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Old 11-11-2007, 00:35   #1
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Project boat; how long is a piece of string?

I'm agonising about a boat purchase and, with a limited budget, find myself considering what looks like the higher end of the risk spectrum - a project boat! In this my intent is to find an essentially sound sailing platform needing (complete) equipment renewal (as opposed to make do and mend) and a bit of TLC - at this stage, hurricane damaged vessels are not attractive but ....! At the end of the project, the boat should be safe and suitable for low end world cruising/liveaboard.

Having found a number of boats in 40-45ft overall range with freestanding rigs which seem essentially sound in terms of hull, mast, steering etc, I'm now trying to put an itemised budget together for essentially a renewal of everything from engine thru navigation gear to rewiring. Location could be US or Europe and, other than footing the bill, my contribution will essentially be to get stuck in, making coffee and helping those more expert do what they do best - lots of sweat, plenty of tears, I know but.......!

I know that it's a daft, open ended question but I have to start somewhere and I'd be very interested to hear the experiences or views of those who almost certainly know better.

Thanks for your understanding and help

See ya!
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:00   #2
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You seem to understand that preparing an itemized budget for a complete boat refit (essentially a renewal of everything from engine thru navigation gear to rewiring) is as futile as trying to quantify the length of a FRACTAL piece of string.
I’ve performed numerous re-fits (for others*). Without exception, my customers have been surprised (& often dismayed) at the time & cost involved - no matter how carefully I “pre-qualified” the boat-owner.
Like a fractal string, a re-fit seems to be an infinitely long process, composed of endless surprise “squiggles”.
* But never others on what I'd call a "limited budget"
So, along with “how long is a piece of string”, prospective re-fitters should understand Leiber & Stoller’s (the Coasters) warning that “one kiss leads to another, and another, and another ...”.
Of course, ultimately the exercise could be just as rewarding as visiting you girlfriend ...
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:27   #3
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Did you hear the one about the frog in boiling water?

My 44' project boat is turning out to be rather like the frog in boiling water situation.

To summarise, having started, realised that I have chosen too large a boat I am now in the position that I cannot afford to downsize and am really stuck with continuing.

I just hope the water does not get too hot.

Do you know what skilled labour costs and how hard it is to find? Do you know how much materials and equipment costs? Do you really need such a large boat?

I have found that by the time the skilled help arrives I have finished the job myself.

For the combined cost of purchasing and refitting a 45' boat I would not be surprised if a sound, seaworthy 36'er (or an even better smaller boat) could not be found.

Before you get into the morass of a major refit I would suggest very serious analysis of your needs and finances.
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:56   #4
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It should be noted that frogs are often smarter than many re-fitters:

No frog is going to stay in hot water as the temperature slowly goes up - he will jump out as soon as the temperature becomes uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, many re-fitters get slowly “sucked in” to over-spending, until they cannot afford to jump out; and end up sending good money after bad.

As soon as a frog hits boiling water, he is going to become frog leg soup - he won't be doing any jumping! In contrast, many re-fitters don’t appreciate the significance of the first “spending-shock”, and blithely continue on, feeling glad that “that’s over with”.
Whilst the frog's agony is over with, the re-fitter's is just beginning ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
My 44' project boat is turning out to be rather like the frog in boiling water situation.

To summarise, having started, realised that I have chosen too large a boat I am now in the position that I cannot afford to downsize and am really stuck with continuing.

I just hope the water does not get too hot.

Do you know what skilled labour costs and how hard it is to find? Do you know how much materials and equipment costs? Do you really need such a large boat?

I have found that by the time the skilled help arrives I have finished the job myself.

For the combined cost of purchasing and refitting a 45' boat I would not be surprised if a sound, seaworthy 36'er (or an even better smaller boat) could not be found.

Before you get into the morass of a major refit I would suggest very serious analysis of your needs and finances.
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Old 11-11-2007, 05:45   #5
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i could not agree more with GordMay in 05 we bought a 37 Gulfstar which had been maintained fairly well except for the last 2-3 yrs. the surveyor told me what needed to be done to get her in the water, and what would be required for ins. purposes. we essentially could have dropped her in the water with out a survey if no surveyor, but this is our 1st larger boat, and we wanted to make sure i had'nt missed anything on my own run through of the vessal. anyway the surveyor found things i had missed. we bought the boat in the fall by the time the boat hit the water in the spring we had dumped another 9k into the boat. oh yeah i did all the work, and am still at it as i am now doing the not important things that stop you from getting into the water. it's not over yet! would i have changed my mind not on your life we love the boat, and i know her inside out now. still have things to do but list is now managable after 3 yrs. if you can't do the work or most of it yourself the money out lay will be very high indeed.
good luck Mike!
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Old 11-11-2007, 06:00   #6
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honestly on the piece of string question the only way to find out is to get to the end, many many jobs on my own 40ft cat construction have been underestimated and instead of 1 yr part time it'll be 2 yrs and 2mths to get in the water
sean
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Old 11-11-2007, 07:49   #7
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I have a 41' boat that was not a total project boat but needed work. There were lots of parts that worked but alot of minor things that did not work. Everything is expensive and to hire it out is really expensive. IMHO Buy a smaller boat that is in better condition you will save two ways. One is the cost of fitting out a 35 foort boat is probably half the cost of a 45' boat and 2) you won't have the head aches of fitting out an old boat.
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Old 11-11-2007, 09:26   #8
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Be careful, if you can't complete the project, your majority of your investment will be in jeopardy.

If you are considering a project, itemize all jobs required to make the boat salable and then get quotes from pros to complete the work. If, you are not willing to make that total investment don't move forward.
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Old 11-11-2007, 09:49   #9
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I can only echo what others have said here. When I first set out to find a cruising cat I was looking for something that was structurally sound needed extensive work on the interior. My plan would be to gut the thing and rebuild it in a manner more consistant with my needs (I am able to crap in only one place at a time so I need only one head for example). I found what I thought was the perfect boat in Thailand, with what I estimated were 50k worth of repairs to bring it up to snuff. Since the boat was in Thailand I would not be able to do the work myself and the boat was much bigger than I was looking for but the price was right and I figured with the cheap and skilled labor I could find in Thailand I could make it work. I doubled my estimate just to be safe, arranged for a contractor and project manager and got started. In an almost bizarre series of misfortunes my interior refit turned into an entire rebuild and will end up costing much more than twice my original estimate. I may yet pull it off but I am already speeding down the slippery slope that Gord so accurately describes. If you are considering having the work done in a first world country the labor costs will be shocking and there is no guarantee that the work will be any better. The only way to make a fixer-upper work for one of limited means is to do the work yourself and find a boat that does not need a lot of gear replaced. I used to do boat carpentry for a living. When potential customers would ask me how much a job was going to cost my answer was always "far more than either you or I think". I stole that phrase from a rigger friend and the same could be applied to electrical, mechanical, glassing, painting etc. Don't mean to be a wet blanket but I would hate to see you make the same mistakes I did. Hope this helps and good luck!

Mike
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Old 11-11-2007, 12:45   #10
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Never have I been able to give an accurate estimate to the accountant at work as to what a haulout is going to cost. You go into a haulout and then you open the can of worms. It's impossible to figure out what something going to cost until after you see the damage or start tearing it apart.

This is pretty analogous to doing a retrofit of a boat as you are considering....you just don't know until after it is done.
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Old 11-11-2007, 12:49   #11
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On the other hand!

There are those of us who continue on a project boat.

The string has to be only so long. Once a boat reaches a certain stage of compromise it's better to just start fresh.

The secret IS you have to enjoy the boat whether afloat or not. It's an attitude.

To me boats are a work of art. If the boat is built well and has that pleasurable look. Then it's a work of art and is worth restoring even if it takes time and $.

My boat is on the hard along a freeway. A couple weeks ago, I had an old couple visiting from the Balticís see my boat from the freeway and spent an hour trying to get to it. I happen to be there at the time and I seen them drive up to the boat and stare. So I worked my way down the ladder towards my truck, as I needed some tools anyway.

They seen me and got out of their car and approached me. With their heavy Scand-a-hoven accents we started talking about boats and how much they admired the looks of mine. The gentleman, 6' 4"+, walked around under my boat feeling the sides with his hand, and I had to warn him that the bottom paint was choky and to be careful of his head (bald). He smiled and said that's OK I'm use to it.

Apparently as we talked on I found out he use to be a ships Captain up in Norway. And we spent a good part of an hour talking about boats and how the shoals up in the Balticís can get you, seeing that I had such a deep keel.

But each season brings in a new up grade or restoration that keeps the boat a new and is much like a growing child.

But if it's at a point where one cannot enjoy the pleasures of the boat, then it's a loss.

The other point, if it's in a condition that it will not sail/motor for a long while, and it can not be stored in ones yard/lot to be seen every day. Then I'd say don't bother with it. "Out of sight, out of mind!" Long-term projects usually end up in the trash.

One has to have enthusiasm and support to continue on!
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Old 11-11-2007, 13:53   #12
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I have an on-going refit project. I bought a boat that was basically sound and seaworthy but that needed a lot of work done. I have been undertaking the work, but have taken it on in ways that never let it be out of action for too long. The longest so far was 4 months (during winter), but mostly, it is only a maximum of 3-4 weeks. That way I can continue to enjoy using the boat in between refit jobs and that way I don't get burnt-out by constantly having to work with no play. For the record, whatever you think it is going to cost, double it then add a bit! But, as long as you aren't in ahurry, at least you can pace the expenditure.
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Old 11-11-2007, 14:11   #13
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Aloha Seeya,
Welcome to the whimsical world of boat projects. If you really don't like to sail then get a boat the size you mentioned - 40-44. Keep it in your yard for 15-20 years and be saddled with looking at it daily knowing you need to get out there and work on it while building a house, repairing smaller boats, starting a club, working on community associations and projects. Then, after spending 3 times as much as you'd have spent on a sailing 36 foot boat in good condition you can launch and go cruising at age 65. Good plan, eh?
Just saw a DuFour 31 with all kinds of upgrades and repairs done advertised for $12,500. If I didn't have the big boat in the yard I'd be out sailing the DuFour.
Kind Regards,
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Old 11-11-2007, 14:16   #14
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One of the most important rules I've learned on the boat:

- There is always a very important boat job that you need to do.

It can get really daunting at times. I'd say the thing that works best for me is staying around people who are having fun and getting out there. The real problem isn't the time or money, it's the discouragement and frustration, which causes you to throw up your arms and say "screw it". Or, become paralyzed by the abundance of projects.

It's a main reason I really advocate minimizing your systems and keeping everything very simple. Any item you add to the boat requires maintenance, and it really is in your best interest to keep that under control.

If you have a really simple boat (no hot / pressurized water, no ssb, no watermaker, etc), you'll still work on your boat a lot, but your work will be on things like the rig, the decks, and steering systems.

If your pressurized water system goes kaput, it's no big deal, as far as safety and seaworthy-ness goes. But if you have a cutlass bearing sieze up, or a shaft gland open up on you, you're in a world of trouble.

Not only does having a floating condo cause you to work on your boat (and never go anywhere), but it also has your doing less maintenance on areas that should receive more. I'd be willing to bet that most people know their chartplotter better than they know their rigging: bad arrangement.
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Old 13-11-2007, 06:42   #15
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If you do not possess two things: 1. Unlimited funds, and 2. A certified list of honest and qualified craftsmen.. do not buy a "project boat".... that is unless you are crafty, a quick learner, patient, have a mechanical apptitude, and are willing to work hard and for long hours to make it happen.

I have seen many people buy boats in need of "much" work (project boats) thinking that it would only take a few $K's to get it done. LOL! What they instead found was that not only were they wrong...but in some cases fell prey to some of the biggest cheats and liars around. Many $K's (also known as "Boat Units") in the hole...precious little accomplished...and much of what was done was wrong and will need redoing.

Now...while that may have seemed harsh or overly direct... here's the flip side: If you can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, and are able to learn quickly...and are not afraid (humble) enough to ask questions when you need to... you may well be able to tackle most projects.

I did extensive work on our last sailboat... and saved not only a small fortune doing it...but retained my sanity and never got "hosed". What I might suggest that you do....before you decide to purchase a "project boat" is purchase all of the books written by Don Casey..especially if you are looking at sailboats, and also get a copy of "The Rigger's Apprentice". Go through the books...read them...look at what it takes to do some of the work....and if you are up to the challenges.... go for it.

A person who is handy with tools, and has some common sense can achieve much. And when all is said and done....take great pride in what they have accomplished....and on top of it all...know their boat as well as they know themself...which in terms of safety issues is worth a king's ransom
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