1932 46' Project Boat - Should I buy it? - SailNet Community

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Old 04-02-2007
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1932 46' Project Boat - Should I buy it?

So tomorrow I'm going to look one more time at a 1932 46' Ketch. 14.5' Beam, 8' draft. She is powered by a 1935 Chrysler Crown flathead six. She runs good and has good compression. She has a full set of sails that are in good shape. The house is all teak and the full teak interior is awesome. The hull is Port Orford cedar over oak frames. She was hauled and re-caulked about four years ago. The mizzen mast has been removed and probably needs to be replaced.

I can buy this boat for next to nothing and the moorage is only about $7 per foot (cheap for Seattle). This boat needs lots of work, but can be sailed as is. My friends and family think I'm nuts, but I really want this thing, should I buy it?



Last edited by Guesser; 04-02-2007 at 12:52 AM.
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Old 04-02-2007
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If you really like the boat, and it can pass a survey to your satisfaction...and you can afford the boat's maintenance and repair costs... go for it... If not, then you're just wasting your money.
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Old 04-02-2007
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That's like asking your buddies if you should have an affair with that gorgeous redhead over there. Some of us will say no way man, it's a bad decision', tell you all the reasons why, and then secretly feel jealousy and admiration for you. The others will say 'sure, why not, life is short' and then talk like hell behind your back about how stupid you are being!

So sure, go for it! (can I come sailing with ya if you get it? uh, no I can't help with maintenence, my little 1975 24' fiberglass boat has me swamped....)

Last edited by tenuki; 04-02-2007 at 01:34 AM.
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Old 04-02-2007
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Well, it's potentially a pretty boat, and certianly could offer all sorts of adventures ... but my recommendation to you would be no, simply because of the fact that you mentioned you had found "cheap" moorage for it...hence I am assuming that you are on a budget. 46 foot boats are hugely expensive to maintain - regardless of the condition.

The boat is not in good condition, and while it may float and sail right now, it needs work. To do the work, you are going to have to haul it out. This will cost you money. The average Travelift cannot handle boats of this size. When it's out of the water - it is going to have sit on a cradle. A very $trong and expen$ive cradle. Because the boat is not a production model, that cradle shops know and have the specs for, someone is going to have to measure the boat and compute the displacement and hull shape, before the cradle shop, or you, can build this cradle. Cost out the wood or metal - whatever you think you would make it of - and then write that figure down.

Now find out where you are going to work on the boat, how much that is going to cost you a month, and how much it is going to cost you to get the boat there. Note that a lot of marinas will not let you do work yourself, and a lot of others will not let you do the kind of major work this boat is going to require. Write that figure down under the first one.

Now to begin work, you are going to need tools. Big, strong, serious, tools, not the stuff you buy at the local hardware. A minimum of $2,000.00 here. Write that down under your two other figures.

Now - speaking as someone who has owned two wooden boats, and whose father and brothers have also owned them - working on wooden boats is not like working on fibreglass boats. Everything is connected to everything else, and the pieces are big and heavy. Fixing one plank or one frame means removing four or five planks, measuring, steaming, bending, fastening and fairing. Then you're going to have to caulk most of that seam again and match paint.

You will not be able to lift and hold things in place by yourself. So let's figure you can hire someone reasonably responsible for maybe 10 bucks an hour. Trust me when I say that your friends are going to tire of helping fairly quickly.

Then there is the matter of cutting and shaping your wood. The timbers on that boat will be huge. You can certainly piece these together using epoxy and smaller cuts, but eventually you are going to end up with something that is about eight feet high and weighs in at a hundred pounds. You'll need a gantry of some sort to manipulate and hold these.

I could go on and on, but I think you are starting to get the picture. Add up the figures you have so far, and realise that you haven't even started buying materials and fittings yet. If you are in a position to spend low six figures on the boat, you will be able to get her reasonably seaworthy, if you want a beautiful, well-fastened craft - easily three times that.

The only way buying the boat could make sense is if you are prepared to take some risky rides until she finally sinks underneath you, and walk away from her and the money that you have spent on her.

You are also going to need a crew to sail this boat. Two people, or one very agile and knowledgable one.

Far better to take the money you have and buy a boat around 25 or 30 feet, in good condition, that you can sail and sell when you feel the need for change.

Last edited by Sailormann; 04-02-2007 at 01:43 AM.
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Some men get space from their wife with her encouragement by taking up golf, some buy old boats. How long have you been married? What about a mistress?
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Old 04-02-2007
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If your passion is to rebuild boats and you love spending all your time working and not sailing, than yes go for it. There are some people out there that have that personality, they love to work on stuff and make it new again. In my yard there is an old wooden trawler; beautiful boat with beautiful lines, but it is a rotten disaster. The owner has been working on her for at least three years and it is just now looking like there is light at the end of the tunnel. Every time you talk with him he will say, "we hope to have her in sometime this year." And than another year passes. I can see at least one more year before it will hit the water. If that is your passion, if you want to spend the next several years working on her, if you have that ability and are a good carpenter with the knowledge and skills to pull it off, than go for it. Just be prepared to spend the next couple of years working and not sailing.
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Thanks for the input. I guess I just needed to hear from some neutral parties. You guys mentioned things I hadn't considered (haul out issues for an oversized boat, the idea that I could hit 6 figures in restoration costs, etc)). I'm gonna look at her one more time tonight (after the Mariner's home opener!), but it's looking like it might be a really stupid purchase.
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I have never seen a wooden boat coming from months of work drying out in a cradle that didn't need to sit in slings with huge pumps going for 24-48 hours until the planking swelled shut.

Essentially, it will sink on contact with the water unless continuously pumped. It can be alarming and is probably expensive, because you are "waiting and seeing" if your caulking and planking work was done properly, and you aren't going to know that until the boat has been in the water for a while.

I don't know enough about wooden construction to say if this happens with all old wooden boats, but I've seen it several times now and have heard the gensets powering the multiple bilge pumps as the boat slowly settles...
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Valiente-

It pretty much happens with all traditionally constructed wooden boats. If the boat were a wood and epoxy job, like the Gougeon brothers are known for, it is more like a fiberglass boat in terms of maintenance... but this one would leak if the hull dries out too much.

That's one advantage of FRP boats... lower maintenance, more time sailing..
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Old 04-02-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guesser
Thanks for the input. I guess I just needed to hear from some neutral parties. You guys mentioned things I hadn't considered (haul out issues for an oversized boat, the idea that I could hit 6 figures in restoration costs, etc)). I'm gonna look at her one more time tonight (after the Mariner's home opener!), but it's looking like it might be a really stupid purchase.
If you cannot see your way around $100,000 for restoration then walk away. Ok so it may not cost that much but then again it might. I've semi rebuilt two timber boats , it is not something to enter into without much soul searching and a friendly bank manager or preferably a rich recently deceased relative who liked you a lot.

On the other hand if you are a woodworking wizard and drool at the prospect of getting in there and doing it all yourself well then maybe that's a different story.
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