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Old 04-01-2013, 15:32   #1
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How New/Old Boat To Buy?

Situation: I am hoping to buy a sailboat for the Great Lakes this spring, 31-35 ft, maybe a Catalina, Hunter, C&C, etc. Price points seem fixed mostly by (1) boat length and (2) age of boat. I have some flexiblity in budget, but do not want to over-spend, yet even more important is not to be dragged down with breaks, repairs, massive maintenance. I want to get a boat mostly to sail, not to work on.
Question: What differences in problems should I expect buying a boat from the 2000s vs. the 1990s vs. the 1980s? Is there any kind of standard expectations about when different major repairs happen on a boat after X number of years? How much should I shift down to a smaller size (e.g., 31") boat to get a newer model?
Thanks for any advice.
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Old 04-01-2013, 15:45   #2
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

Much depends on the use, care, and maintenance. Boats are somewhat like airplanes in that regard. There are many 30-year old planes flying around that have been very well maintained as the basic build and systems are very robust. I have met people with brand new boats who lost most of the sailing season because of warranty repair issues, while others buy fixer uppers and then spend years working before launch. Used is always the best value for money, but there will inevitably be things that need to be fixed. But, find a used boat that has been well looked after and I think you will have the least number of major issues.
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Old 04-01-2013, 15:46   #3
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

Three things will effect your choice of boat regarding its age, and possible repairs/breakdowns:
#1 Maintenance
#2 Maintenance
#3 Maintenance
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Old 04-01-2013, 15:47   #4
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

Curse you Kettlewell, beat me by one minute...
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Old 04-01-2013, 16:08   #5
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

Thanks to both of you. So, I sailed a lot as a teenager, but not since, and am just looking to get back into it--thus, have not been following the boat world for decades. I generally know what a well cared for boat looks like, I have Casey's Inspecing the Ageing Sailboat on my list to read, and I know one needs to hire a marine surveyor for a close inspection before buying. But are there any other ways to judge how well a boat from the 80s or 90s has been cared for? Lots of adds say how well the boat was taken care of. Many thanks.
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Old 04-01-2013, 16:16   #6
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

There are a couple of areas that are good indicators of how well set up and maintained the boat is. First, take a bright light to the engine compartment and see if it is clean and neat, if the oil is clean, if there is a new filter on there, and bleed off a bit of diesel from the Racor if there is one and see if the fuel looks clean. If the engine area is a nightmare of rusty fittings, loose wires, oily bilge, etc. chances are very good that the rest of the boat has been neglected. Another place to look is behind the instrument panel, or wherever there is wiring. Is it a rabbit's nest of non-labeled wires, corroded fittings, and nonsense? Now, I have often bought boats with one or both of these areas lacking, but I went in knowing what I was getting. Another thing to do is to talk directly to the owner and ask him in general about maintenance. The proud owner will often show you his log noting engine hours and oil changes etc. One trick is to ask him what oil he uses. If he says something like "diesel oil" he probably doesn't really know much about maintenance, but if he says "I always use Rotella 15w-40" chances are good he is into maintenance.
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Old 04-01-2013, 16:19   #7
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

Thanks. Just the kind of very practical advice/ideas I need. I appreciate it.
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Old 04-01-2013, 21:53   #8
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You should compile a list of boats that interest you, then come back here and inquire about specific boats, this site has an enormous amount of knowledgable people who know first hand the boats your interested in. yachtworld.com is probably the best resource for researching used boats and will give you a good idea of what people are trying to sell their boat for. It is a buyers market so take your time and enjoy the process. I don't think the age of a boat is all that important, it's all about condition and the boats that are properly maintained stand out.
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Old 04-01-2013, 22:14   #9
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

I'd take older and owned by an aircraft inspector over new and just out of charter.
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Old 04-01-2013, 22:22   #10
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

Cleanlyness!! of everytrhing, bilges, engine room, galley! if the lines and deck gear is well stored, and cared for! Those are the first things we look for. if they are right then we will look further
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:08   #11
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

Once again, many thanks all for the helpful advice.
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:17   #12
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

Go down to an auto dealer and ask to see his range of 30 year old cars.
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:34   #13
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Go down to an auto dealer and ask to see his range of 30 year old cars.
I was going to say get the newest boat that fits your budget, but this works!
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:43   #14
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

If you're looking at a 20-30 year old boat, consider one that has been repowered (new engine) over one with the original engine. Not that a 20-30-old diesel is a deal killer, but if you don't want to spend a lot of time working on the boat, this is an area to look out for.

I see Mark J.'s point. On the other hand, I've had a couple of boats that were forty years old or older, and they have been great boats that successfully covered long distances.

I'm not sure a 5-year old boat would really require less work than a 25-year-old boat that has been well maintained. That is counter-intuitive, but I can think of several specific, real-world experiences over the years to back that conclusion up.
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:45   #15
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Re: How New/Old Boat To Buy?

Age, like size, matters but with boats it matters most when they're really new. You can buy an older boat (80's, 90's) for a fraction of what you would pay for a newer boat...perhaps $.20 on the dollar ($50,000 for a $250,000 boat). That said, you will be rebedding ports and hardware, replacing sails, replacing running and standing rigging, replacing electronics and perhaps doing an engine rebuild not to mention cosmetics. And unless the boat is relatively new, all of this stuff becomes a reality in as little as six or seven years of age. So, pay me now (buy new or relatively new) or start paying me after the boats a few years old.
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