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  #1  
Old 08-28-2006
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Hurricane damaged boats

One of the marinas around where I live has a couple of boats that people abandoned after Katrina, they are floating. I can get one of them for a couple hundred dollars, needs some cleaning and the sails look okay, how bad of a idea is this? The boat is around 24 foot.

Also on a side note, I have never sailed and neither has the guy who wants to go in on halves with me. We plan on making sure the little motor on this boat works and trying to sail it around lake pontchartrain, is this a bad idea?
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Old 08-28-2006
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Thumbs down Are you sure you want to open Pandora’s box?

The boat might be floating but you never know what's holding it up or what the bottom looks like. In boats you really get what you pay for. It's going to cost you a great deal of money to get the boat up to standards and chances are you will be finding problems for years to come. I would advise you not to get this boat but to find one better suited for a beginner boater without reconstruction experience.

Good luck and welcome to sailing!
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Old 08-28-2006
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The biggest thought in my head is the you get what you pay for. This is the only way I could afford a boat. All the other one around this size I see for sale are about 5k and up. I wish the water was not so dirty so you could see the hull.

Maybe I shouldn't but if I go look at this boat and it looks like it could be cleaned and it has all the sails I think I am going to go for it. If anything I am sure I could just give it away to someone with more experience and the capability to do something with it if I can't.

Any input on the how dangerous is it for two people with no experience to take off on a boat?
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Old 08-28-2006
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The other thing is that once you "own" it, and it turns out to be unsalvagable at a reasonable cost, then you'll be responsible for getting rid of it.

A lot of boats, that appear to be fine at first glance, were damaged, sunk or reduced to salvage as a consequence of the hurricanes last year. You'd be better off spending a bit more money, as it will generally cost you a lot to fix a "damaged" boat, usually far more than it would to buy a workable one in the first place.

You don't say what kind of skills you have in re-building, restoring boats, and probably don't have the skills to do alot of the work yourself....having to hire someone makes the price go way up.

Also, if the boats were abandoned, you may have trouble getting proper paperwork on them. The people selling them may or may not have the legal right to do so.

As for two people with no experience taking off on a boat... that's a really good way to become a Darwin Award Winner.
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Old 08-28-2006
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Maybe you found the diamond in the rough. Maybe it is a gem that was overlooked by all the sharks (dont get me started). But chances are that it is still sitting there for a reason.

Check out the hardware, etc. Have it looked over by someone that really knows boats. Before you commit yourself to something, better do some asking (as you are right now, of course). But I think everyone above is right: It is likely beyond salvage and no one wants to have the ultimate responsibility for it.

When I mentioned the hardware, let me give you a really good for example: Winch handle. You are not going to turn that drum without it. $40-50 dollars (and that is just a floating handle and not neccessarily a really good one). That $40-50 dollars is about 25% the price of your boat. Shackles, winches, sheet stops, etc... just the salvage costs of these are quite high. Now, how did the sharks miss those?? And if you have not caught on yet... how much are you going to have to pay to get that wreck ship-shape? What all do you need to pass a CGuard inspection. They will board your boat... eventually.

Better add up all the costs. It will easily be in the thousands. Now, you have put thousands into a boat that is worth what?? Now you want to get rid of it... how are you going to do that when they basically could not even give it away before.

Be cautious what you get for a couple hundred bucks. It could end up committing you to a lot more than that.
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Old 08-28-2006
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We'll the first thing you two should do is hire a surveyor to have a look at the boat before you consider buying it. It may seem expensive at first, but I am confident it will save your money and possibly your life in the long run. I don't want to scare you, but without experience it is impossible to tell if there are major problems with a boat. If it turns out to have major problems which preclude it from being rebuilt and you have already bought it, it will probalby cost you more to dispose of it than it cost in the first place. If it is in ok shape and you are a reasonable handy person, many of the projects can be done by you. The trick is to know which ones. The articles on sailnet.com are good place to do research. Another good reference is a book called "This old Boat" by Casey. The real trick is to not just blunder into the projects without research. Boats have different rules than most everything we deal with on land i.e. stray currents can cause corrosion of through hulls etc. But it can be fun to do the research and the rewards of doing the projects the right way many. The fact that your here asking makes me think that your not the blundering type anyway. As far as going out on an untested boat with inexperienced crew- not a good idea. Find a friend who sails at the very least and do the survey first.
Also of course, as sailingdog mentioned make sure the seller can give a clear and legal title.
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I would disagree with sailphoto, as this boat you are discussing is probably so far gone that a survey is an unneeded expense. If you get Casey's book Inspecting the Aging Sailboat, and follow it, you'll find that the consensus here is more than likely correct.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 08-28-2006
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I appreciate all the input. I do realize that I could easily be sinking a lot of money into something that is not worth it. As far as being up for a Darwin Award for just myself and my friend going out and learning how to sail, I do not see how it would be so dangerous. Lake Pontchartrain is really calm, large enough to be able to avoid anything and we would have a small outboard on the back if there is trouble. I would also plan on installing a VHF radio and a GPS. I actualy work on electronics on boats in the Coast Guard, I was stationed on a ship once, but it was nothing like a sailboat. By the way reading around and talking to some people that is exactly how a lot of people learned to sail.

We are just looking for something to learn to sail on, we figure if we spend a $1,500 or so each and we have fun and learn to sail, if it last 2 years it is worth it. Before I buy a boat I will definatly look into how much it will cost to have it surveyed. Which brings me to my next set of questions....


I went down to a Marina after work today and saw three boats for sell, the one I am interested in is a Catalina 27, I am not sure of the year, but from looking at pictures on the internet it is mid seventies. The sign said make offer, I called the guy and told him I am really new to sailboats and he said a couple grand, leads me to think I could take it for around $1500. He said it has 2 year old sails, I guess that is fairly new, I do not know how long they last. He did have nice looking covers on them. He also said he has the job sail at home. It needs a good cleaning. The outboard is locked up, he said it got about a foot of water inside it during the hurricane. I peeked around it a bit, but felt uncomfortable really going on it without him there. Well I guess a used outboard around a grand or so, so total invested $2500. It does not seem bad to me. Is 27 to big to learn to sail on? Will a 15-20 hp outboard be enough? I tried looking them up on the internet and alot of them have inboards that are 30 horse. I think the boat needs a little work, but it does seem like something that could be fixed up reasonably.

As far as having the hands on, knowledge working on sail boats, none. I have a 78 Malibu I bracket race, that is more my thing. I work on small engines and smallblock chevys. I can weld, which I guess I would not be doing on a sailboat, but I am definatly a hands on able to figure things out and fix them guy.

I am going to look around some other marinas, I just want something to last at least two years and learn on, and potentialy be able to stay a night out on once or twice. Any input on an older Catalina 27? It does not seem a whole lot cheaper than other ones I see listed online.

BTW, thanks for the links and suggested reading, I will definatly check them out.
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Old 08-28-2006
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Hey, go for it. Get a copy of "This Old Boat" by Don Casey, and go to town on it. A couple hundred bucks? Most likely, the reason it's still sitting there is it wasn't insured, because it's the insured boats that got pulled, refloated (if necessary), and removed from the area. I remember just about a month ago the call went out to reclaim all boats in one area over there that had not been open before, so that's another reason. They simply haven't gotten to it before now. That's not to say it doesn't need work, maybe a lot of work, but it's a heckuva lot better to find out after sinking a couple hundred than 10-20 thousand bucks and have the same results.
Before trying to sail, I'd get at least some basic instruction. The lake is pretty peaceful til a squall slips in. It's not like in a powerboat where you can nail the throttles, plane the hull, and haul it at 40+mph, so you better know your way around that thing before just heading out.
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Old 08-28-2006
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Look Around First

For what you quote as a purchase price and the almost certain investment of at least a few thousand dollars, I would suggest you look for a slighly smaller boat... i.e... 25 feet or so, which there are MANY for 4 to 6k. You WILL have a much more pleasurable experience with a boat that is not constantly costing money...
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