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vtsailguy 08-26-2012 05:53 PM

Sailboat Quality
I am relatively new to sailing, and have a burning question.....

I am going to be in the used boat market for a while. I realize that there are MANY variables, the care of owners, the after market equipment... but.....

When all these things are considered, on average......

In terms of initial build quality and long term reliability, what are the various brands of boat ranked from highest quality to lowest?

I also have heard that certain decades of certain builders varied over time, denote as needed!

WDS123 08-26-2012 06:17 PM

Re: Sailboat Quality
I got my popcorn and drinks ready - this will be fun !

Skipper Jer 08-26-2012 06:33 PM

Re: Sailboat Quality
Maybe you could narrow it down a bit, length, cruiser, racer, trailer sailor, three mast schooner, budget, intended use.

bigdogandy 08-26-2012 07:03 PM

Re: Sailboat Quality
My list has Endeavour at the top, followed closely by Hinckley and Swan......

davidpm 08-26-2012 07:04 PM

Re: Sailboat Quality
This is a good question and has been asked and answered many times in the past. A rehash it always good though.
Your question is probably not the real question however. The real question is probably more like "How do I go about picking a boat for me?" The underlying assumption is that while you are looking you might as well look at boats with known good quality. Which is logical but misses a lot of reality.
Most of us when looking at boats for the first time use our experience in shopping for cars as a rough guide. This does not however work out as well as one would expect.

One reason the car analogy does not work with boats is because the boats you will most likely be looking at will be from 10 to 30 years old.
Boats are much more complicated than cars having multiple electrical and water and power systems.
Boats are much more likely to be modified, sometimes for the better sometimes for the worst.

A simplistic answer to your question is to check the list price of the boats. One would think that if the vendor was able to get 100,000 or more for the same length boat it would be a better boat.
True but not the whole story. Someone like Catalina or Benateau that takes only days to build a boat has much less labor costs than a builder that takes months to build a boat. The production boat is much better built than the numbers would indicate because the cost of molds and factory setup is spread over so many units.

So to answer your real question you have to decide on:
1. Where you are going to sail it and how often.
2. How many people and for how long at a time (day, weekend, weeks, months)
3. Your budget.
4. Your experience
5. Are you a do-it yourselfer with skills and tools if not are you willing to learn and buy the tools
6. If you have specific goals what are they?
7. How much time will you have?

With these answers we can discuss specific boats and their merits.

To give you a specific example if you were to see a Catalina 25 for $4,000 in impeccable condition and a beat up Swan 42 with a blown motor for 200,000 the Swan is the better pedigree boat.
Which boat if either is the boat for you however depends on the answer to the above questions.

For a simple market value ranking just check prices on yachtworld.

vtsailguy 08-26-2012 07:28 PM

Re: Sailboat Quality

Originally Posted by davidpm (Post 914469)
The real question is probably more like "How do I go about picking a boat for me?"

Well..... for me, it's actually closer to the real question for a couple of reasons....

I sail in fresh water great lakes, so the punishment of the salt sea is not an issue. The #1 reason of a used boats condition seems to be original build quality. You can really see it looking at a ODay, compared to say, a Pearson.

I realize that previous owner care counts for alot. But, in big freshwater lakes, no-one is going crazy outfitting their boat with lots of stuff to go long distance cruising. Most boats are pretty minimal for equipment and this is less of a factor in used boat cost.

This comes down to there being a host of used boats in the 1970-1990 range all around 27-36 feet long (most have stayed in the lakes their whole lives). The three factors that seem to determine the used price are (in no particular order)

1. Age
2. Length
3. Original build quality

There seems to be consistency in #3. You walk in some brands and its all wood finish, and the build quality is obvious. Others, not so much. I'll make the intellectual leap that the quality in those certain brands extends from what I can see to what I can't.

To take a more mundane example:

JC Penny

I bet you can tell which end is the better quality :)

Landgull 08-26-2012 07:32 PM

Re: Sailboat Quality
The best boat is the one you own that gets you on the water sailing.

SHNOOL 08-26-2012 07:36 PM

Re: Sailboat Quality
I have a Capri 25, that many say is a terrible quality boat (I can see why they might say it mind you, but I dunno any of them are unique to that boat alone)... but, keep in mind, the boat is 30 years old. At 30, I think it's holding up pretty well.

I'll give a +1 to Landgull, get sailing, worry about quality later. Any boat can do well, if it's maintained well.

vtsailguy 08-26-2012 07:51 PM

Re: Sailboat Quality
I should add that I am on my 3rd boat... and starting to become more sensitive to the question of quality.

When you are buying 20-30 year old boats, whether the manufacturer spent that extra time and effort to make those chinplates bulletproof starts becoming important :)

SeaQuinn 08-26-2012 08:12 PM

Re: Sailboat Quality
Probably the better question is "what is the best quality boat at a certain size and age at a particular price". Even there you will get tremendous variation based on the care and maintenance that the boat has had.

We recently bought a boat and looked at all of these things, and especially resale value. If a boat that is a certain age is still selling at or above it's original sales price (on average) you may be looking at a good value.

Take your time and look at boats in your price range....ask other boat owners, research boat listings and go to owners websites to find out how the actual owners feel about their boats. You will hear much variety but you will find people who upgrade to the same brand....time after time. That says a lot.

Because boats are so different....for different can't easily list them like cars, as another poster said. Think of them more like Horses.

If you need one for trail riding and you are looking at race mater how much of a value he is and how much you pay for him, you won't be very happy when you try him out on the trail. Also even a free horse costs the same to feed and stable as most of the others. You will spend less if you are willing to put in more work, but it will be a while before you are riding comfortably. And most important ....getting rid of a bad one is tough....everyone will be looking him in the mouth!

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