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Old 06-26-2008
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Advice on 30' Sailboat

We sail a Catalina 22 on Lake Erie and are looking to upgrade to a 30' boat. Currently looking at a 2001 Catalina 310 in excellent condition, priced in the low-mid 70's, a new Hunter 31 priced at 90k and older 80's Catalina 30 for 20-30k.

The newer boats would be purchased with a large 20yr mortgage vs little to no loan on an older boat. However, recognizing that the fixed costs for dock, insurance and routine maintenance are the similar the annual cost becomes close especially when you deduct tax savings on interest.

The 310 is all original so I'm not sure what I should be expecting to replace in the next 5 years. Running rigging, batteries, sails etc.

The new Hunter 31 comes with a 5 year warranty on hull and everything excluding wear/tear. It includes safety and dock equipment.

The 80's Catalina 30 lacks some of the new design features and theoretically would be more work to maintain. I will do all of the maintenance myself. The specific boat we are looking at has been stored inside every winter and has recent updates including sails, rigging, prop shaft and window seals.

Any advice? Maintenance cost is the huge variable in boat ownership, I'm struggling with what to budget for each of these boats.


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Old 06-26-2008
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If the older catalina in fact has been well maintained, I'd say it is the best of the lot, it'll probably sail better than either of the other two, and offers a lot more value for the money. Don't be afraid to pay up for a mint model, it should just mean that the PO has been spending $$$ keeping the boat up, reducing your maintenance budget. If the boat passes a survey cleanly, I don't think the maintenance costs will vary that much...
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Old 06-26-2008
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While the annual maintenance costs will run at similar levels, the older boat will likely need more of an immediate injection to upgrade and update what's there now.(though you say it's been well kept)

However that will be offset by the cost of financing the newer boats, I would think.

Then there's the "off the lot" hit when you buy anything new, and the fact that the new boat may lack some basic amenities and accessories that might be on board the older Cat 30.(although Hunter has always done a pretty decent job of equipping their boats.

The 310 may be a good balance as long as you're prepared to carry the debtload and its associated costs. Benefits can include more updated design, a roomier boat and possibly fewer potential headaches.. it's old enough that the POs have probably added a few goodies that you'll get for "free", and you'll be financing a good deal less money.

OTOH "debt free" has a nice ring to it!!

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Old 06-26-2008
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Suggest you review this thread as you consider your options:

70's & 80's Cheap Construction Techniques

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Old 06-26-2008
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I like the older (read less dept/payments), in good shape/well cared for C30. When we were in the market for a 30 footer we looked at a lot of C30s. The one recurring problem was the "Catalina smile". referring to keel separation. So a good surveyor is absolutely essential. Make it clear you want them to check out the smile. DS
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Old 06-26-2008
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I don't think that the newer boats are worth it. They are only marginally nicer. If you need the swim platform transom, then you will have to go for the newer models and pay more. If you can live without the swim platform, then the older C30 is much more boat for the money. You will save thousands with the C30 and you won't have to pay interest (i.e. throwing money away).

Sounds like the C30 that you are looking at has most of the big money maintenance completed and just needs to be sailed. Have a mechanic check the engine and get a marine survey to be sure.
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Old 06-26-2008
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If you are capable of making repairs on your own, then by all means, go ahead and buy an older used boat in good condition. You aren't paying for interest or depreciation, and unless you make a big mistake, interest and depreciation will be more than your repairs.

Be careful about the engine, and make sure that it is on good order, and will propel you in the manner you have become accustomed.

Catalina 30s of that era could have either Atomic 4 gas engines, 20HP or much smaller diesels. If you plan to do a lot of motoring, then I would recommend the 20 HP diesel (M25)

I'm very happy with my Catalina 30, but there are also lots of other makes of nice boats you might want to consider.

Good Luck!


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Old 06-26-2008
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To me this is a no brainer. After a couple months of kicking a lot of tires, we just bought a used Niagara 31 and spent in the low 20's. There are lots of good used boats on the market right now and most are selling for 10-20% off the asking price. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of dogs out there as well, but if you take some time and look around there are good deals. We saw a beautiful Cal 33, just loaded with everything, in the mid $30's.

I'd only buy new if I was quite sure the boat would hold it value and I doubt the Catalina would, few boats do. We were luck with our first boat, it was a Baba 30, which sells for more today than we paid 20 years ago new.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 06-26-2008
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Certainly you will have to replace some of the parts on a older boat sooner, but if the boat is clean now you have time. Probably 2footitis will get you to a new boat before you need to replace anything big

Seriously, by a boat you love. If it is the newer 310 it is a great couples boat and also good for a small family. It is newer and cleaner, but when things break they are still expensive.

The older C30's are great boats. Very little change over the years with the exception of the walk thru transom.

And the deductible interest....that just means you are rationalizing it! You have to SPEND the money on the interest BEFORE you can reduce your income with it. The boat will do a good enough job of reducing your income in the first place.

Buy what you like and have a great time.
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Old 06-27-2008
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I went through the same decision making process as you are about three years ago. Ended up buying a well-cared for 1983 C30 with the M-25 diesel. Although an older boat will continue to need regular upkeep, if the survey comes out good, its much more affordable in the long run and you don't absorb the depreciation hit. Remeber, its a buyer's market so you should be able to find a pretty good boat at a good price.
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