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?