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dgbenner 05-10-2011 09:50 PM

Checking out or inspecting a $3-6K boat?
If you aren't getting a $20k+ boat and are looking in the $3-6,000 range, I'd imagine you wouldn't get a boat broker to even look at it.

If you are looking at a cheaper boat, what is an inexpensive way to get the boat checked out? Are there marine inspectors that might just charge you a couple hundred to look at a smaller boat? Or is there a checklist for smaller, less complicated boats that a somewhat novice could follow and check out their own boat?

If it's something I could do myself, it would be cheaper but also make me look more critically at a larger number of boats.

I'd imagine you want to see EVERY boat in and out of water. Is that a first visit sort of thing to do?

arf145 05-10-2011 11:46 PM

There's a useful sticky on this forum by Sailingdog on how to inspect. Check it out. Plenty of books out there too. Casey has a book on inspecting an old boat.

If you are thinking of buying a boat without a marine surveyor--which most, I think, would not recommend--then you need to become fairly expert. The reason that even $3-$6k boats might need a survey is that some problems can potentially eat the complete value of the boat, or even send it below zero. Stuff like wet and rotten deck core, hidden hull damage, marginal standing rigging, blown outboard, etc. can be real expensive.

A marine surveyor can save your butt. And if you want insurance, which might even be required if you plan to keep the boat in a marina, a survey might be required. I believe most consider the size of the boat in their charges--it might not be as much as you think.

capttb 05-11-2011 01:03 AM

If you are thinking of a Potter, Sanibel, Montgomery, Capri, Lido, Catalina 22 or other small boat your budget might be possible. If you are after a larger keelboat it's going to be real hard to find one worth spending your time and money. What did you have in mind?

dgbenner 05-11-2011 02:51 PM

Capttb, are you saying an older keelboat is going to be too old to be of value? If it's a 30 year old boat that it's too in need of repairs to be worth the marine survey and dragout?

I'm sure it depends on the particular boat, but is that a general rule?

It's a '78 Oday with a NASA employee as an owner, so he's been boasting maintenance... but it's just a possibility. There's plenty of fish in the sea and am likely not to buy the first boat I look at.

EJO 05-11-2011 03:34 PM

Hey dg as you mentioned the PO can tell you a lot about the condition a boat is in. I assume your PO probably did do a good upkeep, then was/is the boat used? You mention in & out of water check. I personally like out of water check as it is easier to check all below the waterline. A clause in you sales agreement can protect you from problems in the water. Just a satisfactory sea trial clause should cover, leaks, engine performance, sail performance, etc. if they aren't satisfactory No Sale.
Bottom line; it is hard to spend 20% of your $4000 budget to haul in and out a boat, have it surveyed and then find out you don't want it. Hard to swallow as now your budget will be down by $750-$1,000
Befriend if you don't know anybody already a salty sailor that knows and has looked/owned many boats and do read-up on the subject(s) and then check the boat (in the $3K-$6K range) out by yourself and trust your intuition.
Now as mentioned B-4 insurance companies most likely will require a survey although some accept older ones if there has been one done.
If the boat is being used there probably is insurance on it, see if you can take over/continue the coverage.
Good luck in realizing your dream.

olson34 05-11-2011 03:39 PM

Foundations, Gingerbread, and etc
After 30+ years (give or take..) you are purchasing a combination of (A) initial build quality and (B) continuous upgrades and preventative maintenance.

If "A" is too low, it's hard for "B" to compensate for it... kinda like gold plating a t_rd.
Many boats will be, on your best day shopping, about a 50-50 split between A and B.

An old ODay was originally never equal to a Tartan, CS, Ericson, or similar, but it was above some other low end hulls. It's price reflected that, then and likely now, too.

The advice on this site about how to assess a used boat will serve you well.
Before you release your earnest money, though, always get a survey. A good survey will introduce you to many facets of boat ownership -- some familiar to you and some new or unexpected.

Fair Winds,

deniseO30 05-11-2011 05:55 PM


Originally Posted by olson34 (Post 729429)
An old ODay was originally never equal to a Tartan, CS, Ericson, or similar, but it was above some other low end hulls. It's price reflected that, then and likely now, too.

So, like what factual proof would support of the quoted statement?
I've seen allot of "old" Odays and own one of course.

DG, possibly you could put this post on the Oday forum to get realistic opinions about them. Which model is the boat your looking at?

It's important to know your own limitations in knowledge and experience or get a survey or at least some sailnetters in your area to come look. Really cheap boats of ANY mfg, can be money pits for sure. In actual experience I've found that most boats are just left for years and years and were nice boats before the owners lost interest. a few things about "old" boats.. many were very heavily built because builders were still in the wood mindset when FG came onto scene. Soft decks are found on ALL boats even newer ones. water is most often rain water that entered the boat from neglect. Many boats have interiors that are "trashed" which is not difficult to fix. There are thousands of boats out there... so take your time in your search, you will find her eventually.

johnnyandjebus 05-11-2011 07:07 PM


The sticky thread mentioned above would be a great place to start regardless of the cost of the boat. I used it to evaluate my own boat, a bit sobering really. Don't get me wrong she is solid and sound but the list of things to do didn't get any smaller after the exercise was done :)

With that said, lets assume you buy a 4000$ boat and spend 800$ on a survey. It seems high at first glance, almost 1/4 the cost of purchase price. But, purchase price is just the beginning. My 26 footer costs me about 2800-3000$ a year just to own, never mind any repairs or improvements. Add to the equation that it is a lot easier to buy a boat then it is to sell one, I would say a survey from a competent surveyor is a must.
If you are thinking of purchasing a 3-6000$ boat, good for you, there are plenty of them out there. But get a survey before you lay your money down. Surveyor's have no skin in the game and can give you a more realistic view point of said boat while you are ignoring the faults and dreaming about the possibilities.


ccriders 05-11-2011 07:52 PM

Don Casey authored a good little book, "Inspecting an Aging Sailboat" published by International Marine and sold everywhere for about $15.00. He uses a lot of illustrations sort of anticipating that you may not have absolute knowledge of arcane sailorisms. With just a modicum of mechanical and technical skills you can use it to guide you through a "survey" surely as good as one you will get for a few hundred dollars. If you can find an experienced sailor who does his own maintenance to assist, you can elimnate most of the risk in buying an older inexpensive sailboat. With book in hand build a spreadsheet of every thing you inspect and annotate repairs or replacement costs and by the end of the process you have a pretty good handle on the costs to have a safely operating vessel. Then if you look at several boats and document each you have good cost comparisons when that beauty steals your heart and the sirene call obliterates your rationality.
Have fun looking. There are a lot of boats available so choose wisely.
ps. Remember boat is an acronym for Break Out Another Thousand.

hellosailor 05-11-2011 08:11 PM

dg, if you hunt around there are many older threads on the perennial question of whether an old boat is a treasure trove or a hole in the water. If you don't know boats, and don't know someone (who you'd trust intimately) who knows about boats, you want to hire a surveyor.

If the NASA "employee" is the guy who messed up the o-rings on the shuttle, you don't want the boat. If he's a cafeteria clerk, harder to say. If he's an obsevvie engineer who kept maintenance logs and receipts, that's better prospects for a good boat.

The problem is that if you don't know boats, you have no idea how expensive a rotted deck can be, or "just a waterstain" on the bulkhead, or a little corrosion on the chainplates, or a couple of bad keel bolts. How bad? Well, you can sink $20,000 into a $5,000 bargain boat that could have been bought outright for $15,000. And you can't just walk away from a bad boat--you've got a rather large disposal fee to get it hauled away and scrapped.

It's a funny thing, but aside from the few almost mythological deals ("The divorce says I have to sell the boat and split it, but I want to screw my ex so I'm selling it for ten cents on the dollar") it is still most likely that if a stranger is selling you a boat for $5,000, the boat MIGHT be worth what they are asking for it. But if it was worth four times as much--they'd have no trouble selling it for $20,000.

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