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Old 22-11-2015, 10:53   #16
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

You said "economic perspective" and "bluewater cruising". I'll try to provide one short educated guess.

New boats are not problem free, and old boats can be very reliable. One option would be to buy a 10-20 year old boat from some bluewater cruiser who is planning to retire or buy a bigger boat. This way you could get all the (rather expensive) equipment that you need quite economically, and quite possibly in excellent condition.

You should probably get a reliable surveyor to help you in checking the boat. You want to be sure that there are no major expensive problems in the boat. You also need to understand which models are known to be of good quality, long lasting and good bluewater boats.

The upkeeping costs of a a 5 year old boat and a 30 year old solid and well kept boat could be at the same level. Check if there are some major expenses coming, like time to change the motor.

Transaction costs of changing a boat depend on where you live and where the boat is registered. I hope they don't stop you upgrading your boat when you feel the need for that.
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Old 22-11-2015, 10:55   #17
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

One more observation. A good quality used boat might be better than an average quality new boat.
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Old 22-11-2015, 11:17   #18
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

Margaret Mead, a well known sociologist once said, "we need seven different spouses in our lifetime" and although I am not a sociologist, I do think we need at least ten different sailboats during our sailing career. I have bought ten new boats over the past fifty some years, each for a different need or reason. I think Margaret would have been proud of me.

I have lived entirely in a profusion of boats and boating area--the Pacific Northwest with its many sounds, bays, coves, islands marinas and beautiful shorelines. One cannot help wanting a boat as I did when I first starting teaching in 1956. My wife and I, both in our early twenties, bought a Cal 20 and we sailed from one end of Lake Washington to the other, from one end of Puget Sound to the San Juan Islands. We had a one burner portable stove, and water by the gallon containers. A compass and charts. We didn't know better and had a grand time.

The next boat five years later was a Pearson 27 and we got all our money back on the Cal. The Pearson was basic, didn't have anything and we had to buy sails and a bow pulpit as we went along. For me it was a terrible boat--she and I never got along. So we traded it in (for our purchase price) on a Ranger 29 (with an inboard engine--wow!) and we cruised farther but I also started racing. Got to go faster so we traded the 29 in (full credit) on a Ranger 32 (three quarter ton measurement rule) with 7 winches, and at one point eleven sails. It was truly a race boat. But that boat didn't like me but it loved my wife. She taught sailing on it for my university for three years in the summer. PE 407. But it was not a cruising boat and we live in a wonderful cruising area so we sold it, a bit of a lost. She was sad, I was happy.

We found a new boat on Lake Union that had a very low price. Turns out it was a Septre 36 that had been reprocessed from a marina by the bank. The bank just wanted its money back and we obliged them. Really nice boat, great sailor and perfect for crusing and racing but it was hull number one and things just didn't quite fit. Later versions of the boat were beautifully made, but not this one. We kept it five years.

Our next boat was the Hunter Legend 40. The dealer took the Scepter in for full price once again (remember the price had been low) and he said we'd make money if we chartered the Hunter 40. Irrationality fell over my eyes and we bought it. It was a great sailing boat but even better charterer. People like it....and they broke stuff. I did learn how to fix just about anything but I began to dislike the boat. Another divorce was in the makings. At the end of our five year chartering contract we turned the boat in for almost full price on a Hunter 32, really a cat boat with a small jiblet. Very nice boat inside but i couldn't get her to sail. And it was terrible at races, we always came in last. So once again, we traded it in (for full price) on a Hunter 35.5. One of my all time favorite boats.

The 35.5 had a bulb keel with wings and we could not point worth a darn but we were always near the front of the fleet and the marks. And downwind we were exceptional, passing boats on port or starboard. Once in the five years that we had her we won boat of the year against good competition. She was a fun boat to sail.`

But my first mate died that New Years from a stroke and my wife and I decided to go back to cruising. So we traded the 35.5 in on a brand new Hunter 380 that the dealer had just got in. Hunter by this time was really putting boats together well and they were well designed. The Hunter 380 became one of my all time favorite boats and we cruised on it extensively. I had gotten tired of racing and I wanted to cruise, but I wanted to cruise in comfort....showers, hot water, ease of sailing with a roller furling main and jib, open stern (ease of getting in the Avon--I was getting old); it was a wonderful boat, a floating condo and we kept it for nine years, the longest we ever kept a boat. I bought it for 129K and sold it for 121K. It had become too big for me; I couldn't jump down to the docks to tie her up like I had when I was younger. Age was catching up to me. But I still loved that boat. We cruised the San Juan Islands, the Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound. In fact the first day of my retirement was in Nanaimo (BC, Canada) at the Dinghy Dock Pub. What a celebration!

But as I mentioned the 380 became too big for me and I was getting into single handling. So we order from the factory a 2009 Hunter 27 which fits my needs perfectly. And Hunter discounted the new boat for being a loyal customer. It has the sugar scoop stern for easily getting on and off, furling main and jib (and I have the incredible WinchRite power adapter for doing all the work), a marine head, a Webasto hot air furnace (needed in the northwest), custom made companionway doors, and like the last two boats, a three blade Max prop. I looooolve that prop. I power better and smoother, I back like I'm going forward, and I sail faster.

I'm in my eighties now and I still use the boat several times a week but in winter we don't leave the dock. It is my man-cave. I listen to music, read on my iPad, nap (I'm an expert at napping). Sometimes we have drinks on board before going out for dinner. It has a two burner stove but I only make coffee or tea.

For now this is the best boat of all times for me. Margaret, you were correct, I needed more then seven spousal boats, but then I changed a lot over eight decades. I'm not the same guy I was when I was twenty one. It is also interesting how much boat design and building have come over the years. Yeah, I do have my eyes on a new boat but I doubt if I will buy it. My present boat fits my needs.

I hope this provides a different viewpoint. Ten new boats over my lifetime. And we either took a small loss or in some cases actually made some money. It has been fun.
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Old 22-11-2015, 13:38   #19
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

What we do with the boats we own does change over the years. It is highly unlikely that one would buy a boat and then stick with it for decades. Having said that, a few people do it--I can't think of a person who purchased a new boat that they kept indefinitely, but I do know of two people who, after a decade or so of sailing (so presume they then knew what they wanted in a boat), bought used boats that they kept for 50 or more years -- and enjoyed sailing/racing/ and cruising the entire time.

It's less like a spouse and more like a car--few people would buy a single car and use it for all driving for the remainder of their driving life. What if you started out in southern California with a two-seater convertible but then wanted to go off-roading or needed to carry bikes, skis, canoes and surf-boards on the roof racks, and tow a trailer, and then you became energy conscious and wanted a "greener" car? Oh, and you got married and had 3 kids who need to fit in?

There are "deals" from time to time on production boats but I don't know of a single one that would make a lifetime boat. The new boats that fit in to the 'lifetime boat' category for me are in the $700K-$2M dollar range and I'd think that tends to be beyond the budget of most people buying their first boat.
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Old 22-11-2015, 21:20   #20
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

I'm joining the "you will own more than one boat" chorus, because quite simply you can't predict how your needs will evolve over your life. This frees you to purchase the right boat for right now without worrying about whether or not it's going to last a lifetime.

If you buy a 10 year old boat, you'll have one that has been thoroughly shaken down but is not yet worn out in any way. More importantly, it's already mostly depreciated, so it's remaining value is more about condition than age, which you can control. That's what I would target.


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Old 23-11-2015, 11:53   #21
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

First of all, a deep-hearted thanks to all who have contributed. I devoured all your replies with the utmost interest.

I would like to add some things to the discussion and maybe clarify my viewpoint a bit.

1) Experience is overrated and there are other avenues to wisdom and knowledge. In fact in some cases it is best to avoid learning by doing and instead learning by analysing, thinking and reading.

To give an example: John Kretschmer in "Sailing a Serious Ocean" gives a story where he once lost a new ship he was delivering due to a faulty through hull fitting and the bilge pumps being clogged by construction debris.

I really would rather not learn something like this through experience and opt for other avenues of acquiring tidbits of knowledge like this.

2) Of course new ships have birthing problems but in the vast majority of cases as far as I have understood, these are of a completely different magnitude and nature than the hidden lurking problems in the second hand market. Surveying a new boat and an old boat do not seem to have the same difficulty while the range of potential problems seems to increase with age.

3) "How many sports have you gotten into where the equipment which you first chose, & or was appropriate at the outset, would have served you for a lifetime of doing everything related to said sport?"

I can halfway relate to this point. I do have some objections though. Firstly sailing isn't a sport for me. It is more of a way of life, or even life itself. The nights in my apartment I dream of the sound of the waves hitting the hull to be able to sleep. If I am sad, I think of sailing close winded to cheer up. So, not exactly a sport.

Secondly, I could take the beat of getting a "startup" bicycle to get into cycling and then discarding the value and getting something better and more fitting. Ships are a bit more costly though.


It seems that in all aspects of life, going through many choices to find what you like tends to be more costly than knowing what you want from the get-start. To paraphrase the old adagio: Think twice, buy once.

Also from an economic perspective, changing preferences creates an economic penalty to the bearer of said preferences.

4)Losing money (from having to sell the boat) is hardly my concern. What I am trying to find is how to get the best bang for my buck, how to maximize my use value in the longterm, given that my preferences are known and set.

5) Reading Moreorless's story made me think: I REALLY want to avoid all that. "I did learn how to fix just about anything but I began to dislike the boat." & "Irrationality fell over my eyes and we bought it."

I am not interested in sailing as a means to becoming a lifelong broker. I also don't like to go through stuff. I drive the same car 12 years now and feel perfectly comfortable with the idea of not getting another one at least until electric cars become the norm. Know thy self and know your needs. Also forecasting and preparing for the future seem like useful traits.

6) The Lagoon Guy. I read his initial post. I could not help but observe the subjective, unorganized and sentimental nature of his post. Honestly, I can in no way relate to him. His post looked much more a cry than an attempt to a reasonable forum discussion. He might be right, he might be wrong, he might have something to say but he hasn't made a good job of organizing and presenting his thoughts somewhat coherently so there might be errors or omissions from his part which didn't make the story cut. Thanks but I won't go into that story.


The question, as far as I am concerned is: Given that one has known and set preferences what kind of boat (age wise) should he be looking into in order to maximize his longterm use value?

As a disclaimer, I have to admit that (in case it isn't screaming out loud) that a) I am an economist b) as such I am hardly inconvenienced by completely unrealistic assumptions.

Once more, I appreciated all the replies and found some pieces of advice extremely useful. Hope that more replies will come!


A Ship might be safe in the harbor, but this is not what ships are built for.
Cheers everybody!
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Old 23-11-2015, 12:24   #22
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alimenos View Post

The question, as far as I am concerned is: Given that one has known and set preferences what kind of boat (age wise) should he be looking into in order to maximize his longterm use value?

As a disclaimer, I have to admit that (in case it isn't screaming out loud) that a) I am an economist b) as such I am hardly inconvenienced by completely unrealistic assumptions.

Once more, I appreciated all the replies and found some pieces of advice extremely useful. Hope that more replies will come!

A Ship might be safe in the harbor, but this is not what ships are built for.
Cheers everybody!
Well if you limit your question to how old should a boat be to maximize your longterm use, then really there isn't a good answer likely as its really dependent on criteria. For me I choose a 20 year old boat since it fit my long term plans, since I wouldn't have been able to afford a newer boat that also fit my requirements. This has come with its challenges, as I am having to fix and redo a lot of things, however one benefit that comes with this is that by the time I am ready to leave the dock for longer trips, I will understand all of the systems in my boat and be able to fix them.

If price was no option, I would probably pick a boat that was in the 5 to 10 year range. I would avoid charters, or boats that have been abused. This would eliminate a lot of the new teething problems, as well as put the boat in a position where it would likely not need a lot of immediate upgrades. Another thing I might avoid is early models of a specific boat, as some defects will be identified and corrected along the way, I have found this out the hard way.
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Old 23-11-2015, 12:38   #23
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

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4)Losing money (from having to sell the boat) is hardly my concern. What I am trying to find is how to get the best bang for my buck, how to maximize my use value in the longterm, given that my preferences are known and set.
In that case, you have to look at a lot more than just age, and your question was "new or old".
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Old 23-11-2015, 13:17   #24
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

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1) Experience is overrated and there are other avenues to wisdom and knowledge. In fact in some cases it is best to avoid learning by doing and instead learning by analysing, thinking and reading.

To give an example: John Kretschmer in "Sailing a Serious Ocean" gives a story where he once lost a new ship he was delivering due to a faulty through hull fitting and the bilge pumps being clogged by construction debris.

I really would rather not learn something like this through experience and opt for other avenues of acquiring tidbits of knowledge like this.
All sailors learn by doing (since they will sail, and will learn from that). It is an important additional benefit to be able to read a lot and learn from that. This way you can learn already before making the mistakes instead of learning from the mistakes you make at sea.
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Old 23-11-2015, 13:21   #25
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

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In that case, you have to look at a lot more than just age, and your question was "new or old".
Of course this is certainly true! But if one finds all the other parameters the age issue is still standing.

I could possibly find ships that fit my needs and parameters that belong in all the A-B-C-D categories given in my initial post. So I am interested in input on that.

Of course some things like design, build quality, materials are age correlated and I think that this creeps in the "most use value" or most "bang for my buck" concepts. This is a small part of what I am trying to find.
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Old 23-11-2015, 13:42   #26
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

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2) Of course new ships have birthing problems but in the vast majority of cases as far as I have understood, these are of a completely different magnitude and nature than the hidden lurking problems in the second hand market. Surveying a new boat and an old boat do not seem to have the same difficulty while the range of potential problems seems to increase with age.
But remember that you have to pay quite a lot for a new boat. The manufacturer will probably fix the problems, after you identify them and have suffered from them (hopefully none, but not necessarily).

Used boats may have some bigger risks, like having some rot in the core between the GRP layers, and you may have to pay and fix them yourself. A good survey can however partially solve this problem. You could also accept only a boat that has no such soft core, and thereby also no rot in the core.

Note also that boats that been used by experienced sailors in blue water cruising are well tested.

Some risks increase when the boat gets older, especially if the boat is not well designed. But the number of problems need not always increase with age. Well kept, well built, well designed boats are known to last, and can be as good as new from this point of view.

So, do you want to go for expensive certainty/guarantees and buy a new boat and all the required gadgets? Or do you trust on yourself or some experts in finding a more economic boat with similar capabilities for you?
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Old 23-11-2015, 13:49   #27
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

One more addition to my previous post.

If you buy a used boat, it is possible that you can sell it with the same price after using it for 5 years. If you buy a new boat, that is not possible.
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Old 23-11-2015, 14:04   #28
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

With my ten new sailboats most of them were either traded in at the price I bought them
or in a few cases we sold them slightly higher. The Hunter 380 that we sold (no dealer) was slightly below but the Hunter company gave us 9K off the new ordered Hunter 27 which really brought the price of my 380 up to par.

One thing that I don't believe has been pointed out in these postings is that I am not as well versed in boat repairs then some of you who appear to be craftsmen. Boats have gone from fiberglass fuel and water tanks (no holding tanks then) to aluminum tanks including holding to the present day plastic tanks. No way could I have replaced those aluminum tanks with plastic. I don't have the skill nor the patients.

Each time I bought a new boat we bought the latest in thinking and new standards. For those of you who can repair and upgrade your boat I envie you Enjoy.
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Old 23-11-2015, 14:08   #29
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

Daniel Spurr wrote a book called,"Your First Sailboat." In that book there is an informative section that answers your question. The short answer is that the costs to own, outfit, and sail a cruising boat are minimized by buying a well-oufitted (but not extravagantly oufitted) boat that has been used for a few years. Boats that are newer or older than those in the sweet spot of the cost curve will cost you more in the long run. Read the book for more detail.
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Old 23-11-2015, 14:41   #30
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

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Originally Posted by Moreorless View Post
With my ten new sailboats most of them were either traded in at the price I bought them
or in a few cases we sold them slightly higher. The Hunter 380 that we sold (no dealer) was slightly below but the Hunter company gave us 9K off the new ordered Hunter 27 which really brought the price of my 380 up to par.

One thing that I don't believe has been pointed out in these postings is that I am not as well versed in boat repairs then some of you who appear to be craftsmen. Boats have gone from fiberglass fuel and water tanks (no holding tanks then) to aluminum tanks including holding to the present day plastic tanks. No way could I have replaced those aluminum tanks with plastic. I don't have the skill nor the patients.

Each time I bought a new boat we bought the latest in thinking and new standards. For those of you who can repair and upgrade your boat I envie you Enjoy.
Don Casey, Nigel Calders, youtube, and service providers who are willing to let me help out and ask questions. Which is why I am looking for a new diesel mechanic. The last one wasn't comfortable with me around, much less asking questions.
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