Re: Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions
27 yrs ago I became the 5th owner of a 1967 Hinckley Bermuda 40 aft cabin yawl which is based in east greenwich, RI. The prior owners from Huntington, LI, NY were mechanically very capable, but had no idea of what a varnish brush looked like. Knowing Hinckleys, the exterior teak and topsides needed much attention. The hull and rigging and diesel plus electrical system was in good condition. Of course, the 0-100% roller furler became a Harken Mark II, the alcohol stove became a propane 3 burner and oven unit, the non-working auto-pilot became a Raytheon system, gps has surpassed the loran and radar has been added. Sails were replaced once over the last 14 years plus an asymetrical spinnaker and sock were added.
The Westerbeke 4-107 was dated but the Hurth transmission became the problem. To replace that became a noticable cost which has reasonably led to a new Westerbeke 55, folding prop and rebedding the engine mounts given a different engine configuration. Of course, with the new engine, we then enjoyed a new Balmar 105 charging system, an invertor and updated house and engine batteries, still wet and not gel. I have the standing rigging checked annually and have replaced it once. The running rigging benefits from messenger lines each fall to early spring while the boat itself enjoys being fully emplied of gear each fall with a Fairclough canvas cover and frame so ventilation on the hard is accomplished. Even the Ideal windless, that is original, had a new $35 foot switch installed by me last fall and is going strong. And the deck non-skid has enjoyed new 2 part polymer convering to keep things safe.
One item I have not yet addressed is the 35+ yo datamarine wind instruments, depth and speed which needs attention. All this being said, starting with a very secure hull, well surveyed, attention to thru-hulls, mechanical, rigging and electrical as well as water systems gives me the ability to enjoy windless to 35 kt conditions using proper safety and sailing techniques.
So I would start with a solid vessel and a surveyor you know well as well as a trusted broker. Mine was Hank Halsted (now of Northtrop and Johnson in Newport, RI) who had worked as yard manager at Hinckley before moving to brokerage, then look at a number of boats and understand options, wear and tear, and design (tall rig, double head sail, yawl, solid fibergalss decks and hull versus composite versus sandwich), decide what you want and once identified, negotiate hard and see what can also be negotiated/purchased at the time of the sale through the yard.
We arranged for fixed price work at Hinckley in Southwest Harbor, Me as a part of the after sale contract which really brought the vessel back to her potential. And then prioritize what works and what needs attention now, short term and long term.
Over the last 27 years she has been a delight, short of a aluminum holding tank that died (plastic is better) especially with a vacuflush using fresh water and not a salt water manual pump head, and the failure of the exhaust riser that gave us a steam bath unexpectedly. Neither was a disaster, although unpleasant.
Most importantly, she still sails like a dream, handles rough weatehr well, is seakindly and will be my first and last boat. Good luck in finding an experienced vessel you can safely and delightfully enjoy for decades, as well.