Albin Ballad 30
I''m seriously considering the purchase of a 1974 Albin Ballad I''ve discovered for sale close to home. I''m looking for a good boat for eventual budget-oriented long distance cruising, and the Ballad has an apparantly good reputation as a blue water boat.
The price is just right. The sales will need replacing before I venture too far, but I have a few more years of building a kitty anyway. I''m assuming the standing rigging might also need replacing, for prudence'' sake if nothing else. Considering these things, does any one know what a good price might be for this vessel?
And if anyone has a Ballad of this vintage, I would appreciate any reviews or stroies you''d care to share.
Albin Ballad 30
We sailed a Ballad ''little sister'', a ''75 27'' Albin Vega out of Santa Barbara, CA - meaning ''offshore'' the minute you left the harbor entrance - for two years, and were then run down at sea aboard her by drunk abalone fishermen (a story in itself). Our sailing & ''destruction'' experiences built a huge degree of respect on our part for the way the Swedish company built their boats (as well as the designs themselves) before abandoning Sweden for Taiwan. We lusted over a Ballad for some time, as did other Vega owners we knew, and I suspect the basics of the boat you''ve found - assuming decent maintenance like keeping her wateright - are still well above the Catalina/Hunter standard we see today.
One point to offer some perspective on these designs: in the 70''s, Hallberg-Rassey was building its first generation of boats, which were then routinely sailed around the world. (Mind you, we''re talking about what today we refer to as "production boats" sold to a competitive price in the US marketplace). Meanwhile, Albin Vegas & Ballads were being routinely sailed across the Atlantic or raced in the North & Baltic Seas by both experienced & inexperienced crews without a hiccup. Back then, Hiscocks'' books were the only ''real'' cruising bible and people took such performance & endurance far more for granted than today, now that the bookkeepers have found the ''value'' of iron keels, molded liners, thin prop shafts and 304 stainless deck hardware.
I''m not sure you can expect any truly helpful info on the pricing of the Ballad you''ve found. Oh, opinions are always eagerly offered, and you can locate anecdotal info from a few souls who paid ''$X'' for their Albins, but that doesn''t fair much of a curve for the next boat. Instead, I''d suggest you use the 30'' used boat market as your baseline - what else do you believe was essentially soundly built in that size/displacement range, was intended for offshore racing & sailing, and at the level the boat has been maintained and hopefully improved? And what price, comparably equipped, are those competing boats going for? The Ballad will be more functionally arranged, better engineered, less roomy and probably wetter (due to a fine entry) than e.g. an Islander 30 from SoCal or a Morgan 30 from Florida. But with these older boats, it''s more a matter of the overall quality of the construction, what she was designed to do, and what level of fit-out & condition is she now in. Your ''critical issues'' list should include engine, rig and the structural soundness of the interior components & keel/rudder/deck, IMO. Also, double-check the mast step; Albins could have a problem there if taken to weather over many miles offshore.
Sorry to editorialize, but you can see I have a high regard for that yard of that era. One of the true disappointments - one way the sailing marketplace fails us today - is the lack of smaller but offshore-capable designs at affordable prices. If it was possible in the late 70''s to build a ''basic systems'' boat that could cross an ocean repeatedly, why not now given our alleged advancements in technology?
Albin Ballad 30
Thanks very much for your reply. I wasn''t honestly expecting one so quickly, considering the fact that Albins and more particularely the Ballads, aren''t very well known in this hemisphere.
As you noted, the shipyard of that era has an excellent reputation for building strong, capable boats. I''ve been searching for quite awhile for the right vessel with the right "compromise" of design features, and the ballad certainly has them. Combined with it''s reputation and the considering the purpose it was built for (as you say, cruisning/racing the North Sea), I was immediatly pulled to this boat when I saw her listing.
The boat doesn''t appear to have been upgraded all that much since 1974. But by this I mean mostly creature comforts and instrumentation, and it''s a minor factor in my mulling. The engine I believe is still the original Volvo 10 hp. The deck has had some delamination problems, but from what research I''ve done, thermal delamination (no water in the core) is a somewhat common problem for older Ballads, and easily repaired. A good survey should tell for sure. As I said in my earlier post, the sails will need replacing and the standing rigging most likely as well, both things I would do anyway before setting off for Tahiti.
The asking price is around $25,000 Canadian, and she''s been a Great Lakes boat for the last so many years of her life (possibly most of her life, I''m not sure yet). The broker tells me the sails definitley need "servicing" and the deck may need additional work. I think this will bring down the price even more. If the standing rigging is old (original??) then even moreso.
With regards to your comments about modern production boats and thier lack of deep water/big wind abilities, I read an interesting article the other day on just this subject. It seems it''s the average boat-buyer who''s causing this unfortunately, with thier need for a home-away-from home boat with more interior space and accomodations for entertaining on the dock on a Saturday night. This means a wider beam, longer cockpits, higher freeboard, taller coach roof, etc. All things that a make a design less sea-worthy. What the market demands now are coastal cruisers, and that''s what the majority of manufacturers are building.
Be interested to hear how you lost your Vega. Sounds like an interesting yarn! And thanks again for your reply.
Albin Ballad 30
If you''d like to exchange further info on this boat, probably not one most Sailnet readers care about, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, which I''ll have access to for another week or so before returning to Trinidad.
The ''thermal delamination'' comment was interesting since I do not believe Albin used balsa core in any of its boats; I think you''ll find the deck is a grp/closed cell foam/grp laminate, much like all the Hallberg-Rasseys of that era. I mention this because digging out rotted core or removing it by cutting out the lower grp laminate would not be necessary, in this case. Instead, it sounds to me more like a drying & pumping (with epoxy) operation. So somehow, try to determine core content (e.g. by pulling a fastener during the survey).
A couple of other comments:
1. You are looking at an old(er) boat that essentially needs to be resurrected big-time in order to make such offshore passages. It sounds like you know this already, but a new/fuller suit of sails, a vane (& maybe cockpit autopilot), new rigging, rebuilt or replaced diesel (think about getting parts for that old Volvo vs. having a new Yanmar...), increased water capacity and/or a watermaker, upgraded electrics & electronics, and no doubt other things are all ''musts'' on a trans-Pacific voyage IMO. And that all adds up, even if the basic design is appropriate and the corpus (hull/deck/rudder) are well-designed and in good shape. Also consider that she will be a wet boat, designed to punch thru steep seas & tidal chop for racing purposes (see...we need to add fresh canvas to the list!), and that her carrying capacity is limited by her design. I''m not trying to rain on any parades here, but want to provide a fair context in which to discuss the boat.
2. Offsetting all the above is the fact that many of these upgrades - even on ''non-condo'' cruising boats - will be required for any vessel with such plans. That''s why - from an economic perspective, at least - your best bet IMO is to find a recently cruised, seaworthy boat that will cost twice what you end up paying for the base Ballad (assuming a price reduction) but which will cost you very little thereafter. Moreover, many of the ''puzzles'' presented to a new owner setting up a small boat for long-distance cruising will have previously been well-solved on a properly fitted out boat. Again for balance, I should also add that new gear on your old boat, which you install, brings owner knowledge, the comfort that things were done right, and equipments'' full lifespan along with it - things you don''t necessarily get even on someone else''s nifty cruiser.
3. Have you read John Neal''s _Log of the Mahina_? I think you''d find it valuable reading, for two reasons: the main appendix gives a thorough description of how he prep''d his Vega to sail from Seattle to the South Pacific and back (and afterall, the Vega isn''t that much different) AND it''s a tale that would resonate with your stated plans. I''ll bet you can still find a copy at www.mahina.com (or maybe www.mahinaservices.com, or something similar). It''s dated, but then so is this Ballad you''re looking at.
4. Don''t overlook Latitude 38''s classifieds every month. It''s available on-line at www.latitude38.com or free by picking up a copy at West Marine, if you have one nearby. Many seasoned cruising boats are advertised there, and what better place to a Pacific passage but in the San Francisco-San Diego area!
Good luck on the pondering!
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