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Grunthrie 08-26-2013 12:44 PM

Sailable projects?
I've been dinghy sailing on club rentals lately and starting to feel ready to graduate to my first keelboat, when fiscally feasible. I have, of course, been monitoring the various web sites where local boats are available and have come up with the following question:

If one's current primary interest is day-sailing but long term plans include local cruising/camping, does buying a boat with a good hull, deck and rigging/sails but which needs almost completely new interior make sense?

Generally speaking the boats in my intended investment range (<$5000 purchase and initial repairs/refits) are 1960s-80s fiberglass 22s, in various states of neglect/disuse. Just a couple of what I regard as the 'good' ones below:

1966 Classic 23 Kenner Kittiwake Sailboat
Sailboat - Catalina 22 1985

Provided that the owner is correct about the seaworthiness of the vessel, might there be some benefit in buying the boat with the stripped interior and putting the 'saved' $1600 into more modern systems which I would then be familiar with, as opposed to fixing older systems via trial and error/pleas for info on sailnet?

New cushions, porta potty, propane stove and fridge, led lights, modern wiring, new water tank, maybe sink and pumps... what am I not thinking of?

break out the boat bucks:)

Alex W 08-26-2013 12:53 PM

Re: Sailable projects?
You'll spend a lot more than $1600 fully replacing cushions, head, wiring, galley and plumbing even on a small boat. However you'll get newer stuff than most other boats on the market and you will know the systems.

It's unlikely that you would use a propane stove on a 22-25' boat, there isn't really enough space for a good safe propane setup. The right stove for this would be an unpressurized alcohol stove (Origo) which is about $100 used up to $400 new.

I think I spent about $8k replacing the interior (cushions, plumbing, most electrical, stove), sails, running rigging, rudder, and other parts on my Catalina 25. I never added it up because I honestly don't want to know the answer. I could have saved about $1000 if I had sewn the cushions myself, but I did the rest of the work myself. I didn't come close to recovering it when selling the boat, but still got a lot of enjoyment out of that boat.

overbored 08-26-2013 01:23 PM

Re: Sailable projects?
get a boat that is all there. then fix stuff as needed or as funds are available. replacing stuff is expensive but starting with an striped boat will cost 3 to 4 time the worth of the boat. and on a $2000 boat it may be more like 6 times the price. $1200 bucks will be gone even before you get started on a old boat like that.

Alex W 08-26-2013 02:48 PM

Re: Sailable projects?
I don't think "all there" is necessary, you just want most of it there.

If you've done some sailing then figure out what you are most particular about (for me that would be sail condition and running rigging) and don't worry about that being "there". However you'd want to find one where the other expensive stuff is in good condition (for me that means good hull and deck, good interior condition, good motor to even consider a boat).

Smaller boats that require new sails, motor, and interior should be free and will still cost more than one that is well cared for. For instance I know that about $15,000 (and many hours) have been spent on this boat in the last 24 months (that's my old boat that I talked about in post #2):
Catalina 25 Tall Rig Fixed Keel - 1984

However it's likely to sell for little more than half of that.

On my Pearson 28 I've spent at least $5k on sails, running rigging, bottom paint and electronics. This was a boat that was as close to "turn key" as I could find and some of my upgrades were optional, but some were required (like a new furler and replacing main halyard).

smallboatlover 08-26-2013 09:21 PM

I got a 27 for free and plan on putting new cushions and motor and other stuff but I know I could never get my money back but I'll be happy when I'm done wit it and I will know every thing about it

Grunthrie 08-26-2013 09:31 PM

Re: Sailable projects?
I'm not looking to 'make my money back' but rather to find a boat I can have a couple years of fun on while developing the skills I'll need on a 30+ foot boat. Some of the skills I need to learn are repair and renovation as I will probably never be able to afford a new boat and there are so many sound but ugly boats out there. I know that when I have a couple grand to spend I'll be able to find a Catalina or MacGregor 22, they are all over the Tampa Bay area within my price range, many such as the 1985 Catalina I posted above needing little to no work immediately. I really like the layout of the Kittiwake, most boats that size don't have a nav station or a full keel spade rudder that draws 3'. It's a little older than most of the boats I fantasize about, I generally try to stay in the late 70s early 80s fiberglass boats. I really appreciate everyone's input, I understand it's easy bite off more than one can chew when it comes to total renovation.

All that said I would love for someone to chime in for the other side and list some of the pros of buying a blank canvas; perhaps some intangibles that might outweigh the financial cost of the repairs I mentioned in my first post ;)

c_witch 08-27-2013 02:05 AM

Re: Sailable projects?
5 Attachment(s)

We paid 900 for a fixer upper. I had figured on spending 1800 to bring her back to life. That came in closer to 2800 when all was said in done. New bottom job expoxy sealed and anti fouling. New topside paint and some major work in the cabin ie bulkheads galley etc. All new wiring plumbing etc etc. Much stuff didn't really have to be done but I wanted something of a cruiser even at 22 feet.

All lighting has been changed over to LED nav and cabin. New vhf and fishfinder/depthsounder. Mostly new sheets and turnbukles dock/anchor lines. New cleats etc. Standing rigging excluding turnbuckles is ok as well as the sails. New gas tank for the OB as well. This boat has both dockside pump out as well as seaside. Its pretty much setup- now for single handling as well.


Alex W 08-27-2013 10:41 AM

Re: Sailable projects?

Originally Posted by Grunthrie (Post 1079866)
All that said I would love for someone to chime in for the other side and list some of the pros of buying a blank canvas; perhaps some intangibles that might outweigh the financial cost of the repairs I mentioned in my first post ;)

It sounded like your overall budget (purchase cost plus repairs) was quite tight, which is why I was steering you towards finding a boat in good condition. In general that is the least expensive way to go.

However buying a blank canvas has the benefit of you learning every inch of it. You'll get to make everything meet your particular needs and desires and when something goes wrong you'll probably know exactly why it went wrong.

It's just not the least expensive way to get into sailing. It is the least expensive way to buy a boat, but I'm convinced that the boat will always cost more than if you find a good one to begin with.

TQA 08-27-2013 12:09 PM

Re: Sailable projects?
There is a good article on this here CLICKY

On the subject of interior work. Sure buy something with NON STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS and go sailing while you fix it.

I will always remember someone who had bought a boat with bulkhead rot. He disappeared inside with a sawzall and a grinder, appearing at regular intervals to fling bits of rotten plywood into a skip. He climbed down at the end of the day satisfied with his labours only to realize with horrer that his boat's hull now had strange depressions and hollows. He never got it back to being fair.

There is a good site on working on Plastic Classics here Plastic Classic Forum ? Index page

Grunthrie 08-27-2013 12:51 PM

Re: Sailable projects?
c witch: thanks, good info! I am also intending to be as cruiser-ly as possible in a small keelboat. That's why I like the idea of a propane stove and fridge for long weekends.

tqa: thanks for pointing out the 'structural' issue, hadn't really thought of interior walls in glass boats as being load bearing. I am definitely looking for a boat I can enjoy the topsides of while I'm putting the inside together. Great article, bookmarked it!

Alex: Thanks, I really appreciate both your posts; honestly, if I can get into a boat for ~$2k (I would definitely offer less than the craigslist price for a boat I have been monitoring for a couple months online and in person) I am okay with spending ~$8k over the next couple years and never recouping it back, especially if I learn how to maintain my next boat better in the process. What about propane isn't safe in a ~22' boat? As long as the tank is above deck in a vented compartment and the gas line is sound wouldn't this be a convenient way to modernize the cooking and cooling systems?

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