Originally Posted by JustMeUC
I am not ready to buy my "big" boat yet. I am researching and learning to sail now and plan to buy in 2 or 3 years. Lets say I want a 34ish foot boat to sail the ICW, Bahamas and the Caribbean. I can buy a 2 year old Catalina 34' for $120,000-$140,000 Or I can buy 25-30 year old Tartan 34 for under $30,000 (lets assume in average to good condition for it's age, original engine, sails 10 years old etc etc). Which do you believe will cost me more if I keep my boat for 25 years? I love the looks of the older boats, but lets talk financial costs only. I will pay cash do don't figure in interest.
Sincerely, I can't advise you without knowing your needs. A 30 year old Tartan 34 is a good coastal cruiser for one or two, but snug for a liveaboard. The electrics are likely toast and certainly not to current code. The rigging, if original and if in salt, is probably done. So you have to factor in some coin to get it to "bareboat" status.
Do you want toys? And by toys, I mean refrigeration, a stereo, lots of bright lights, radar, GPS, and a way to get internet access? A 1976 Tartan 34 would have had an icebox, an alcohol stove, four or six 12 VDC auto lightbulbs, maybe a flourescent in the head (which would have been a hand pump Brydon or "they don't make 'em anymore" brand, and probably a VHF lead to the nav station.
That, my friend, would have been it.
Windlass? Not likely. New winches? Self-tailing? Probably not. Lots of blown-out dacron with frayed batten pockets? Sure!
Now, if you can live "lightly on the water" and can have more amenities than camping (indoor stove top, toilet) but less than a trailer (likely no shower, no hot water), then you can have a lot of cheap fun. The boat itself, if maintained in certain critical areas (seacocks, stern tubes, rudder stocks, rigging) will take you anywhere, and you can pop in a few LEDs to replace those hot, amp-hungry old lights. But if you want toys and comforts, you might as well resign yourself to doubling the purchase price, and we haven't even got to the state of the tankage or the engine...a 30 year old diesel==*if maintained*== can be fine, but that is a huge if given that owner stupidity can kill a new diesel in 18 months.
So it's down to you: Personally, I like simple, good old boats, and can get by on the bare minimum of what people currently find acceptable. That's partly because I'd rather be sailing, but also because I never want to be 1,000 NM offshore and faced with using a bucket to crap in with anything but a smile on my face.
But seeing as we HAVE a boat now that makes ice cubes, heat, cold air and boxes that go "beep", I do find that I spend more time fixing and maintaining stuff in the manner of a floating power station than I did when I had a boat with a half-dozen lights, no inverter, no radar and no worries.