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gulls 12-06-2003 08:06 PM

Sooner or Later (a boat)???
Hi there
Looking for some words of wisdom from the sages. Any one out there who can help??
Here''s the quandry:
I have been diligently saving for "the dream boat" (at least for me - it will probably be an oldish mid 30 footer) for 2 years. I expect to have the 20% downpayment and some initial fix up money at the end of 2004. ($20k cash to buy a $50k boat). While I have sailed several times as a passenger before - I am just learning to actually sail now recently started crewing with a friend in races on a lake. (We came second today - woo hoo).
We are sailing his 1972 Catalina 27.
He will probably be buying a beatiful Tartan 28 this month so we will have a slick new ride - can''t wait.
That means the Catalina is for sale. He needs to get $8000 for it, and with many little improvements and an almost new outboard, its probably a fair price as the boat is in good condition for a 1972 classic. (Only bad thing is old sails - but I won''t be racing - just learning and weekend sails).

So the big question: I could buy the boat outright as well as pay for the slip for a year while leaving a couple of thousand in the boat fund. Obviously I would have to sell before buying the big boat as I will need the $7000 I think I should get to make the purchase.

If I bought the boat, I would gain experience in sailing, boat ownership etc for about 18 months while I continue to save for the dream boat.
BUT - it will eat into my boat fund savings each month with the inevitable running costs - this will delay my ability to buy the big boat anywhere from 4 months to 8 months.

So I must weigh up experience vs the ability to buy my real cruiser at the end of next year - having the money available immediately I find "my" boat vs having to sell an old Catalina 27 before I can buy.

Sorry so long winded but its a lot to think about - I would greatly appreciate any thoughts, comments, suggestions etc.

sailingfool 12-07-2003 05:33 AM

Sooner or Later (a boat)???
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My advice is to buy a mid-20''s size boat now and start building experience as an owner and sailor. That way your learning experiences (mistakes) are will be smaller and mostly behind you before you get into deeper water (big boats = big $$$), and you can learn more safely.
Whether the C27 in hand is the right boat is a seperate matter. I would strongly suggest you try to look at other 27s especially Catalinas before deciding on that boat. has a long list of C27s, and they seem to run from $4-12,000 in price. Boat values vary tremendously based on the condition and equipment of a boat. Recognize that just a new engine and a new set of sails for a C27 would come close $8,000, so a less expensive boat may not be the better buy. Sometimes a boat higher boat price is only covering the cost of recent upgrade expenditures, in effect the underlying boat is free.

The fact friend needs $8,000 from his C27 doesn''t mean its worth that much. I''d get the listings for all the C27s on the market, analyze them for value and then look at a few - then you can make a more knowledgeable offer to whomever you chose to.

Even if you proceed with the friend''s boat, you still want to drop the $$$ for a through survey before you are committed. My experience - there are no such thing as a good deal in a boat - the owner always knows more than the buyer - and the most you can hope for is to actually get what you pay for.

That said, go for it, with caution.

Good luck.

Jeff_H 12-07-2003 06:08 AM

Sooner or Later (a boat)???
I mostly agree with Sailingfool. A Catalina 27 is a good first boat. They sail well enough and responsive enough to teach you a lot about sailing. They are robust enough to stand up to some new comer abuse. A 1972 Catalina 27 is about as depreciated as a boat can get and still be sailable. (nothing pejoritive intended there) The C27''s are comparatively easy to buy and sell. Owning the Catalina 27 for a few years will allow you to make mistakes on a boat that is cheap to repair and own. Learning to maintain a simple boat like the Catalina and will save you a lot of money in bad moves when you buy your ultimate boat.

Like Sailingfool, I am not sure about the asking price. Here in Annapolis, $8000 will buy you a mid-1970''s Cat 27 with full racing hardware and instrument upgrades and with a full racing bottom, and sails and rigging in a condition suitable for the higher loads of racing. These boats often have new keel bolts and have had some fairly expensive structural beefing up. While it would cost a fair amount to transport one of these boats to your lake,my first reaction is that the boat in question sounds a bit over priced. Still the cost of owning a boat like this, if and only if, it is in sound and well maintained condition to begin with, for a few years is so small compared to the lessons learned that it would make sense to buy the boat even if you end up paying a grand or more over the market value of the boat.

I also agree with sailingfool''s recommendation to get the boat surveyed. If this boat has keel bolt problems or needs new standing rigging, the combined costs are well in excess of the value of the boat.

Good luck,

gulls 12-07-2003 11:05 AM

Sooner or Later (a boat)???
Thanks for the thoughts so far, let me give some more info on the situstion.
The C27 I''m thinking about is the same one I currently crew on - I know its in great shape with everything working. (won''t need sail trial - we do that every week)
It has a very recent survey (No big problems - I know the surveyor and believe he is being honest), a new bottom and many recent upgrades - ie. I don''t expect to have to put much money into it after the initial purchase and I would get a heck of a deal on the slip fee.
I expect to loose about $1000 on the deal if I sell it again in a year. The cost of a 3 day sailing course at a good school for my wife and I - about $900.
So thats why I thought it may be worth the small loss in the deal with the associated regular maintenance expenses which should be pretty reasonable given the condition of the boat.
It seems you pay for knowledge / experience on way or another - I''m trying to decide if this is a good way.
Also - won''t be racing the boat so I won''t need to spend money on new sails etc.

JeffC_ 12-07-2003 11:30 AM

Sooner or Later (a boat)???
<ol>Buy the small boat now:
<li>You''ll get to sail now.
<li>If you buy well, the money is safe until you sell.
<li>Even with dockage & maintenance, your "big boat" kitty will continue to grow while you''re out on the lake.
<li>You will likely adjust your "big boat" timetable as you continue to exhaust the possibilities in the small boat, and wind up having more money for more boat when it''s time to move up.
<li>You will improve you sailing skills much faster on the smaller, more responsive-but-more-forgiving boat, and so be more "ready" for the bigger boat.
<ol>I see nothing but win here. Just don''t:
<li>Pay your friend more than local market value, including factoring in sail condition, or you''ll take a bath at sell time and it will cause bitterness and resentment with your friend (how could it not?).
<li>Lose your vision for the big boat and start pouring money into upgrades, bells and whistles that will be "money lost" when it''s time to sell. Save that $ for the big boat.
If you and your friend can''t agree on a fair price that relates to "blue book," the idea of buying a popular small keelboat now might still make sense, as long as it''s something you can easily sell down the road. At the risk of sounding insulting, it''s not your job to make his life easer. Pass on it if it''s not right for you. The friendship will survive.
Or you could just continue to crew on your friend''s boat, and save $ at a slightly faster rate.

Good Sailing,

sailingfool 12-07-2003 01:58 PM

Sooner or Later (a boat)???
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RE: Blue Book

i''ve never seen this book, I hear it exists, but I can''t see how it can be too useful other than perhaps to a bank, who uses such at their own risk, since any instance of one model boat can vary in value from another instance by -100% to +300% since the value of a boat is so affected by its condition, equipment, nad upgarde status. I would think that a Blue Book value serves only to give you an idea of how many digits belong in the starting point of estimating the value of a boat.

Jeff_H 12-07-2003 02:18 PM

Sooner or Later (a boat)???
The BUC book list a range of values for individual models by year and manufacturer as well as adustments for larger optional gear. It does not show buyer preferences. For example on some boats that less than 30 or 32 feet, having wheel steering in some performance models decreases resale value while on other models it increases resale value. That may or may not show up in the BUC Book. BUC Book includes adjustments for region and so on.

It can be way off on rarer models that are sold in small qualities but is pretty accurate for boats like the Catalina 27 which are sold in such large numbers that there is a good experience record for the boats.

The actual data is gathered from brokers and dealers so the value of a boat for a private sale should be below the BUC book values.

As to the details of the purchase at hand, you need to have your own purchase survey done by an independent surveyor. An insurance survey is generally performed for a very different purpose and with very different criteria than a purchase survey. Having made the mistake of using a surveyor who had previously done an insurance survey on the boat, I strongly recommend that you get your own surveyor.

Also, while you will not race the boat yourself, the quality of the sails on a boat like this is a major component in setting the resale price of the boat to the next guy. Since even good used sails for a Cat 27 are roughly a 1/4 to a 1/3 of the overall value of the boat, this becomes especially significant.


gulls 12-08-2003 07:45 PM

Sooner or Later (a boat)???
Well this is interesting,
I posted this exact question on another website as well - there is a definate difference in the types of reponses.
While this board is mostly of the "get the small boat to learn on for a year - you''ll be better off if you buy carefully (don''t pay too much)" philosophy, the replies on the other board mostly say "hold out for the big boat and save the money to learn then".

This must be a reflection of the people on each board - but I''m still trying to make sense of the difference.
Anyway, thanks to everyone for the responses.
So after more research and much thought - here''s where I am in my thinking - comments welcome....

It seems to come down to trying to put a monetary value on a years worth of experience - a form of balancing act - whats it worth???
Heres my initial Pros and Cons list:

I will probably triple my sailing time on the water. (compared to sailing OPB''s)

I will get to learn a lot more about sailing, anchoring, navigation etc. while on a cheaper easier to sail vessel (some say you get to be a much better sailor with respect to boat handling by learning on a smaller vessel).

The logistics of sailing on weekends etc. will be much easier with a place to sleep overnight (80 mile drive each way to the lake).

I will probably loose $2k to $3k on the whole deal if nothing big breaks.

This would translate into a 3 to 5 month delay in purchasing the big boat.

I would be learning on a lake, while the big boat would be on the coast - I won''t be gaining any local knowledge of my ultimate sailing grounds.

I may get stuck for even longer while trying to sell the smaller boat. This may not be a huge deal as I can be flexible, unless I am trying to grab a rare find. Also, the longer I sail the smaller boat, the more money I will accumulate, all be it at a slower rate.

These are the main issues - excluding some important intangibles - sunsets on the water - lifting of the spirit as I get to anchor out at an island for the night after a day of sailing etc.
At the moment I am completely undecided, but I do know that I cannot pay the current asking price for the boat as I will loose come the resale time.
I believe I will wait a while to see if my buddy can get the money he wants for the boat. If he decides it would be better to sell - I may make an offer which would hopefully allow me to resell for close to the same price in a year ($6500).
That way hopefully all I will lose is the slip fee and a years worth of running costs (about $2000).
While it is almost impossible to put a price on experience and other intangibles - I feel that losing any more money in the deal would not be worth it.

Any other comments are most welcome and thank you to everyone for their input.

Jeff_H 12-09-2003 02:05 AM

Sooner or Later (a boat)???
I think that one point that you may be understating is for most, if not all people, learning on a small boat will make them way better sailors and accellerate the learning curve, and one thing that you are over stating is the importance of learning the sailing ground that you will ultimately sail on. I have sailed the Chesapeake for 20 years and I am still learning the sailing ground that I sail on. That is a big part of the fun of sailing.


c172guy 12-09-2003 04:11 AM

Sooner or Later (a boat)???
You state that the boat had a recent survey and you trust the surveyor. He should have assigned a value to the boat. At least my surveyor assigned a fair market value.
I might go farther and suggest that you get a catalina 22 or equivalent. You can probably get one in reasonable condition for $5000 or less. With a trailer it would be even easier to sale and take to other lakes etc. We towed a 22'' Helsen behind a light truck and this is simular to a C22. The best thing about a trailerable boat is being able to move it around. We moved ours to 4 lakes over several years and usually took it on a vacation once a year. The larger the boat the more you are stuck in a particular lake. We now have a 32'' boat in the ocean. I do miss the simplicity of parking a trailerable at home to do work. Plus to move the boat a couple hundred miles takes a week instead of a day.

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