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Old 01-02-2016, 16:20   #1
JMK
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When to give up on a good old boat

When is it time to give up on a “good old boat”, cut your losses, and buy a new boat? Believe me, I’ve been down this road before. By an older boat, spend time and money fixing it up, and then eventually sell it. We are now back at that same point. We bought a classic boat with a great layout, and 35 years under her keel and have spent the last year addressing everything you would expect to find on a boat of this vintage. Along the way there were a few extra hiccups. A defect on the bottom of the keel resulted in a $10K repair as we discovered water all along the encapsulated lead keel. Then there are other things we still need to address. There’s some water intrusion in the balsa core side decks, the engine needs to be replaced, the plumbing and electrical systems needs some upgrading – everything you would expect in a boat of this age. In the past it was always a trade-off of our time and effort to get a better boat out of it all. Now it seems that there is not enough time, when we would rather be sailing than spending time in the yard renovating. What’s the tipping point? In the end it would be money ahead to stick it out with the renovation, but the time wasted is something we can’t get back. Is this just the way of it? We were just interested in finding out some other people’s perspective on what I am sure is an all too common scenario.

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J.M.
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Old 01-02-2016, 16:26   #2
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

Buying a boat where someone else has expended the effort to upgrade, repair and maintain allows you to go sailing. Buying a fixer upper will not let you go sailing until you've addressed the issues.

You now have to make the sunk cost decision. Keep going or move on.

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Old 01-02-2016, 16:27   #3
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

Yep, it's a hard lesson to learn, but that time you lose when you could be sailing is gone. It seems the biggest issues with fixer uppers is the stuff you are not aware of when you buy it.
On most older boats you can count on some wet core if it has core. You can also count on water in the rudder. If old, you can count on tanks being near bad unless they are monel. You can lesson risk by not having a bolt on keel. etc etc.
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Old 01-02-2016, 17:06   #4
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

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Originally Posted by JMK View Post
When is it time to give up on a “good old boat”, cut your losses, and buy a new boat? Believe me, I’ve been down this road before. By an older boat, spend time and money fixing it up, and then eventually sell it. We are now back at that same point. We bought a classic boat with a great layout, and 35 years under her keel and have spent the last year addressing everything you would expect to find on a boat of this vintage. Along the way there were a few extra hiccups. A defect on the bottom of the keel resulted in a $10K repair as we discovered water all along the encapsulated lead keel. Then there are other things we still need to address. There’s some water intrusion in the balsa core side decks, the engine needs to be replaced, the plumbing and electrical systems needs some upgrading – everything you would expect in a boat of this age. In the past it was always a trade-off of our time and effort to get a better boat out of it all. Now it seems that there is not enough time, when we would rather be sailing than spending time in the yard renovating. What’s the tipping point? In the end it would be money ahead to stick it out with the renovation, but the time wasted is something we can’t get back. Is this just the way of it? We were just interested in finding out some other people’s perspective on what I am sure is an all too common scenario.

Thanks,
J.M.
You hit it- "its just the way of it"
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Old 01-02-2016, 17:10   #5
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

This is the reason after I purchased my 40 year old boat for $2,000 I decided to sail it after minimal repairs (bottom paint and engine) rather than totally refurbish it.

It seems folks are always wanting to make their boats beautiful in appearance before they really test them.

It can get expensive.

I painted the bottom 2X in 5 years, topsides once, bought a new main and outboard then sailed it a lot.
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Old 01-02-2016, 17:17   #6
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

Time on the hard is hard time! Have only gone through it once, but spent 18 months growing old in a boatyard. There were others who had been there the better part of a decade.

I look back on it now as dues paid and time well spent developing a better relationship with the boat.

At the end of most days, are you still seeing light at the end of the tunnel??
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Old 01-02-2016, 17:22   #7
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

The only time to change boats is when the size/layout of the exsting boat no longer works for you. Boats are hard to sell and you invariably take a financial hit. Buying another one there is always a list of stuff to do.

Repair when broken, upgrade when you can no longer live with whatever it is causing grief. Just as others have said, you wont get your time back. But you also wont get your money back, its the cost of lifestyle.
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Old 01-02-2016, 17:43   #8
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

Personally I would prefer to sail a boat as opposed to working on it. Of course all boats require a certain amount of time spent working to keep things right.
That said, I believe that it is best to find a boat model that you really like and then go out to locate one that is 1-2 years old, wait until a rainy day in January and make a low-ball offer.
I bought my current boat 13 years ago. It was 1 year old at the time I bought it on a rainy winter day. The original owner had spent a good deal of $$$ on gear and had sailed the boat only a few times. The boat had never been slept in or the galley used and there were almost no hours on the engine. Everything was just about perfect.
I bought the boat for almost 40% less than it originally sold for. I have sailed it thousands of miles with very little maintenance and zero gear failures.
I am absolutely convinced that had I bought an older boat for half the price it would have probably cost the same $$$ by the time I had made it right and I would have spend months if not years working instead of sailing.
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Old 01-02-2016, 17:47   #9
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

Buy an old boat and keep it long enough and sooner or later it will need a refit. The key is to not get carried away and try to make everything perfect. For the budget cruiser, learning how to repair your boat yourself is an invaluable skill. In this respect, I don't think boatyard time is necessarily "lost" or "dead" time if you plan to cruise extensively.

Then again, buying a boat with major problems to begin with is probably not that great an idea.

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Old 01-02-2016, 17:53   #10
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

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Buy an old boat and keep it long enough and sooner or later it will need a refit.
Yes, but new boats will need a refit eventually too. I think I'd rather have a higher end, well made, older boat than a new lower quality boat. Ideally, buy that old boat that someone else has spent some money on so it's not all up to you.
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Old 01-02-2016, 18:13   #11
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

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Yes, but new boats will need a refit eventually too. I think I'd rather have a higher end, well made, older boat than a new lower quality boat. Ideally, buy that old boat that someone else has spent some money on so it's not all up to you.
With our old girl currently on the hard being refitted, no argument here. Ours had been refitted in the not too distance past by a PO, but there's always something wearing out.

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Old 01-02-2016, 18:14   #12
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

Many people buy boats needing repair or refit because they are larger or have features they couldn't afford in a boat that's in perfect condition. When I was young, that's exactly how I got into boat ownership. It's also why I apprenticed as a shipwright. It's all controlled by the time and money you have to spend. I ended up having much better boats than I could normally afford.
Sounds like you've already spent most of the money. You probably can't recover all the money spent except through years of use. We all go thru periods of dismay at the size of our projects. You need to decide what it's worth to you.
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Old 01-02-2016, 18:38   #13
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

I have $7,000 - $8,000 in my boat and have sailed it for 5 years in some pretty rough weather.

I'm a coastal cruising weekend warrior now but will cruise one day.....(but park the boat and hike/run/cycle/workout off season)

I'm thinking I'll do the same thing again when this one gets too old. Buy another low priced boat and do the same. Btw, the insurance is $9.50 per month.

it's all about what you want.

Do you want your home on the water with all the modern conveniences or be on a sailboat and sail.

A 1979 Sabre 34 with new diesel just sold here for $20,000 (advertised price. PO deceased) This boat would make a nice cruiser but I don't need another boat yet

1979 Sabre 34 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
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Old 01-02-2016, 18:45   #14
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

FWIW, I'm thinking maybe you have "winter boat blues", JMK.

It's kind of hard to know what advice to give--and maybe you just would like to know there are people out here who know it's being a drag and are on your side! Obviously, there are.

However, if you have re-wired the boat, if the rig is new and chainplates replaced, and the motor runs beautifully, and all you have left is cosmetic... Well, then, forget the cosmetics for the time being. Fix only what has to be satisfactory mechanically. It is a boat meant to be used, and using them eventually brings about cosmetic issues. So you can look forward to more of them, and maybe you attack them after the boat's paid you back with some fun time! How does that sound?

Or, if there's still a lot of mechanical work to be done, and the only real solution for you is to buckle down and see it through, then maybe give yourself some little reward for all the work to date, and a break for a week or two, and then back at it.

Look at all you know is right with your boat at this time. How much work would it take with a new-to-you boat to get the new one up to snuff? And, honestly, if she has weaknesses, and she will have, it's a boat, is it not best that you've already located them?

"Awright, on your head, coffee break's over!"

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Old 01-02-2016, 18:47   #15
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Re: When to give up on a good old boat

On any boat there is a list of what we'd like to do and what must absolutely be done to go sailing. If you can overlook a few things on the "like to do" list you may find you can go sailing without breaking the bank. If you are looking to buy a boat that needs a lot before it can sail, then be sure you have a garage, backyard or shop to work in and be sure you have twice as much time and money as you think you'll need. Not to say it isn't worth it, or fun, you just have to be sure that is your definition of fun. Some people go to Las Vegas, lose a pile of money and call that "fun." If you enjoy it and just the prospect of sailing the boat makes you happy, then it is probably money well spent. In your case, if the engine is a "must do" then go ahead, but can some of the other "upgrades" be put off till later? A lot of things don't need to be done on the hard, and can a squishy deck go for another year?

edit: AND yes! to what Ann says!
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