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paradoxbox 08-25-2009 05:50 AM

Is it worth it? A nearly free Albin Vega 27'
I recently discovered a very cheap late 60's Albin Vega 27'.

It has apparently been out of the water for almost 10 years and has extensive gelcoat crazing. From what I could see in the photos the crazing is from sunlight, not structural issues, and that's what I'd expect since the early Albin Vegas were built extremely tough. Mildew has grown into the crazing so it looks pretty weird but I think I could clean it up with acetone. With crazing that extensive it may not be worth it to redo the gelcoat, and instead just paint over it - I have seen some people here do that without issues.. What do you think?

The boat is covered in grime and dirt from all these years of neglect. The interior is really bad, I'd guess maybe about 30 to 60% of the wood is restorable, maybe more, but a lot of stuff will need to be redone to suit my taste. The interior paint is peeling and there's mildew everywhere inside. Clearly the interior needs work. I think it would look a lot better if it were just cleaned thoroughly with some bleach.

The cushions and etc are all toast but I know how to make cushions and it costs next to nothing to do so that's not a big deal.

The owner said the inboard engine worked the last time it was in the water, it's not much of a big deal to me, I can fix engines and I'm not even sure if I'd keep the engine if I get this boat, I might just put a 10hp outboard on.

That being said, according to the owner the hull is not rotten/crunchy and doesn't think the deck needs to be recored.

There are sails but they look to be in really bad shape. I think new sails would be a necessity. I don't know if I could make them myself or not, never tried. My machine might not be heavyweight enough to handle several layers of sail canvas.

Normally, I would not really consider a project that big. But this is an early thick hulled Albin Vega and it's up for pretty cheap. The cheapest Vegas I've seen that are still sailable are around 6-7,000$ but at that price they all have issues with mildew in the cabin and would require painting both inside and out just as much as this project boat needs it. The woodwork on those boats is usually heavily worn or damaged as well..

I figure if I do everything myself I can probably get the boat ready for sailing in 1-2 years with about $7,000 of wood/paint/wire/other materials.

About me: I have no savings and have no patience to save more than a few thousand dollars at a time, saving 20k to buy a boat ain't gonna happen. A project or cheap boat is basically my only option. I pulled the trigger on a Cal 27 about 2 years ago only to find the owner had sold it hours before to someone else. Damn.

What do you guys think? Worth it for an Albin Vega?

paradoxbox 08-25-2009 06:39 AM

mikehoyt 08-25-2009 07:34 AM


I think an awful lot depends on what boats cost in Tokyo. If you can buy a nice Albin Vega for $6-7K then this one would be pretty steep if FREE.

If that trailer is decent and IF you have a place to work on it once you tow it there there may be something. If you have to drive to work on it each time forget it.

If you are really meticulous with your work and love restoring junk to something decent then maybe. If you are not meticulous you may end up with painted junk that you have wasted $5000 or more on and still is worth ZERO.

You need to determine first if the hull problem is cosmetic or if it has compromised the structure of the hull. Gelcoat protects the hull from water and UV and in this boat that may not be the case. Hire a surveyor and go from there.

Assume the engine is toast and if you can make it work then that is a bonus. A 10HP outboard is $3000 new and even an old one working well is $1000 - and you would need a bracket, etc... that costs $$$

Things to check. Hull integrity, rigging, mast, etc.... You will need all new halyards and lines as the ones left out for 10 years will likely be rotted. Sails you will have to buy from a used sail swap place - determine the measurements and then start looking - I,J, E, P are the numbers to look up on Mauri Pro or US Sailing PHRF site. New sails are more expensive than the boat is worth.

Inform the current owner that you love boats. That you think of the Albin Vega as a classic and would like to see it restored to the condition it deserves. Let the owner know the boat in excellent condition is worth less than 10000 and that average condition is 6-7000. Let him know that you expect to require replacemnt/restore of engine, rig, hull, deck, cushions, etc... and replacement of sails. Let him know that you have researched these costs and thy exceed $7000.

After all of this if the owner does not give you the boat forr free then walk away. The only two initial costs you should pay are for a survey to determine if the hull is even worth saving and transport to put the boat near you so you can work on it.

Look up Glissando a Pearson Triton 28. There is an extensive website on the restoration of that from a wreck into a stunning classic boat. Make no mistake that this Vega is a wreck. There is nothing really redeeming about it except perhaps the trailer - and looking at the condition of the boat I have serious doubts about the trailer.

I am not trying to be negative. It is possible to restore a boat in this condition. It will take YEARS between two and five depending on how much time you devote. The materials are not cheap either so be warned.

Good luck with your project should you take it on. Consider posting progress and pictures on a web site.

and most importantly remember one key thing - YOU WILL NOT SAVE MONEY BUYING THIS BOAT. By spending LABOUR (your own) and working on it over a year or two you are buying a boat over time but still paying at least as much and maybe more.

It can be worth it but you certainly should be aware what you are getting into.

J27 #150

paradoxbox 08-25-2009 08:05 AM

How can you tell that the crazing is not just cosmetic in this case?
I mean, if I removed the crazing and resurfaced with new gelcoat, why is the boat still toast?

I should have mentioned, I live in Tokyo now but the boat is on the US Atlantic coast and I will be moving out in that general direction some time in the next month or two.

DrB 08-25-2009 08:34 AM

Assuming that the hull is still.....
somewhat structurally sound, my guess is that your looking at a $30-50K to get to get it decent looking again. You're going to speed around $10K alone just to clean, recore, re gelcoat, and repaint the boat.

Bottom line: I'd pass


Sabreman 08-25-2009 08:45 AM

Wow. The boat should be in the Boats of Shame thread.

I guess that it depends if you want something to work on or something to sail. It'll be a really long time before it's presentable.

That boat is a wreck and the owner should be ashamed. Paul's right. The boat is toast. Strip it and sell the parts? I think that I'd puke if I went below. :(

mikehoyt 08-25-2009 09:08 AM

As I said - only if you feel the Albin is a Classic and you really like restoring antiques.

The Hull probably is toast or near toast. You would need to do an awful lot of stripping off, inspecting and rebuilding and if you are not experienced in that sort of work it is likely beyond your current capabilities or will look awful after completed.

And that is just the first project.


Check out Pearson Triton #381 Glissando | Restoring, Maintaining, and Cruising a Plastic Classic on the Coast of Maine for the restoration of the Pearson Triton. I am sure that Tim spent more restoring than the boat is worth. However it looks extreemely nice now and he used it to build a reputation for his current business.


One rule of thumb with old boats. The stuff you do see is usually a very good indication of the maintenance levels on the things you do not see - especially when the things you see are neglected.

There are a lot of nearly free boats on Eastern US coast that are in far better condition. Also a lot that are newer such that the gear on them may be salvageable.


NCC320 08-25-2009 09:51 AM


Run, don't walk, away from this boat. It's horrible. If you want to buy an older sailboat, there are hundreds, if not thousands, to choose from in the US. Buy one that you can go sailing on now....not years later.

As to not having savings, or trying to have savings, why? I don't know how old you are, but old age comes quickly. A day is coming when you won't be able to work. What will you do then? One doesn't need to be rich, but one does need a certain amount of money...otherwise, life is going to become difficult (I guess there is always some form of welfare, but there are restrictions even there). Take the advice of an old man....from every pay check, set aside a little for a rainey day (and don't touch it except in extreme circumstances). Whatever your income is, live within that. And, please, don't waste it on this junk boat or on a similar one.

Good luck.

paradoxbox 08-25-2009 10:06 AM

I'm 23, soon 24. The reason I have no savings and don't want to right now is because I wasted my younger years working full time and realized what a waste it is to spend my youngest most active/healthy years slaving away for the profit of someone else. It might be the responsible/adult style, but it's not my style.

I quit my decently paying full time job 2 years ago and moved to Japan and have been adventuring here ever since. I love it here but I want to go sailing and see some more of the world, and more of Japan. Buying a boat is better done in North America where prices are much cheaper. I'll sail whatever I buy back to Japan once it's ready. I'm willing to stick in one place for a few months if I need to save up a few grand but I'm not going to go back to the old grind, it's not for me.

As to why everyone keeps saying run away from this boat: Are there any specific reasons why? Details please. Not trying to be argumentative, it's just that I recall about 10 years ago I stumbled on an old salvaged power boat in similar shape, though the gelcoat crazing was not as widespread. Anyway I managed to restore that by myself, including a big hole in the fiberglass, and the boat as far as I know is still in use today.

What's so bad about this boat that I'm missing and everyone else is seeing? Dirt and bad paint make a boat look a lot worse than it is, I'm not seeing what everyone else is.

Keep in mind that this boat, while not quite free, is nearly so, and a Vega in poor to barely fair condition sells for 6-7000. A Vega in decent condition goes for over 10,000.

I had worked out the restoration costs like this. Everything will be DIY, there is no point in paying people to fix a boat this rough:

Sanding materials, solvents, clear or white gelcoat, bottom and topside paint, interior paint, antiskid paint: Approx $1,000 to $1,500 (This is realistic for materials, I priced it out online and allowed for 2gal of extra paint/waste)

New woodwork: Approx $1,000 materials cost. Decent but cheap marine plywood is good enough for me. White formica overlays. I think I will enroll in a college woodworking course to gain free access to the shop facilities, either that or get a job at a furniture manufacturer until the woodwork is done. A lot of the wood already in the boat is savable but needs new formica.

New through hulls, sink, stove, misc: $1,000 to $1,500. If I can find used stuff I'll take it.

New electrical: Not sure. Anywhere from $500 to $1500. Replacing the wiring can't be that expensive even with high metal prices these days, but you never know. $1500 max. I have some electrician friends who can help me out with this for a few cases of beer.

Sails: Don't know. I will need to buy used or make my own, new sails cost too much. I see heavyweight dacron on sale online for under 25$ a yard for 54" rolls. I used to work in the high end printing industry where we use material like that for heavyweight banners so I can probably get some dacron from my old suppliers for way cheaper than retail price. I also have a heavy duty sewing machine already and know how to use it, but I can handsew if my machine can't handle the material. The boat comes with the old sails so I can copy everything.

Engine: $500. If I can't rebuild the current engine cheaply I will look for a used similar engine for cheap, hey it happens. I can do all the engine work myself, rebuilding is not a problem. If I can't find a cheap inboard I'll haul it out and put on a small outboard. The boat actually has a bracket already but I don't like it so I'll get a friend to fabricate one if necessary. Beer payment for that.

Storage space: Surprisingly the most difficult hurdle. I'd love to bring it down to Florida where my family has some property but I can't work in the US (I'm Canadian) so it's no go. Similarly working in -20c weather in the Toronto winter is impossible. I'm still looking around for tall heated garage space that's not too expensive.

Anything I'm missing?

Mimsy 08-25-2009 10:26 AM


Originally Posted by paradoxbox (Post 516660)

As to why everyone keeps saying run away from this boat: Are there any specific reasons why? Details please. Not trying to be argumentative, it's just that I recall about 10 years ago I stumbled on an old salvaged power boat in similar shape, though the gelcoat crazing was not as widespread. Anyway I managed to restore that by myself, including a big hole in the fiberglass, and the boat as far as I know is still in use today.

What's so bad about this boat that I'm missing and everyone else is seeing? Dirt and bad paint make a boat look a lot worse than it is, I'm not seeing what everyone else is.

I think you have gotten some very specific reasons why from some very experienced sailors. The crazing has probably allowed water to penetrate into the hull structure. This means that the hull is probably not structurally sound.

Correct me if I misread you, but are you seriously considering a trans Pacific crossing in this? Seriously?

If you do not have the patience of fortitude to work long enough to save money for a boat, how will you afford to buy the materials for the needed repairs? Will you have the patience to do the work properly, or will it be a slap dash job? If you are planning on doing any blue water sailing, how will you be able to save the money for the bare minimum of safety gear?

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