reminded me to walk away, because the cost to repair if it fails could be huge (you already have a ball park figure). I canceled the contract and got another vessel (exact same model) without problems. When it gets rough and the wave start sounding like sledge hammers I am very glad for the advise given. I will not have problems when selling in the future. Might have saved my life. Ok I've gone to far but walk away unless you are 100%
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Old 25-06-2013, 06:49   #14
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pirate Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

Just walk away Renee....
There's plenty more boats out there to buy....

Check it hasn't been written of by an insurance company and being turned around for a quick Bonus...
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Old 25-06-2013, 07:45   #15
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Re: Buying a fiberglass boat that has had major structural repair.

Walk away. The market is soft nearly everywhere, and you want an offshore-capable boat that has never gone offshore (or been offshore once or twice and didn't have structural or gear failures) and didn't sit in an electrified marina. Educate yourself in the basics of boat surveying, but use this as a primary filter to rule out obvious problems of wear, cracks, water ingress and corrosion. Shop for a surveyor who not only can find problems, but one with offshore experience him/herself, who will understand you're not looking for the usual floating bar/daysailer that is the fate of the majority of production boats these days.

I used to get annoyed at people who would waste our time by attempting to flog to us clearly deficient or compromised boats, until I realized a lot of owners could not actually see how crappy/neglected their boats were in the context of their only use being overnighters in benign conditions. I've seen clear evidence of collisions, keel bolt corrosion, greeny-black wiring, and slop in rudder stocks that were all "news" to the owner, and I make no claim to be a surveyor...just a guy who's had to fix this sort of elderly boat stuff at one point or another and would prefer to avoid it in the future!
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