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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Boat Review and Purchase Forum > Boat Buyers & Sellers Forum
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  #1  
Old 08-09-2013
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Question Free boat, or free headache?

Hi all,
I am a new member, but I have a dilemma and would appreciate some opinions. I have the opportunity to take possession of a 1964 Pearson Ensign for the price of the jack stands that it is currently on. The owner started a restoration by removing the hull paint, topside fittings, and the wooden floorboards and bench seats, but progress has stopped and he wants to get rid of it. I am wondering if it's worth the time or if I'm digging myself a hole.

I love Ensigns. It's why I'm considering a project boat, and I have the motivation to finish the job.

My issue is knowledge/experience. I grew up doing jobs around the house, some carpentry, and some random other stuff. I'm good with my hands and can follow directions and use a tool, I've just never worked on a boat before. As far as I can tell, the hull is in decent shape. I felt a lot of if and there doesn't seem to be any soft spots and it looks pretty good. The boat has been stored in a barn for the last few years, so it's been kept dry and relatively clean. My primary concern is that the owner has removed the head that was originally installed, and has patched (somewhat incompletely imo) the holes in the hull. I have asked for more information on how the holes were patched, but I am expecting to have to redo the work. Other issues are some gouges along the gunnel and a pretty sizable (maybe 2"x2") square of material missing from the edge of the deck, just forward of the cabin entrance.

All the wood is in decent shape (just not installed) and I know I could handle that. I just don't know if I'm biting off more than I can chew with the hull and deck repairs that would be required.

Opinions/advice/allegations of insanity? I wouldn't be considering it if I didn't know what restored Ensigns sell for, and this boat seems like a good candidate. Thanks for any insight!
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: Free boat, or free headache?

I'm not familiar with the Ensign so I looked it up. Nice looking little boat and Pearson was always known as a good builder.
What about everything else on the boat? Sails, standing and running rigging, electrical, etc? Does it need a motor?
If you have to replace all that, you are going to run into some big $$$
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: Free boat, or free headache?

The boat needs a new mast, rigging, and sails. I am okay with paying for these items over the time required for me to work on the rest of the boat. I don't plan on putting it in the water until spring 2015 and spreading the cost over the next year is manageable for me. A motor concerns me slightly, but I'm optimistic that I'll spot something I can handle over the next couple years. My primary concern is my ability to perform the hull restoration required...
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: Free boat, or free headache?

Ensigns are great old boats. There is a fairly sizable fleet of them at my club that race as 1 design. Huge cockpit for a boat that size.

In sail away shape it might be worth a few thousand to somebody. That said, you would not make any money restoring this one with an eye towards selling at a profit - ain't gonna' happen.
Restore it only if you like/love the boat and want to save it from the dumpster.

Sounds to me as though you could do this though. You would learn some new skills along the way like working with epoxy. A good place to start learning about epoxy/fiberglass is: WEST SYSTEM | Use Guides

You'd have a few years to be on the lookout for a 5 - 8 HP outboard motor for it. Assume it has a motor mount on the transom?

You will definitely spend some money on new spars, rigging & sails and there will definitely be some headaches as well as triumphs along the way.

Good luck however you choose to proceed.
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: Free boat, or free headache?

The Ensign was a nice boat for its day. They were simply built and should be comparatively easy to restore. But a new rig and sails will cost way more to replace than the price of an Ensign in nice shape. This is a definite walk away quickly. You'd be way ahead buying one that was ready to go.

If you don't have your heart set on the Ensign, you might also try to find a C&C designed Grampian Classic 22 which is much nicer boat to sail.

There is also great small boat cruising within short distances from New London and for what you will have in the Ensign you should be able to find a boat with accommodations for at least overnighting.

Jeff
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Old 08-10-2013
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Re: Free boat, or free headache?

tbro, if he removed the "hull paint" that may mean he removed the gelcoat, which is not so easy to restore. I'd call that walk away.

And if it needs a mast, rigging, and sails, you may find that for the price of those alone, you can buy a complete Ensign that doesn't need a year's worth of weekends to put it in sailing condition.

Take a good look at the boat. Make a list of the projects, and what they will cost you in purchases plus some value for your labor, even at minimum wage. I'm guessing that the list will come to at least twice the purchase price of a similar boat that's ready to go, complete with a working engine. And ignoring what it will cost you to find out about what you haven't seen and don't know.
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Old 08-10-2013
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Re: Free boat, or free headache?

This is probably one of those questions where, if you have to ask, you should walk away.
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Re: Free boat, or free headache?

Agree with others. Look around any you will probably find boats in reasonably sail away condition for less than it will cost you to fix this one up. Probably a lot less.
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Old 08-10-2013
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Re: Free boat, or free headache?

I really like the idea of folks saving these older boats which is why I encourage you to just get it and fix it up... but the chorus here has a great point. You can find an Ensign in ready to sail shape for not so much $$$$. Here is one you missed out on:
1964 Pearson Ensign Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
Jeff_H also makes a good point that an Ensign is a bit small for staying on overnight and given some of the great destinations to sail to near you a larger boat might make sense.
Have you considered a Tartan 27'? I'm fairly certain that you could find one in sail away condition for not much more than an Ensign.
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Old 08-11-2013
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Re: Free boat, or free headache?

Everybody has great points. I'm pretty set on an Ensign, for a few reasons, one being a decent number of fleets organized in the area.

I also think I might like to restore a boat, or at least put a little work into one. I'm holding off on taking this one though, I don't know enough about what needs to be done. I've ordered a couple books by Don Casey that came highly recommended in another post on this forum. I'm planning on looking through them to get a better idea of the work required. I doubt anyone else is going to make a move on this boat any time soon, and even if they do, there's always a project available if that's what I want. Otherwise, I'll find something I can sail away now. Thanks for the thoughts everyone!
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