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Old 01-11-2016, 13:28   #1
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Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

I'm interested in getting a cruising boat when I retire and I've spent the last 8 - 10 months doing research. I'm sure we want a cruising monohull 40 - 47 ft. but haven't settled on a particular boat-builder. Given our budget we're looking at boats around 10 years old, or older boats that are in the 20 - 25 year age range. The older boats are ones on many of the top 10 blue water boats list (e.g. Hylas, Bristol, Tayana, etc.) If you purchased an older boat (20 - 25 yrs old) perhaps you'd be kind enough to share your experiences. Some questions are listed below. Feel free to only answer those questions which resonate with you if you don't have time to go through the whole list.

1. What boat did you buy? Approximate cost?
2. What systems required a refit? In addition to common refit items like standing rigging, sails, engine and batteries, did you have to upgrade any systems caused by age-related wear? Some examples are tankage, hull & deck attachment, electrical re-wiring, hull osmosis, soft spots in the deck, etc. What were the approximate costs?
3. Were all problems areas identified by the survey? Any surprises?
4. How long did the refit take? Did you do the work yourself, or outsource to marine specialists or both? How many "man hours" (your time) did you have to spend?
5. If you did a lot of work yourself, did you have a lot of marine industry experience? Was this your first boat?
6. Exit strategy. If you sold your boat what percentage of the cost of the boat plus refit costs did you get back?
7. Final and probably most important question, would you do it again? Any lessons learned you'd care to share?

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Old 01-11-2016, 15:15   #2
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

h ah a i bought a 40 yr old boat with no mast rot. no deck rot and no substructure rot.
i did my own survey, and missed nothing.
i am and have been refitting while underway-- until my genoa ripped due to a repair made by an unscrupulous alleged sailmaker, and some other needs requiring the boat to stay put a short ha ha ha time. as a 'cane cracked my mizzenmast and effected some other disrepairs i will be hanging in a different area of pair a dice to effect the repairs of this ketch.
i have rebuilt the engine, perkins 4-108, which cost me less than 4000 usd, considerably, and rebuilt tranny which cost me under 100 usd, and rebuilt the injector pump for about 200 usd, replaced a thai cedar mizzenboom with mexican perota aka ipe wood, all 14 ft of it for a total of 80 usd..hahahaha
.. willbe replacing my main boom with same wood, may replace cracked mizzen with aluminum tree wood. will be replacing the beam under the mizzen mast and under fridge boxes and removing those in favor of alternative refrigeration of modular nature. willbe adding dodger with ipe framing, and a bimini also with ipe framing and adding davits.......
among other things-- my ss tanks need mig welding, my fuel tank is for replacement, as some one placed a 44 gal pick up truck tank in my boat--and it is not a good one.
all boats require maintenance--mine had not experienced that luxury prior to my ownership.
i had the mizzen spreader fittings repaired for a whole 10 usd..hahahahaha
had the gooseneck fitting braised for under 10 usd...
will be replacing chainplates and other items as i go
no i am not unhappy that i bought this boat. it is easy to fix while underway. it sails big winds easily and smoothly. try to find one made quite like this..is a clipper bow classic beauty.
lil pirate shiplet. lovely teak interior, wish it still had the teak decks

oh yeah i did some of the work, i hire out much of it as i have disabilities involving my hands. they donot work
i have been sailing, starting with old antique wood sloops with gaff rigging, since i was aged 7 yrs, in 1955.
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Old 01-11-2016, 16:57   #3
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

We bought a 1984 Liberty 458. The boat was owned for the previous 21 years by an aircraft mechanic. The vessel was in excellent condition.

We started with an 80 day roadtrip in the US then onto the Carribean and Europe where we looked at 125 vessels. We wanted a Liberty 458 and we bought the best one on the market.

In the last 3 years we've completed a range of upgrades, enhancements and maintenance.

The key criteria for buying a vessel, based on our research and experiences are:
1) buy the boat you want that fits your intended usage
2) be prepared to upgrade systems that are obsolete. Instrumentation, standing rigging for example.
3) budget for corrective and preventative maintenance that is affordable, achievable and increases the ability to deliver on your use cases
4) dont buy a project boat to fit a budget. Fix the budget
5) ensure you have the skills, time or budget to maintain the vessel

As for surveyors. Our limited experience indicates they are useless. I have 3 engineering degrees, 3 trades and over 60k hours of experience in the motorsport, automotive and defence industries so am able to make or fix just about anything on our boat.

We did however find a great broker and documentation expert. Both valuable roles when buying an older vessel.

We've put in half a person year of effort in 3 years and about 50% of the purchase price on upgrades and enhancements. Very little cost or effort needed to maintain due to the good condition when we bought.

If I wanted to make money I would buy a popular modern vessel at a distressed price and sell it on immediately. Dont expect to make money from an older boat purchase.

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Old 01-11-2016, 17:11   #4
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pirate Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

I've bought boats up to 40yrs old.. and sailed away as a work in progress.
Never been one to work on something for months before going to sea.. just treat it the same as a yacht delivery.
Motor works, sails are useable, rigging looks okay.. right.. cast off..
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Old 01-11-2016, 17:20   #5
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

Point number 1 above is appropriate: buy the right boat for your purpose.

You haven't clearly stated if you want to do offshore/Bluewater cruising or just coastal cruising.

I bought a cal 36, almost 50 years old. It was already set up for cruising and I bought it for around $20,000 including dinghy and all the stuff inside the boat (genset, dishes, etc.) Have I found things that need fixing? Sure, but nothing major or excessively expensive.

Of course, I'm only doing coastal cruising, my longest planned stretch is the 80 miles from the virgin islands to st marten. But I am living on the boat full time at anchor, cruising from location to location.

If you plan to cross oceans, you won't likely want the same criteria in a boat as me.

Good luck with your travels.
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Old 01-11-2016, 17:27   #6
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

I bought a 38 year old Morgan Out Island for basically the price of storage. I did my own survey and I've been working on her ever since. old boats tend to need work. and I am particular about things so I knew going in that I would be replacing the standing rigging, electrics, and some other repairs. I ended up replacing the engine this spring, and I'm replacing the furling next spring. the nice thing about older boats is you develop a serious set of repair skills. I'll hve filled in 14 unnecessary thruhulls by the time I'm done. but she'lll be setup the way I want with a hard dodger and solar arrays and an electrical system that is simple and easy to service! I like the OI's because they have simple engineering. long keels for stability and internal ballast with no keelbolts to leak! the joinery is simple enough for me to mimic with my low budget tools. and they aren't flashy boats so are less of a theft risk!
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Old 01-11-2016, 17:30   #7
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

Every boat is different based on the previous owners ability and willingness to maintain and upgrade.
I'm sure a lot of people will tell you about their boats and I will too. But in a real sense these answers won't serve you very well because, every boat is different! You best bet is to learn to do your own survey and go look at boats! I will caution you to get a professional survey at the time of purchase too. Your surveyor is better at it than you are. But learn to do it yourself so you don't waste money and time on bad boats, look for Don Casey's "Inspecting the Aging sailboat". It's available in book or kindle.

Anyway, we bought a 40 year old Chevy Lee Offshore 38. We are still not sure we got our money's worth yet but our surveyor agreed with our assessment that "it'seems a good boat".

Like Zeehag we will be refitting as we go. The reason for doing this instead of fixing everything right away is that stuff will break, whether the boat is old or new, so we would rather fix what is actually needed and start cruising. Stuff will always break, so it does not matter if the broken stuff is old when it breaks. Some logic eh?

Anyway, our boat has been "well maintained " evidence that most of the equipment is original. But that means we have quite a bit of stuff that needs to be replaced or upgraded to bring it to modern spec. Wiring, lighting, propane fittings, etc. But all of this stuff is in good working order, just old.

Major is things that need addressing, stanchions need to be rebelled (auto correct! *re-bedded* )and lifelines replaced. Rudder has a small bit of delamination to fix. The jib needs to be replaced. Standing rigging will need to be replaced in a few years, as will the running rigging.

The engine is old but fit for another 10,000 hours (so says our engine surveyor). The main is new. Dodger and Bimini are newish and very servicable, as are the cushions in and out. The winless, chain and anchors are pretty good but should be regalvanized.

Other stuff that needs adressing, the faucet in the head needs to be replaced. The woodwork needs cleaning and varnish. The lockers all need to be painted. The laminate counters are 40 years old but serviceable. There is some old vaneer that needs to be fixed.

Electronics range from good and working radar and ssb to vhf broken. The electronics list is pretty long and more modern than the boat but aging. Some things will be replaced now, some when they no longer work.

There boat came with a huge assortment of tools and spares and materials to fix some of what needs fixing.

Are we exhausted yet?
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Old 01-11-2016, 17:36   #8
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

Agree with leftbrain on most points except uselessness of surveyors. Of the 5 boats I owned (and all gotten when they were at least 23 years old, some 35) for only one of those transactions a surveyor was hired. Also I have asked my two marine pro buddies to do their best survey efforts before I spent any $$ on the "real" surveyor. Both buddies each have had more years of active marine work and sailing experience under their belts than probably most people their age in the world.

One of them grew up on an island and rowed a dinghy to school from age 7, the bridge only having been built there when he was ready to go to college and the family being too poor to own an outboard. He became a NA and an hands on professional boat builder and still is.

The other has 3 marine related degrees, int'l unlimited tonnage captain license, 2 circumnavs behind him (starting 3rd one soon) and 45+ years of only marine related job experience (diesel mechanic, sail racer, merchant marine mate, 1st mate, captain, port official, etc you name it he's done it if it has "marine" in the job description.

The surveyor was your run of the mill knowledgeable guy and I have used him before on the boat I ended up not getting so I felt comfortable to go with him again, especially since the first time around he produced a very thorough and meticulous 15 page survey.

Anyway these guys' backgrounds will make sense in a second. After 4-5 hours of checking out the 30 year old boat (no sea trial, on the hard only), both of my buddies pronounced her "a go". The naval engineer said she is a good sailor with forgiving motion (he has a good eye for that and can spot a repair, any repair, on the hull no matter how well done) and the circumnavigator said that she's perfect for my intended use (coastal for first few years with off shore at some point in the foreseeable future) but will need new rigging, etc to be taken offshore.

The surveyor also gave her thumbs up and had valued her well above the asking price. The seller pretty much had the same idea so the deal was made with very little further haggling.

Later on it turned out that all three professionals missed some or other items/issues. Nothing which would have unraveled the deal but perhaps would've given me a little more bargaining power. I do not begrudge them these misses as the boat certainly proved to be even better than anticipated, all other factors such as age, price, use, etc. considered. Would I be happier if I passed this boat up and continued looking? Most likely not. Would I be able to find a similar or better boat for similar $$? Probably a qualified "yes or may be". Would getting this boat so soon after I started the search (about a month into the search) saved me a whole season worth of sailing? A roaring and happy "yes". Would I be happier if I found marginally better boat for similar $$ but a season or two later? Probably (definitely?) not.

IMO unless you get so unlucky and choose a real dud which you'll end up hating I think any reasonable deal on a boat you like and can afford will be OK in the end. Just be ready for some surprises, both pleasant and not so much (just like women/partners, all boats are always full of surprises, that's why we love them both). And as long as you can handle these surprises financially and emotionally you'd do OK. No boat even when brand new is so perfect that it does not need some additional tweaks or improvements. So look upon any needed future repairs or survey misses as those "tweaks and improvements" and you'd be fine.
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Old 01-11-2016, 17:52   #9
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

Five years ago I bought a 25 year old Beneteau First 375. I concur that the survey was essentially useless, if only because the boat was in very good condition. It had already been rewired, and the interior liner replaced, except for in the head compartment. Shortly after purchase I replaced the cutless bearing, known to be bad at purchase, and realigned the motor. Not long after, replaced the batteries and reglued the liner in the head. Found some loose connections in the new wiring, and removed a piece of factory engine wiring that in combination with the new wiring bypassed the start battery switch (!). Had to recover the salon cushions because they had already been recovered by the PO with inferior fabric that degraded quickly due to UV. After several years, had to replace the stack-pack due to UV damage. Also replaced a cabintop hatch. This year, bought a new main and genoa, easily my favorite improvement. Also this year, the 30 year old transmission input shaft failed due to a known design defect, so had to pull the transmission and repair it. Everything else I would call normal maintenance.
For a boat of this age, I would have to say I have had a positive experience. Having owned various boats for 25 years or so, I do pretty much all work myself. Exceptions were recovering the cushions (JSI in St. Petersburg - they came back looking like a work of art) and rebuilding the transmission (I pulled it and reinstalled it). As far as recouping the money spent on the boat, repairs, and upgrades - well, a sailboat is a luxury, not an investment. Priceless.
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Old 01-11-2016, 18:03   #10
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

One more quick thing. Both of my marine pro buddies are from the old school old country mindset - if it aint' broken don't fix or replace it. The circumnavigator especially says that his hundreds of 000s nm of experience proves to him that "still functional but old" almost always will outlive "new and improved", especially if the new part is made in some 3rd world sweat shop and or installed by the graduates of "no child left behind" school systems.

I think earlier I told a story of the bolts we used for our home made swimming platform. I bought the supposedly ss bolts and nuts at WM but turned out we needed some more. So rather than drive back and forth I scrounged around the boatyard for same diameter bolts/nuts coming off from 30-40 years old boats being junked. Low and behold at the end of that 1st platform season most of the WM bolts and or nuts were bleeding rust. NONE of the old yard strewn bolts were doing that. I knew which were which because the boat yard bolts and nuts went on specific side and they were longer than needed so we had to grind them down, and so it was easy to see which were the ground down yard ones and which were not.

My NA buddy who was helping me with the install said that it was his typical experience working with anything Chinese made. And he told me how once he was financially burned by ordering several drums of epoxy from China which would never set under any combination of hardeners. Says after that experience he avoids Chinese made marine products like a plague.
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Old 01-11-2016, 19:49   #11
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

10yrs old, or 25yrs old, the primary difference between them is going to be how hard they were used, & how well they were cared for. Assuming that their primary structures & systems are sound that is. Meaning their bulkheads, keel floors, etc. As after a boat's been in the water for a few years, everything ages fairly quickly due to the harshness of the marine environment.

I tell most folks who are boat shopping to make up a spread sheet which lists most of a boat's onboard systems, & her items which require maintenance. And then to take said tool & plug any boats worthy of consideration into it, with cost values assigned for each item which is has or doesn't. So that you can wind up with an easy way to tally what a boat is worth as is. And with it also being possible to see what boat X, or Y will cost when tuned up, & upgraded to your personal preferred standards & configuration.

Much of my saying this too is to aid less experienced people in actually being able to see why it's sometimes a much better deal to buy a well cared for 15yr old boat that's been well looked after (her gear included), than it is to buy a new/new'ish boat & then spend mega $ fitting her out with a full compliment of cruising gear.

You'll likely want a 2nd party, with no fiscal or heartfelt ties to the boat to inspect both her & her gear. That way you get objective input on things. And when you're ready to make an offer, get serious about having her key bits inspected. Meaning, have a few different types of surveys done;
- General Survey
- Engine & Mechanicals Survey, with fluids sent out for analysis
- Rigging Survey
- Sails Survey
- Survey on key complex, expensive systems that warrant it. Such as for me this would entail having someone go over a boat's wiring setup with a fine comb. As such systems are so complex, & pricey nowadays.

That said, the above inspections will help you, both in terms of giving you the information to serve as bargaining chips when settling on a purchase price with the owner. And in that the more things you know about the boat at the outset, the less unexpected surprises will pop up after buying her. Especially, large & expensive ones.

Oh, & don't forget the sea trials. Including using what you learn from them to argue the price somewhat if warranted.


Edit: On your point #2, anytime you start talking about redoing the systems which you mention, you're looking at major $. Meaning in the 4-digits & up range, especially if you hire out the work.

Also, there's a lot of boat buying self-education materials & tools in this post http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ml#post2206710
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Old 01-11-2016, 20:06   #12
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I've bought boats up to 40yrs old.. and sailed away as a work in progress.
Never been one to work on something for months before going to sea.. just treat it the same as a yacht delivery.
Motor works, sails are useable, rigging looks okay.. right.. cast off..
There's definitely truth in this. Though having a decade or three worth of ocean grade experience certainly helps it turn out successfully But it's been one of my MO's for 25yrs now, & it's a handy tool to have in one's quiver.
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Old 01-11-2016, 21:25   #13
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

One more big factor to consider is that a 30-40 old boat from Great Lakes or New England both areas with relatively short sailing seasons would have the equivalent wear and tear of 7-10 year old Florida boat which only gets occasionally out of the water for repairs or bottom paint jobs but the rest of the year is in the water.
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Old 01-11-2016, 21:27   #14
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I've bought boats up to 40yrs old.. and sailed away as a work in progress.
Never been one to work on something for months before going to sea.. just treat it the same as a yacht delivery.
Motor works, sails are useable, rigging looks okay.. right.. cast off..
My boat is 54 years old. I looked at her, knew what I saw, knew the boat, cast off and sailed her home to my harbor 5 hours away.. and mine is definitely an ongoing work in progress, but a sailing one. Right now it is in real need of a paint job! But I'd also say like UNCIVILIZED says, it's not so much the age it is the maintenance and the quality of the original design and build quality. One of the reasons I started the plastic classic thread and group is that there are still very good boats out there in their 50s and 40s that still have plenty of life in them if folks know what they are looking at.
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Old 02-11-2016, 03:52   #15
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Re: Did you buy a 20 - 25 year old boat? please comment

We bought a boat that was about 35 years old. It had a new engine which was a big plus and it was a pretty high quality semi-production boat. That being said, there were some things that had to be done right off the bat (electronics and new headsail), that we knew going in, and the rest was what I called a "rolling refit". Stuff gets old and needs replacing, and any boat older than about 15 years old will start to have systems that are becoming suspect. Surveyors can only find what's broken or a problem at that moment (hopefully), but generally not a system that's on the way out in the next six months. But you'll generally need that to insure your boat.

Just sold our boat it as we are going for a larger boat. Did I get my money back? Not even close. We cruised a lot, and I considered the costs to be vacation costs. You don't get anything tangible for that, but you get memories and experiences that can't be found anywhere else.

Looking for a new older boat now, I want something that's been kept on top of so far as mechanical and safety equipment without seeing too many owner shortcut solutions. Neglected boats don't get better with age, and boats left on the hard for extended periods of time usually aren't worth the time to look at.
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