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mvsunstar 09-26-2006 10:05 PM

Old Boats still Good Boats
I'm new to sailboats, having grown up on a variety of stink pots from wood to steel. I just put on offer in on a 1979 cooper 416. I will be having a survey done in a few weeks and already expect what the value of the boat will be - close to the yachtworld value or the broker book value.

I realize that a boat is not a good investment but rather a way of life and I'm fine with that. But still I'm a little apprehensive. I mean 1979 was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

I know a steel boat if properly maintained will last a lifetime. Likewise, a wooden boat, always a work in progress, if properly maintained can also last a lifetime.

But what about fiberglass. I hear about blisters, UV deterioration and hull weakening - but to what extent. If there are some blisters does that mean its the end of the world.

If I purchase a boat now and it surveys ok and its already 27 years old - will it last another 27 years if properly maintained or is there a reasonable limit to how long a fiberglass boat will hold together? And if there is a reasonable limit - then are boats that are 27 years old unreasonably priced by a longshot?


Faster 09-26-2006 11:04 PM

Hey, c'mon - some of us remember 1979 like it was yesterday!!

I think the longevity of well-kept fiberglass boats should be well beyond what you and I will need to worry about. Any boat can be neglected into oblivion, regardless of it's construction. I suppose in some ways fiberglass is a relatively "new" material without enough history to project it's lifetime.

Who knows? maybe after 75 years service some of us will go down to the dock to find a skim of white dust on the water where our boat once was!

Seriously, though, I think you need to look at the condition and original build quality more than the age.

As far as blistering goes, there are degrees of severity that dictate how big a deal they might be. Some are largely cosmetic, others can affect the integrity of the hull skin. I think it's more of an issue with below-the-waterline cored hulls than with solid skin hulls. There are other threads and actual experts on this board that can fully address your concerns on that score.

GoLikeaFish 09-26-2006 11:34 PM

Sorry to ask another naive question, but here goes…. :rolleyes:

Are repairs to a steel or wood hull less expensive and/or more durable than repairs to a fiberglass hull?

mvsunstar 09-27-2006 01:54 AM


Originally Posted by Faster
Who knows? maybe after 75 years service some of us will go down to the dock to find a skim of white dust on the water where our boat once was!

I think after 75 years of service it is more likely that I will be the little white pile of dust.:)

Glad to hear that fiberglass can stand the test of time if maintained. I guess now the big question is if the boat i'm buying is fully cored or just to the waterline. One problem with older boats is getting a hold of boat plans and design drawings. Can a surveyor tell if a boat is fully cored just by looking at a boat when its out of the water?

camaraderie 09-27-2006 10:06 AM

mvsunstar...I would have a lot more confidence in a 1979 glass boat than a steel or wood boat of the same vintage. The cored hull should be looked at very thoroughly as this was NOT standard construction during that era and voids etc. might be present at this point which would argue against purchase. Also you'll want surveyor to look closely at any through the hull fittings as some boats were made without solid layup in these areas and with the core "exposed" to any leaks. Make sure you get a sureyor that understands these issues and is NOT a friend of the broker!

sailingdog 09-30-2006 05:30 PM

Older cored boats can be a serious problem, but not always... A properly designed cored hull is not a problem...the problem is that many weren't properly designed or were modified afterwards without regards to it being a cored hull.

A fiberglass boat required less maintenance than steel or wooden boats, so it is very likely to be in better shape than steel or wooden boats of the same age.

I don't think you can tell if a boat has a cored hull or not just by visual inspection.

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