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Join Date: Sep 2005
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Shopping for a boat in that age range you can expect to find the occasional blemish, pimple and smelly bits... Your best protection by far is to be sure to get it checked by a reputable surveyor.
There are plenty of decent designs around in the range you are looking at, and current quality can have as much to do with upkeep quality over the last 25 years as it does with original build.
While cored decks are pretty much unavoidable, a cursory inspection with a soft hammer (or even the end of a small screwdriver handle) will quickly sort out any major delamination issues without the cost of a surveyor. Any dull thuds will indicate moisture and/or delamination. Also creaks and the "springboard effect" while walking around is a giveaway. Also in that era you will find a mix of cored and solid glass hulls, generally I think the solid hulls will be a safer bet, especially if the boat was built in the early days of cored construction. (we had a friend with a Buccaneer 305 that, after several years of leaking hull ports, proved to have totally saturated hull coring - a major major repair. Built by Bayliner so there you go....)
C&C, CS, Viking, Ontario Yachts,are generally recognized as reasonable well built, well performing boats, the Catalinas, while a bit common, seem to be doing well and there are lots of them around, which keeps the asking prices reasonable. The 30 is probably the most volume/foot/buck from that era, its a very stiff boat. Depending on your intended usage, the 70's and 80's Rangers & Cals, Ericsons make decent starter boats if you find a well maintained example.