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Jim H 09-25-2006 10:25 PM

Can Age Trump Design?
 
Can Age Trump Design? Also, as one moves forward in time, are there fewer and fewer blue water boats to choose from?

In a year or two, we're considering a career break and some ocean cruising. We’d have two kids with us, but we’ve heard that others have survived this.

At the moment, we like boats like the Valiant 40, the Pearson 424 and the Pacific Seacraft 37. The Tartan 37 isn’t bad, either, as well as other boats in the 37 to 42 foot range. We’ve been looking in the “around $100k” range in price, and thinking we’d need a year or two to improve and cruise the boat locally with some offshore hops to Puget Sound.

One common thing is that most of the boats we’ve considered have fallen into the late seventies, early eighties age range. We already own a small ’67 and ’73 sailboat, so we know what it’s like to own and maintain an older boat—we really like both of them. However, for an extended cruise, I’m concerned about age for a lot of reasons:

1) Hull blistering, even on hulls that were epoxy coated.
2) Hull weakening, even on non-blister older hulls.
3) General weakening of joints and systems from age.
4) Serious system rebuilds in the first 1-2 years of ownership, “with surprises.”
5) Resale value later, especially if we own for a decade. (A ’79 boat for sale in 2017?)
6) More issues with handling, due to older hardware or control designs.

We've done some short, fair weather cruising on newer production boats, and I liked the handling and easy sail management. (Even if I wouldn’t own one for a long cruise.) Additionally, I’ve heard too many stories lately about older cruising boats being restored for years, but in the end the owners don’t cruise because they waited too long. I’d be interested in a “fast track” if the boat was good enough to safely get going in a few months instead of years.

So, I plugged some numbers into Yachtworld. Type of sailboat: cruiser. Age range: 1988 to 2000. Price range: $90k to $175k (thinking of a max purchase price of $150k). Length: 37 to 42 feet. Country: US and Canada. Result: 292 hits.

Unfortunately, my biases toss out the most common hits: Beneteau, Catalina, Hunter, Bavaria, and Jenneaus (but I heard that some of the Jenneaus may be appropriate).

Of the less common hits, there are more I toss out: C&Cs (cored hulls) Freedom Yachts, Tayanas, Morgans, Endeavors, Irwins.

There is only one or two Cabo Ricos, Calibers, Bristols, and Moodys, and my sense is that having only one or two means that finding a decent one could take time.

There are zero Valiants or Pearsons or Pacific Seacrafts from this age and price range. If I change the criteria to racer/cruiser, there are fewer but similar results.

What’s left are Island Packets and Sabres. I know the Sabres are more performance-oriented (too much for a family of four?). I’ve also been reading about Island Packets. Obviously, there’s strong arguments made for and against them (especially on design points), but there are also relatively passionate defenses of them by owners. The Practical Sailor review I have of the 350 (I’d be considering an IP 38) is surprisingly positive (compared to some online posts about IPs). It acknowledges issues with light winds and windward capability, but finds the boats well made and stable platforms. The shoal draft seems less than perfect for ocean crossings, but that seems to be commonly done with IPs.

Anyway, there’s always compromises to be made. If I only consider the factors above, I wonder if having a 1990 IP 38 with around 1000 hours on the engine and generally good condition systems wouldn’t be a wise investment when considering the age issues above. (Vs. a “blister period” Valiant 40 or 27 year-old Pearson 424.) There is also fair range of them to consider, given their popularity.

Just ideas—but it seems that as one moves forward in time, there are fewer cruising sailboats to choose from unless one has a serious war chest of funds. There's lots of older sailboats to be had in the price range, some with excellent system rebuilds, but again there are always compromises and risks.


Jim H

JimHawkins 09-25-2006 10:58 PM

Loosen your search criteria a little. For example, allow 'all sail' instead of just 'cruisers'. There are 4 Pacific Seacrafts and 34 Pearsons on Yachtworld that fit your other restrictions. You might want to loosen your other criteria too, just to see more boats. But really you need a broker (and that's not me).

PBzeer 09-25-2006 11:09 PM

Also, don't forget, when you're looking at double-enders, you're losing a lot of storage aft. Just for a few thoughts...Peterson 44, Cal 39. Also, here's a link that might prove helpful (at the end there is a list of boats)
http://www.mahina.com/cruise.html

sailingfool 09-25-2006 11:31 PM

Jim,

I think once a boat gets over 10 years, its all a question of maintenance and refits, if you start with a quality boat. The good thing is that the quality boat is most likely to have owners who do maintain them properly ($$$). Sabre is a quality boat, and I'd buy one for my type of use in a sec, but I don't think they are designed for offshore cruising, for example lacking carrying capacity. I consider the IPs too slow for use as a sailboat (this comment should get some action...) but I put more of a premium on sailing performance than others may chose to.
For your needs I'd recommend the Bristol 38.8. Yachtworld has seven on the East Coast. Pay a premium for one with newer systems. Here's an example - check the equipment list http://yachtworld.com/core/listing/b...ick&searchtype=

Jim H 09-26-2006 11:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JimHawkins
Loosen your search criteria a little. For example, allow 'all sail' instead of just 'cruisers'. There are 4 Pacific Seacrafts and 34 Pearsons on Yachtworld that fit your other restrictions. You might want to loosen your other criteria too, just to see more boats. But really you need a broker (and that's not me).

Thanks, Jim

You're correct that some Pacific Seacraft 37s will come up will "All Sail" selected. I'll revise my searches to that setting, and maybe move the age range up as well (2000-2006).

What funny to me is that the "players" change when you are looking at boats that are 1990-2005. Caliber is another one I don't know much about yet.

camaraderie 09-26-2006 11:26 AM

Jim..interesting post. Despite the disparagers...I like the IP38 and think it would be a reasonable choice for you...certainly built well enough to head down the coast and beyond. I DON'T like the Valiant or PS or Tayana37 in your situation as I think you give up too much room to the canoe stern...though they are all fine boats for a couple. Check out the Peterson44 or the Whitby & Brewer 42 unless you really don't like CC boats...they are all seaworthy and the extra privacy and room below will be appreciated on a cruise and they should be in your price range. The Caliber 40 would be an excellent choice but is about double your price range. The smaller Calibers were not designed as long range cruisers.

Jim H 09-26-2006 11:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PBzeer
Also, don't forget, when you're looking at double-enders, you're losing a lot of storage aft. Just for a few thoughts...Peterson 44, Cal 39. Also, here's a link that might prove helpful (at the end there is a list of boats)
http://www.mahina.com/cruise.html


I did some looking at the Peterson 44s lately online, and they are very attractive. They would be in the late 70s to early 80s range again, which might be fine. My first reaction was that a 44' boat would be more to handle and maintain, and my preference would be for something that both my wife and I could handle. I also get a little concerned about sails and parts costs as size increases.

The Mahina link is excellent, and I've been there several times. What's funny, though, is that I think most of us skip his paragraphs and go right to the boat list. If you read his paragraphs about why one might select a new production boat, John's tone is almost disdainful of the idea that "buying used is the only way to go." He points out several drawbacks, including resale and expensive ongoing repairs, that I've been thinking of. In terms of time and money, he suggests that there's a false economy to buying an older boat. He also acknowledges "real shortage of quality ocean-cruising boats in the 3-10 year old range" that I've been trying to quantify with Yachtworld searches.

In Daniel Spurr's book, "Your First Sailboat..." he actually graphs out the optimum used boat (in terms of post depreciation, but decent sails, rigging and engine), and his chart shows boats in the 4-8 year old range of being worthwhile. For a year I've stared at this chart and wondered what he was talking about, because in my searches I'd be lucky to see a 1982 boat (24 years old). Some of the 1970s boats I've seen have been completely original, with pretty much zero upgrades since they were new. It also seems that most of the boats discussed here and on the older boards are normally older.

Anyway, an older boat may still be the way to go, but I'm going to try and refocus and be open-minded for awhile about newer boats as well-- at least to know what is there and not there, and how much it would cost. A Pacific Seacraft 34 might be tight, for example, but new they list for about $212,000 (sans sails, etc.) and a 2000 model might show up for around $175,000 asking price. A 2001 Island Packet 350 would be in a similar price range.

So, forgive me for thinking aloud. Basically, I'm working on learning more about cruising boats that are newer than six years old, just to decide for myself about the "economy" of older vs. newer.

If John Neal is correct, for example, having more money in the boat may not be too risky if more of it could be recovered at resale. I don't like "paying for a name," but it can have benefits when it's time to sell.

Thanks again,

Jim H

Jim H 09-26-2006 12:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sailingfool
Jim,

I think once a boat gets over 10 years, its all a question of maintenance and refits, if you start with a quality boat...
I consider the IPs too slow for use as a sailboat (this comment should get some action...) but I put more of a premium on sailing performance than others may chose to.

SF, thanks for the link to the Bristol.

I think you might be right about boats over 10 years of age. As noted in my post above, Daniel Spurr also indicated that after 10 years you can't rely on the sails, rigging, and engine being in good shape simply because of youth. Evaluating the quality of maintenance and refits becomes cruicial, and I've very happy to have ever receipt for all the work done on my '73 sailboat.

As for IPs, keep spreading that "too slow for anything" thought. It might make it easier for me to own one. :) I'm not defending IPs, but the reviews and the general satisfaction (and ongoing purchases) of owners makes me think the drawbacks are exaggerated. Even John Neal on the Mahina page notes that they are "Roomy & comfortable with good tankage & storage but some odd features. Improving every year. Good value." If they were as bad as some suggest, I don't think they'd be on his list at all. I'm keeping an open mind, for now.

As for the Bristol, I have a slight bias against centerboard boats. Here on the left coast, they seem pretty rare, and I was surprised that 2 of the 3 Tartan 37s I've come across here have had the fixed, deep keel instead of a centerboard. It just seems that over time the centerboard is going to take extra effort and repairs, and even Tigger the Tartan 37 that circumnavigated eventually glassed theirs in the up position to be done with it. I'm not sure the benefits would be worth the hassle, especially as the system ages.

Thanks!

Jim H

Jim H 09-26-2006 12:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by camaraderie
Despite the disparagers...I like the IP38 and think it would be a reasonable choice for you...certainly built well enough to head down the coast and beyond. I DON'T like the Valiant or PS or Tayana37 in your situation as I think you give up too much room to the canoe stern...though they are all fine boats for a couple. Check out the Peterson44 or the Whitby & Brewer 42 unless you really don't like CC boats..The Caliber 40 would be an excellent choice but is about double your price range.

Camaraderie,

Great comments. I think you're right on the mark about most of the boats listed. Tayana 37s are out for us, and both the Valiants and PS series may have space issues as you noted.

I read and really enjoyed the recent thread about Whitby and Brewer 42s and 12.8s, but the Whitby sounds like it might be a bit rough and I'd still like to avoid a centerboard boat. Also, I've been on a couple of CC boats recently and my preference still leans toward an aft cockpit-- I don't see us using the aft cabin for daytime lounging, but the main cabin appears shortened because of the cockpit and aft cabin.

The Caliber 40 LRC is a boat I know almost nothing about (since they weren't popular in 1978), but I'm looking into. I noticed that a 2001-2002 models appear in the $230-250k range, which might be financially impossible but still worth a review. Sometimes I can work out interesting solutions to problems... (othertimes, complete failure!).


Jim H

PBzeer 09-26-2006 01:05 PM

The LRC series of Calibers is a newer line with them. Not sure, but think they only go back around 5-6 years.


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