First question: How much importance to ascribe to adage, "Older boats have better (thicker, little or no core) hull layups?
Like most old adages there is some truth but it is over simplified.
A fiberglass boat that has thick hull layup may be stiff enough to handle the stresses of 30 years. Or it may lack sufficient stiffeners and gradually work itself to death. Or it may have sat at a dock for 30 years and had not stress at all but the engine is shot.
It's not simple but some main points are as follows:
1. Boat should be stiff enough to not "work" and damage the fiberglass
2. Stiffness can be achieved by heavier glass or internal support.
3. Heavier glass makes the boat slower.
4. Internal support costs extra
5. If the boat was never used it doesn't matter much.
So you can see you can't really go by old adages but have to look at each boat. How was it built, how was it used or misused or damaged or repaired etc.
You could easily find an old heavy boat that is tired and worn out.
You could find a new well made light, but properly supported boat in great shape.
Of course you could find a newer boat lightly made and heavily used that is shot too.
I've done nothing but look at a lot of boats the last few years and I've come to one conclusion. Each boat stands on it's own. There are absolutely no rules you can apply without looking at the specific boat.
- Manufactures have made major mistakes then fixed them the next year.
- Some boats have been sailed hard and all the bulkheads are loose and the deck is popping while a sister ship has been at dock for 20 years.
- Some boats have been expertly improved.
- Some have been shamefully damaged by repairs.
The number one old adage I used to find valuable that I no longer believe, is that if it looks well maintained on one place it is probably well maintained in other places.
- I have seen boats well maintained but the engine ignored.
- I seen well maintained engines with the water systems ignored.
- I seen the hull ignored but the interior perfect.
When you think about the fact that many sailboats are self maintained and that there are 10 water systems, 5 electrical systems, hull, deck, sails so much stuff that it takes a professional 6 hours just to spend seconds looking at each part you can almost guarantee that the PO was not an expert on one or more systems that will be neglected.