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Old 06-14-2007
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The Real Cost of Ownership

I am retiring in 2 years. At that time I would like to buy a 28-30 boat to take down to the Bahamas in the winter and keep here on the east coast in the summer. I am currently taking sailing lessons and hope to meet a few folks here locally to crew/sail with in the meantime.

Here's my real question. After reading this board and others I am starting to fear I am in over my head financially with this grand idea. I keep hearing about maintenance costs that just seem very high. I want to ask the experts about the real cost of ownership. I think I have the insurance and slip fee information I need. It is the maintenance part that has me concerned.

I have about $50,000 - $60,000 to purchase a boat and can spend perhaps $3,000 a year (average) on maintenance. I realize some years might be more some might be less. But ON AVERAGE I just could not spend much more than that. Is this realistic?

Would I be better off purchasing a 4 or 5 year old production boat, Catalina maybe, and hope for very little maintenance for several years or should I go for a 15 or 20 year old (tartan/pearson/Oday) better quality boat and do a refitting on it right away and hope that takes care of most future major maintenance? What would it realistically cost to really take an older boat and put it in tip top shape? I have no mechanical ability and am too old to learn now so any maintenance would be be done by professionals.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my very inexperienced questions.
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Old 06-14-2007
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I would recommend that you go with an older boat and spend time re-fitting it. I seriously doubt that you are too old to learn. Get Don Casey's book This Old Boat, as it describes the skills you'll need in pretty good detail. Most of the skills involved are rather basic.

The two skills that you might not have any experience with are fiberglassing and electrical work. Fiberglassing requires much the same skills as painting. Electrical work, especially just 12 VDC, is relatively simple as well. Most of the other stuff is mostly common sense.

If you do most of the re-fitting yourself, you will learn a lot about the boat, and you will be able to minimize your future maintenance costs quite a bit.

Going simpler is probably better than going with a boat loaded with gadgets... as the more gadgets you have, the more you have to repair/maintain/replace.

I'd also recommend John Vigor's "Twenty Small Sailboats To Take You Anywhere." Several boats in that book are favorites of mine. The Alberg 30, the Cape Dory 28, the Southern Cross 28, the Albin Vega, are all good choices, and rather a good deal below your budget.

I generally recommend that you reserve at least 20% of your boat buying budget for refitting, repairing or upgrading the boat.
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Old 06-14-2007
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My advice would be to buy the four-five year old production boat, and I would think your maintenance budget should be OK for a number of years, provided the boat has been not abused and comes fully equipped as you need it. Buying a fix-me-upper or adding a lot of new gear gets real expensive. There is no rule-of-thumb for refit/upgrade costs, it really depends on whether the owner has been spending money on the boat or just running it down. We have a mid-80s CS 36T we love, but we have spent more money on refits/upgrades in the first couple of years than the original purchase cost.

I think you can't go wrong with a boat like a Catalina for a first boat. Here's an example:
YachtWorld.com Boats and Yachts for Sale=

Last edited by sailingfool; 06-14-2007 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 06-14-2007
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10-20%

The rule of thumb (not mine) is somewhere between 10%-20% of the cost of the boat per year for maintenance & repairs. I have been fortunate that for the past three years its been below 10% s the PO toke great care of her.

Not having the skill or desire to do allot of it yourself... your really at a disadvantage. For example; I did a blister repair on the bottom last spring, total cost was about $1200 and 50 hours of my time. To have it done by the yard would have cost me somewhere around $4000 to $5000.

Once my kids are out of day care that will free up $1600 per month...ya hooooooooooooo...1095 days left and counting
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Going by the 10% rule: So if I bought a newer Catalina at $55,000 I should expect about $5,500 in repairs but if I bout and an older $20,000 boat I should only expect about $2,000 in repairs? Surely that is not right. If it is, then I will surely get an older boat!

As far as repairs go, yes, the really basic stuff straight manual labour, I suppose I could do but anything mechanical or electrical is out of the question I am afraid.
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Have you given any thought to chartering?
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Old 06-14-2007
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The 10% rule applies AFTER the initial hit. When you buy a boat, you might have to spend quite a bit on important things. Once you overcome that, expenses do go down (except that unexpected happens sometimes).
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Old 06-14-2007
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Also, I assume the Catalina 28-30 is perfectly fine for doing a Bahamas trip? I have not heard many say that it is a particularly sturdy vessel I am afraid. What is the general opinion on that?
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Old 06-14-2007
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The Catalina 30 would be fine for a Bahamas trip. I believe that there have been over 1000 Catalina hulls made. More they any other boat that I can think of.
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Old 06-14-2007
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Like sailingfool said, its very difficult to determine, a good surveyor can tell you what to expect but they will likely miss somethings.
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