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Old 26-06-2012, 11:04   #1
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In Your Opinion..

I'm newly obsessed like many people here with the idea of living on a boat. I'm very attracted to wooden boats as they are cheaper and tend to have more cabin space/classic design. At first I was told to run for the hills at wooden boats, so I started looking at fibreglass. Wayy more expensive and harder to find a good size in my price range ($15,000) I have done more research and talked to lots of boat people and they have started to change my mind on the wood. If the boat's hull is in good condition when you purchase it, is hauling it out and repainting the main maintenance? Would I need to do this roughly once every two years? (This boat will be stationary) I would love advice and opinions on the boat I'm looking at:

45' US navy wooden costal cruiser boat. Must sell. Having a baby. Outside Victoria, Victoria

Also totally separate question : This boat has a shower and I'm wondering what's the typical way of heating the water aboard a boat? Propane? How much would you typically go through showering every other day and cooking daily? Thanks for any help

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Old 27-06-2012, 10:07   #2
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Re: In Your Opinion..

Some things to think about...

That boat dates back to 1939. Unless she's been rebuilt pretty recently, I'd guess she'd be in need of it soon. A thorough survey should be performed. The insulation is good, in terms of comfort...but it may make a really close inspection hard to do.

There are reasons why large old boats sometimes can be found at low price points, and the reasons generally boil down to, "this boat needs a LOT of work."

Even in good condition, a 45 foot boat is a lot of boat to maintain. If you are a single person living aboard, you don't need that much boat. If you find something in the 27 to 32 foot range, there's less expense all around...less fuel, less paint, lower slip fees...

Maintenance is continuous, not just a once-every-two-years haulout. You have to clean the bottom regularly. The marine environment is the harshest imaginable, and keeping wood painted/varnished and metal polished turns into a full time occupation.

Even if you are "stationary", you need to move the boat now and then. The engine must be run regularly...all the boat's systems need to be exercised. Otherwise things corrode, seize up, or just rot and fall apart.

Water heaters may run off engine waste heat or propane. Find out which.

Most liveaboards don't use the shower (or even the toilet) facilities on board, unless they just gotta. Instead, they grab a towel, a bar of soap, and a pocketful of quarters and trot up the dock to the marina's showers.

In budgeting, be sure to factor in slip fees, and all other fees your marina charges (liveaboard surcharge, electriciy, waste pumpout, etc. etc.)

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Old 27-06-2012, 10:22   #3
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Re: In Your Opinion..

There are typically three ways to heat the water on a boat, waste heat from the engine, electricity from the dock or generator, or fossil fuel. There are of course the solar heated bags of hot water that gravity feed. Some hot water heaters can use both engine waste heat or electricity

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Old 27-06-2012, 10:56   #4
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Re: In Your Opinion..

The ad mentions two ways of heating water and both are from propane.

I can see why you would like this boat. The ad makes it look really attractive especially from the point of view of an old Navy guy like myself.

Videobear pretty much said all that needs saying. I had an old wood sailing vessel that was constant maintenance and if you are living aboard that is a bit easier to accomplish than if you have to commute to the boat. Your area is easier on the hull than where I am in the tropics. You absolutely must get a survey and get it done by a surveyor that knows wooden boats. Do not count on this boat being cheap on maintenance even if you do it yourself all the paint and polish needed does add up and fuel is no longer inexpensive.

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Old 27-06-2012, 15:36   #5
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Re: In Your Opinion..

A point that you may not have considered: with a f/g hull if you get behind in bottom paint maintenance you get barnies and weed growth, but no real damage to the hull. With an unclad timber hull if the anti fouling dies (and it will likely do so in less than two years) you can get the barnies, weed, AND toredo (or other wood boring species) worms. These buggers can sink your boat as she lies peacefully at her mooring, and have done so to countless vessels over the years.

On another subject, contrary to your initial statement, timber boats typically have LESS interior space for a given length than f/g hulls. This is due to the substantial frames required for (planked) timber construction.

Neither of these factors preclude a planked timber boat being suitable for your purpose, but should be brought into your decision process.


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s/v Insatiable back in MBTBC marina, waiting for next eye jobs to be done
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Old 27-06-2012, 15:55   #6
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Re: In Your Opinion..

That is one beautiful boat. But, I would run from wood. Still . . . it is beautiful.
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Old 27-06-2012, 15:56   #7
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Re: In Your Opinion..

Even in good condition, a 45 foot boat is a lot of boat to maintain.
Boats as a rule cost a lot to own no matter what you pay. We often discuss the "free boat" here. They can drain a bank account quickly. You need to decide if you want to live on a boat or travel on a boat. Docking a boat and living on it as a residence used to be affordable but it quickly is becoming not so much. If you desire to travel about then you could consider that the purchase price of an inexpensive boat will drown you in costs later on. Consider you buy a boat where you are now and you know people that know people and you can get "things done". Now move 500 miles where you know nobody! Can you imaging "getting things done" there?

You don't need to know a lot about boats but it helps to come to grips with they take a lot of work to maintain else you sink and the worst part is the cost to raise and haul it away is legally yours because you own it! The water it sits in is not yours and somebody will come after you.

There is a reason they don't make wood boats much anymore. They just flat out cost too much to own. There are a lot old classic wood boats that will capture your heart. If you don't have the background or experience they will break your bank account. An ugly really old and moldy fiberglass boat might be cheaper in the long run and probably won't sink.
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Old 28-06-2012, 03:49   #8
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Re: In Your Opinion..

I have both a wooden and fiberglass boats. For wood boat information and guidance I use a wood boat forum. People who deal with wooden boats day in and day out generally will give you the strait scoop on the real pros and cons but there are biases in any group just as there are in monohulls and multihulls.

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Old 28-06-2012, 09:56   #9
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Re: In Your Opinion..

Thanks everyone for your replies, you've given me a lot of good information to work with. Something that I wonder is people are always saying stay away from wood it's soo much maintenance. If a survey were done and the boat was found to be in great condition structurally, besides hauling the boat and painting the hull once a year/or two, what other kind of maintenance is involved in wood? Is brightwork the other main maintenance? What is involved in taking care of brightwork? Do people ever paint the deck/rails to make it easier? A few people have mentioned to me that the old Navy boats are built right and tough. I understand it was all about the way the boat was cared for throughout it's life but is there any benefit to a navy boat in the way it was built?
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Old 28-06-2012, 10:03   #10
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Re: In Your Opinion..

i LOVE wood boats.
they have a lower initial investment rate because they can sink in your sleep if you havent got well maintained wood. they must be out of water for paint and other necessary repairs at LEAST every 2 yrs. more than that might be a bit too long. is recommended every yr. that CAN be fudged, but i wouldnt wait too long.
haulouts are pricey.
insuring a wood boat is difficult.
fg doesnt get toredo worms. is easier to maintain, but still needs to be out of water occasionally.
there is much to repair in every boat in every locale. must be figgered into the price of ownership. some of us even need to preplan our repairs and refit projects.
everything is do a ble, is how much you are willing to invest into project--self and or money... is a good lifestyle for those with motivation and enjoyment of repairing something every day.....well worth the effort.
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Old 28-06-2012, 10:23   #11
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Re: In Your Opinion..

A few items that have not been mentioned here...

1. The planks may need to be refastened. A good refastening job can last decades; but being that the boat was built in 1939, it might be time for a refastening job. This is not a low cost endeavor. The screws alone for that size hull can run as much as $2000 (for high quality siliconized). The labor will exceed the cost of the fasteners.

2. The transom may need to be rebuilt. I have not seen many boats of that vintage with the original transom. Rebuilding a transom on a fiberglass boat is a piece of cake compared to doing it on a wood boat. I recently had my transom rebuilt; and it was done in three days at a cost of $2100. On a wood boat, you can multiply the time by a factor of 10 and the cost by a factor of 7.

3. Insurability is another consideration. You have only a handful of insurance companies at your disposal that are willing to insure wooden boats. Haggerty is one of the few out there; and I'm not sure whether they offer insurance in Canada. In any case, the underwriting guidelines for insuring a wooden boat are far more stringent than for fiberglass. The insurance is also more costly; and can easily offset any money you saved in the purchase price -- as the insurance company will require most (if not all) repairs noted in the survey be completed and will require regular surveys.

4. You may be limited to marinas that allow wooden boats. In the area I boat, I know of several desireable marinas that will refuse to accept a wooden boat unless it is in immaculate condition. Napa Valley Marina is one example.

These factors cumulatively are likely to cause me to reconsider purchasing a wooden boat of that size, especially if this is my first boat. I wouldn't necessarily run from wood, but I would need to be fully committed to it if I wanted to make it work.

Best wishes to you. Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions.
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Old 28-06-2012, 10:27   #12
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Re: In Your Opinion..

I've owned wood, steel and fiberglass boats. From my experience with wood a few comments and suggestions.

1. DO NOT BUY WITHOUT A GOOD SURVEY. Make sure you find a surveyor that is expert in wood. Not only inspecting all the wood for rot, broken frames and planks, etc but you have to inspect the screws (called fasteners in this application) that hold the outer planks to the frames or ribs of the boat. Older boats very often have fasteners that need replacing for several reasons. The cost, even if you do it yourself, is a lot. You should use bronze screws which could cost $1.00 each or so and you would need thousands of them.

2. Even if the boat is absolutely perfect (odds of that are about like your chances of winning the lottery), all the wood, fasteners, paint, etc is perfect you will probably have constant wood repair and maintenance. You have to constantly inspect every part of the boat and you will find rot. As soon as you find a bad spot you should repair or replace the wood. You should plan on several minor to medium size jobs like this every year.

3. Unless you are a very good carpenter and have access to a shop full of power tools you will be paying a lot of money to someone else to do all this work.

If you love wood, know and love how to work with wood, have the time and resources to work on the boat, then a wooden boat can be affordable (just don't add up the hours you spend working on the boat). If you will be paying a boat yard to do the work the initial savings for wood will disappear almost immediately.

Also very important and I think worth repeating. As Jim Cate pointed out, with fiberglass if you get behind in maintenance on a fiberglass boat you usually end up with a dirty bottom and a lot of catch up when you do get around to it. If you get behind in maintenance with a wood boat you may end up with a boat that is too far gone to repair or even one sunk at the dock.
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Old 28-06-2012, 11:24   #13
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Re: In Your Opinion..

The Navy usually had their craft overbuilt but not all builders were the same so the surveyor should be able to tell you once they have looked at the boat. A haulout once every two years is a very good idea. Your area does not suffer from toredo worms as much as warmer water areas but still you need to keep good bottom paint on and the only way is through haul out.
Your topsides can be painted and the paint will last longer than brightwork and is cheaper. It certainly doesn't look as good but if you are into utilitarian that doesn't matter.
kind regards,

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