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  #11  
Old 07-08-2007
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Simon, I'm getting that you have an older boat that you feel a strong attachment to. Don't miss understand me, when I say that older boats deteriorate. I myself have a 1967 bristol corsair that I intend to keep for a few more years. This said, it is still true that all materials used in constructing anything, will have a cycles per million threshold. Beyond this threshold if you don't do something to extend the life of the object in question, it will fail. One day you will be confronted with your boats mortality, you may decide to delay it at all costs. This is a decision that involves far more then economics by it self, but if you are looking for a boat to buy, then age as well as what you intend to do with your boat, as well as your level of experience in seamanship and maintenance will definitely be determining factors

It is pretty simple in the end. If you want to spend more time sailing or are planing on cruising far from home, you'll most likely want a newer boat that is easier to maintain and less likely to need major repairs. If your prefer hanging out on your boat while fixing the little things that pop up constantly, or want to do day sailing and coastal cruising and are a bit short on cash, you'll probably choose an older boat.

I've rebuilt, refit, or remolded enough motorcycles, boats, cars, houses and other object over the years that I can fully and with no reservations tell you to " take your head at your ass ". Older boats can nickle and dime you into the poor house. They can also leave you stranded in some foreign port looking at major delays and expenses. I enjoy and am capable of doing just about every thing that would be required to refit and keep the oldest boats around going for years to come, but I also like to sail, as well as ride my bike, and enjoy my home. This means taking a real look at your priorities. Also taking a real look at what can be boiled down to so many cubic of fiberglass, stainless steel, and other bits, if your not emotionally attached to it
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  #12  
Old 07-08-2007
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My understanding was that it is the plastic that is week until fiberglass is added, not the other way around. FRP and GRP are acronyms for Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic and Glass Reinforced Plastic.
As for the cost of refitting over time, look at th cost of a new 36 foot boat and it becomes evident for many (including myself) that the used boat is all many can buy.
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  #13  
Old 07-08-2007
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camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough
We are not talking about the rest of the boat...which all can be replaced and refit as things fail...we are talking about the life of the boat if it is well cared for. There is NO evidence whatsoever of well cared for older boats failing due to "flex cycling" ...those boats that you see getting cut up are boat that have been abused and failed because of that abuse...and many are not that old at all.
It may be that flex cycling eventually does take its' toll on glass boats...just as we may run out of oil someday. Nobody really knows when.
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cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough
i know a real sweeeeettttttttttt 1964 35ft Grumman/Alberg/Pearson/whoknows that looks like the seven sins of hell, but its stucturally better than some of the new boats I've seen. There are some parts of the hull that are 1.75" thick!
(yea, I know thicker isn't better, but my god man, this tub was built for icebreaking) The teak is almost shot, the rigging has what looks like bak-o-lite tackle, but in a blow, I'm headin' for this old girl.
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  #15  
Old 07-08-2007
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Cam, the hull usually will crack from hitting another solid object, i.e. a dock, going aground, or a boat to boat rubbing. The fracture happens or is made worse by the preexisting loss of rigidity. In layman's terms, if a boat is 1/4 of the way through it's cycles per million and impacts the dock with X amount of force it won't breach the structural integrity of the hull. However if the boat is 3/4 of the way through it's cycles per million and impacts the dock with the same X amount of force, it would breach the structural integrity, resulting in crack and\or rips in the hull.

This is why it would be rare to hear of a breach due to regular wave action. Boats of any size routinely come into contact with docks, piles, other boats, or touch bottom. These encounters would be more likely to expose the growing weaknesses, but could be written off as operator error. This is why basic seamanship should be considered when purchasing an older boat. If your pretty good at docking, and know the water depth around your sailing area, you can get longer life spans just by babying the boat.

A better way to learn about long term effect on materials is to look at airplanes. A airplanes fuselage almost never comes into contact with any other hard objects. However, after repeated long term flexing, it will start to crack, then rips apart. If you took a fiberglass boat, and continuously sailed it with out ever bumping into anything, it would start to crack and then rip apart.

It again becomes pretty simple, if you bounce a more used boat against the dock, it will suffer greater damages then a comparably built less used boat. You will notice that I didn't use the term older or newer, this is because I didn't want to get hammered by a bunch of "what if the boat has sat in a barn for the last ten years " or " these boats were built thicker then the newer ones ". You guys are not going to change the laws of physics, no matter how much you love your boat.
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  #16  
Old 07-08-2007
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I think the bottom line is that the owner tends to give up passion long before the boat gives up the ghost

I have more confidence in a hull that was laided up in the 60's and early 70's than I do a hull that was laided up in the late 70's and later, mainly because of the impact the EPA had on the industry and the cost cuts most builder did ( mostly in the labor sector ) just to stay aloft.

Personally, I love the lines, the woodwork and character of older boats moreso than the newer ones and I have no problem paying 50,60,70 grand for a well cared for boat and sinking another 30,40,50 grand into it just to sail it in all it's glory.

But with all that aside, it still comes down to who throws out the ghost first, and it's usually the owners.
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sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice
To the original poster's question, I'd say that a boat that surveys out well, is used prudently, and maintained religiously will certainly give you the many years of service you are looking for. Modify any of the three qualifiers and you can be looking at either great expense or a worn out boat.

The dan and cam debate reminds me of the '56 Porsche versus the '71 VW debate I had with my step-father. You know what I wanted. A minor detail that the engine was in a couple of milk crates, after all, how difficult can it be to rebuild it. Sure they only made 200 of 'em, and 5 are known to have made their way to NA, that's why I want it. The step-father was patient, after all he was a car-guy too, and explained that what I wanted had nothing to do with the fact that I needed to drive to NY from Michigan, repeatedly.

Everything wears out. The economic life of a merchant ship is 20-30 years in ocean trade. Merchant hulls reach 100 years of service on the Great Lakes with regularity. In the case of synthetic resins and fibers, the UV light will eventually have it's day, if something traumatic does not happen first.

Dan and Cam both make good points. Because I have a 1973 Chevy Vega is my garage, in mint condition, it does not necessarily follow that Vegas will last 34 years, or that they are even very good cars. I can keep it in mint condition with limited driving and obssessive maintenance. If I let a couple of paint dings go, within a few years, not tomorrow, I'm going to have a rust problem. I can fix them and be back to "mint". I can sell it, he can fix them, and be back to "mint". But, eventually, somebody is going to buy it, drive it, and not do the maintenance necessary to maintain it. And then it's gonna die, usually quicker than one would think due to hidden aging.

Boats are really no different. We know that fiberglas has a lifespan. We just don't know what it's potential lifespan can be with proper treatment and maintenace. Given the way most boats are treated, sail or power, we rarely get to the point where we say her hull is worn out. The reason a lot of those hulls on the Great Lakes don't make 100 years is that 100 years is a lot of years to be avoiding collision, grounding, and other catastrophes.

Under maintenance, most people do not want to spend the time and expense of refurbishing or renewing things on their boat or car. Your old car squeeks and clunks because there are about a 100-200 rubber bushings and donuts on it that are worn out or degraded. Are you going to replace them? Re-bedding deck hardware, thru-hulls, chainplates, etc... ought to be done every "pick-a-number". Let's say 20 years, that shouldn't be too controversial. If you are the owner who got years 15-20 out of the boat, you're golden. If you are year 20 and on-going owner, you're work is cut out for you. Hopefully you bought right. That's if you wish to maintain the boat in Bristol fashion. You may determine that you can sail her hard for 5-10 years and when she's done, it's over. And, even then, some Dutchman like me will probably buy her right and spend five years restoring her.

So, we really don't know the lifespan of a given boat, anymore than we do a car. All we know for sure is that, twenty or thirty years after our production year, there are a lot fewer still going than were produced. Certain things help. If, in 1972, instead of a Chevy Vega, we'd bought a M-B 240D, we'd probably have greater odds of it still running 30 years later. Irrespective of that, if it was maintained rigorously and used gently the odds go up. Hence, the desirability of one owner cars/boats. There's a 21' Cal, like mine, for sale. "Nodrog" has been owned by the same family since launching in 1973. they've had other boats too, I believe. If I was guessing, having never seen the boat, I'd bet she's either really worn out or in ship shape condition. Considering the family loves the boat, and the owner is getting on in years, I'd probably wager on the latter. By the same token, there are 10 year old boats, on their third owner, and the underlying damage done by the first owner's collision with the dock has never been repaired correctly. It's now no longer a simple matter of re-bedding a stanchion, the damage has metastasized. Now we have lamination issues.

Cam's point that we really don't know how long she'll last is valid. If she was of sound timber when built and maintained, there is every reason to believe that the capability is there to outlast our lifespan.

Dan's point, that at some point in time, the maintenance begins to eat us up and it's just not worth the time and money to do so is what happens to almost all boats eventually. And it is up to the prospective buyer to know what he is willing to spend and do to restore a boat with "issues". There are literally thousands of boats that we see every year, gaze upon and think, "with a little time and money". Those of us with a few years under the keel know that we might be able to finesse the money part to an extent, but the time part is non-negotiable and it is never a "little" time. This doesn't mean it not "do-able", but some of us want to go sailing or need to go to NY.

I bought the VW, it was the right choice, but I still think about that Porsche.
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  #18  
Old 07-08-2007
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Interesting....

I find Danjarch's fatalistic view a tad alarming, as would anyone with an early edition FG vessel if they bought into it.

But I'm with Cam on this one, it's too soon to know. Fiberglass boat building is a relatively young technology in this field, (compared to wood and steel, for example) and it's quite possible that, esp in the case of the early heavy overbuilt boats, their life span could be much longer than some believe.

The most notable failure in recent times would be the Austrailian AC boat a few years back, but that is clearly due to pushing the edge on lightweight high tech construction and design (and incredible loads on the rig)

Most chainsaw candidates are likely due to neglect, mishandling, storm damage or initial poor construction or design.

I would hope that the number of bounces off the dock would not come into it - learn to handle your boat!!
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  #19  
Old 07-08-2007
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Well stated, Sailaway. There is this sunken schooner I pass every so often, I offered to buy her on the cheap years ago, before she sunk. I offer to take her and pull her up, just after she sunk, but was refused both times. She's been sitting half submerged for over three years now. It's just sad.
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  #20  
Old 07-08-2007
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Faster, This forum is mostly made up of amateurs, most of them have a lot of yachting experience, most are really smart and great sailors, but still amateurs. Fiber glass boat building has long sense passed it's infancy. In the professional world of boating: tow boats, marina launches, rentals, police boats, and other boat that are used on a more or less daily basis, there is little debate about how long you can keep a fiber glass boat serviceable.

I haven't once in this thread, said that you shouldn't buy an older boat. It's a largely personal choice to make. I answered the question proposed. How long can you expect an older boat to keep going.
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