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Old 30-01-2019, 15:19   #1
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Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

Hello there,

as referred in the title: I'm a 23 yrs old newbie (own a 16 ft dinghy for three years now on a local lake in Germany, about 400 nm experience crewing on a 40 ft yacht) looking to buy an old boat (around 30-35 ft.) to start cruising with my girlfriend and long-term friend with whom I also own the dinghy with.
I've been binging the life of cruising for longer time now only in books and on the internet like crazy with the intention to go on a longer cruise the end of this year starting EU, transatlantic, etc. After that, I'd sell the boat again because the budget would be gone and costs to maintain it would be too much for a student by then (right now I am working after 3 yrs of apprenticeship and getting money this way).

I know it might sound too much of a plan (experience, time of departure) but I am keen to realize it and think of myself that I am able to manage it somehow because the will to do it is so big like nothing else for a longer time now.

I am going to survey the boat in Febr.. At first for myself, if condition looks okay in my -not so practical experienced but I guess okay theoretical experienced- eyes, the plan is to get a professional surveyor for the second look on the hard and in water to get a look of it.

This is the boat: https://www.boat24.com/de/segelboote...detail/354895/

It's a thrill to not know the real condition of the hull and engine. After mailing with the broker and having information from the exposť, I know that the hull hasn't had a epoxy-osmosis treatment until now (bad base), but there would be also no signs for osmotic damage in the hull now. Bad thing regarding that is that the boat has been sailed until 2005 in freshwater and from then on in salt-water. Also, the boat is on the hard in the a hall since October (end of season here) I'd guess, so judging actual osmotic damage right now is again harder since the hull had time to dry out and eventual blisters could have disappeared in the last months.
The boat is also still equipped with the first engine, a Volvo Penta MD11C, which is now 42 yrs old with about 2500 running hours. Broker said that the old man was sailing the baltic sea for months in the summer since 2008 until now. So she 'guessed' (saying that she wouldn't want to give me any safe information about the condition without knowing it for sure) it would be in a good condition. Spare parts are okay to get for that. Some people say that engine runs forever if well maintained.

The boat is already equipped with needed safety gear (life raft, epirb, AIS, Radar), navigational gear (wind steering system of unknown fabricat?, autopilot, plotter). I would extend that to a Raspberry Pi - OpenCPN plotting system depending on the already installed systems being equipped with NMEA. (?)
What it still needs is an arch (would build that for myself without welding parts) with some big solar panels and MPPT charge controllers.

Deciding factor of all that: budget. I'm kind of all or nothing on that boat because
it's known to be very seaworthy and well equipped. There are rarely boats around here for 20k that wouldn't need some 10-15k of investments in gear for long term cruise, which would be a big part of my budget for life aboard. I'm having an eye on the market for about 1,5 yrs now. Every penny will be needed in future to afford cruising.

My opinion: if hull and enginge are okay, I'm good to go. If not, I would be investing about 20 k in that boat to get things right again; the money I'd need cruising. So, boat in that price range with long term gear or no cruise for now (probably decades later then).

I'm just asking for some thoughts from experienced minds regarding plan and that boat.

Cheers!
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Old 31-01-2019, 04:33   #2
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, decal.

I like the Contest 31HT, as a nice older boat.
https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/contest-31-ht
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Old 31-01-2019, 09:43   #3
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

A boat that size at that price is going to have problems the broker is not going to want to bring up. The first thing I noticed is the teak decks. It appears that they are screwed on. This means that they will leak at some point, if they don't already. Conyplex/Contests have a reputation for good construction, but that doesn't mean water doesn't migrate down screw threads and get into the core of the deck. Water in the deck core leads to delamitation, which weakens it, leading to cracks and more leaks. You mention the age of the engine. Do you know parts are easy to get, or is the broker telling you this? Replacing an engine can ruin your whole afternoon. The electrical systems on board may be... interesting. Did the owner do things himself or did he pay to have them done. In either case, were they done properly? It looks like there is a radar unit, a self-steering vane, and you mention a lot of equipment. Does it all work? How old are the sails and rigging? It could be time to replace them too. Lots of questions that you will need to find out about by looking at the boat yourself. 31 feet can also be a tight squeeze for three people, even good friends. Good luck!
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Old 02-02-2019, 03:18   #4
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

@psk125: You're right, I didn't notice the teak decks as such a big danger for weakening the hull structure. Definitely going to check that in detail. I thought about getting a Greisinger GMK 210 to detect eventual (or probably for sure) leakage in hull and teak. Costing around 230 Euros, I still think it's a good investment thinking of paying a surveyor 2 or 3 times more, when I could detect humidity for myself with that thing. It is proven for boat building and caravans. And after that, I own it for future purpose.
I know that most of the parts are still to get, but major parts of e.g. the cylinder aren't available, eventually in used condition.
Regarding the rig I know that permanently parts of the shrouds have been replaced. Sails are said to be in good condition.

You're broaching many things I still have to investigate properly; thank you for that good advice!
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Old 02-02-2019, 03:45   #5
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

2500 hours over 42 years is 60 hours a year or so. If the previous owner sailed for months in the summer, that's pretty frugal use of the engine. It's possible, but unlikely, I feel.
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Old 02-02-2019, 12:41   #6
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

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2500 hours over 42 years is 60 hours a year or so. If the previous owner sailed for months in the summer, that's pretty frugal use of the engine. It's possible, but unlikely, I feel.
Do you mean he could be faking running hours? But there is a good point on that, definitely going to question that.

Thanks!
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Old 02-02-2019, 17:10   #7
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

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Do you mean he could be faking running hours? But there is a good point on that, definitely going to question that.



Thanks!


Not necessarily faking it. There could be many reasons why the figure could be inaccurate. How was it recorded? If there is a meter, it may have been faulty for a long time. If the record is just notations in a log book then that gives much scope for inaccuracy. It's something to keep in mind.
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Old 02-02-2019, 19:57   #8
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

The spinnker shown in the photos is an antique! That design hasn't been built for many years, so I'd suspect that it is original, and not likely in very good shape. One then wonders if all the sails are equally old. Probably not, but something to find out. Replacing them all will be several thousand euros or more.

Good luck... the Contests were indeed well thought of designs in their day.

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Old 02-02-2019, 20:57   #9
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

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I thought about getting a Greisinger GMK 210 to detect eventual (or probably for sure) leakage in hull and teak.
You're broaching many things I still have to investigate properly; thank you for that good advice!
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Old 03-02-2019, 23:34   #10
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

Moisture meter: In general you need experience with these things. It is not as easy to judge the hull's condition using only the meter. You would need to measure on the gelcoat layer without anything on top.



Further the boat is on the hard for month and covered from rain. You will measure a dry hull and can run into problems once the boat is back in the water.



I don't want to discourage you. Consider all the money the boat costs, add all the money you assume you have to put in. Then are you willing to through all away after sailing for a few years because you will not find anyone who pays a reasonable amount for the boat?


Consider also the budget for repairs along the way.



And, "no risk no gain"



Good luck with your decision!
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Old 04-02-2019, 00:12   #11
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

I would plan on at least 50% for repairs and upgrades and that may be a very low estimate not having seen it in person.

As mentioned, the sails are probably old. The engine is an unknown. The hull being out of the water a long time may not show it's issues until in the water.

I wouldn't count on any of the electronics to up to date or even functional.

Make sure if you do proceed to make the offer contingent upon survey and sea trial and buck up the few hundred euro for a survey. Much better to lose the survey money than buy a money pit.

Not to say it's a bad boat for the price (no idea as I'm not in the market for this style) but 40yr old boats for low price usually have their issues.
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Old 04-02-2019, 01:12   #12
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

Have you thought about importing a yacht from the UK? There is some good bargains on UK Gumtree. There is a nice Jeanneau 30 for 15,000 pounds and a nice Trident 35 for 20,000 pounds.
I would be worried about the old Volvo motor and teak decks? Both of these are big costs if they need repairing.

Bargain hard thats for sure.
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Old 04-02-2019, 01:33   #13
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

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Have you thought about importing a yacht from the UK?....

If you wait until the BREXIT happened the bargain will even get better with a high probability.
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Old 04-02-2019, 01:46   #14
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

When I was young, 1950s, I bought boats with running engines worse than the one you're looking at. Get a survey, see what it values the boat at and items that may need repair or changes. If the price works, it should be a good first boat. I've had engines decades old. Low hours mean nothing if it was cared for and run frequently even if for short hours. You have to see the engine run. Diesels are usually reliable or can be made that way.

Older boats have their issues but often make good first boats while you learn. In my youth boats were usually wood.
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Old 04-02-2019, 01:51   #15
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Re: Newbie looking for advice on buying old boat to cruise

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If you wait until the BREXIT happened the bargain will even get better with a high probability.

But will UK VAT still count after Brexit? I assume if you bought and moved it to Germany now, they would have to honor the VAT paid status.

Waiting until after, they might not and it could cost an extra 20-25%.
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