Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal, West Coast
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Re: New(er) vs. Old(er)
"Buy an older and a bit rundown but fundamentally decent boat and refit it. But does it really work? To explore that important question, I have a true story to tell you.
Over a couple of years Bob spent a lot of time looking at second-hand boats and finally settled on a 15 year old Fastnet 45, a racer cruiser from the reputable Dutch builder LeCompte, that was in her day perceived to be right up there with Hinckley and Nautor’s-Swan on the quality scale.
The boat was a bit beaten up by her years of offshore cruising and racing but everyone he asked assured Bob that he was getting a great buy at just US$65,000. And that included a huge amount of gear, from electronics to some 15 bags of sails…
The boat did need rewiring, but on the other hand the engine had just been rebuilt and the mast and rigging was replaced just five years before, after a dismasting.
The interior was not really set up for cruising that well, but Bob is a handy kind of guy who figured he could convert the stripped forward cabin to a really nice owner’s cabin with double berth.
Of course Bob had the boat surveyed, and she passed, with only the issues noted above highlighted.
Bob took delivery and over the next three years ploughed every dollar he could afford and most of his weekends into the boat. Bob painted and varnished, cleaned, replaced and repaired. As Bob laboured on his boat he learned some hard truths….
All in all, Bob spent another US$50,000, not including annual maintenance costs, over that three years. But even so, he was happy. After all he now had a great 24,000-pound, 45-foot cruising boat for just US$115,000.
But soon, despite Bob’s meticulous preparations, things on his boat started to get unpleasant and a bit scary too:…
Over the years the boat had done maybe 20,000 miles, not really that much, but enough that the hull had softened, and it started to work. On port tack the doors to the aft and forward cabins could not be closed.
Ominous creaking came from the bulkheads.
Every port and and hatch on the boat leaked water as the working of the hull spewed out the fifteen year old sealants.
The rig started to loosen ominously.
When they got back to Bermuda, Bob decided to fix his boat right. Over the next three years he ploughed almost every weekend and most of his vacations into:
Removing most of the interior and redoing the tabbing of the bulkheads into the hull, which had failed in many places due to the secondary bonding problems that many fiberglass boats experience, even those from reputable builders. The surveyor had missed this problem. But then again, how many surveys include removing half the interior to access all the bulkhead to hull joints?
Reinforcing the two main bulkheads with laminated ring frames.
Rebuilding the mast step that was slowly compressing. (That was why the rig got looser.) The surveyor had missed this too, but in his defense, it was impossible to see the problem without un-stepping the mast and removing a water tank.
Removing every single fitting, port and hatch and re-bedding them in new sealant.
After all that, the by then 20 year old gel coat looked tired, so Bob had the boat completely repainted from stem to stern.
And most of that great gear he got when he bought the boat was now obsolete and/or broken. So Bob re-equipped the boat with the best: all new electronics, windlass (she had never had one), anchors, batteries, up to date charging system, and on and on the list went.
All in all, even though he did all the work, except the painting, himself, he spent another US$50,000. He now had some US$165,000 in the boat, not to speak of some 5000 hours of his own time. (An average of ten hours every weekend for six years and at least four two week vacations.)
“Oh well”, said Bob, “it was a life experience, and now at last I have a great offshore cruising boat”.…
As he and his wife lived on the boat they realized that she really was not a very good cruising boat. The interior, designed for a big crew, was awkward for just two. Ditto the deck layout and cockpit. They met other cruisers in more modern purpose built cruising boats and envied them.
Still More To Do
…deep in his heart of hearts Bob knew that there was still more that needed doing to his boat, much more:
The rudder had never been off the boat in over 20 years. Ominous drips of rusty water from the rudder blade, when the boat was hauled, told a tale of deterioration of the stainless steel web that would require a new rudder to fix right.
The external lead keel was attached with bronze keel bolts. What condition were they in? The only way to find out was to drop the keel. Not fun because the bolt heads were under the water tanks and engine. And if the bolts were corroded, replacement would be a nightmare.
The stainless steel chain plates were inaccessible behind cabinetry and encapsulated in fiberglass. Bob knew that water had leaked into that area for years. No question, they should come out and be replaced.
At the end of the six month cruise, Bob sold the boat for $85,000, taking a $80,000 loss, and bought a four year old purpose built cruising boat."
That's in accordance with what I think. Of course you can buy an old boat, live on the boat, sail only occasionally and locally only when the weather is fine and there are no much wind hoping that that all old things that should have be substituted in its time stay in place. An old boat would probably be alright for those that use the boat that way and represent a good deal.
But for the ones that want an offshore boat for really sail offshore with all weather, if they want, as safety demands, a seaworthy and safe boat, a big bill and lot of work is waiting for them if they are buying a 20 or 30 years old boat.
The funny thing is that many of the guys that buy old boats that once were seaworthy boats like to piss guys that buy brand new boats about the seaworthiness of their new boats
For them a 20 years old standing rigging, 25 or 30 year's old chain-plates are perfectly alright because they carefully check them out visually.
Last edited by PCP; 10-17-2012 at 05:38 PM.