Join Date: May 2012
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Re: A Middle of the Road Cruiser.
I don't blame you one bit for not wanting a production boat, especially if you are considering a newer boat. The fiberglass in the hulls of the newer production boats (Hunters, Catalinas) is SO thin that I don't trust it at all. I've actually been out on both of these brands of boats, owned by friends, and actually have seen the hulls oil can, which is scary. Production boats are built quickly and unfortunately, cheaply. They do not hold up well either.
As far as "middle of the road"....If you don't want to spend a fortune on a Hinkley or Island Packett, both of which are excellent boats, then I would go with an older boat. Several brands such as C & C, Alburg, Endeavor, and Irwins are all very well made boats and are not mass produced boats. Endeavors, especially, were made to order, to the specifications of the buyer. All of these boats have thick, usually hand laid, solid fiberglass hulls that are not cored with another material. Alot of them also have solid fiberglass decks (not cored), so usually, if they have been properly maintained, are still in very good to excellent condition even after 20 or 30 years. The thing is to get one that has already underwent a refit (has had wiring, plumbing, and electrical navagation equipment upgraded to modern standards). Also, be sure to do a sea trial and to get a professional survey, no matter how good things "look". Older boats also generally have more wood than newer boats, especially teak. The interiors of older boats generally have SOLID teak (& alot of it), not a thin vaneer over who knows what and same goes for the exterior, solid teak, not some type of space age plastic composite or whatever.
The boats I've mentioned usually hold more of their value than the production boats because of the quality of their construction. They were built before wood was endangered and when the use of fiberglass was still relatively new, so not knowing how it would hold up, they made structures much thicker than they do now, they made them to last and they have. It seems now, most everything is meant to be disposable and there is simply no craftsmanship in the newer boats, unless you do go high end.
There are several good places to find such boats. Oriental, NC is a good area. The boats outnumber people there 3:1. Also, Charleston, SC has a good selection. Try to find a one owner boat, if possible, maximum of two and never buy a boat that has been chartered out. Annapolis, MD has a good selection of older boats, but you will pay more for them there than in the other places I mentioned.
Everyone has their own opinions and I truly did not intend to offend anyone that does own a production boat and sincerely hope that I have not. This is just my personal opinion from 10 years of experience in boating. You should consider everyone's input.
I wish you luck in your search and hope you will find something that will bring you and your wife many years of pleasure. Happy hunting!