Opinions on Helms 25
I have an opportunity to buy a Helms 25 with trailer for $900 (or less). I'm basically looking for something that I can fix up over the next year and turn into a decent first boat and weekend getaway.
Here's what I know about the Helms 25 from the owner:
"We have a 25 foot Helms sailboat with extra large cockpit and cabin. It has a drop keel, and double axle trailer. It has a mainsail, jib, genoa, and spinnaker. Some sails need some patching. Interior cushions are ok, but old. Boat is in very serviceable shape, but needs some work. We would like $900 for the boat."
Any opinions on Helms sailboats or this boat in particular?
Here's a quick update on the boat description/condition after having checked it out this afternoon:
Sails: The storm jib appears to be in good shape. The spinnaker, mainsail and genoa all have 1 or more golfball size holes (probably from a rodent chewing).
The electrical system in the boat appears to be in very poor condition and will need to be replaced.
The cushions all need to be replaced.
The double axel trailer looks a little rough. I'm concerned about the wheel bearings.
The good: The hull and deck appear to be in good shape.
Hmmm... low-cost or free boats are often very expensive propositions... that's why they're low-cost or free in the first place.
It can often cost more to bring the low-cost or free boat up to sailing condition than it would to have bought one that was in decent shape to begin with. The sails for a boat that size will be at least $1000 for new sails—assuming you want all three. The electrical system can add up to a lot of money fairly quickly, especially given the recent increases in the price of copper and wire in general, even if you do the work yourself. The cushions and upholstery aren't exactly cheap either.
I nearly purchased a helms 27 a year ago, and tried to research them without much success. What I did learn, however, is that the maker, Helms, wanted to make a "better Catalina." In my opinion, he didn't succeed, but I think they are well regarded for what they are. The H27 I saw was going for $12,000, and was in great shape. Minor osmosis, new sails, new running and standing rigging. Having recently purchased a boat (which I love), I'd definitely have it surveyed by someone who knows what they're doing, and who has no conflicts of interest. One thing I've learned over the past year is that some boats are actually worth less than $0. What I mean is that over time you'll see that it's a screwed up mess, and that you want something else. The problem: You won't be able to get rid of it because no one wants to buy it. Just have it surveyed, even if it costs you a third of what the boat costs.
Hey, I like a good deal as much as the next guy, and $900 is pretty cheap for a boat on trailer, but I gotta go with the flow and say don't do it. Here's a realistic breakdown of the minimum requirements just to get it in the water, (if you go as cheap as possible):
$150 used jib
$300 used main (if you can find a used one)
$500 used outboard (I assume it has no motor?)
$150 new lines (sheets, dock, Halyards)
$150 Wire and parts to get lights working
$100 Coast Guard required safety gear (pfd's , horn, vhf, flare, etc)
$125 Anchor and ancillaries
$100 Wheel bearings
$100 Sales tax on boat
$100 Boat registration
$50 Trailer Registration
$900 Purchase price
I'm sure there's lots more, but I'm already up to almost $3000. You do the math.
Thanks for the replies (and keep 'em coming!).
I agree with this statement: "There's nothing more expensive than a cheap boat".
However, my current budget will only allow a small purchase and lots of sweat equity. It's either buy now and sail a bit by next summer or wait 2+ more years to save up.
There must be someone out there who is of the opinion that "Hey, it's less $1000. Go for it!" I can always eject (sell it/dump it) if I find it's going to cost too much. But I honestly think I can get it in seaworthy for not much money. That probably means I'll be patching the old sails and living without cushions for a while, but I'll be sailing and learning.
I donít think anybody is going to encourage you to do this. You can find better boats for the same money if you look around a bit. That boat is lightly built to put it politely and has problems because of the balsa core in the deck just for a start. You will spend much more then the boat is worth and have a so so boat after you are done. To put the same time and money into a boat that has lasting value so you can recover some of your investment is a better choice.
Now having said that if you want to do this and donít care about the money then go for and have fun. After all when you spend money for a vacation its money spent with no return and this will be the same thing. You will spend lots of money and just have memories afterwards.
All the best,
Edit. I was wrong and Knotaloud is brave enough to recommend the project. I wonder if he will feel bad after this turns out to be a mistake. VBG
Thanks again for the replies! I know the wise the decision is to pass on the boat. But there's also a part of me that wants the challenge and enjoyment of cleaning up and old run down boat. I'll keep you posted on the decision.
Good luck if you get it... however, I still feel that getting a different boat would probably be the less expensive solution in the long run.
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