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post #1 of 15 Old 03-19-2011 Thread Starter
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approx refit cost

Howdy ya'll, first post here. To preface I've been around boats my entire life, grew up around power and sail boats and even lived an a catalina 30 for a year as a child. For highschool I went to a Naval academy in Florida where I truely learned how to sail bymyself.

for the last month or so I've been heavily looking into purchasing my first personal boat. I am confident enough in both my sailing ability and dexterity to reffinish a boat, I'm an aircraft mechanic by trade, and while that doesn't entirely translate into boats it does give me experience overcoming problems I'm unfamiliar with bymyself. The only thing I'm not as confident about depth of my pocket book.

If I purchase a structuarlly sound (well, as far as boats go) boat for $5,000 will it take $50,000 worth of love? I'm looking for something that has a good deck in need of new paint (no soft spots but no nonslip either,) has a cabin with decent floors but is in need of a new sole ( I would not use teak, either paint or use the rubber/gelcoat matts), and needs other odds and ends like light engine servicing, new cushions, etc. is <5,000 for the boat and <15,000 for refinishing reasonable? I see excellent condition c30s and the like going for 20,000 all day so I imagine I could get a beat up boat and put 10,00 worth of my labor and the internet's supplys into it and be proud.

In the aviation industry anything you'd buy for a plane will run you atleast a grand, a simple new yoke for a be58 will be atleast a grand, new carpeting for the 20 sq foot enterior will be several several grand, and so on. I'm afraid that because boating is also a luxury it'll share the same million percent mark up.

Also allow me to explain my reasoning behind spending 15,000 on a rough boat rather than just buying a good condition boat from the gate. I've always learned by simply getting into something and doing it, if I bought a boat in need of some love and refinished it, I'd learn much more about it and be much more confident in it and my abilities than simply purchasing a good condition boat. I'd also be able to set up the boat like I want it (the gelcoat/rubber sole rather than teak and holy for example.)

For example of the kind of boats I've been looking at here's this: (okay I can't post links in my first few posts, but this is what the add reads)"This is a project boat but has so much potential once finished. It has all sails and rigging, inboard 38hp diesel (not running), lots of teak wood and all cushions are included but will need to be recovered. The hull is all fiberglass and extremely solid. I've spent the last week taking out the interior and prepping it for the repairs so the hard part is done. This boat will go to the first person with $5000 cash. I hate to see it go but I don't have the money to do the repairs. To the person that buys this boat, I will help you work on it and I have 2 guys that will also assist. It can be ready to sail to the bahamas in two weeks! The boat is currently at Salt Creek Marina in St. Pete and will have to be towed out or you can rent a slip from them. Serious inquiries only, Call/text xxx-xxx-xxxx" Forty feet is actually a lot larger than what I've been thinking (more like 27-30), and the guy does not list the hull# or even the model, which makes me nervous, but it's hard to beat 40 feet for five grand.

too lazy; didn't read: Is <20,000 reasonable to purchase a structuraly safe boat and refinish it to make it something I can be proud of?

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post #2 of 15 Old 03-19-2011
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In today's market with $20K to spend you can certainly find something worthwhile in the up-to-30 foot range. Do some searches on with your parameters (location, price, year, size) and see what comes up.

At the upper end of this budget you may well find something that needs little more than serious cleaning and tweaking.

But many boats that are projects boats aren't advertised as such.. one that is presented as a project and has a non running engine (find out why???) may be more than you want to take on.

You experience will be an asset. Eyes wide open and I'm sure you'll do OK.


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post #3 of 15 Old 03-19-2011
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Do your self a favor, and spend the money to have any boat that you are serious about surveyed, and be there during the survey.

During the survey, I discovered that the boat that I eventually bought REQUIRED that the keel bolts be replaced. This cost the former owner ~30% of the asking price.

I've spent close to 25% of the purchase price on refitting (engine, electrical, ground tackle, plumbing, deck fittings...), and hundreds of hours of DIY time on this boat since I purchased it in November.

As a result of my investment, she is more sea worthy, but worth (maybe) 20% more than I paid .
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post #4 of 15 Old 03-19-2011
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I have over the last 5 yrs, put about $3-4 to every one my 30' cost me. That was just over $20K. Then again, much of it was hired out, some sails, ie 3 jib/genoa's, spinaker and main, complete interior redo, including cushions etc.

I would say it depends upon the total cost, but I would say I hit it on the higher end. I've heard others say $2-4 vs what paid in extra gear too, depending upon how old, other costs etc too.


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post #5 of 15 Old 03-19-2011
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It is very easy to spend $10,000 and hundreds of hours refitting an old $5,000 boat and finish up with a $6,000 boat.

I had a panic call from a lady who had been given a $5,000 boat and after 4 weeks she was out $1,700 and wanted to give it away!

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post #6 of 15 Old 03-19-2011
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Every single thing on a 40 footer, will cost much more than a 30 footer. Standing/running rigging, sails, winches, storage, bottom paint, mooring tackle, the list is endless. While you may be OK with the initial purchase and repair costs, the on-going cost of a bigger boat can eat you alive. For example, I used to moor a 25 footer, cost of $160/ year for the permit and $125/ year for the life expectancy of the mooring tackle. I have a 34 footer, and while the permit is the same, the tackle costs have risen to $300/ year, just because my tackle has to hold 13000 lbs., instead of 5500 lbs. Unless you have a compelling reason to get big, smaller usually is better... Launching, went from $40 in gas for my truck and $20 for crew refreshments to $1100.

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post #7 of 15 Old 03-19-2011
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I think it's a case of a fixer-upper being just about the most expensive option. Far better to get a smaller boat that's been well looked after - you'll still find plenty of jobs to keep you busy - and, as they say, it's not easy to gild a turd.

There's a 1979 Cal 31 for sale locally in great shape for 16K, and Catalina 30s can be had for the same price. There are well looked after boats for sale in that price range, with updated systems and showing pride of ownership.

Rather than what you seem to be planning, which is the biggest boat you can afford and in poor condition, go for the smallest boat you need that's also in good shape.

Not vouching for these boats in any way but they should give you an idea of the kind of thing you can find for your money :

Sailboat 31 Foot

Also :

Catalina 30' 1981

Last edited by MarkSF; 03-19-2011 at 11:36 PM.
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post #8 of 15 Old 03-20-2011
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...and I completely forgot; Welcome to SailNet.
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post #9 of 15 Old 03-20-2011
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Welcome aboard.
When I was in the market 6 years ago I was tempted to buy a 35 fter that needed loads of "TLC"
During inspection I fell through a rotten hatch and could have been badly hurt. Just got a few scrapes from the engine block but realised this "project" was not for me.
Bought a well found 26 ft Westerly Centaur after a survey and havn,t looked back. I spend what I can on upgrades and maintenance but can sail every day the weather and work allows.
Get the best boat you can afford, theres always plenty to do just to keep her up to scratch.
Safe sailing

The great appear great because you are on your knees. James Larkin, Irish Labour Movement.
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-20-2011
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Since you are familiar with aviation maintenance and costs, I'll share a few comparisons.

Just like aircraft, when you install a new piece of equipment on a boat, the increase in the value of the boat is substantially less than the equipment cost. Therefore, when possible, it is much more efficient to find a boat with as much of what you want in good condition. Limit the retrofitting.

Cleaning and aesthetics are the best payback in value and hurt value beyond their cost to repair. Buy an ugly, dirty, scratched boat in good structural and mechanical condition and clean it up.

As far as parts costs, you've had good training. Similar to aviation, you will find that many generic parts are marked up if they say "marine" or are purchased from a marine supplier. Some are legitimately engineered to withstand the harsh environment and worth the premium, others are just a rip off.

Here's the good news. Compared to aircraft parts, I find marine parts to be much less expensive and rarely have the OMG experiences I have in the airplane. I just paid $1,000 for a single switch on the airplane! I replaced a remote starter switch for my genset last year, which was a substantially more complex part, for well under $200.

There are many more boats than aircraft, so that helps drive volume efficiency. To the greatest extent, there is no authority that must approve every part before it can be installed, like the FAA. Legal liability for marine parts is much less than aircraft parts too.

So you'll think boating is inexpensive !!

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In the harsh marine environment, something is always in need of repair. Margaritas fix everything.
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