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Old 01-03-2023, 15:12   #1
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What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

I'm nearing retirement, and I'm set with a pension for ongoing expenses, but I'm eyeballing my cruising kitty and wondering if I have enough for my start-up costs.

I'd like to purchase a used 38'+ catamaran, something bigger than Gemini or Prout 37. I want to fix any significant issues, kit it out for full-time live-aboard, and sail the Caribbean for a few seasons. It doesn't need to be new or sexy, just comfortable and seaworthy. I know all boats need upkeep and work, but I'd like something I can spend more time cruising than time tied to a dock repairing critical systems.

What minimum amount would I need to get started without taking out a loan or taking on a project boat?

I realize this may be a bit of a "how long is a piece of string" type question, so I'm certainly not looking for a high degree of accuracy. Still, I hope to tap the Cruisers Forum hive mind for a consensus and understanding of today's boat market.

I also know monohulls are less expensive and I can always scale down to match my funds, but I'm trying to look at the equation from the other direction.

Thanks in advance for your consideration and for sharing your experience.
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Old 01-03-2023, 15:51   #2
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What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

Wow; exactly my execution. Also a 38’ cat. [emoji106]

Boat in vg condx on delivery. Big ticket items: genset @ 11k, watermaker @ 5k. First bottom job@11k ( needed sandblasting). Li batts @ $3k. New hatch lens/seals @ $2k. New mainsail @ 3k. Add misc at $15k. I installed gen and WM myself. Actually, did all except bottom job myself.
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Old 01-03-2023, 16:12   #3
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

$200K-$400K depending on what you consider worth spending money on to slow down the rate of things breaking.
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Old 01-03-2023, 17:34   #4
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What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

Depends on what you call “critical systems”. If you need a watermaker, generator, AC and all the comforts of home your $ output for both purchase and maintenance will be much higher than if you don’t need the luxury’s.
We’ve had less than $100k into each of our last 2 catamarans, 38’ and 40’, but they were outfitted with simplicity in mind. They will also out sail the vast majority of other catamarans.
Depends on your priorities.
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Old 02-03-2023, 06:21   #5
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

You could probably pick up a 12 year old Leopard 38 or Lagoon 380 for $200-$300k that may look a bit tired cosmetically but may be perfectly functional without needing to upgrade anything much if it has had a rig replacement in last 5 years and engine hrs are below 5000, might even have newish engines in older models. Each boat will be have different levels of upgrades already put in by previous owners, so really the key question will be soundness of the hull checked by your surveyor.
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Old 02-03-2023, 08:44   #6
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

As you say - "how long is a piece of string" - you can buy trash and fix-it-up or buy Bristol-condition and fix-it-up less. I'm thinking that your tolerance for living standards and taking risks at sea will determine the actual cost more than some advice on the internet. I would ask, have you thought long and hard what those two things are?

Going through this now - catamaran prices are through the roof compared to historical, and availability for non-chartered is poor. Boat in the 38 - 42 range US taxes paid will be north of $350+ after lots of looking, but you could probably knock 50 off for buying downwind or previous charter. I guess that chartering adds 3 to 5x years to wear on boat, so a 5 year charter looks like a privately owned 15-25 year boat. Perhaps checkout YouTube channel "The O'Kelley's" for some inspiration on live-aboard - not entirely real-life but not T&A bikinis and beach parties like some channels.

State of boat determines what the initial costs are, but safe budget is 10% of hull value for initial commissioning expenses and moving, and another 5-10% annually for upkeep. Big ticket items to look for on survey - anything structural (in the Florida / Caribbean that translates to "hurricane" - probably walk away as it reduces resale value too much), engines or genset $8-10K for repowering new, rigging 10K which is mandatory if over 10 years in salt water. Add to that insurance 2.5-3% hull value annually if you pass the hurricane season south of Hatteras. Some of these things (like rigging or insurance) you could take more risks on, but not if you finance anything as the bank is your co-pilot.
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Old 02-03-2023, 10:30   #7
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

You say doesn’t need to be new or sexy?
I don’t understand where people come up with these outrageous prices you will have to pay? North of $350k?
A quick search will turn up many cats in your size range for well below $200k, and some below $100k. FP38, Privilege 39, Island Spirit 37, Manta 38, Leopard 38, Lagoon 38, Voyage 43.........and the list goes on.
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Old 02-03-2023, 10:31   #8
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

Thank you all for your replies.

That is useful information and a helpful reality-check. It's not far off from what I expected, but more than I'd hoped.

I'd originally planned (many months ago) on $200K for the initial purchase and another $50-100k in refit over time. My impression now is it's doable, but I may need to tack another $50-100k onto the purchase price if I want to stay out of "project" territory.

I agree on "The O'Kelly's" youtube channel. They've been very informative. There used to be a few more channels like that (informative vs T&A) but several of them seem to be going the "brand ambassador" route for $1M+ catamarans. I'm not photogenic enough for that to be an option.
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Old 02-03-2023, 10:44   #9
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

Quote:
Originally Posted by P.Marlowe View Post
Thank you all for your replies.



That is useful information and a helpful reality-check. It's not far off from what I expected, but more than I'd hoped.



I'd originally planned (many months ago) on $200K for the initial purchase and another $50-100k in refit over time. My impression now is I probably need to tack another $100k onto the purchase price if I want to stay out of "project" territory.



I agree on "The O'Kelly's" youtube channel. They've been very informative. There used to be a few more channels like that (informative vs T&A) but several of them seem to be going the "brand ambassador" route for $1M+ catamarans. I'm not photogenic enough for that to be an option.


I guess it depends on what your definition of project is?
We’ve never purchased a catamaran that didn’t need something done to it, but sometimes what needed to be done was just something to please us, nothing that I would call a major project.
Probably the main projects on a used boat that we’ve just purchased is removing systems and complexities that we don’t feel the need for and will break break down over time making for a project to repair it!
But it brings tears of joy to my eyes knowing that people expect to pay twice what I’d expect to sell my boat for!
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Old 02-03-2023, 13:02   #10
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

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Originally Posted by P.Marlowe View Post
Thank you all for your replies.

That is useful information and a helpful reality-check. It's not far off from what I expected, but more than I'd hoped.

I'd originally planned (many months ago) on $200K for the initial purchase and another $50-100k in refit over time. My impression now is it's doable, but I may need to tack another $50-100k onto the purchase price if I want to stay out of "project" territory.

I agree on "The O'Kelly's" youtube channel. They've been very informative. There used to be a few more channels like that (informative vs T&A) but several of them seem to be going the "brand ambassador" route for $1M+ catamarans. I'm not photogenic enough for that to be an option.
and then did you check out a slot and rate in any marina also very important
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Old 02-03-2023, 13:08   #11
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

There are other options, but the length of the string answer is take your budget, in either money or time, and treble it to give an idea of the cost. This assumes that you need refrigeration, water maker, pressurised hot and cold water, shower, microwave, big screen TVs, satellite internet, washing machines for dishes and clothes, multiple ensuites etc etc plus a genset and lithium to power all that stuff.

Take a look at this for simplicity, at the Klingon side of the scale:
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Old 02-03-2023, 15:27   #12
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

Price point doesn’t matter. After 65 years and more than thirty boats, I can tell you: When she starts singing to you, you are doomed. Go with the flow.
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Old 02-03-2023, 16:16   #13
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smj View Post
Depends on what you call “critical systems”. If you need a watermaker, generator, AC and all the comforts of home your $ output for both purchase and maintenance will be much higher than if you don’t need the luxury’s.
We’ve had less than $100k into each of our last 2 catamarans, 38’ and 40’, but they were outfitted with simplicity in mind. They will also out sail the vast majority of other catamarans.
Depends on your priorities.
not in todays market anymore with 100k$....under 150k most is crap in the high demand 38-40ft class.

then add all the bluewater staff:
possible is 2K watermaker, instead of gen add 2500W of solar and mobil 2000W gas gen for the seldom days the 2500W is not enough, DIY Lithiumbank 400-600AH for 2k, forget AC...but a good inverter eg Multiplus 3000VA and get eg a 230V fridge freezer instead the expensive 12V stuff, same with other 230V versus 230V equipment, you can save a lot here.
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Old 02-03-2023, 16:48   #14
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

If buying and refitting e.g. a Lagoon 380, 12-15 years old 3-cabin version - I think you will need close to 300.000 EUR, including the cost of a DIY refit.
Be prepared to spend a month or two doing the work yourself.
You could manage with less, if buying an 4-cabin ex-charter (ex VAT) "project" boat, but that means 100´s of hours needed to fix and refit the boat, and future re-sale value will be a lot lower (do you consider the total cost of ownership as a factor?).
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Old 02-03-2023, 17:10   #15
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Re: What is the price point to generally avoid a "project boat" catamaran?

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Originally Posted by CaptainRivet View Post
not in todays market anymore with 100k$....under 150k most is crap in the high demand 38-40ft class.

then add all the bluewater staff:
possible is 2K watermaker, instead of gen add 2500W of solar and mobil 2000W gas gen for the seldom days the 2500W is not enough, DIY Lithiumbank 400-600AH for 2k, forget AC...but a good inverter eg Multiplus 3000VA and get eg a 230V fridge freezer instead the expensive 12V stuff, same with other 230V versus 230V equipment, you can save a lot here.


We’ve owned our 40’ catamaran for a little over 4 years. We’ve repowered with new outboards, replaced all standing and 90% of running rigging, new roller furler, new working sails, all new electronics, (chart plotter depth sounder, radar and 2 autopilots), new anchoring gear including windlass, 640 watts of Sunpower solar, 200ah of lithium including various Victron charge controllers, new refrigeration and freezer, new propane tanks, new oven and other new gear. And we are still slightly under $100k invested.
This is a very performance oriented cat so not in the “high demand class” whatever that is, but doesn’t have the luxurious interior of the charter cats, but for us much better laid out and more comfortable. We did all the work ourselves and took advantage of the occasional good deal through my wife’s discount as a West Marine employee, but it’s way doable for less than $350k.
What you mention as blue water stuff is your preference for what you feel you need for your boat and comfort, not a necessity. We have 200ah of lithium and 640 watts of solar and are usually fully charged by mid day. We have a Honda 2000 generator which may get used 3 times a year to charge batteries but has been dormant since the lithium installation. We owned a cat that came with a watermaker but never felt the need to use it.
If anyone wants to give us $350k for her, I’m sure we can work a deal.
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