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Old 22-01-2006, 21:24   #1
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Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30 ?

Hi guys... My first post!

I'm Zach, I've been asking questions on the seven sea's boards... but they appear to be down. I've lurked around here for a few months, but have had nothing to add to discussion... but I finally have a question!

(The back story: )

I'm looking at a Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30. Its been out of the water for many years, and has no engine or rigging, the interior is gutted.

1. Is the Bermuda 30 a boat that would work for crossing oceans, and living aboard for 1 - 2 people?

Does anyone here have prior expeirence with them? (Or the Herreshoff H28's which supposedly are closely related.)

2. I've read about people (annie hill) putting a boat together for less than 15k that is seaworthy. This is still the top end figure for me. How bad can I get hurt on this?

3. Where can I go to find a used mast and sails? What will I spend?

4. Is it easier to rebuild starting with a hull than it is to build a boat from scratch? I assume it is, but have doubts as to how much work will go into repairing this one.

My thinking is that I can move it to my back yard and rebuild it over the next year or so. I believe my brain is doing less thinking in this than my emotion... as I cant see how it makes sense monetarily.

Lastly: Where should I look for trouble spots? (I feel myself saying this like its already mine... sigh. I've got it bad!)


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Old 23-01-2006, 03:22   #2
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The Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30 will be a (roughly) 40 year old boat, based upon a 60 year old design. They were built with either wood or fibreglass hulls.

Were you given (read ‘free’) the gutted hull & deck, I’d expect that you’d spend every cent of $10 - 15K (or more) refitting her to a fairly Spartan standard, over considerably longer than a year or so of “skilled part-time” work (presuming you also require an income).

You could lose your entire investment of time & money, if you abandon the project, unfinished. You could lose most of your investment, if you complete the re-fit, but don’t carry on cruising (if you finish & sell). Your investment could become “priceless”, if you finish the rebuild (on budget), and actually get out cruising.

It is possible to happily cruise, with minimal equipment and a low budget, on a smaller (well-found) boat. Several have done (and do) it (Annie Hill, the Pardey’s, Beth Leonard, etc) - but their success’ prove only the possibility - not the likelihood.

Keep reading, and asking questions, that your enthusiasm becomes tempered with knowledge. I know of no better lifestyle than cruising, and encourage you to continue to rationally consider the “go small, go now” alternative.

Best regards,
Gord May
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Old 23-01-2006, 07:52   #3
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Good luck with your project. I did a three month rebuild of a smaller sailboat last year, and I did a lot of reading to get up to speed.

At the moment, one of my favorite books about restoring boats is "This Old Boat" by Don Casey:

I like it because it's straight-forward about a lot of the work that needs to be done. It was in my local library.

I think I was lucky with my boat, because it was old but complete-- all the original hardware and parts were there. I was pretty surprised "budget wise" when it came time to track down the little things I had to replace (some at West Marine, others from other owners or parts boats). The one thing that might be worth doing (as suggested by Casey) is doing a prioritized list of "what must be done" and then pricing it out both time and money-wise. You can get lucky sometimes with used parts, but other times there might be no alternative to "full pop," and it's best to know as much in advance as possible.

One last note: it might be that some boats are too far gone-- the cost and time of restoring is too high, compared to spending more at the start for a more complete boat to begin with. For example, we spent about $1,000 for used sails after we had the boat. Spending $500 more at the start on a boat that had "nearly new sails" would have saved us $500.

Good luck!

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Old 23-01-2006, 09:18   #4
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Zach, welcome to the hopelessly infected; at least the company is nice.<g>

I was really pleased with Gord's reply; it should give you a sense for how much risk (high) and expense (higher) the B30 project represents. Yet I'm also glad Jim posted, as his pride in accomplishment is obvious and he's evidence that the right purchase mixed with thoughtful effort can pay off.

First, you limit the responses by not telling us what you plan to do with the boat; please add that. E.g. the H28 was a great design for its day and makes an excellent coastal cruising boat but it surely isn't an optimum choice for blue water nor is the rig ideal for a small crew. Moreover, H28's and B30's might look similar - as are chalk & cheese - but they aren't.

Forget the B30; it's a trap door. IF you had a bigger budget, more skills, more time (than one year) and more knowledge, I'm sure you could turn the boat around...but even then, Lordy what clever shopping & sourcing plus many hours of labor it would take. Moreover, when completed it most likely would not represent a great investment. OTOH if you pick a somewhat popular boat, built in somewhat large numbers and with a good basic structrual heritage, you should be able to correct its problems (perhaps numerous in your price range) and end up with an asset that will pay off sooner (in sailing) and later (when selling). E.g. there are large followings for boats like the Alberg 30, Tartan 27-I, Catalina 27, Bristol 27, Cal 27 & 29 and many more, depending somewhat on which coast you're on. Refurb'ing one of these will insure interest when it's time to sell.

Altho' it's not with intent, books written by folks like Annie Hill and others can lead us to false assumptions; in addition, remember it's a human trait that the bad stuff is forgotten over time while the satisfaction & pride of accomplishment remain. Hearing from Annie is a bit like hearing a practicing physician tell you that becoming a doctor isn't so hard. For him or her, perhaps not...but what would you hear from the students who couldn't get into the pre-Med curriculum, or test well on the entrance exam, or assemble the high gpa? Annie and others deserve our respect and it's great they inspire us, but unfortunately they are not representative benchmarks for us in some ways, only because of their successes.

It is definitely easier, cheaper and quicker to refurb a boat with the basics in place than to start from scratch. There are off-setting benefits of building your own boat but they aren't the 3 listed above. Also, keep in mind that if you start with an existing boat, you may relatively easily modify the interior layout or add an inner stay (or another project that is especially important to you), which in turn may allow you to consider many boats that would otherwise not pass muster.

The SSCA board seems to be half-operational now; come on over there when time permits, too. I'd recommend you start your own thread (vs. tacking on your questions to the existing one you mention) but spell out as many specifics as you can: your budget, time frame, experience (as a sailor and boat handyman), sailing goals, and your physical location. All these are directly relevant to your question and really help others to post useful replies.

And finally, good luck to you.

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Old 23-01-2006, 21:20   #5
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts!

Gord: I'll take that as, "I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot long stick."

Jim: Pictures?

I'll try to add the rest of the equation Euro Cruiser.


The dream: A lifestyle which can be supported by working a few months out of the year. Three to six, with a low enough expenses that savings are quick, without a high wage.

Where: I'd like to go back to the Caribbean and spend a few months island hopping. I was in St Thomas a few years ago, looking down over Magens Bay, a lone sailboat was anchored a few hundred yards beyond the breakers. That was when I started reading everything I could get my hands on about sailing and boat repair. I came across an journal somewhere around the start of all this that described a few guys that chartered a boat, and anchored beside a little 20 foot something that “looked like a football.” The writer went on to explain how the other two were joking about how ugly the thing was… but stopped when he said something to the effect of, “For what we’ve spent for one week… we could have bought that boat and would be here next week.” This was like a bucket of water to the face, as it had been much more of a dream to put off until retirement, with the sudden realization that it was not only possible, but entirely realistic. This is was the start of my campaign to save the pennies.

My experience:
Mechanically: I've rebuilt many cars... but haven’t done much in the way of body work. I enjoy taking things that are broken and putting them back together so they work. I've done a bit of work on an old WWII coast guard cutter, keeping it up and running under its own power. Just enough of the carpentry and structural work to steer me towards a fiberglass boat... not only is nothing square, but wood is rather difficult to build back up. In addition to all that I've worked a fair amount of time in machine shops pulling metal shavings out of thumbs. Good enough to keep my digits attached, not so good as to not get dirty!

Time on the water:
Sailing: Not as much as I'd like. I’ve done enough to know I enjoy it, and to keep the boat going on a heading. Not enough to have the feel for adjusting sails without a more experienced sailor around to grab that last half a knot of speed.

Power boating: I crewed on the coast guard cutter for the delivery from Alabama up to NC coast. Out of that distance I was at the helm about a quarter of the distance. I also figured out that a gallon a mile is not as efficient as I'd like... not so much the cost, but having held the nozzle for 2 hours at a time contorting yourself between the bulwarks and deckhouse watching sailboats go by… it changes you.


Why I’m even looking at this one:

Part of what guided me to this project boat was the fact that once it is "Finished" (In quotes because it is a boat after all...) a before and after picture is a great portfolio for your work. I assume that this would be a positive for finding work around the world, as skilled labor.

Price is a very large part of what guided me to this boat. If I undertake a project such as this I will not be in a position to work full time, as well as give the required effort for college studies while rebuilding a boat. This sort of thing will most certainly be done as "Funds are available." I put the 15k price tag as a max because that is as much as I am comfortable losing at this point in time, a setback yes… but it would not be “Every penny I’ve ever made” so I couldn’t sleep at night! I’m comfortable running over 15k, but the time frame stretches out further. I’ve got 2 years or so before I’m through with my studies,

Besides the cost constraints safety is the primary objective. My search so far has been guided by the fact that quite frankly; I do not see myself as having the skills as a seaman to command a vessel that will not tend to its self through weather.

In that light my research suggests is that a long skinny boat is more seaworthy when the conditions are awful. The folkboat and contessa 26 are the examples often given of this design theory.

I just don’t think that they are large enough inside to live, with two people. It would be a shame to find a partner and not have accommodations to suit two. Is it possible... most certainly, I haven’t ruled them out completely as there are several on the market in 5-10k condition.

What I foresee having to do, comments greatly appreciated!

Here’s THE LIST:

Completely gut the interior; probably remove the deck as well.
Tab in new bulkheads, all of them structural. Water tight door/crash bulkhead from mast beam forward.
Install watertight compartments, with rubber sealed hatches.
Move the chain locker as far aft as possible, while still maintaining proper chain stacking.
Foam blocks in the forepeak, as well as the lazaret.
Replace through hull fittings with high quality bronze.

The deck will be half inch marine grade plywood with a skin of mechanically fastened fiberglass a half inch thick. Cabin top will be of similar size as to what was original to maintain lines. Port lights small for strength, dorade boxes big for flow. Overbuilt is probably an understatement for a deck constructed in this manner…

Hull-deck joint glassed inside and out. Mechanical fastening primarily to double as stanchion complete with backing plates.


Chain plates, either three eights or half inch stainless with shoulder bolts run through backing plates. As many bolts as I see fit… while being prepared to have

Rigging, oversize and standardized so all standing is the same size. Running rigging, same deal, same sizes, oversize for the job. External halyards for simplicity, do you guys think this is a good idea or not?

Mast step/tabernacle – mounted on large beam to dial in the weather helm forward/back a few inches. Aluminum pipe below deck to support deck, mounted on a glassed in pad to bring mount above bilge level. Bow and stern pulpits double as cradle. As you probably guessed… a sloop rig. Less sails/rigging! My limited understanding of these things says that when you move sail area around you have to move the center of effort too, so the mast will be jury rigged until the exact position is determined. Then another refit to put everything where it needs to be, going for perfection… <G>

The mast its self I have been contemplating. Used or perhaps heavy wall aluminum pipe? I haven’t completely ruled out a wood mast home built, but knowing my wood working skills I’d cut once and wish it would grow back…


Would I be out of my mind to put an outboard bracket on the back? I assume if I am ever inclined to put a wind vane on the back that there will be conflict between the two. Of course it would be out of the water in rough weather and not much use…

The other idea I’ve got is to use an air-cooled diesel with a stainless steel dry exhaust. The most K.I.S.S. design I can figure.


Battery bank mounted well above bilge, I haven’t determined whether or not gel coil or saturated glass is a longer life solution. I sure prefer sealed gel to acid with thoughts of rolling over.

Everything fused, all wires oversized to take account for possible corrosion. Wires run half way between deck and bilge, in event of “inversion.”

Solar panels, both fixed and flexible type. Wind Generator? Ideally an outboard will not need to run, as the alternators are… small.

No refrigeration, foot pump water in the sink. Huge manual bilge pumps. An LED mast head light, and fluorescent/LED lights inside. In general run the lowest possible power drawing equipment so it takes less to keep the system operating.

Radios, VHF for sure… EPIRB when she drops in the water.

Water, built in… or perhaps where the inboard used to be? Guidance as far as how many gallons would be appreciated. My reading suggests 1 gallon per person per day, with a decent smudge factor that could get close to 200 gallons for 2 people. Definitely separate tanks, for contamination prevention, and Murphy’s Law of fuel fillips.

Fuel will be limited range. I foresee 10-12 hp, not capable of motoring up to hull speed. Primary goal being in port docking, but I do wonder about a lee shore.

Plenty of “extra space” (On a boat?) for stocking up on food stuffs when the price is right.


I’d like to have a decent work space, being a tinkering type… a decent flat spot for a vice and a tool box. I’m thinking that a V-birth at the front is optional, perhaps putting the head up there like on a Cape Dory 25D. Although, I can think of few things worse than getting a metal shaving stuck in the big toe in the middle of the night relieving yourself.

I don’t think there would be standing head room for the head in that setup. <g>

This turned out longer than I thought it would, if this is the “plan” then task of actually grinding and glassing this pup is going to be a long road indeed.

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Old 23-01-2006, 21:23   #6
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Am I about right that 3,000 hours is somewhere in the ball park of what I'll spend putting this together?

I've got the "Good Old Boat" and a few others in transit somewhere... if I run out of funds, I could hock some books...

Thanks guys!

(Dang, that other one IS very long, do I win a T-shirt?)

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Old 24-01-2006, 03:48   #7
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Zach, there are more opportunities there to comment on than I have time for right now...but here are a few general observations.

-- How can we confirm your time estimate as it depends on so many variables but especially your skills, tools and the specifics of each piece of work as the project unfolds. In general, you are describing a huge rebuild project, not a boat refurb.
-- To maximize (or at least protect) your investment, you will want to keep a boat marketable when refurb'ing her. Some of your ideas might be just what you desire but they depart from the norm (no engine or an air-cooled, crash bulkheads which will impede movement) and will depress the boat's perceived value & ability to be resold.
-- Your boat plans seem biased towards storms and long passages, yet your cruising plans are to sail in relatively confined & pleasant waters where weather info is readily available and provisioning relatively easy. Consequently, you don't need to be building the ultimate high-latitude lifeboat but rather a fairly typical, nice sailing, bright & comfy, well ventilated cruising boat.
-- There's quite a difference between Don Casey projects (improve/enlarge the icebox; repaint the hull) and becoming your own R&D dept. A moveable mast, batteries above the waterline, adding foam floatation, making extreme tankage changes, and an alternative powertrain all require not just tools & resin but some design & engineering knowledge. You will want each project done properly and also need them to integrate well. As one example, I see you incrementally adding substantial weight to what will be a relatively small boat - never a helpful thing at sea - and with the weight distribution probably uneven.

I admire your aspirations but think you're over-reaching; your goal is to get on the water and go cruising, not start a life's work or a boatyard. Instead, I encourage you to revert to First Principles: How do I best prepare myself and a boat for my cruising plans, given the amount of money I have and while protecting my investment as best I can. Isn't that the essence of your goals?

Your basic plan is quite do-able (and worth doing). Moreover, how you plan to finance your cruising is reasonable, provided you look for work in the right places (including sailing back up to Florida on occasion, where you can legally work and expect decent pay). To keep the fires alight, here's a small portion of a write-up I did on cruising in the Central Caribbean, in the section on visiting Grand Cayman in the Cayman Is. This was published in an SSCA Bulletin.

"Employment: We don’t often read about employment opportunities (and hurdles) in cruising notes but some long-term cruisers do need to ‘work as they go’. If that’s you, give Grand Cayman a close look. When we visited in February, 2002 there were 600 job openings reported in the press despite a somewhat weak economy. The local chamber of commerce was holding a Job Fair, and many of the jobs – running dive operations, skippering boats for day charters, generally running the cruise ship & hotel tourists to the various sights to see, and trade work done by the yacht management/service businesses on the island – are especially suitable for cruising sailors. One place to begin your job search might be the Employment Services Center (see the phone book), as it claims to serve in part as a clearinghouse for jobs. The ‘work permit’ process reportedly takes about 6 weeks, is initiated by the employer, and shouldn’t cost you a dime (a farthing?). Both health insurance and an employee/employer contribution retirement plan are mandated by law, though you may need to encourage your employer to include you should s/he believe you are a short-term employee. (The retirement plan is portable after one year, which sounds like a long time but can go fast in this convenient location, and you can take with you the employer’s portion as well as your own). And while some cruisers purchase 2nd-hand cars while working ashore here, don’t forget that the island is small and the W end of Grand Cayman is covered by an extensive bus service. Visit the bus terminal area adjacent to the library for more information."

Good luck to you!

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Old 24-01-2006, 08:02   #8
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Good grief, you should get a t-shirt.

The length and depth of your reply suggests a serious boat infection...

Here a link to our restoration photos:

Now, there are major differences between our project and yours. We didn't have to replace any interior wood. We also only had a 20 foot boat, and the costs were a fraction of what paint and parts would be for a 30 footer. Finally, our budget was only round $3k, but I agree that $15k might not be enough for even a basic build from a bare hull and deck. Compared to when the Pardeys were building their boats, costs have really run up. As my brother noted, puttting "marine" on just about anything justifies a 100% price jump.

There's lots of ways your scenario could play out. You should think about reading "From a Bare Hull" by Ferenc Mate. The Shards of "Distance Shores" also built up from a bare 37 hull, but they admit that they may not recommend it to others, or ever want to do it again.

It may turn out that you have a fantastic journey restoring the boat, even if it takes a lot longer and is a lot more money than expected. Some people love building boats, and more power to them.

The possible downsides have already been mentioned.

Here's one idea-- have you thought about what $15k could really buy? I've been blown away by what appears on the local market for giveaway prices if you're willing to fix up. One boat we went and saw was a used but complete and strong Albin Vega 27. It hadn't been sailed in a year or so, but the diesel fired up, the sails and rigging looked usable for at least a year, and the interior would have been fine if there were only two of us. It even had a fresh bottom job, zincs, etc. Vegas are well known for being seaworthy. We could have bought the boat for $8k, and if we a $15k budget, we would have had a pretty good budget for new sails and rigging updates and even engine work if it were needed. That, and we could have sailed it the day we bought it.

Have a great time thinking about your plans-- it's a fun thing to do.

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Old 24-01-2006, 08:35   #9
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I don't think I can reply about the "big picture" of whether it's a practical project, and others have given better opinions than I could anyway.

A couple of "small picture" answers to some of your questions:

No reason not to rig her as a sloop-- if I recall correctly, a sloop rig was offered by Cheoy Lee. A sloop, with a bit higher mainmast and larger foretriangle, would be a good bit livelier than the ketch rig, which I recall was pretty slow upwind.

This heavily raked stern may not be a good place for an outboard bracket, if you hobbyhorse in a sea or get 'pooped', the motor will see a lot of salt water. And it will probably take 10-15 hp. to move her, which is a heavy motor to get on and off. Most of the early ones I sailed had the gasoline Atomic-4, which at 30 hp was way more power than the boat needed.
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Old 24-01-2006, 13:24   #10
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It is fantastic to see someone with such enthusiasm to take on such a big task.

You have probably already considered this, but it is worth emphasizing:

If your 3000 hours estimate for the reconstruction is accurate (and the chances are it wll be more - thats just the way it is), consider how much money you could make if you spent 3000 hours working to earn money. If, for example, you clear $20 / hr after tax, there is $60000. Add to that the cost of the materials that you would be spending if you did the rebuild - say 15k, and you are suddenly looking at a 75k boat that is key-turn, ready to sail. And 75k will buy a helluva lot more boat than a 40 yr old 30 footer.

That is just a thought.

One other thing. I am not a particularly experienced cruiser, but personally, I would not recommend an outboard motor on a vessel that was going to be coastal cruising, let alone offshore cruising. I would strongly recommend an inboard diesel over an outboard.
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Old 24-01-2006, 13:42   #11
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It may be possible...

If you have a good site close to your home it may be possible to build a 30' boat in less than 3000 hours. I built my 32' Hartley ferro in around 1500 hours over 3 years (it was a bit basic!), and my 6.5 m Van der Stadt took not much more than 500 hours over a year.
The cost would be about what you are planning on spending, particularly if you don't mind scronging.
WEST System/plywood boats can be built very cheaply, or if you want better resale value an epoxy/balsa-foam core would not be a huge amount more.
I would expect a new well built boat of any proven material to be more seaworthy than a 40 year old fibreglass hull.
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Old 24-01-2006, 20:09   #12
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Hi Zach, we meet again in another room!

Thinking about your plans for this old hull, as exciting as the prospect of such a project seems, if what you really want to do is go sailing (as opposed to building a boat) then I think you'ld be better off plunking down say $10K on a boat that's not such a project, for example or, just to pick two of many possibilities. With these, you at least get a complete boat (spars, rigging, sails, auxillary power plant, etc...), which is the least expensive way to buy boat parts. Sure, the condition of all of that stuff could be suspect (make your offer to purchase contingent on a survey) and you might end up replacing much of it in the end, but in the meantime, while you're trying to sort out what you need to do versus what you want to do versus what you can afford to do, you can go sailing! And it is sailing that you need to do in order to better know what work you need to do to the boat versus what desired improvements you can put off till time and budget allow.

All that said, regarding your project plans, I'm sure you can find a suitable mast extrusion through a marine salvage/surplus/consignment outfit - it may take some scrounging, but would be a lot better than an aluminum pipe.

Rather than mounting an Outboard on the stern, I recall reading about a guy who had rigged a system for mounting his Outboard at the side of his boat amidships. He would set this up when needed, otherwise the OB was stowed in a locker. The advantage to this is that it is easier to keep the prop in the water when the boat is pitching. The arrangment involved a bracket for the OB that attached to the end of a spinnaker pole, the other end of the pole attached to the toe-rail forward. The spin pole counteracted the thrust of the prop. The bracket involved two other short poles that triangulated to hold the engine in place off the side of the boat. I can't remember where I read about this, but IIRC the guy was french or french-canadian...

But back to what Jim H suggested -- look around to see what you could buy in the way of a more-or-less sailable-as-is boat instead of a total-gut-project-before-any-sailing boat. FWIW, I bought my 34' offshore boat for only $8K, and here we are sailing her two days after closing:

Granted, she still needs a lot of work before going transatlantic...

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Old 24-01-2006, 20:37   #13
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Catamount once whispered in the wind:
FWIW, I bought my 34' offshore boat for only $8K, and here we are sailing her two days after closing:
Tim, when we're ready for a 34, I'm hiring you to find one for us.

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Old 24-01-2006, 20:42   #14
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I know where you could get a 31 or 34 foot Piver trimaran for $3,500. And it's in great shape!!

It's in the San Fransisco area. And the man has to sell it. Might still be up for sale?

"Those who desire to give up Freedom in order to gain security, will not have, nor do they deserve, either one." - Benjamin Franklin
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Old 25-01-2006, 10:57   #15
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Tim's point is an excellent one and many of us could offer examples of not just sailable but even cruising capable boats that we've seen on the market for surprisingly small sums. Three examples that spring to mind are a nicely preserved Vega 27 (out first boat and a wonderful cruising boat that sails extremely well), an Albin 30 (this a large racing fleet of these still competing every year in the North Sea, if that says something about their build quality and speed), and a H-R Monsun 31 which came with a vane and rebuilt engine, new rig, etc. The *asking* prices for these were $10K, $18K and $21K and all three owners were a bit desparate.

Why weren't the boats selling? Because in all 3 cases the boats were in/near the Great Lakes, they were being sold off-season or at season's end, and the models weren't well known locally. Heck, one even came with its own trailer (the Albin 30). I should add: the seasons are so short up there and the U/V so limited, that all these boats looked almost new. Moreover, the hardware was lightlly used for the same reason. It wasn't financial limitations that kept these boats from selling but rather the creativity and effort of a willing buyer.

WHOOSH, Pearson 424 Ketch
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