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post #33 of Old 10-14-2012
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Re: Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions

Originally Posted by JulieMor View Post
It was when, at the boat Annapolis Boat Show this year, I found myself inside the Sabre 456, an absolutely gorgeous boat and probably my favorite there, that I asked myself, "How would you feel if you owned this boat?"

Outside of being able to own a boat like that, I looked at the boat being my home on water. Surprisingly, I thought something wasn't right (outside of the fact I couldn't afford it ). I then realized I would need to break it in first, give it some experience, some history on the water, before I could feel comfortable on it. But when I think about the older boats I've been on, I never felt this way.

Pam Wall was staying at the same B&B as we were. We got to meet her Friday morning at breakfast. When she said you have to feel some chi with a boat before buying it, I knew what she was talking about. I couldn't feel chi with any of the new boats at the show. I guess I like older boats.

I know there are a lot of negatives about buying an older boat and that a thorough survey is a must. On maintenance and repairs, I can handle much of that. I'm an electrician and an avid woodworker. I have a pretty good mechanical aptitude. And I like the satisfaction of fixing things myself.

On my dad's boat I installed all the electronics, repaired the generator, did most of the oil changes, repaired the heads, maintained and rebuilt the pumps, sanded the entire bottom (once) and painted it, season after season. I even did some gelcoat repairs.

But it's the structural stuff that concerns me. A boat 30-40 years old, especially one that's been well sailed, could have hull or rigging problems that are only another storm away from failure. That's where my apprehension begins.

For those of you who have made the plunge and bought an older boat, what has been your experience? What are the pitfalls? What have you had to pay for and what have you been to fix yourselves? And what boats really hold up that long?
I love these questions you've asked. My Alden Challenger(glass hull and deck) is finishing up season 51 in a week or so. I still marvel at the fact that the hull and decks have needed nothing more than paint over that time. And all other related structural areas have been more than up to those 51 years, and I don't know if even the half way point has been reached.

But a boat as a whole, is a sum of a zillion parts. Many of those parts have been replaced on my boat. It's on it's 3rd engine, countless sails, some rigging(I haven't replaced any in 12 years of ownership), and countless other parts. Yet, I'm amazed at how many parts on the boat are original today.

That is a testament to the designer and builder. This is a peculiar boat(half wood, half glass) that's not for most people, but the same quality was built into all Alden boats and other quality builders you've mentioned.

Take the time to evaluate the individual parts on the boats you consider, their quality, usefullness and remaining life span, as well as the sum of the whole boat. You may end up paying a little more for these better parts, but in the long run, the extra investment will return over and over.

Our son had a docking mishap this year that laid one stanchion flat on the deck, and reshaped an adjacent gate stanchion.

The decks(solid, odd, I know...) took no damage. I took the solid bronze stanchions off and to the local marine metal fabricator. He gave me a doubtful look but said he'd give it a try. He was able to bend the thick solid bronze back to original, and I slid them back into their bronze dovetailed sockets, through bolted and heavily back plated,... 80 dollars later.
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