Here is another way of looking at it.
A 1980 Catalina 30 in very good shape goes for maybe 15,000 probably less. A new Catalina 309 goes for maybe 120,000 fitted out.
Round numbers you are getting the 30 year old boat for 10% of new cost.
If you start upgrading the 1980 you will be putting 100% new cost.
So in a sense the 1980 boat lets you convert dollars into dimes.
And in truth is is even worse than that because there is an upper limited as to what you can get for any boat, (classic vintage boat excepted) no matter how much you put in it.
Back to that 1980 Catalina 30 for example. If you upgraded every system, new engine, new electric, electronics, tanks sails and it was a 100,000 refit you would be lucky to get 25,000 maybe only 20,000 because there is a perceived maximum value for an old boat. No matter how much you do there is something you didn't do.
Now the conversion of dollars to dimes is not necessary bad.
- If the conversion happens over a few years and you get to sail the boat for the duration.
- If the total dollars converted doesn't seem that bad each year. A lot of people just pick a number and do projects that approach that number every year. For example if you put in 5,000 every year for 10 years that's a lot of money total but the boat will be in fantastic shape and you had a whole decade of enjoyment.
Following the dollars to dimes formula some folks figure they are better off buying the most expensive boat you can find.
If your the guy buying the above 1980 Catalina 30 for let's say 23,500 you may be able to sail for 10 years with a minimal extra investment.
Unless of course you find out the PO made some bad mistakes which they almost always do, sail-net members excepted.
New motto: Buy a sailboat convert dollars to dimes