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  #1  
Old 07-17-2008
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"Lightly used" or "well maintained"

I'll throw this open for discussion and see if there are any takers:

All things being roughly equal--same age (say 1990), model (30-ft Catalina), price (~$25K), location (Chesapeake), etc.--which do you think would be a better buy for the money--a "lightly used" boat or one that has been "sailed a lot" but responsibly maintained. For the purposes of discussion, assume that a survey of each turned up no major problems.

A couple of things I can think of off the top of my head:
--you may need to buy a lot of gear for the lightly used, whereas the well used may be better equipped and the previous owner may have updated and added the things that a barebones boat doesn't have.
--is a lightly used engine that is fired up once in a while but has then sat around for most of its life really better than one that has been exercised and maintained regularly? I know that mechanical things like engines like to be run.
--if a boat has really been used very little over a 20-year period, are there systems, parts, etc. that are just waiting to give out once you start using them? More so than one that has been updated regularly?
--other thoughts?

I've been on a sailing hiatus for a number of years and am looking to get back into the sport and am in a position to buy a boat. At least half the battle, of course, is to figure out what would work for my situation and how to keep the $'s reasonable, especially the maintenance costs. I'm looking for a weekend and occasional week-long cruiser for a family of three on the Chesapeake.
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Old 07-17-2008
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OK, I'll bite.

Let's assume that the "lightly used" vessel has also been maintained regularly, what now?

Your thoughts about the owner of the well used boat having purchased more cruising equipment is a good one. However, the other guy may have purchased the same level of equipment, just never got around to using it much.

Let's consider an automobile analogy. Would you rather purchase a car with 90,000 miles on it, or one with only 35K? Unless the higher mileage car had something really special about it, that you just couldn't live without, you'd probably go for the low mileage choice. Are boat's all that much different?

Regardless of what you decide, I hope you hire a good marine surveyor to look over any boat you get serious about.

Good luck!
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Old 07-17-2008
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i think i would go with the "sailed alot" boat but i would check it out thoroughly. there are probably items on board you wouldn't notice or think about which have been replaced over time due to usage and there also may be upgrades which you mentioned.
on the other hand, if the p.o. wasn't very handy, the upgrades may turn out to be downgrades. i bought a 30 yr old cat 30 which was "sailed alot and well maintained". there was some things the p.o. did which were upgrades which i thought "that was a good idea" then i got into some other things the p.o. did and said "home depot must have had a sale on wire nuts. they are all over the place"
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Old 07-17-2008
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Current condition is all that matters. People can let things go or keep things in top shape whether they use them or not. There are too many variables to get a good answer to such a vague question. I just bought an outboard that had not been used in years. But it was rebuilt not long before it was put away and drained, cleaned and greased properly before being put away. It fired right up. It probably could have been properly stored for several more years and still fired right up. They don't require regular exercise.
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Old 07-17-2008
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Surver, survey, survey!

Who is to say if it was lightly used by a matronly schoolteacher from the countryside that only sailed it on sunny Saturdays with no wind, or a bunch of guys that sailed the crap out of it and maintained and replaced as things broke? Who really knows?

The best boat is the one in the best shape. A good surveyor should be able to tell you which one that is. Start with finding one that looks and feels good, and then involve the surveyor. Ask questons about surveyors in your area as you ask questions about boats.

Great family boat by the way. I was surprised at the YW listing prices. The MK1 has come down in the last few years.
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Old 07-17-2008
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Depends on what responsibly maintained means and also how the boat was used. Was the boat raced? Has the standing rigging been replaced? Have the chain plates been re-bedded? Does it need either of those things? On the other hand, lightly used doesn't mean much to things like seacocks and engine accessories such as hoses, water pumps, and electrical items. If the well maintained boat has a new suit of sails that might be enough alone to tilt you in that direction.

Certain things, like a new windlass, might be items that make one boat more desirable than another. Others, like five year old "new electronics" are n't such a "value" as that field evolves so rapidly and a $400 radio then is a $99 radio today.

I suppose it comes down to a case by case basis and your question is hypothetical, yes?
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I second Sway, I remember reading a E-Bay sailboat add. It was "lightly used" boat that have not been the the water for a few years.

The advertiser guaranteed the boat to float "As the 6 inches of rain water in the cabin has not drained out" so we know there are no leaks in the hull.
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Old 07-17-2008
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The one thing I noticed in my 12 months search for the perfect boat for me was they were mostly two types of boats. Boats that were a mess and boats in great condition. I didn’t see a lot in-between. I found boats not used a lot were in bad shape because they tended to be neglected. I remember one owner had not used his boat in 5 years and hadn't been on it in that long also. It had 3 ft or really bad looking watter in it and everything was rotten and I mean everything. So I started asking the sellers when did you last sail it and if they said they last summer I would go look. If they said 5 years ago I didn’t bother. If a boat was not used for 5 or 10 years and stored inside it would be fine. But from my experience most would be the same as a car left in a field for five years with the windows down a crack.
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Old 07-17-2008
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To me is all about the maintenance.

Previous post said a lot. "Lightly used" to me sounds a euphamism for neglected - but that is just my opinion and you know what they say about those.

A boat that is used a lot or raced frequently is generally pretty important to the owner/seller. For this reason upgrades and maintenance may be a higher priority since a month of prep is OK at beginning of season if used a lot but even a day of prep is a lot for something used once or twice.

Mike
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Old 07-17-2008
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Unless the "lightly used" boat was properly maintained, some parts of it, like the engine, may actually be in worse shape than the regularly used boat. The only way to know is to survey the boat. A regularly used boat will often have more regular maintenance, more frequently inspected equipment and often more updated equipment.
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