Originally Posted by DRFerron
I disagree. There's usually someone around who can tell you if the boat will at least float. That's all I wanted to know when buying my first. I had no knowledge of what it took to maintain a sailboat but that was one reason for buying an inexpensive, not overwhelmingly large, used boat: so I could learn and poke around and try to fix stuff without having paid a ton of money for the boat-and still have it float so I could sail it. There are a great many resources out there to teach a novice how to repair fiberglass, paint a hull, gelcoat, rig, etc. So any of the big stuff can be taken to professionals. I didn't mess with anything that potentially impacted its ability to float. So when I wanted the head thru-hull glassed up (there was no holding tank), I had a professional do it.
The experience of learning how to do things on my own rather than always paying someone to do it, was invaluable.
I agree, unless you are very wealthy start used, and older. The basic fiberglass shell is good for a yet to be determined time but are reaching 70 years now for production fiberglass sailboats being common and they are still mostly floating. So we have not yet found the useful life of fiberglass. Now if you are not knowledgeable about boats, hire a good surveyor if the boat is more than you are comfortable loosing on a whim. If it is a bigger boat you will need a survey for insurance (if you want to get comprehensive coverage) anyway so why not get it as a contingency of purchase? A survey may miss things, but gives you a good starting point to understand the condition of the boat. Also as things need to be repaired it is best to do it yourself so you are familiar with the systems, so if they go bad out on the water you have a better chance of fixing it.
Also new boats will have issues to start with. Remember even modern boats are basically hand made and will have flaws that need to be fixed. It is more like the 60's and early 70's when you bought a "new" car and would return to the dealer with a few pages of things that needed to be fixed. Granted most of them will be covered under warranty, but not all. Often electronics and some hardware is of minimal spec so it is not uncommon for upgrades to start in a year or two anyway.