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Old 24-03-2020, 17:23   #1
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Donít Know What I Donít Know

Hello! Iím new to the forum and have been out of boating for 25 years. My wife and I are looking to get back in now that our two kids are out of college and we have more time and a little more $ (not much). We would like to have a fresh water cruiser/yacht that offers some descent room to entertain, but would like to spend less than $90,000.
Our concern is that we are finding a lot of boats in the 30í-36í range that are from the mid90ís to very early 2000ís, but wonder; ďHow old is too old.Ē We plan to dock in the southern Lake Michigan (St. Joseph, MI). Any thoughts from those of you who have purchased your share of used boats? Although we have some experience with boating, it has been so long that we just donít know what we donít know. Are there certain things we should stay away from? Look for? We understand the requirement to get a good survey, but donít want to pay for a survey on something we should have known that raised a red flag.
Thanks in advance!
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Old 24-03-2020, 17:49   #2
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

I'd like to think my '02 boat is better than new but I sacrifice a virgin and throw great wads of time, money and energy at it everyday. It was only 6 Years old with light useage when I bought it, and that was my pattern thru the last few boats. Lightly used boat less than 10 years old, buff it out, replace sails and canvas, running rigging, interior cushions, head, macerator, water heater, batteries, masthead sheaves etc. etc. Much of the "stuff" has about a 10 year lifespan.
Well maintained and fitted boat from '90 maybe better than a newer boat that's been neglected.
Avoid any boat that isn't ready to sail within minutes.
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Old 24-03-2020, 18:51   #3
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

As long as they've been well maintained, boats from the '80s and '90s are generally fine.
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Old 24-03-2020, 19:07   #4
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

Well as Indiana Jones said, "It's not the years, it's the mileage". Or to put it another way, it's not the age but the condition.


Would much rather have a well maintained (and possibly upgraded) older boat than a neglected, run down new one.


One caveat, make sure that the engine is not so old or not some obscure brand or model that parts are hard to get. I've found that parts for older Westerbekes are EXPENSIVE unless you can figure out the equivalent Perkins model and buy the same parts from them for about a third the price.
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Old 25-03-2020, 02:27   #5
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, SBNDom.
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Old 25-03-2020, 02:30   #6
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

Great resource is: Inspecting the Aging Sailboat by Don Casey.

And take your time! Go look at and/or sail as many and varied boats as you can.

Good luck,
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Old 25-03-2020, 09:33   #7
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

Quote:
Are there certain things we should stay away from?
The one thing that I would stay away from is a deck with any sizable rot in the core. One thing I like is the support I get on my Catalina. Support from both the factory and owners group is a real plus.
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Old 25-03-2020, 10:00   #8
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

The amount of work increases with boat size, age, usage, original quality, and systems complexity. For example, all boats will need to have rebedding done every couple/few years. Diesel fuel injectors will need servicing about every five years. How many systems (e.g. top loader, reverse cycle AC, water maker) need to have filters changed periodically? They don't say, "Sailing is working on your boat in exotic places" for nothing. On the other hand, if you just want the fun and not the maintenance, have you considered bareboat chartering?
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Old 25-03-2020, 10:04   #9
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

Speaking from experience, If the engine's green, RUN AWAY!!
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Old 25-03-2020, 10:25   #10
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

I agree with all of the above. Of course, I didn't do it.

We bought an old boat that had been neglected. We (okay, I) thought "6 months of fixing her up and we'll be ready to go!" Of course, after 5 years we've sunk 3 times the cost of the boat into fixing her up. And I love the boat, don't get me wrong. And although we get out for 3-4 months at a time I can't tell you how many times I've looked up from some restoration project and watched a boat going out for a cruise would break your heart.

Take everyone's advice and buy the love of someone's life. Doesn't matter the age. It's always an equation: how much do we have? age/condition/size of boat. Don Casey's books on condition and red flags would be a great place to start to know what you don't know.

Good luck to you!
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Old 25-03-2020, 10:42   #11
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

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Originally Posted by Bill Seal View Post
Speaking from experience, If the engine's green, RUN AWAY!!
+1 for this 🤣🤣🤣👍🏻
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Old 25-03-2020, 10:54   #12
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

My experience aboard new yachts is limited but it seemed like they had broken stuff, too. I agree with the assertion that the age of the boat is somewhat irrelevant. My best advice is don't rush into a decision and don't buy until you've sailed it and done a thorough inspection. Learn how to do a detailed inspection yourself as a marine surveyor is not as invested in the boat as you, the new owner, will be. I had my current boat inspected as a formality for my insurer (I would have bought the boat regardless) but later found the surveyor missed bare wires zip-tied to the propane hose and other ridiculous faults. People do incredibly stupid things on boats, beware.

$90k will get you a really nice boat! Happy hunting.
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Old 25-03-2020, 11:07   #13
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

If the basic boat, hull , deck, rigging, tanks etc is good... it's good. Most marine bolt on items, appliances and electronics fail by 8 years or so anyway.
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Old 25-03-2020, 11:19   #14
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

To echo what skipmac said re: engine age, from personal experience I would shy away from an engine that looks underused in terms of hours. An engine that hasn't been used that much, has just sat is a cold, damp environment, which is not good for seals, hoses, belts, gaskets, etc. I don't know what's typical for a sailboat engine but a powerboat should be run at least 100 hrs a year. That's an average of ~8 hrs/month, which isn't very much. But it's a good rule of thumb.

Good luck.
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Old 25-03-2020, 11:22   #15
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Re: Donít Know What I Donít Know

Hi and welcome to the forum. I wish you the best in your search for your new to you boat. You did not mention whether you are considering sail or power but in terms of searching for a boat, it doesn't matter - the principles are the same. Some thoughts of mine:
1. Age matters less than condition - a vessel that has had regular maintenance by a knowledgeable owner regardless of age will be a better purchase than a newer but neglected vessel.
2. The theoretical useful life of a boat is about 50 years (IMHO) but this is far from hard and fast. With fiberglass the hull will usually last much longer than the systems (electrical and plumbing and, of course, the electronics)
3. The initial purchase price pales in comparison to recurring costs like moorage, maintenance, equipment replacement, and so forth.
4. Simpler is better, hand operated equipment is a lot less costly and maintenance prone than powered equipment especially in a marine environment.
5. Boats advertised as "needing cosmetics" usually means that this thing is a floating project that will eat money, and time and sorely test the patience of all who go near her.
6. Buy a boat that has a good original build quality and one that is popular in your boating community. That way you can sell it more easily, parts are easier and cheaper to purchase and there are others with the same equipment that you can commiserate with.

Finally, take a look at Marine Survey 101 a good online resource for looking at a boat.

Good luck, best wishes and keep us informed.
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