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Old 23-01-2021, 09:04   #1
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Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensibly own a sailboat

Have enjoyed being a life long small boat sailor. Like many, as I approach retirement I'm drawn to the idealic vision of enjoying several weeklong coastal cruises and many day sails each summer between long island sound and cape cod.

As I'm arm-chair shopping 28-32' classic plastics from '70s to '80s in $5-15k range I'm cognizant that I'm not well equiped to assess condition (soft spots, leaks engine, roller furler, sail condition, etc.) so inspection/survey seems wise even at this price (right?).

This is particularly hampered as the good deals seem to be boats on the hard at the moment or past 2 years. (Won't jump on one on the hard longer than that.) Am I crazy to purchase without sea trial?

When I read about all the work the owners have done the prior 5-10 years (typically themselves, I think) I don't get too worried about routine expenses but do feel a big splash of cold water thinking about dealing with those and unexpected issues.

So, the big question, is it reasonable to think I will find and be able to sensibly rely on a good yard to do the main work to keep the boat in reasonable shape? Is it crazy to go that route with an old boat?

I'm not looking to throw money away (I'm pretty cheap). But don't want the lack of mechanical ability and enthusiasm for chores to keep me from taking the plunge if I can reasonably rely on a yard.

(Lastly, I am interested in learning, understand the value of knowing your boat when out sailing, and am mechanical enough to often repair appliances and furnace at home and replace some car parts with help from youtube. Just not something I'm really eager to do more often.)

(Most useful will be responses from those who are succeeding in the manner I describe or those that tried that path and it didn't work. Less excited, but expect to be entertained by those do it your-selfers sharing stories about the clueless owner next door.)
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Old 23-01-2021, 09:07   #2
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

If you can't do a lot of the work yourself, you better be prepared to write some big checks.

But, if you can, yeah, I know boat owners in our marina, who do almost none of the work of their boats.

There is always someone doing work on the boat adjacent to my slip. I've never even seen the owner and his wife even wash the thing.


The boat repair and maintenance guys love them.
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Old 23-01-2021, 09:51   #3
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

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Originally Posted by Group9 View Post
If you can't do a lot of the work yourself, you better be prepared to write some big checks.
This idea that I need to do "a lot of work" is what I've been led to believe and want to hear more about. about. I hoped it was clear that I'd wash the boat myself, lol.

I'm thinking more like replacing through hulls, address rudder delamination, repairing soft spots, re-bed winches, rewire, etc... and should I expect a lot of this on a 40 year old 30 footer that's been well maintained /average condition.

Do you know how much your neighbors spending - not second guessing your perspective just making sure I'm clear what I'm hoping to gain insight into.
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Old 23-01-2021, 10:14   #4
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

Even a boat that seems in great shape when you buy it has "a lot of work". SO keep that in mind.

A 30 ft boat for $5-10k definitely will have some issues and work.

You really need to have, or develop some maintenance skills unless you have a ton of money.

Yes get a surveyor in your situation, ask before you hire if he is willing to give a quick evaluation of sails. Often surveyors want you to get a rigging survey or someone else to evaluate sails. Sails are expensive.

Buy the best condition boat you can find and afford.

Also, dont buy a lesser known, oddball boat in your situation. There are some boats out there that dont sail well with handling problems.

A known brand and model helps you to eliminate this risk. With a Catalina for instance, you could get by without a sea trial if you can assess the boat on the hard and run the engine with a garden hose.
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Old 23-01-2021, 10:26   #5
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

Short answer to your header question is “yes”.

You will drain money very fast if you source out most work of the work on the boat. My background is not technical at all and I was overwhelmed by all the work that an old boat requires but I tackled a lot of it slowly after researching many hours, talking to fellow boat owners at the yard and getting advice from smart folks here and on the owners’ group.

To give you an example, I was quoted > $600 for a 1 coat hull wax job and I ended up doing 2 coats myself for under $100.

You can always do routine work (cleaning, woodwork, etc.) yourself but be ready to undertake some of the challenging work too as it will save you a lot of money that you can put towards upgrading sails/rigging/electronics etc. Following is some of the work I did in the last year:

-sanded mast to bare aluminum, applied 2 coats each of 2 part primer and paint and reattached hardware
-replaced depth, speed and wind transducers
-replaced toilet with all new sanitary hoses
-removed holding tank, took it home and cleaned it, resealed fittings and increased vent size (no odor now &#128522
-removed, cleaned and serviced 5 out of 7 seacocks
-installed new cutlass bearing, prop shaft, stuffing box, coupler and engine mounts, had to get help for engine alignment for which I paid the mechanic
-basic engine maintenance
-installed new remote mic cable

If I had paid for all the above work to be done by professionals I would have easily spent ~$10k if not more, those savings have gone towards new sails and I can’t wait for spring to come 😎.

Btw, where in LIS are you located?

Good luck.
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Old 23-01-2021, 10:29   #6
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

Forgot to tell you 1 more thing - I bought the boat on the hard, a proper land survey was done and engine was run, we closed on the boat, applied bottom paint, changed decal and then launched and the PO and I went for a sail afterward.
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Old 23-01-2021, 10:51   #7
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rblakenyc View Post
Have enjoyed being a life long small boat sailor. Like many, as I approach retirement I'm drawn to the idealic vision of enjoying several weeklong coastal cruises and many day sails each summer between long island sound and cape cod.

As I'm arm-chair shopping 28-32' classic plastics from '70s to '80s in $5-15k range I'm cognizant that I'm not well equiped to assess condition (soft spots, leaks engine, roller furler, sail condition, etc.) so inspection/survey seems wise even at this price (right?).
Basically, for a boat in that size range, yes a survey would be wise.

Depending on whether you're a perfectionist or would be happy with a less than perfect beater that still sails, you should budgetanother 20 to 50% of the purchase price to fix/improve the boat to your vision. But that work could be spread out over a few years, if you're content to sail ASAP with a less than perfect boat (which is a plan I recommend. Go small, go now)

Have you considered a smaller cruiser as a stepping-stone (eg 22 to 25 ft)? Much lower cost of ownership, especially if it's trailerable, and if you don't mind a sort of "camping" approach, they are fun for short cruises of up to a week (or hitting a marina at least once a week for showers, supplies and a restaurant meal). Outboards are much easier to repair/replace than inboards. I don't know if a smaller boat would be safe enough for a run to Cape Cod, but I've crossed Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in a 19' microcruiser.

Quote:
So, the big question, is it reasonable to think I will find and be able to sensibly rely on a good yard to do the main work to keep the boat in reasonable shape? Is it crazy to go that route with an old boat?

(Lastly, I am interested in learning, understand the value of knowing your boat when out sailing, and am mechanical enough to often repair appliances and furnace at home and replace some car parts with help from youtube. Just not something I'm really eager to do more often.)
If you're comfortable with that sort of work at home, you would be capable of maintaining a boat. And once you see the yard's labour rates, you'll soon get more eager .

As you acquire more boating friends and keep reading and researching, boat maintenance will become simpler. It's really not that hard if you have any aptitude.

There are some great books like this one which will help you anticipate what sort of tasks may be required for maintenance.
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Old 23-01-2021, 11:08   #8
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rblakenyc View Post
Have enjoyed being a life long small boat sailor. Like many, as I approach retirement I'm drawn to the idealic vision of enjoying several weeklong coastal cruises and many day sails each summer between long island sound and cape cod.

So, the big question, is it reasonable to think I will find and be able to sensibly rely on a good yard to do the main work to keep the boat in reasonable shape? Is it crazy to go that route with an old boat?

I'm not looking to throw money away (I'm pretty cheap). But don't want the lack of mechanical ability and enthusiasm for chores to keep me from taking the plunge if I can reasonably rely on a yard.

(Lastly, I am interested in learning, understand the value of knowing your boat when out sailing, and am mechanical enough to often repair appliances and furnace at home and replace some car parts with help from youtube. Just not something I'm really eager to do more often.)

(Most useful will be responses from those who are succeeding in the manner I describe or those that tried that path and it didn't work. Less excited, but expect to be entertained by those do it your-selfers sharing stories about the clueless owner next door.)
This is often a problem even when you know how to maintain your boat. Yards screw things up readily all the time at $75-100 an hour. They assign some ex burger flipper to work on your boat and he takes short cuts. Or they won't communicate with you and may do more, or less than you asked for. It can get real expensive fast.

Get a boat with good basics and learn to do the rest.

Here's an example: I left a very nice 47 ft boat dry stored for 4 months with a big well known yard once. I asked the yard manager to just open up maybe 50 tiny blisters above the boot stripe by skimming the tops off them... hoping they would dry out in those 4 hot months. After a couple months I called and asked to be sure it was done. HOPE. After prodding I finally got him to get it done.
When I got to the boat and wanted to launch in a day or two (after storing 4 months) I found he had assigned someone to do the job who knew nothing. The guy had ground the hull about a 1/4" deep and a swath probably 8" wide by 6 feet long! It wan't a pretty grinding job either! UGH. We had words, it had to be glassed filled and painted to match the hull sides!

My usual rule is to manage work myself if I pay to have it done. But I was flying out and this was a well known yard I thought would do it well.
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Old 23-01-2021, 12:04   #9
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

Thanks to all! Some replies to questions/comments in no particular order:
- I'm outside hartford and having been crewing between Stamford CT and newport. I'd hope to get a mooring between milford and new london (an hour from home)
- a good community sounds enjoyable and invaluable so considering joining a 50%+ sailboat "yacht" club (or is a marina just as good or better?)
- I appreciate the concrete examples of costs. I think i'd start with easier/simple and work my way up (scraping, painting)
- the list of work done is sort of inspiring but also a bit dispiriting
- considered smaller, pocket cruisers with outboard but not convinced need to work up to that although all chores and expenses are attractively smaller. I think 30' is my sweet spot offering sufficient cruising capability (block island) and better than camping comfort
- not looking for perfection/restoration. Looking for safe and not embarrassing
- really appreciate confirmation a survey is wise and even practical on the hard
- having read recent ethics in selling thread, will be looking for a seller who at least seems to be a brutal straight shooter

Thanks again and welcome any other thoughts and questions
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Old 23-01-2021, 12:46   #10
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

Rblake:

My answers are interspersed in bold face type with your statements:

Have enjoyed being a life long*small boat*sailor. Like many, as I approach*retirement*I'm drawn to the idealic vision of enjoying several weeklong coastal cruises and many day*sails*each summer between*long island sound*and*cape cod.

As I'm arm-chair*shopping*28-32'*classic*plastics from '70s to '80s in $5-15k range I'm cognizant that I'm not well equiped to assess condition

The remedy for that is to take the little time it takes to MAKE yourself well equipped to do that :-)! A good place to starts is right here:


Marine Survey 101, pre-survey inspection

This treatise was contributed gratis by one of our members to help people in your situation. Read it. You will then be in an excellent position to do a preliminary survey on any boat you may go aboard. Take the treatise with you as a dunce list :-)!

.
(soft spots,*leaks*engine,*roller furler, sail condition, etc.) so inspection/survey seems wise even at this*price*(right?).

Don't waste you money. Inspect as per Marine Survey 101. When you are down to one last candidate (that YOU have already surveyed) and wish to buy, then have an INSURANCE survey done by a professional surveyor. You are not likely to get insurance without submitting such a survey, but it needn't be a full comprehensive survey. YOU have already done that and satisfied yourself that the boat is fit for what YOU want to do with her!


This is particularly hampered as the good deals seem to be boats*on the hard*at the moment or past 2 years. (Won't jump on one*on the hard*longer than that.) Am I crazy to*purchase*without sea trial?

Sea trials are for GROWN-UP ships. They are undertaken to verify that the naval architects and the constructors have met the specifications laid down in a multi-million dollar contract, so that they may be held legally responsible if they have not. “Sea-trials” are an affectation in a toy ship costing maybe 15 grand. All “production” boats are much of a muchness having performance differences so subtle that it is not given to novices to discern them. In short you get what you get in any given type of boat. Things to worry about will show in the shore-side survey. The one YOU did prior to purchase :-)


When I read about all the*work*the owners have done the prior 5-10 years (typically themselves, I think) I don't get too worried about routine expenses but do feel a big splash of cold*water*thinking about dealing with those and unexpected issues.

As a benchmark think on this: TrentePieds, a 30-foot 5-ton raised saloon sloop consumes about 15K Canadian dollars per year in OWNERSHIP COSTS. Costs vary dependent on location, of course, but call it US$11K. I do my own work. Annual OWNERSHIP COSTS are ongoing as long as you own the ship and are, in TP's case roughly equal to ACQUISITION costs.


So, the big question, is it reasonable to think I will find and be able to sensibly rely on a good yard to do the main*work*to keep the*boat*in reasonable shape? Is it crazy to go that*route*with an old*boat?

Yes – it would be daft to go that route. For two reasons: 1) It is a fundamental principle that a client must know as much or more about the work to be performed as a “professional” does. Else the client cannot monitor and supervise the professional! So learn to do the work. It doesn't all fall upon you in a torrent. Just pace yourself. 2) The work required is simple enuff. Sometimes it is tedious, but it is all well within the competence of a man normally endowed intellectually. So why pay a “professional” three times a competent employee's wage for doing work that you can do yourself in your spare time – even as you are out cruising if you've prepared and organized yourself appropriately?


I'm not looking to throw*money*away (I'm pretty cheap). But don't want the lack of mechanical ability and enthusiasm for chores to keep me from taking the plunge if I can reasonably rely on a yard.

Hm... First off: No man should ever put more money into a boat than he can walk away from with a smile still on his face. That includes money to cover ownership costs! Next off: “Lack of mechanical ability and enthusiasm for chores” is precisely what drives many a dreamer back ashore. If you do not have mechanical ability – do get it! If you have no enthusiasm for the inescapable tasks of boat keeping – don't even GET a boat :-)


(Lastly, I am interested in*learning, understand the value of knowing your boat when out sailing, and am mechanical enough to often repair*appliances*and furnace at home and replace some car*parts*with help from youtube. Just not something I'm really eager to do more often.)

Unless you are keen to get up in the morning and get on with the “chores” you will find that boat ownership is a bit of a trial. A boat is a most demanding mistress. And more difficult than a mistress to get rid of :-)!



(Most useful will be responses from those who are succeeding in the manner I describe or those that tried that path and it didn't work. Less excited, but expect to be entertained by those do it your-selfers sharing stories about the clueless owner next door.)

All the best to you!

TrentePieds
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Old 23-01-2021, 13:03   #11
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rblakenyc View Post
- a good community sounds enjoyable and invaluable so considering joining a 50%+ sailboat "yacht" club (or is a marina just as good or better?)
We enjoy belonging to a yacht club. Ours isn't posh and just about all labour is volunteer, so costs are reasonable. To me, a marina is a parking lot, though I know people still get to know each other and friendships can form. But for the little commitment (initiation/debenture, work hours) we made to a club, we get
  • less expensive annual slip and storage
  • launch and haulout included
  • a community - with organized social events, but also a new pool of acquaintances and mentors who may become friends
  • reciprocal privileges at many other yacht clubs
We also belong to an informal "class" association with people who own the same or similar-sized boats.

A yacht club is a good option if your boating and cruising is going to be mainly in/around your home.
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Old 23-01-2021, 13:11   #12
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

TrentePieds -

Lots of awesome advice and appreciate the link to self-survey. Obviously I was hoping to hear you can palm off a lot of the work affordably to a yard but fully expected that was dreaming. Am glad to hear the encouragement that I can learn my way in and it doesn't typically land all at once.

That annual ownership cost is daunting and while I can afford it I don't think I'd value the ownership enough to pay it year after year.

I had figured (ok, mostly made-up) about half that (say $5k) with half of that being a mooring, club membership, hauling, winter yard storage and launch (these are the rates at a small local club). Was hoping the other $3k would go to insurance, scraping, painting and inevitable small repairs. Of course that left nothing for periodic sail & rigging updates or big repairs. And, I'd count fuel and provisioning to be trip expenses rather than cost of ownership.

Curious about other new england 30 footers' annual expenses.
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Old 23-01-2021, 13:13   #13
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rblakenyc View Post
Have enjoyed being a life long small boat sailor. Like many, as I approach retirement I'm drawn to the idealic vision of enjoying several weeklong coastal cruises and many day sails each summer between long island sound and cape cod.

As I'm arm-chair shopping 28-32' classic plastics from '70s to '80s in $5-15k range I'm cognizant that I'm not well equiped to assess condition (soft spots, leaks engine, roller furler, sail condition, etc.) so inspection/survey seems wise even at this price (right?).

This is particularly hampered as the good deals seem to be boats on the hard at the moment or past 2 years. (Won't jump on one on the hard longer than that.) Am I crazy to purchase without sea trial?

When I read about all the work the owners have done the prior 5-10 years (typically themselves, I think) I don't get too worried about routine expenses but do feel a big splash of cold water thinking about dealing with those and unexpected issues.

So, the big question, is it reasonable to think I will find and be able to sensibly rely on a good yard to do the main work to keep the boat in reasonable shape? Is it crazy to go that route with an old boat?

I'm not looking to throw money away (I'm pretty cheap). But don't want the lack of mechanical ability and enthusiasm for chores to keep me from taking the plunge if I can reasonably rely on a yard.

(Lastly, I am interested in learning, understand the value of knowing your boat when out sailing, and am mechanical enough to often repair appliances and furnace at home and replace some car parts with help from youtube. Just not something I'm really eager to do more often.)

(Most useful will be responses from those who are succeeding in the manner I describe or those that tried that path and it didn't work. Less excited, but expect to be entertained by those do it your-selfers sharing stories about the clueless owner next door.)
I have sailed those waters plenty
Make sure the boat has a solid engine
Standing rigging is not too old an tired
Sails aren’t shredded
LIS is not the middle of the Atlantic
Watch the weather and you’re good to go
Cheers
Neil
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Old 23-01-2021, 13:16   #14
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

Lake-effect, did you join with boat or acquire later? Neither of the two clubs I'm looking at are posh and seem to offer the advantages you outline - but need to explore if that's as true for a sailor without a boat.
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Old 23-01-2021, 13:49   #15
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Re: Do you have to be up for your own maintenance and repairs to sensible own a sailb

I'm someone like you. Paid $16,000 for a 34 footer in decent shape with good sails and engine three years ago after self survey.. For better or worse I don't worry too much about cosmetics. Still, winter storage, oil change and winterization, summer municipal mooring fees and insurance run close to $5000 a year on western LI Sound. An every other year bottom painting is 6-700. I could do it for $125 worth of paint,, but the yard won't let me.. I did have a thru hull replaced and was lucky to buy the part myself for 100 and have the yard's laborer do it for a another 150 or so. Recently had to replace the stop cable, and managed to do it myself for $30 in parts and about 3 hours of doing it inefficiently. Paid a guy $125 to go up the mast and change a light bulb. Boils down to some things you can pay for and some things you have to do yourself because paying the yard charges just seems crazy. I wind up doing more than I really want to in Spring, but if it doesn't get done before launch it tends not to get done and I am okay with that. I'd rather be sailing.
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