How old is too old? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 14 Old 10-25-2010 Thread Starter
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How old is too old?

My wife and I are looking at buying at 35.5 Bristol.

Currently on yachworld.com, we are seeing a couple that are catching our eye.

One of them is a 1987 at 60,000. Another is a 1973 at only 18,000.

I'm trying to get a general idea on the tradeoff between the age of the boat and it's price.

I understand that most moving parts on any boat will need to be replaced from time to time. Apart from that however, is there anything wrong with a boat that is over 35 years old?

Should I be concerned about the Hull? Is there any reason to beleive that a very old boat will have Hull problems?

I don't mind something older and putting my money and labor into it. But, I don't want something that structurally unsound, or, within 10 years will simply not be useable anymore.

I could use the car analogy. No matter how much TLC you put into a car, at some point it just "rot's away". Is this also true for boats? Is there a point where something is simply too old to waste your money on?

Thanks.
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post #2 of 14 Old 10-25-2010
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You might want to double check those boats. I don't think the 35.5 was produced until the mid eighties. The earlier 35'er was a different boat and a very different design. The 35.5 is a nice boat. The arlier Bristol probably lacks some of the desirablitity as a cruiser (longer overhangs, deeper draft, older interior layout).
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post #3 of 14 Old 10-25-2010
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Clearly age is only one factor among many to consider in purchasing a boat. I suggest you not look at the question as 'how old is too old', but rather, what are my immovable criteria, e.g. price, features, condition, etc., and then let the question of age help to narrow your options. It's a buyers' market out there right now, so you may be surprized at just how far your $s will go.
And for what it's worth, a well built boat of the early 70's, when oil and fiberglass were cheap and laid on thick, is a far better deal than a boat of similar condition and specs as one made in the 80's in most cases, due to the thinning down of materials used in maufacturing - a result of the oil 'crisis' of that period.

Good luck.
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post #4 of 14 Old 10-25-2010
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My fiberglass boat's 42 years old and I have no complaints. GRP doesn't "rot away" unless you let delamination or blisters take hold. Older boats had solid plastic hulls, while later boats may have wood cored hulls.

Even the older boats had plywood cored decks that get soft if water penetrates the core, so that's something you should look for.

Sailingdog has a buyer's pre-checklist around here somewhere that may be of use to you.

Bottom line: Old plastic boats are living longer than many folks thought they would. So long, that they're clogging up marinas, moorings and landfills.

S/V Old Shoes
1973 Pearson 30 #255
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post #5 of 14 Old 10-25-2010
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BubbleHeadMD is referring to the Boat Inspection Trip Tips thread I started. I would recommend you read it and use it to eliminate any boats that aren't worth going further with.

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post #6 of 14 Old 10-25-2010
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The age of the boat isn't as important as the condition it's in. Check out Curlew- sailing in Antarctica 100 years after launching. Bristol 35.5's are nice, dependable boats for coastwise cruising & perhaps some longer hops. Comfortable and good looking, and reasonably well built. There are three in our fleet. They don't seem to race much, but are able to go places they want to.
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post #7 of 14 Old 10-25-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulk View Post
The age of the boat isn't as important as the condition it's in.
Bingo. Tina Turner is 4 years older than Keith Richards. Discuss amongst yourselves.


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post #8 of 14 Old 10-25-2010
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One picture is truly worth a thosand words!!!




"it's the trip, not the destination"
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post #9 of 14 Old 10-25-2010
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Bristol 35.5 was produced from 1977 to 1997.
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post #10 of 14 Old 10-26-2010
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It's not usually the hull you need to worry about (soft core aside); it is what it contains. There are a number of big-ticket items in there - engine, mast, sails, rigging, electronics, etc etc. An older boat with those parts replaced or in good condition can be a wonderful thing - as commented, very strong layup is one of many potential advantages. However, if those 'big ticket' items are old and worn out, the boat can quickly become a money-pit. Through-hulls, cosmetic stuff - generally less expensive than an engine replacement. But even a new set of cushions can add up. bljones has it right - great photo that captures it perfectly!
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