After looking at so many boats that my head was spinning, then doing that over and over again, and then scrutinizing each boat I thought could be the one, I just had to walk away for a while and let my brain heal.
Yesterday we went to Strictly Sail Chicago. It's a far cry from the Annapolis Boat Show but it's only a 30 minute drive and a nice respite from the boatless harbors and lake.
We were seriously considering a '76 Sabre 34 a couple months ago. I got my water wings on a '73 Columbia 45 and logged 7-8K miles on it. I later raced and helmed an '86 Hunter 35 but never got comfy with the starkness of the boat. The Columbia had a good amount of teak, and it was all solid wood (except some panels) and not veneer. My hobby is woodworking because I love real wood. Good luck finding solid wood in today's boats that's not veneer.
So here I was, ready to resurrect a 70-something boat and do whatever it took to make it my home. I knew at best it would be a season away from being ready to sail away and at worst years. But I wanted a "classic, real wood" boat.
I reluctantly went to Strictly Sail because I really didn't want to see any more IKEA boats. Sadly, I had resigned myself to the realities of age, money and time. The best times of my life have been on a sailboat and I had given up the dream of ever owning my own.
It was when we were looking at the Beneteau Oceanis line that I realized if I compromised I could actually realize my dream and sail away as soon as the boat was delivered and sea trials were complete. That was a "wow" moment.
What I realized was, along the line was my need for the timeless, the "classic boat" meant I had to be ready for each and every breakdown, failure and unexpected catastrophe that is always inevitable as a boat ages, if it hasn't been properly cared for. And if it has been properly cared for a 70's boat would have seen a total refit or two, maybe three, in its life. And that's usually reflected in the selling price. If you can find that "newly retrofitted" boat for about the same price as comps, consider yourself blessed. Some do win the lottery.
After the Annapolis Boat Show I trashed the Beneteau Sense. Although it's not my taste, the design tools available today produced almost a full length chine that reduced the ideal healing angle by about 5%. I found when I focused on current design advances, I was impressed by the results produced by computer aided design. So many of the weak links were being minimized in even the production boats. It's become easier to produce a better boat for less. That's not to be confused with build quality though.
I'll be 62 in April. I designed and built my house. I designed the electric on a $500,000 data center and a 60 story high rise. I love design and I love building things but I'm not getting any younger. I want to sail. And I want to get back to the islands and hop from one harbor to the next, and get in a round of golf or two along the way. That's the way I want to go out.
So when I saw financing on a new boat being half of my present mortgage, I thought maybe I can tolerate IKEA or maybe I can take my woodworking skills and warm it up. Either way, I can sail away, and with a warranty. I think I can make the compromise.
That's me. Everyone has to decide what's most important to them. There is no one right answer. It's like walking aboard one boat and feeling, "I got to get out of here" and walking aboard another and thinking, "This is home."
But if you don't spend time on the boat, you will never know what's right for you. Make the broker work for you.
Which ever you decide to do I hope it works out for you. I am happy for you which ever way you decide. Just a caveat Its easy to get impressed with the bling of the new boat. The financial ramificatuions are hidden by that newness. Excitement is ownership, I certainly understand that, and what I am about to say is like cold water on that, but I always talk about the elephant in the room no one else wants to.
You definately have made a radical change from buying a boat which you owned right off the bat to getting one which you will have to finance. One you werent going to finance vs one which you will not own for over 15-20 years. On most financed boats with 20 year payments you actually dont hit the boat value vs payments left ownership till close to year 13. So essentially you are renting a boat, with a potential large payout ( should you decide or are forced to sell early) by having to pay the difference between the depreciated selling point of the boat and what you owe on the loan. This is not like a mortage on a house at all. Houses over years tend to either hold value or appreciate in value are considered investments. ( This is a generalization I know). Boats are not investments at all. Immediate 20% devaluation at purchase with a declining value each year. You cannot compare a boat to a house. Boat sellers confuse you by using the term boat mortage and making it look like a mortage.
There are alternatives. It is actually more prudent to buy a slightly used boat 5-10 years, and take a loan out on a price which has already undergone that huge up front hit. YOou still get new and fairly used equipment
Let me also caution you on some of your assumptions. New boats have issues and problems. Anything going into the water in a marine environment will which has the torques and forces on it. All of us who own boats, including the new boat owners spend thousands each year on our boats. Whether it is upgrading, adding features, fixing broken parts, or our marina and slip fees. None of these go away with a new boat
As far as warrenties...to me that is also a double edged sword. There are two instances where warrenties arent potentially worth a hill of crap.
One, where the manufacturer goes bankrupt or does a bait and switch and goes belly up and reforms as another company. I beleive Tartan did this, although they were forces or the new owner chose to honor. The poeple who bought these new boats were forced to go through long protracted legal squabbles. In fact it became such a contentious issue on Sailnet that certain Sailnet memebers were censored here to prevent them from posting negative adds in 2009. In addition Hunter filed for bankrupcy this year. If it reporganizes are their 10 year wareenties valid. Ill bet not. So by the stroke of the pen thery go away.
Secondly the warentey is most of the time only on the builders stuff, not on the stuff which they buy and subcontract out. For instance if you have problems with the Yanmar...its not Benetaus call. You have to deal with the Yanmar warrentee and their restriction.
So what I an talking about here is not the differences between designed boats which is prettier/ durable, but true financial decisions. We all have gone to boat shows and have gotten wrapped into the sales tactics and blings of the new boats, trust me. When someone can figure out a payment plan to fit into your budget it makes it so very appealing. boat salesman are the ultimate car salesman. It might be better if you were changing your mind from going to a paid off boat you already owned to one the bank owns to getting one where the value of the boat is actually closer to what you owe. Especially considering your age ( I am close too).
You could get approved for a loan from Essex for instance at a payment you can afford ( similar to theirs) and go out and look at boats which values are close to that payment. You will actually do pretty well. And the devaluatuon will have happened to that boat. That way if there is an emergency, your health falters, you loose your finanacial security, you will be able to sell the boat and almost cover the loan and not suffer a financial debacle.
In a way I am sorry to throw cold water on your excitement, and maybe you have already crunched the numbers and though about this. Look at other alternatives vs brand new and 1970s baots. Thats two completely different ends of the spectrum. There is a middle ground Take a deep breath here before jumping into the deep end of the pool with the sharks.
Hope we are still friends after this post.