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Old 21-11-2015, 08:45   #1
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Question Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

In a nutshell my question would is:

If someone is relatively young (32) and is completely certain that he wants to live as a liveaboard cruiser for the rest of his life what kind of boat (age wise) should he be looking at from an economic perspective?

In other words if you are hellbent on becoming a life long living aboard is it more reasonable economically to

A) Order/buy a brand new boat from the factory.

Pros: you get to select exactly what you want
It is new so it has a long service life
Smallest chance to get a lemon
Peace of mind
No moneypit of repairs

Cons: Price and depreciation

B) Buy a ready to go last year or something boat

C) Buy a 5-10 year old boat, maybe an ex charter

D) Buy an older boat 15-40 years old.


What I am trying to figure out is given the certainty of using it for a long time how reasonable is it to buy something which has already some (or a lot) of wear in it and does include uncertainty in evaluating its actual condition.

On the one extreme you start with the biggest initial payment, face greater depreciation, and you get the longest service life and smallest repair/upgrade cost.

On the other extreme you make the smallest initial payment for the boat but you have to add to it immediate repairs+ more repairs down the long road+ the uncertainty of what you are actually getting, its condition and the full extent of repairs and service it will need down the road.

So given that you plan on using it for a long time, how old or new boat should one get, since in the end all the money spent during that long time on upkeeping your boat will come out from your pocket?

I would also like to avoid using multiple ships during my life because I am running under the assumption (is it true?) that this will result in greater total costs due to various transaction losses and friction. Theoretically each boat buy increases the chances of something costly going terribly wrong. Selling and buying ships is hardly a money making enterprise for individual sailors so doing it as least as possible seems economically logical.


TLDR: If you want a boat with the intent of using it a long time, how old or new should you go, from a long-run economic perspective?

If 40year old boat+ costs of using it 40 years is as much or more than New boat+ cost of using it 40 years maybe I should go for a new one?


PS: I have read quite a bit in the forum but I just started to post so I hope this makes sense and forgive me if it doesn't. . I choose to frame the question in somewhat general terms as I felt that more people might benefit from this. In case people are wondering or need some concrete info to answer, here it goes:

As for my details:

I am interested in bluewater cruising, and while extremely passionate about sailing I do lack experience and I have never owned a boat (Playmobile Pireate ship excluded). I have acted as a skipper for friends in some charter boats. I am handy and a good learner but I am more into sailing and less into boat building.

My boat checklist of features includes:

At least 1.86 m standing headroom.
Roller sails.
Heads, with blackwater tank
Shower
Wheel steering
Autopilot+ chartplotter
enough space for a couple living aboard (camping types)
Small galey with a stove
Fridge + (maybe freezer)
Bluewater cruising capable.
Good ventilation and good size opening hatches.


Since I intent to "marry" the boat I would like something which is ergonomically sound and lacks serious design flaws. Minor annoyances tend to grow quite annoying through repetition.

I do admit I quite like tha Hanse lineup, but people do seem to bash them
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Old 21-11-2015, 09:59   #2
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

Not an expert and certainly not as experienced as some here
but I have crewed on two brand new boats, a Hanse 505(2200nm) and a Jeanneau 45 (1200nm)
They both had birthing problems. Boats are built by people and people
make mistakes.
The Hanse had problems with the Electronics that required numerous
visits by service people. Auto Pilot was delivered with outdated software
that would cause it to disengage without warning and a pinched water fill
hose that would limit the amount of water that could be loaded.
I got off this boat at its 6 month birthday and both were still issues.
On the Jeanneau, the dealer installed the bow thruster batteries incorrectly
and on a trip to the yard to install the boat name graphics we were greeted
by an unbelievable stench and hazard of gassed batteries.
Also there was a proud rivet on the mast that shredded a new halyard in two
weeks, wind instrument on top of the mast failed after a month.
The point being that there is No Guarantee that a new boat is going to be
problem free. I personally would hire a surveyor to look at any new boat
I just spent big bucks on and not sail too far away from its dealer
Until I had a chance to really really run sea trials in all conditions.
The Hanse did suffer from some joinery issues also.
Cheers
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Old 21-11-2015, 10:13   #3
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

I think that which route you personally should take will become clear to you as you gain more experience. Most people don't sail one boat their whole lives. Priorities change, knowledge grows, objectives change.

Any one of your listed scenarios could be a wonderful experience or a total nightmare, or (most commonly) somewhere in between.
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Old 21-11-2015, 10:29   #4
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alimenos View Post
If someone is relatively young (32) and is completely certain that he wants to live as a liveaboard cruiser for the rest of his life
>|<
[B]TLDR: If you want a boat with the intent of using it a long time, how old or new should you go, from a long-run economic perspective?
>|<
I do lack experience and I have never owned a boat
My two cents: you'll probably sell and buy another boat at some point. Or get tired of living aboard when you experience what it's actually like, and move back to land

Especially if you've never owned a boat before, and have never spent a long(er) time aboard, you simply can't be sure what exactly you need to live happily and comfortably onboard.

Or maybe just because you're 32 and between now and 52, some things in your life may change, which changes what kind of boat suits best.

If you're afraid of the money lost when selling: the best way to all but guarantee that, is to buy a brand new boat. Even if you'd sell her after only a year, you're not very likely to get what you paid for it
And brand new boats often have their issues too.

Some older boats are very popular and a well maintained one would usually fetch a decent price when selling. On the other hand, when you look how much things change over longer periods of time: don't bet on it

Having said that: we all invest huge amounts of money in our boats. To make her look even more beautiful, to make her more comfortable etc, and there's the general maintenance and replacing sails etc. over the years.
That is money you'll mostly "lose" when you sell - it's simply the costs of owning a boat.

But, how much you invest is up to you: do you hire people to do the work, or can you do most of it yourself? Will you buy what you need only, or everything you want too? Does everything have to be brand new, or is 2nd hand ok when possible?

TL;DR:
If I were in your shoes, I'd take my time looking for a good deal on a good boat that suits your current needs. Enjoy her, experience the liveaboard life and take her out as much as you can.

After a (couple of) year(s), you can sit yourself down and take a good, honest look at your life and boat. What's working out, and what's not?
Now that you have more experience, what's your ideal boat like now?
Maybe you won't want to change a thing, but chances are you might like a different boat.

Keep that in mind when buying
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Old 21-11-2015, 10:48   #5
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

Have you ever lived on a boat?

If not...

Get a small boat in the 30' range....get one used....very used and cheap.
Clean up the boat and move onto it for a year or so.
Sell it for what you have invested in it and then get a 34-36 class and do the same.....for a year....
By then you will know if you really want to live on a boat.

Did you like marina life?
Did you like small enclosed areas?
Did you like walking in the rain for 300 feet (or More) to get to your car/truck?
Did you like getting your holding tank pumped on a weekly/biweekly basis?
Did you like going to the marinas shower/toilet/laundry on a daily basis?
There are so many things that are different when living on a boat, than when living in a house....it isn't as glamorous as some people think...


You will also know what YOU want in a boat as for the interior layout.

Think about it....You spend how much on a brand new boat and realize it isn't gonna be what you thought it would be? And then you take a huge loss when you try to sell that new boat you bought?

Buy a boat in steps......baby steps.....start small and cheap until you know what you want....not what others tell you what you want....
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Old 22-11-2015, 04:10   #6
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

I've lived aboard three boats. My first was three years old at the time I bought it, the second was purchased new and my current boat was 12 years old when we traded for it. The new boat didn't serve me any better than the twelve year old boat. I would not hesitate to buy a good boat with some age; after all, if you plan to liveaboard for a long term, then you will have an "old" boat eventually. Now I'm on a 43 year old boat that is in far better condition and better equipped than when it was twelve years old.
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Old 22-11-2015, 06:06   #7
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

Firstly, Welcome to CF.

Then, to answer your question with a question. 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?
There's a learning curve, non? And with it go gear/equipment changes. Plus a lot of questions & tradeoffs involved with each one.
So without that depth of experience gained over time, doing what you're asking is, shall we say, "highly improbable". But read the expert advice on choosing boats, below, & which is linked in the attached threads

Also:
What's your budget?
Multihull, or Mono?
What kind of cruising grounds? To include; weather, water depth?
What are your sailing aspirations, specifically?
Etc., etc., etc.

The questions already raised by others are some great ones, & worth heeding. Also, here is some more food for thought.
One other CF thread, with links included, worth reading First Boat
Also, in addition to some self/boat-insightful questions in the link therein, these pages too, ask some pertinent questions Kurt Hughes Multihull Design - Catamarans and Trimarans for Cruising and Charter
Kurt Hughes Multihull Design - Catamarans and Trimarans for Cruising and Charter

And to be realistic, if you're planning on cruising the boat, as is often stated: It's common to spend as much on outfitting the boat, as it is in the initial purchase. Be it new, or old. Albeit with an older boat, you'll have to do a lot of refitting too (as detailed in the linked CF thread).
But to balance this out, there's a LOT of shaking down, & tuning up, which needs doing to a brand new boat. As denoted in a tread about the nightmarish purchase of a Lagoon, found in the Multihulls section of CF. And All new boats will definitely have teething issues.
Read things needing fixing, or upgrading, which will cost into the $4-digit plus range... In addition to warranty issues. Which ALL new boats have.

And once you know what to look for, & at, in a used boat, you can find boats which may/will be in need of some degree of a tuneup. But which has cruising gear & amenities which the value of, is worth more than the boat. And that you'd spend tens of thousands of dollars adding to a new boat. Even a 30'ish footer.

Most of the info on all of this is in the links, & reading, in the attached thread. That, & there's more in t one Quarter Life Crisis Including some tips on what to look for in a boat. And how to start making a prioritized list for such, of your own.


Personally, after fitting out, & shaking down far more boats than I've had Birthdays. And enough sea miles to... you get the idea. I'd be hard pressed to consider a brand new boat, even if $ weren't an issue. As there's so much to work out in one. Along with the depreciation thing, like with new cars. The butt load of stuff which you have to add to them. And the 1,001 things which you have to check out on a boat, regardless of it's age.
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Old 22-11-2015, 07:13   #8
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alimenos View Post
In a nutshell my question would is:

If someone is relatively young (32) and is completely certain that he wants to live as a liveaboard cruiser for the rest of his life what kind of boat (age wise) should he be looking at from an economic perspective?

In other words if you are hellbent on becoming a life long living aboard is it more reasonable economically to

A) Order/buy a brand new boat from the factory.

Pros: you get to select exactly what you want
It is new so it has a long service life
Smallest chance to get a lemon
Peace of mind
No moneypit of repairs

Cons: Price and depreciation

B) Buy a ready to go last year or something boat

C) Buy a 5-10 year old boat, maybe an ex charter

D) Buy an older boat 15-40 years old.


What I am trying to figure out is given the certainty of using it for a long time how reasonable is it to buy something which has already some (or a lot) of wear in it and does include uncertainty in evaluating its actual condition.

On the one extreme you start with the biggest initial payment, face greater depreciation, and you get the longest service life and smallest repair/upgrade cost.

On the other extreme you make the smallest initial payment for the boat but you have to add to it immediate repairs+ more repairs down the long road+ the uncertainty of what you are actually getting, its condition and the full extent of repairs and service it will need down the road.

...
A quick rundown of your list:

A) Do not assume new is without problems. Few find this to be the case, and some new boats are moneypit disaster nightmares. I have seen this time and again with mass production craft in particular. Further, the idea that buying new means a "longer service life" is completely innacurate. It can easily mean the opposite, depending upon build quality. Well maintained superbly built older craft will often outlast new ones whose design life amounts to less than 20 years. Even Polux, the arch defender of new build mass production hulls on these pages, and a person of very considerable knowledge of these same, asserts that these boats are absolutely not built to last, but rather to be essentially disposable.

B) Better than option A, since more likely to have had the initial kinks worked out, and will be a better price.

C) Ok for 5 to 10 year old boat (see B) but DO NOT buy an "ex charter" vessel unless you really don't intend to use it for more than daysailing and coastal cruising and have no interest in its longevity. Many of these vessels have been grounded many times, and battered to hell and gone by credit card captains, and the deals offered by the likes of Tui marine for the 50% reduction but we get to charter for 5 years prior to your ownership, are offered precisely because they know that at that point they will hand over a disastrous money pit, or likely so, that isn't worth the 50% you will be stumping up.

D) If you are careful this is a buyers market where you can get some of the best boats ever built by human hand for a tiny fraction of their original price, but EVERY BIT as good as original, and often better, with many superb mods and excellent kit which would otherwise cost you $$$$.

But as others have said, and others will say… your first boat is not the one which will be your "forever" boat, nor should it be.
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Old 22-11-2015, 07:23   #9
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

If you expect your income, and therefore your purchasing power, to increase over time, perhaps you should focus on the boat you want for the next 5 years, or so. In that context, I suspect a good used boat will be the best balance of your competing concerns.
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Old 22-11-2015, 09:21   #10
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

I can't say as I've read the whole thread, but what I've seen in it thusfar, is one of those new purchase disasters. It's the one on the Lagoon to which I referred earlier.
Lagoon 52, think twice before purchasing it
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Old 22-11-2015, 09:50   #11
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

I faced the same decision recently and bought new. I would have bought lightly used but few have been sold in the last few years. For what I needed, it was 10 year old or new. New made sense because interest rate on a new boat was a lot less, the interest is deductible since it's my primary residence, I don't have the time to work on the boat other than maintain her, I bought through a reputable broker who is promptly addressing the warranty issues (love the warranty), and above all, she is a modern design, relatively fast, gorgeous inside and out, safe and fun to sail.
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Old 22-11-2015, 09:57   #12
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

I've been a captain, running deliveries and teaching most of my life. My experience is that the new boats have just as many "teething problems" as the older boats. In a perfect world you would get a boat that was bought new by someone else who had unlimited money for upkeep, then sailed around the world, given a complete refit of everything that broke, then sailed again offshore for a few weeks to make sure nothing new was going to break And you will still have things to fix the whole time you are sailing. Plenty of new boats that are expensive lemons. Plenty of old boat that are falling apart. More important than anything is whether systems are getting used recently and whether the boat has been sailed. Hope this helps
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Old 22-11-2015, 10:12   #13
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson Force View Post
I've lived aboard three boats. My first was three years old at the time I bought it, the second was purchased new and my current boat was 12 years old when we traded for it. The new boat didn't serve me any better than the twelve year old boat. I would not hesitate to buy a good boat with some age; after all, if you plan to liveaboard for a long term, then you will have an "old" boat eventually. Now I'm on a 43 year old boat that is in far better condition and better equipped than when it was twelve years old.
Very good points.

In 1998, we bought a then-12 year old boat. The cost of this boat was exactly HALF of what a new boat at the time was going for. (We looked ONLY for Catalina 34s, because that's what we wanted. We did our homework & research first, didn't just say: "Oh, any old 34 footer would do." We wanted the aft head and other features, like a tremendous website and a great owners association; we never had to reinvent the wheel.)

17 years on, those guys with new boats in 1998 are doing the exact same work I am: new hoses, new mufflers, updated electrical systems, new drinking water hoses, faucets and heaters...

Some of the guys who bought brand new boats back in 1998 complained about loose hose clamps all over the boat from the factory, but that's about all. Not something that is beyond anyone who knows which end of a screwdriver to use - like most boat owners!!!

Sure, their boats are worth a tad more than mine is now, $60-70K vs. $40K. But I paid $50K LESS than they did for essentially the same boat!!! I think I'm ahead, but that is NOT what boat ownership is all about.

But mine's a keeper.

My PO, single owner boat, was meticulous. He did "almost" everything. The "teething pains" were all completed. This is not guaranteed for all used boats, and we saw altogether too many examples of horrible neglect. This is our third boat. C22 for five years, C25 for 13.
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Old 22-11-2015, 10:29   #14
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

Many good thoughts above, but two more cents FWIW. First of all, you will never get what you want, i.e. you select, on a new boat. Some boats are offered with some options, but those are always very limited, and in some cases you get what they already build in to the boat regardless. There are always the add-ons that the distributor can add for you - electronics, dink, davits, etc. But even there the distributor may give you a limited selection of electronics, or heaters, or whatever. One thing is for sure, you will be putting a lot of boat bucks in to a new boat right off the bat, just like a new house.

And, as noted, you will have to sort out all the (many) problems that a new boat will always have. Some get lucky and have minimal problems but there are always some, and some of them can be major. And the "warranty" may or may not be what you believe it should be.

With old boats, you don't get a warranty to start with so you know you are on your own. But if you select a well-maintained boat from a knowledgeable previous owner, you should at least get a boat that will have many of the systems that you will want anyway. You may want to upgrade some of the electronics to newer, and without a doubt you will find problems to fix - pumps that fail shortly after you get the boat, hose clamps to replace, renew the fabrics/canvas/sails, etc. etc.

Getting an previously owned boat for a good price with most of what you want is an art and a skill but if you do a pretty good job you should be able to get a boat for substantially less than the cost of a new boat plus all the equipment you will have to add. Don't underestimate the value of all the little odds and ends that a used boat may come with - safety equipment, spares, extras of many flavors. Those things will add up to many, many boat bucks very quick.

But happy hunting. Hope you get your new or used boat and get out on the water and start the new chapter in your life. It will be interesting regardless.
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Old 22-11-2015, 10:39   #15
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Re: Economics of boat buying: New or Old?

I think instead of choosing new or old, you really need to decide what else your wanting to do, that will narrow down what type of boat(s) you will want to look at and might make the new/old decision for you. As an example, if you really just want to live on a boat, and don't really plan on going places, a trawler style power boat would be hard to beat. From a new versus old perspective, there really is no right answer, as it comes out to how a boat has been taken care of.

Maybe ask yourself these questions: Whats your budget, assuming you don't spend everything on the boat, since repairs and costs will come up? What kind of boats do you like sail or power? monohull or catamaran? aft or center cockpit? Where are your cruising grounds going to be in the near future, and long term, also for long term, how long term are you looking at? Do you live somewhere where you feel you will need AC or Heat? and will you need them away from the dock? How small of a boat would you be comfortable on living, and how big of a boat would you be comfortable sailing, and more importantly parking? Will you be single handing the boat, or going out with friend/family?

Overall the biggest thing is not to be in a hurry. There are a lot of great boats, and new ones come on the market all the time.
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