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  #1  
Old 12-24-2006
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Buying a used Boat--Age issues

Hi all,

I have been sailing for 13 years. I have started exploring the idea of purchasing a boat. I am looking in the 35-38 foot range. I have been looking at several production lines and I have a question. To demonstrate my example I will use one of the models I am exploring--the Tartan 3500. I am aware Tartan is a reasonably good quality boat--my question is this: I have seen for sale on the internet $100,000 difference between purchasing a 2 year old Tartan 3500 versus a 10 year old Tartan 3500. I do not mind in-concept purchasing an older boat as it fits my budget. As a general rule--are 10 year old sailboats going to need significant work? For example, is it common to expect I would have to fix leaking portholes, leaks from the hull-to-deck joints, replace the rig or the engine? Are the answers to these questions the same if I were to purchase say a Catalina 34 or 380?

Any advise from first-hand experience would be most appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your replies.

Yamsailor
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Old 12-24-2006
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Yamsailor your question is really open ended. there are no real answers to the question. the problem is that it all dependes on the amount of up keep and use the older and for that matter the newer boat has had over it's lifespan. maintinance is the key to every thing. if you find a boat that was doted over by the owner/s the chances are there will be minimal work you have to do if you aquire the boat. if maintinance was lacking well you know the answer. the only caviate would be in the electronics department, if the equipment is working good then it becomes a question of do you want to up-grade for the sake of new stuff and gizmos or where you are content to deal with the limitations of the older equipment. the same can be said for the sails and rigging/running rig ect. my boat is 28 yrs young and this stuff is all orig. every thing is still in really good serviceable condition for coastal cruising. would i go off-shore with the old rigging and sails i don't think so, only because it is not worth the gamble
hope this helps regards mike
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Old 12-24-2006
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Yam - Mike is absolutely correct. Each boat needs to be considered on its own merit.

It's possible to find, as you indicated, a 10 yr old boat for much less money, and indeed it may be in better shape, and most likely better equipped, than the newer one which costs more.

Even if, for example, the electronics on the older boat are dated by today's standards, as you mentioned the $100K difference will go a long way towards some upgrades.

In each case, the actual condition of the boat in question is the key. As in buying vehicles, there are penalties for buying new. A newish used boat will also be a better deal than new, but not necessarily "better enough" to justify the huge price difference over a well maintained older model.

So scope out your options, and get a good survey on your leading candidate. As often pointed out on this board, try to spend 70 -80% of your budget on the purchase, leaving funds for some improvements (upgrades, cushions, new sails - things often required on older boats)
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Old 12-24-2006
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Yam...When you buy a 10 year old boat..you don't get the "advances" in technology and construction techniques that you have in the new boats. Interiors are less modern and the systems and electronics are usually more dated.
The reason I have "advances" in quotes is that only some manufacturers use it to make improvements in boat constuction or safety of speed. Others use it to cut costs and become more competitive sometimes ending up with a less well constructed product. (one piece headliners come to mind as a symptom of this type of advance!)
In Tartans, you have a manufacturer that defines its niche by making a more expensive production boat that is well constructed and sails well. Advances like Carbon Spars and E-glass constuction and vaccuum bagged hull make a real difference in the performance and quality of the boat so your 100k is NOT just paying for depreciation and wear as it is on some other boats. I still wouldn't buy a new boat BECAUSE of depreciation, but a recent model has a lot of appeal since you get the advances but forego a lot of the loss and generally get a boat that has beenlovingly outfitted by a first owner.
Having said all that...I went and bought a 15 year old boat that needed a lot of work and $$'s put into it to bring it up to my standards....simply becaus we loved the boat and knew there was nothing on the market that we could buy similar for anywhere close to what our "finished" price would be.
10-15 year old boats that have been lovingly cared for will need a lttle work and may need new standing or running rigging, updated instrument pack, new sails...none of which are deal breakers. 10-15 year old OR 5 year old boats that have NOT been lovingly cared for may need A LOT of stuff replaced that can be a deal breaker. Older boats of any mfr. with cored or teak decks are subject to water ingress. Hull deck joint problems are rare except in abused vessels and hatch leak problems seem to be universal but more prevalent in boats with plastic fittings than stainless.
Hope that helps you a bit.
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Old 12-24-2006
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Hi Camraderie, Faster and Mike,

Thank you all very much for your replies they have been very informative and given me very useful information. I have a friend who is a surveyor and he told me something I did not expect to hear. So I have one further question....

My friend stated the primary difference between (for example) a Catalina 34 and a Tartan 3500 (besides the hull length) is the interior finishing. This friend of mine believes the build quality (i.e., hull-to-deck joint, stringers, etc.) is similar to the Tartan. This person claims you are paying more for a Tartan because of the interior and the more exotic materials. This person also claims the Tartan sailing performance is better but only marginally.

I have never sail a Tartan (I will test sail one in Spring 2007). Do you think there is any significant difference in build quality in terms of safety and seaworthiness?

Thanks again.

Yamsailor
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Old 12-24-2006
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Yes... there is. . read this just about how the hull is put together and then go try to find similar on Catalinas site. It is ALL TRUE. Yes Tartans have more expensive interiors...they have more expensive EVERYTHING. I really loved my two Catalinas...but Tartans are simply better boats today as they should be for the price differential.
http://www.tartanyachts.com/technolo...bb1193ad&MUID=
now Catalina doesn't talk about structure on their site but this 2004 article in Sail does
http://www.sailmag.com/features/CatalinaFactory.pdf#search='Catalina%20Yachts'

...among the differences...adhesives used on bulkheads rather than tabbing, balsa core decks, no vaccuum bagging, no aluminum backing bar on hull deck joint like Tartan no epoxy hull...isn't that enough?? If not...there is more if you read and compare.
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Old 12-24-2006
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But not all the advances have necessarily been good things. The advent of hull liners, in place of proper stringers and flooring grids, are one that I think was better off not having... but that's just me. Another is the use of cored hulls, which I dislike.

The issues you'll have to be aware of will change from boat to boat, as different models have different weaknesses. Practical Sailor's Boat Buying Guide has a lot of that type of information in it if you can get your hands on it.

My general recommendation is to save about 15-20% of the purchase budget of the boat for upgrades, retrofitting, repairing, customizing the boat.
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Old 12-27-2006
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i have to agree with both camaraderie and sailingdog as to advances and their pros and cons some are good and some are questionable. i think that there is something to be said for the older techniques and consruction ways. i own a gulfstar 37 (no laughing out-there) this company was at the for front of tech and construction when they were around. their prob. was the hired help, and the helps attitude. everything is pretty much accessible even in the bilges aft and fwd. won't get into all the details all i'm saying is there are a lot of well built older boats out there you just have to look to find what you want/can afford/what fits your need/desire.
i would be weary of cored hulls, not much you can do about the decks, but balsa core although it aborbes water and rots if not caught soon enough is my pref. over foam because if properly wetted out balsa has better adhesion characteristics than foam. also there is less chance of delam with balsa from what i have read verses foam. the reason for this is that the resin pentrates the balsa cell structure where with foam it can only adhere to the outside skin. regards
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Old 12-27-2006
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Otoh

On the other hand, later model boats tend to have some "advantages" to older boats...

verticle bows, more efficient hulls, keels and rudders, wider sterns with large cockpits. All these, if you believe more modern designs are faster boats, and more responsive in light winds, would be a major consideration when deciding what ya want.....
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Old 12-27-2006
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New vs. Old. We didn't have much of a choice. We're on our fifth boat, all of them used/old. Can't afford new ones. Our last boat was a Catalina 34. Sold it for more then we bought if for after using it for three years and putting a new dodger on it. My wife and I both loved that boat for cruising local waters. The C-34 has a great owner forum too. When buying a used boat you can get something that is proven and often get upgrades for a fraction of the cost of adding them to a new boat.
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