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Old 12-12-2011, 17:05   #16
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
My succinct advice, after having refurbed a previous boat and being presently in the middle of a "refit" of the new-to-us boat is:
  • Buy with your head not your heart
  • Expect to spend 3 times what you originally thought you would and take 4 times as long doing the work.
  • Plan ahead and do an initial budget. Yes it will blow out in time and expense, but it acts as a guide to keep you on track.
  • A longish refit time and a plan means that you know what you need up front and have time to wait for those bargains to appear on Ebay. This can represent a considerable saving.
  • Face the reality that much of what you spend on the refurb will return pennies in the dollar at resale and most of your invested time will also be worth diddly squat
And my most important bits of advice are:
1) Never look behind, inside or under ANYTHING. Doing so will only lead to more work and expense
2) Avoid boats made of steel or wood requiring "TLC" unless you are a bona fide expert in them. Boatyards are full of abandoned timber and steel dreams.
Very well put!
I would say:
* Be very careful to avoid hull, cabin and deck problems, this work is not much fun, messy, needs to be done in good weather, and some things just never end.....
* Getting a boat with an older Radar can save a good chunk of change, they seem to live a long time. Other electronics... not much value after a few years old.
* Figure on replacing any "accessories or appliances" older than 7-8 years.... even if currently working. Pumps, hoses, etc. (not including engines, windlasses)
* Screwed down teak decks will have wet deck cores.

On the other hand, I knew someone who bought a big strong boat that needed lots of work, they did nothing to it and went cruising. The deck core was so wet that it was visibly buckled up in spots. The Perkins was old with many hours, but ran well. When they were done cruising about 3 years, they sold the boat for ~ the same they paid! I think they were smarter than many of us!!

"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old 12-12-2011, 17:23   #17
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

It is always better to live very poorly for a year or two and save every penny and sell anything you don't need to buy a good boat you can leave with and do minor cosmetic improvements to. If you are really homeless and looking for a free boat to live on, it still might be better to save and buy a better boat instead of trying to fix up the free one.

If you don't know what you are doing, it sometimes is cheaper and quicker to have someone else do it.

After looking at a bunch of older catamarans, it might be cheaper and quicker to build a new one and then outfit it. Well at least for me and my requirements.

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Old 12-12-2011, 17:33   #18
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

This thread wasn't really intended to be about me / my boat and my experiances from "The Great (never ending ) DOJ Refurb Project"......although I am sure I will be chipping in some more.......

Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
I take it you're considering whether to sell your current boat and to buy again or whether what you've got is good enough?
Not selling, this one was bought as (and still is!) a keeper

Would I do another refurb? Certainly Not bigger. Well, not intentionally But depending on circumstances and intended use might be tempted by something smaller needing "a bit" of TLC......but (unless a motorboat ) that probably somewhere else than Jersey. and very much one for the future.

Noticing your signature line if I were a single person building a trimaran I'd do it at one of the boatyards located a bus ride from Cebu City. Carmen and Port Bonbonon come to mind.

My Trimaran

The intention is to refine (develop!) some boat building skills in Jersey (where I have tools available / workshop onshore) and then maybe repeat the process somewhere warm - I have half an eye on Malaysia for that, but elsewhere (cheap and hot ) not totally out of the question.

But rather annoyingly I do still have to earn a living Well, at least sometimes.
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Old 12-12-2011, 17:56   #19
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

1) One job at a time. Frustration and procrastination lie down the path of tackling too many things at once.
2) Expect each job to lead to another one as you discover new things to fix everywhere you look.
3) If you don't have boatbuilding experience, expect that you will be able to learn to repair everything but finish work won't be as nice as a professional's.
4) Do it right the first time.
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Old 12-12-2011, 18:18   #20
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

Two and a half years ago I bought a boat sitting in a boatyard that nobody else wanted. The problems were mainly cosmetic, and I knew I could fix the most glaring ones with skills I had myself, without too much money.

The boat was in a do-it-yourself yard. I bought it in September and worked every other weekend on it for a couple of months. One day, a guy I had gotten to know, who had been working on his refurbishing project for five years, said to me, "Yeh, this is the field of broken dreams here."

When he walked away, I called my wife on the cell phone, told her the story, and said, "I'm getting this boat the hell out of here!"

I had it in the water by December and moved it down the ICW to my home state. By the following spring, I had it fixed up enough to take to the Bahamas for three months. By the next year, I had it in pretty good shape and sailed it up to Maine. All this was done on weekends and school breaks on a teacher's income. I haven't spent much money on it but have put a lot of sweat into it.

At this point, I've pretty much finished with the refurbishing projects and am into maintenance projects. If you keep a boat moving that much, the maintenance keeps you pretty busy.

I say get it moving!! "Perfect" is the enemy of "good".
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Old 12-12-2011, 18:32   #21
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

Hmmm,.... My last project boat was a sinker. ( They are much cheaper underwater) I had it on the hard for near two years while keeping a real job and working most weekends. I agree with other postera that the cost to keep it in the boat yard was the one cost that constantly dug at me.

Bad core is a real PITA. If there is a lot, and you cannot fix it do not buy it.

Every thing else is easier.
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Old 12-12-2011, 18:34   #22
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

A good thread topic David.

In my case I was in the right place when I saw the boat for my first look (2007) and the right time as the PO was looking to sell. Van de Stadt designs are rightly admired. The PO (3rd) wanted what he had paid for the boat three years earlier and had invoices of over $20KUSD of rigging and engine upgrades etc. I was informed that the boat was home built. However after crawling all over the boat which has full,easy and complete access to all areas I found I was looking at steel work of excellent quality and state. NOTE: After buying the boat I found copious boxes of original contracts and even letters between Van de Stadt company, the French builders and the original owners. The hull was built professionally by a French yacht builder for a French carpenter who finished the outfitting to a basic open plan level. (I have some before and after photos in my profile).

The boat was scheduled to be lifted on the hard a few days later and I arranged to have a mechanic look at the Perkins 4236 while in the water and visited a few days later when on land. I made and offer which was accepted. Here I made a mistake. As a Scot my price came with the lifting out/return, power wash etc and with the fees for four months on the hard already paid and as such I should have… after finalising the deal… sailed her for a few months and then decided on the changes I would make. However I decided to do the refit.

My reason for stating I made a mistake was that although I would have made most of the same changes some fundamental layout changes I would have reconsidered.

I didn’t then, nor do I believe now that I have refit the boat to professional standards. I have however changed it from a simple to a comfortable boat. The original owner did not skimp on the hardware finest quality available with built in redundancy. Its was built to cross oceans and it safely and comfortably carries me across seas. Notwithstanding my time (which is expensive-although I viewed the challenge as therapeutically repaid) I have a boat which I value much more than she would sell. A few months ago she was 32 years old. I bought her at the end of a three month cruise of the PO so it was easy to see her standard. I could easily have sailed her with little more than general maintenance. So one year after I bought her with still the Head (greatly improved but cosmetically still a work in progress) to be completed, I have enjoyed three and a half years of sailing in a 43.3 FT LOD 47ft LOA which could take me anywhere. It’s probably got a sales value of around $60KUSD tops, however there is no way I can buy a similar boat for that amount.

I believe I was lucky. No one who enters her or sails with me doesn’t like her. She gives pleasure at a reasonable price and I expect to get a good few years out of her.

In comparison I see many projects boats and refits which in today’s economical circumstances seem unrealistic unless one is an exceptional carpenter/outfitter. I am not…my father was… I’m okay. I did it in a climate which allowed all year round work possibilities. I also know what I don’t know and that is useful. Some welding projects, engine mechanics beyond the basics I farmed out. Some woodwork projects I could have chosen a much easier route than I undertook. Never the less I do know her very well… not every nook and cranny… but damn near.

So I have a Dutch/French 32 year old lady with good genes that worked well before I met her. So really I have dressed her in better clothes, taught her some Scottish manners and loved her from the moment she became mine. As with her two legged counterparts, some are worth the long term commitment others should be kept at arms length. A friend of mine has the absolutely opposite experience and it is one of the saddest things to see, a dream turn into a chore; a possibility into a drudge and a twinkle into a lost dazed look.

So try and find the boat which will ignite the dream but offer the realistic chance of a successful completion within acceptable time parameters.



PS. Remember if they can be sailed...sail for a few months and then decide what changes to make
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Old 12-12-2011, 19:30   #23
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

Can only speech for myself… I would not buy a new boat even if I have the means to…I’ve spent much money on many things in life and I know it isn’t always worth it… finding an old neglected boat has its charms…restoring it has its rewards… the entire process from the time you first laid eyes on her to launching is in itself (The Voyage) whatever comes next is bonus!!!
I am too cheap to dare put $$$ dollar sings on things I do with a passion… life has though me that there are many things I can spend money on that would leave me a lot less satisfied then boat building
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Old 12-12-2011, 20:23   #24
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

Originally Posted by jobi View Post
Can only speech for myself… I would not buy a new boat even if I have the means to…I’ve spent much money on many things in life and I know it isn’t always worth it… finding an old neglected boat has its charms…restoring it has its rewards… the entire process from the time you first laid eyes on her to launching is in itself (The Voyage) whatever comes next is bonus!!!
I am too cheap to dare put $$$ dollar sings on things I do with a passion… life has though me that there are many things I can spend money on that would leave me a lot less satisfied then boat building

AMEN!!! Can I say it again? AMEN!!
I love my bagbies, and I want to know them inside and out. P-)

You gain a certain level ofconfidence in your boat and yourself when you know that everything works and works correctly because you did it. You will also know better where the weaknesses are hiding - all boats have them.

It really isn't for the faint of heart though. It is common for people to not realize what is really involved in any resto project (not just boats). My best advice is, if you think you want to restore a boat, help someone else restore their boat for 6+ months. Then decide.

It can save you money if you: 1) have an inexpensive place too store it, 2) have or can learn the skills to perform the labor, 3) start out with a good aproximation of what materials and the things you CAN'T do will cost. Rough quotes are your friend.

I am a complete sucker for a forgotten boat (or muscle car) left to die slowly. You have to do the research and and be willing to spend the time - it takes a lot of time. Someone above said, "tripple the money." You should double the time and money if you have done this before. Triple it, AT LEAST, if you have not.

Last thought: If bringing her back to life seems like a chore to you, you should think long and hard about it. It likely will take a big chunk of your life. You have to enjoy it on some level, and your family has to be OK with it too if you want to keep them happy.

To those who dare, good luck.

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Old 12-12-2011, 20:33   #25
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For what it's worth....

This thread and the $500/month budget are of particular interest to me and my wife cuz that's just what we are about to do. Our plan is to buy the cheapest, most well cared for hull/deck we can find with updated standing rigging, and if it has half of what we need (ie. working radio/sails/lifejackets...) then we will be looking for the bare essentials for sailing. Our most expensive updates will most likely be a life raft (unavoidable) and a new stove/oven if we can swing it. Good ground tackle as we will be anchoring alot, doing most if not all the work ourselves, and sail while doing most of the refinishing. we can dive so we can scrape our own boat and we are not afraid of getting our hands dirty. Living south for a few months (ie. western carib.) where it tends to be less expensive while beefing up our sailing skills, then fly back for a couple of months for some summer seasonal work to beef up the chedda Next year we will get some more of the goodies we want, but our wants just happen to be basic. As for refurb time, it's all I got right now, cuz we are good with our moolah, and don't have anything to do but sail and refurb till it's ready enough to take south. If we have enough money still, we take the canal to the Pacific and check out paradise for a while.

proposed budget:
boat: $4000 - 6000
liferaft: $1000
musthaves: $1000
mooring costs: $600
(for initial startup)
surpises: $2000
food for 2 months: $600(more than our current budget)
So far that's :$11200
If we don't go over that too much, we can still cruise until work starts

Will it work? I'll let you know...
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Old 12-12-2011, 20:58   #26
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

on the topic of budget cruising (which this is, right?), the boat shopping process is the most important aspect (other than keeping the boat afloat), IMO.

It's too easy to fall into a trap with an older boat. It really takes a lot of time and searching for that 'most boat for you're dollar' deal.

I like to say I got lucky with this boat, but the reality is, it took me over a year just to narrow down the list to under 5 boats. And once that was done, it took a few dozen inspections before I found one that I considered 'best bang for the buck'. Definitely the most time consuming and stressful part of the whole process... More times than I'd care to admit, I found myself diggin in my pocket ready to purchase a boat, only to be Miraculously thwarted by a bout of patience (or possibly fear!) that kept me from making purchases. I can only say, to this day, I'm glad I passed on every one of those boats.

When I found mine, it was 10 times nicer/better than 99.9% of the boats in my price range. It was lucky, but it wasn't only luck... The fact is, these boats are out there, they just need the right person to go out and find them

What I looked for? (condition-wise) Within my meager budget, I was very interested in...
1: hull and deck integrity (a well built boat with little-to-no deck coring issues)
2: A running motor (they all need work at some point anyway, just didn't want to replace it)
3: rigging that was good enough to not need replacing right away.... didn't have to be new, or offshore ready, just enough to keep me going for a year or two while I saved up to redo it myself.
4: Sails that were workable for several years to come.
5: pretty much everything after 1-4 is considered 'luxury' in my book. But NICE-TO-HAVE items are financially valuable and pay themselves off well (IE: free) when included with the purchase price.

Essentials: (because we're not talking about a total refit here, right?)
1: Location (give me a price range and I can go online and find the best boat for your dollar, but it won't mean a darn thing if it isn't in the right place...)
2: Good hull, deck, rig, keel, rudder. (this is pretty broad, but it's too much to cover in one post)
3: place to sleep (up to individual comfort-wise)
4: Working galley (however minimal or extravagant is, again, up to the individual)
5: what else do you really need?

Nice-to-haves (expensive stuff you don't wanna buy yourself or replace anytime soon):
1: usable tankage (water is important, but so is clean fuel)
2: Cushions on all bunks.
3: Dodger (bimini would be nice too)
4: Working head
5: Any type of electronics, however old.
6: working electrical system, however old.
7: Paint that can be put off for a few years (that shts expensive!)

All this adds up to a working boat, you can sail, cruise, and refit at your leisure. No need to spend 6 months in a yard, or 3 years living aboard waiting for that ultimate haul-out. And no need to spend more than $10k on initial purchase (if kept under 35 feet, or so, in todays market, in the US)

So after you buy the boat, 'cruising' essentials...
1: Navigation: handheld GPS, handheld VHF. x2
2: Energy production (solar panels, battery bank, etc..)
3: Dinghy, and possibly a motor (I got my Achilles for $100 on ebay and a 1.2hp motor for $100 on craigslist)
4: Wifi (for CF! of course..)
5: bbq grill
6: a really expensive pair of binoculars
7: wine glasses etched with the boats name

Ok, ok... All this just to exemplify that a person only NEEDS a good (solid) boat to go cruising. It doesn't really take 'outfitting' with any amount/type of gear. Just basic stuff will get you there. If you want more than basics, then you just gotta work for it and pay for it (be it time or money).

By my estimations, 'outfitting' is going to be relatively the same cost on any boat whether it's a $2k or a $30k boat. The actual hull and rig are the least expensive parts, unless you're building from scratch...
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Old 12-12-2011, 21:43   #27
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Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey

On that latter point, although most boats (that still fall within the term "refurb" rather than "resurrection" ) probably could be sorted out within 3 - 6 months of full time work, I suspect that most would be a multi year project simply because of the need to work to fund the project!

Ressurection, rebuild, refurb, refit - words unlock the power of ideas and each of these words means something different to me and probabbly everyone else.

- wanted a boat to learn on - learn systems, costs, maintenance, managing the boat etc.
- wanted inexpensive (relative to my wealth)
- wanted to sail now and rolling refit
- in order wanted to beer can race, coastal sail, weekend and eventual 2 week coastal hopping, once in a great while 24 hour passages

The boat
- 26 foot, 4000 pounds, steel bulb keel
- head, galley, inboard diesel, electrics
- good, hull, rigging, and (at the time) engine and sails
- sail away
- ~USD$10k
- spent about US$3k in running rigging, anti foul and a few upgrades in the first few months

The problem
- not the best beer can racer which turned out to be 90% of the sailing
- might have gone 30 feet with better performance next time
- crowded for more than 2 people in a sleepaboard situation

The history
- never could figure out the dink situation to make multi week coastal cruising viable to me. Too small for davits or tow
- probably has provided me over 600 days on the water so far
- rock solid hull
- replaced some things. Sail, traveller, furler, engine
- needs some things. Interior rebuild, more solar, standing rigging (soon), deck painting (above the coping), the diesel is kaput

Regrets? Zero, nada! Met everything I wanted it to do. Could afford to go to 30-32 foot now. Want to be at 38-42 foot cat. See no upside to make interim step.

Hindsight - 30 feet would have provided more room, better performance may have even done more coastal cruising but at higher acquisition and maintenance cost.

Plan. Keep my boat, work the rolling upgrades and save my kitty pennies... Plan subject to change...
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Old 12-12-2011, 22:02   #28
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

We're in the middle of a lot of major work on our boat. A 1974 model W32 with over 200k nautical miles under her keel.

We just gutted the engine room and put in a new diesel. We have plans to refurbish almost all the systems on the boat.

We bought the boat for about 30k. Engine replacement + bottom job (with blisters) + new fuel tanks + new water tanks + a lot of other "little" stuff about another 20k. We plan on dumping another 20 - 30k into the boat before its over with.

At 80k total cost for a cruise ready boat, I'd say we're doing great. Though if you factor in the man hours that we've spent on her so far, we are WAY WAY behind. The trick of it is that our time is cheap to us. Its our hobby right now. The boat is in the water and we sail on the weekend. We'll enjoy the investment until our cruise begins.

Everyone will find a different path.

We shopped for a boat for over year before purchase. I realized quickly that you must choose either a very expensive boat in WONDERFUL condition OR you must be prepared for major work. No matter what. Do you trust that engine that came with the boat? Do you trust the previous owner's hose clamps, crimps, seacocks, caulk jobs, rigging replacements, and safety equipment? I didn't and don't.

When estimating costs, be realistic with yourself.

Our current cost worksheet is here:
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Old 12-12-2011, 22:09   #29
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Re: Refurbing / Refitting an Older boat - Advice and Ideas

I bought a wood boat because I like wood and hate fiberglass. I have built several steel & aluminum boats and dont like them either.
I thought about buying a cement boat because it was so cheap, I could add it to the underwater state park when I was done with my summer fun. I still dive so I could enjoy it for years to come and it wouldnt cost me a dime. I wouldnt have any trouble deep sixing an old worn out steel boat either.
Wood boats are a passion and they are cheap but dont buy one unless you can keep on top of it. But if its cheap enough - sail it to Mexico, have some fun and give it away when you're done with it.
I did this back in 1966. I bought an old 25' folk boat for $250. Sailed down to the Sea of Cortez for 6 months, had a bawl, gave it to a kid and went home before it got too hot. This is what I should do now but I like my old teak ketch too much to get rid of it yet. Maybe next year?
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Old 12-12-2011, 22:52   #30
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We are 1.5 years into our 5 year plan. We bought an unknown to us 1976 Douglas 32, and plan to head south in 2015.

- she was found by a two line ad on craigslist, no photo, left in the field of dreams at the back of a boatyard. Offer made, offer accepted. We thought we got a smoking deal on her then. Likely we would have paid 30% less today.
- we spent 6 miserable weeks working our butts off The boat was an hour and a half ferry ride away, but walking distance from the ferry terminal on that end. We carted tools, bottom paint, batteries and hundreds of pounds on the ferry on handcarts to save the $150 for the car trip. Not recommended.
-our focus was to get her in shape to sail her home (~50 nm ) the engine shook so bad it had torn itself off the mounts.
- we focused on the projects that would make her a liveable liveaboard, namely hot water.
-we moved aboard in January

-i maintain an extensive and detailed list of projects; everything from add cabin hook to
Head door, to replace engine
- we costed out all the projects, and then promptly ignored the budget.
- the first year was little beside catchup. We accomplished a ton, but little in the order anticipated.
- unfortunate, but the rate at which we completed projects once we moved aboard dropped. when prep and cleanup become essential to get through your day, (i.e. we still need somewhere to
Sleep when the v-berth is torn apart, and it's hard to cook with sawdust EVERYWHERE) we learned to batch our projects, work like banshees for a few days, and go back to regular life during the week.
- we promised ourselves to keep the boat usable for the bulk of the time. Saves our sanity when we know it's not just all work.

We love it, we'll lose money on the deal all
Said and done, but it's to en us the chance to liveaboard , saving far more money than we would have, and the knowledge that our dream is slowly getting closer

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cheap, DOJ, refit, Refurb

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