How much more "gracefully" do high-quality older boats age than mass-production ones? - SailNet Community

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Old 03-14-2008
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How much more "gracefully" do high-quality older boats age than mass-production ones?

Prologue
I'm in the process of "upgrading" and trading towards a bigger boat. I had set my sights on something in the 47'-55' range (with a tendency towards 49' or 50'). I decided that if I were staying with a modern European production boat such as a Jeanneau I would want something newer than 2002 which is the build year of my current boat and which I can see will have another couple of years of service before major repairs and replacements become necessary. I've become quite enamoured of the Grand Soleil 50' because of the sleek looks but am not certain that this vessel is what I should really be getting for long-distance travels

Observation
Using the price ranges I get from my pre-selection of post-2002 Jeanneau/ Beneteau/ Dufour boats, I realize that the sticker price is quite close to older quality bluewater boats that I find attractive - Oyster, Tayana, Hallberg-Rassy and Swan to name but 4.

Question
Is it fair to say that a well-maintained 1992 Oyster or Swan could equate to a 10 year younger European production boat when it comes to "remaining component life"? Without going too deep into the relative merits of each boat in particular, is it realistic to say that (given the same amount of use) the running and repair costs for both types of boats will be about the same?

To use another example - currently on Yachtworld there are both a 1994 Oyster 485 and a 2006 Jeanneau 49DS at about the same price. Both have comparable extras and seem to be well-cared for and offer pricing well within the ranges for other similar ships.

Which of these is likely to require more work (and maintenance costs) over the next 3 years?

I know that there is no right or wrong answer and I most likely won't agree with a some of the responses - but I am looking forward to hearing different viewpoints and will certainly hear some viewpoints which I wouldn't have considered.
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Old 03-14-2008
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Just my 2 cents but when buying a Swan or a Morris your buying design and construction. However components are just that. What you get in a Morris or Shannon, you get in a production boat as well. It is conceivable that the higher end boats may have better design characteristics that may extend the life of some items but in general a 12 year old windless is still a 12 year old windless.
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Old 03-14-2008
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There are an awful lot of variables in these questions... I'd say the quality of upkeep, coupled with the actual use (ie hours on everything) and the environment in which the boat lived would have a great deal to do with how well it might "age".

This would not be regardless of original quality, but poor upkeep on a quality boat will degrade it faster, obviously.

Then there's the "cachet" of owning an Oyster over a "garden variety" Jeanneau (no offence to Jeanneaus, btw)

The older boat would not enjoy some of the newer features on recent designs, some of which are in fact improvements. But at 50ish feet you're going to have lots of space anyhow....
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Old 03-14-2008
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Re-sale value. The older prestige brand boats will likely drop less in value than the newer mass-produced boats. Something to consider.
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Old 03-14-2008
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Yep, they've already taken the hit, so to speak.
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Old 03-14-2008
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If your concern is maintenance then it's all about the components. Generally one assumes a higher level of quality windlass (for example) on a production Swan or Oyster than a standard European Production boat. Still doesn't matter squat if the owner doesn't maintain it. Unfortunately a surveyor merely notes the presence of, and occasionally the operation of, a component - he/she can not tell beyond outwardly obvious cleanliness if a windlass/winch, etc. has been maintained.
Engine life is engine life and depends more on maintenance then make and model.
The hull and it's design are not large maintenance items, and if interior joinery is a issue because it's working to much (flex etc..) then it is what it is when you buy it.
All in all, newer should mean less maintenance in the short term, your results may vary depending on the variable number of variables - i.e., really there is no answer beyond meaningless dribble so I'll just shut up.
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There are no rules; only generalizations and we all know about generalizations....
Also, you can't reasonably compare value based on a search of the internet - there are too any unknowns.

So, another vote for the comparison being meaningless
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Old 03-14-2008
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Quality is what it is. Look at anything built of hi-quality materials, intended to endure, and you will see. They still look great, are still solid and functional. Higher quality items will stand up to more abuse/poor maintenance than lesser items, and still endure, but with everything there is a limit. The best you can do is not be in a hurry, inspect in detail, and buy within your current, and future financial scope. Make the best choice you can make, be at peace with that, make the leap, and deal with the issues that arise.
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Old 03-14-2008
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Variable craftsmanship obviously has an impact on how "gracefully" a boat will age - as well as owner maintenance. Based upon experiences in owning both high quality and mediocre boats, I do agree however, with all comments regarding boats built with higher quality materials having better endurance in the long run, over boats using less noble materials. Isolating all other variables, this fact remains true.
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Well maintained older boats will already have components or systems replaced or upgraded as needed. Obviously it depends on the particular boat, and you can't make sweeping generalizations about them.

From the sound of your question, and the fact that you would consider anything in the spectrum from the cheap French production boats, to blue water cruisers, to Swans, I suspect you haven't decided upon the type of sailing you expect to do, or what you expect from the boat. If you're serious about sailing, I'd take a couple years to sort out these issues before buying a 50-footer. On the other hand, if you just want something that looks nice for dockside parties and bragging rights, then jump right in there and spend as much as your ego needs.
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