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jbarros 09-05-2013 12:09 AM

how old is too old?
Hi everyone,

I want to start by promising you, I DID use the search tool which told me the word "old" didn't exist in a single thread on this forum, so since that's not working right, I also went through a few pages of backlog to see if I'm missing it, so I apologize since I'm almost SURE this is a double post, but I figure I might as well ask at this point, so disclaimers aside...

How old is too old to buy a boat?

I'm not talking about a classic wooden labor of love, but a fiberglass yacht to be used and which needs to be maintained by an individual.

I was looking at the Tartan 30, which seems like it would do everything I want, and it occurred to me that those boats are older than I am.

Obviously, it's going to vary based on the mfgr and how much they cared about putting together a boat that would last, but beyond that, is there a point at which the glass itself starts to become less trustworthy? Would you buy a boat from the 70s? the 60s?

If so, the idea of being able to pick up a boat for WELL under $20k seems pretty exciting to me. I know, of course, that the purchase price is never the end of the story, and there are always sails, rigging, engine issues (or replacement!) and all types of big issues, which is why, if I could find an older boat that was of solid construction, it seemed reasonable to find a well maintained boat at the high end of the price range for that particular type of boat, and spend less on bringing it up to where it's ready to go, rather than get a "fixer upper" and spend months and untold thousands in the boatyard trying to discover what the next thing to break is...

And the idea of spending hundreds of thousands on a new boat right now, while it would actually even be doable, would mean the entire purpose of the boat got thrown out with the cruising kitty. (and beside, I know enough people who've bought new boats to know that, like houses, new doesn't always mean trouble free either)

So... how old is too old? If you were looking for your first boat for extended semi-single-handed cruising, (read: I plan to bring people on for trips and almost never be single-handing, but I don't plan to have a partner in the venture) and had to do the "cruising kitty vs purchase price + outfitting" dance, what would you be looking at?


-- James

manatee 09-05-2013 12:26 AM

Re: how old is too old?

PaulinVictoria 09-05-2013 12:34 AM

Re: how old is too old?
Plenty of plastic fantastics still on the water from the 60s and 70s, with no sign of them breaking down. As long as the other bits are looked after, no reason a glass boat isn't going to last 100 years.

Tenoch 09-05-2013 12:35 AM

Re: how old is too old?
I would venture to guess that the vast majority of fiberglass boats were built between 1960 and 1985...probably over 90% (I totally just pulled that number out of my butt) and I would also bet that the VAST majority of those boats are still floating...(another number out of my butt). Im sure others will jump in here with some actual facts, but Im not sure anyone know when "the glass itself starts to become less trustworthy" and I would venture to guess that time is not the determining factor.

Sabreman 09-05-2013 01:17 AM

how old is too old?
The question can not be answered because your criteria are too broad.

Lots of complicated, old stuff is still in use. From cars to houses to airplanes to assorted machinery. The only question is what you are willing to spend to keep it that way.

copacabana 09-05-2013 07:18 AM

Re: how old is too old?
With an older boat it's condition, not age, you have to worry about. There are plenty of boats from the 60s and 70s still going strong, though probably with little of the original equipment, if any. If you find an old boat that has been re-powered, has new rigging and sails and has been otherwise "upgraded" over the years, I see no reason to worry about age.

FirstCandC 09-05-2013 07:36 AM

Re: how old is too old?
Thanks for joining in on The Dream! You are right about the search function. I usually just Google the subject I am looking for and include the word sailnet. Much better that way.

With the way the economy is and has been for so long, I am not sure I would consider a new boat purchase at this time! That new boat is going to depreciate in value fast.

There are thousands of old boats out there in great shape, you just need to narrow your search criteria to the kind of cruising you are going to be doing- coastal, Caribbean, Atlantic crossing, harbor queen?? The possibilities are endless!

Ajax_MD 09-05-2013 07:41 AM

Re: how old is too old?

Don't let all of those "cautionary tales" links scare you away.
As with RV's, it is the same with boats- It's not the age, it's the maintenance.

My Pearson 30 is 41 years old, and rock-solid. I race her hard, too.
You seem to have a good grasp of sailboat-ownership fundamentals. You understand that the initial purchase is just the "price of admission".

My opinion, is that if you're spending around $10k, you should pay for a survey. At around $5k-ish, you may be ok doing your own "survey" with some experienced owner friends and a checklist.

The big items to investigate are:

Standing rigging
Engine (oil sample)
Transmission, shaft, cutlass bearing, prop
Rudder (full of water? Delaminating?)
Centerboard (if so equipped. Operates smoothly? lifting gear in good shape?)
Keel bolts (if so equipped)
Through-hulls and seacocks (not leaking, operate smoothly)
Steering gear (especially if wheel equipped) (Quadrant, cables, etc)
Deck (checking for water intrusion or delamination)
Electrical- (12v systems, instruments, nav lights)

There's a new fellow on this board, Abrahamx(sp?) who just bought a Tartan 30 and he seems quite happy with it. He's been fixing it up and having a good time.

Be not afraid! :)

zeehag 09-05-2013 08:30 AM

Re: how old is too old?
28 Attachment(s)
i cruise a 1976 formosa with which i am doing a complete refit while under way.

boats dont get OLD, only people get old. even wooden classics are not old--they are wooden classics and antiques.

oh yeah..i paid 10k for this formosa and it was with excellent if not superior hydraulic autopilot and gps and radar and ......

BOATS do not get OLD. only people get OLD.

jbarros 09-05-2013 11:58 AM

Re: how old is too old?
First, thanks to everyone, but especially manatee for the info. That's exactly what I was looking for.

Secondly, I'm learning about old quality vs new cheap. My friend brought a brand new Kaufman and Broad home. I bought a 1921 craftsman bungalo that has a recently new roof, central AC in 06, all new wiring and solar. Anyone want to guess which of us spends more on repairs? ;)

I'm still a little ways off, as I'm going to be selling the house before I buy the boat, and I'm going to be getting back on the water through a club or co-op and making sure I've got some actual passage-making experience before I sell the house. But the market's been rebounding much more quickly than I expected and my initial 10 year timeline looks like it got a lot shorter. =)

I fully intend to get a professional surveyor, and to have to spend 10s of thousands on the boat AFTER I purchase it, but as I've discovered with houses, and expect it will be with boats, it's much cheaper to let the previous guy get it as close to what I need as possible, and then come in and just do what's left, than to try to go ground up, especially as I am mechanically incompetent. =)

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