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post #1 of 104 Old 10-13-2012 Thread Starter
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Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions

It was when, at the boat Annapolis Boat Show this year, I found myself inside the Sabre 456, an absolutely gorgeous boat and probably my favorite there, that I asked myself, "How would you feel if you owned this boat?"

Outside of being able to own a boat like that, I looked at the boat being my home on water. Surprisingly, I thought something wasn't right (outside of the fact I couldn't afford it ). I then realized I would need to break it in first, give it some experience, some history on the water, before I could feel comfortable on it. But when I think about the older boats I've been on, I never felt this way.

Pam Wall was staying at the same B&B as we were. We got to meet her Friday morning at breakfast. When she said you have to feel some chi with a boat before buying it, I knew what she was talking about. I couldn't feel chi with any of the new boats at the show. I guess I like older boats.

I know there are a lot of negatives about buying an older boat and that a thorough survey is a must. On maintenance and repairs, I can handle much of that. I'm an electrician and an avid woodworker. I have a pretty good mechanical aptitude. And I like the satisfaction of fixing things myself.

On my dad's boat I installed all the electronics, repaired the generator, did most of the oil changes, repaired the heads, maintained and rebuilt the pumps, sanded the entire bottom (once) and painted it, season after season. I even did some gelcoat repairs.

But it's the structural stuff that concerns me. A boat 30-40 years old, especially one that's been well sailed, could have hull or rigging problems that are only another storm away from failure. That's where my apprehension begins.

For those of you who have made the plunge and bought an older boat, what has been your experience? What are the pitfalls? What have you had to pay for and what have you been to fix yourselves? And what boats really hold up that long?
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Re: Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions

I sail a 30 year old Hunter 37 cutter up the lake from you in Holland. Most of the boat is original still had the stock sails until last year.
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Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions

I bought a 1985 hunter 40 a year ago. Despite a good survey there have been many items to repair. I think on older boats you should assume pretty much everything needs to be repaired/replaced/upgraded - its just a matter of prioritizing to figure out when. Given your skills, I'd say you are way ahead of the average new-old boat buyer, especially with your electrical background. From the posts I've seen here and elsewhere my impression is that any boat repair can be done yourself, if you have the time, patience and will. Including standing rigging if that's your primary concern. Of course it will probably be necessary to find a yard that can help you pull the mast with a crane if you go with anything even approaching the size of a Sabre 456. Personally I'm finding the learning process of maintenance and repair to be enjoyable and satisfying - a nice bonus on top of the sailing experience, and I don't begrudge the time. Pretty sure this is a common sentiment among owners of older boats.
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Re: Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions

I went in knowing i would have to rip the boat completely apart


BUT there are plenty of boats that have had this done Or were well cared for enough throughout there life that there in sail-away condition

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If a dirty bottom slows you down what do you think it does to your boat
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post #5 of 104 Old 10-13-2012
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Re: Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions

Our boat will be 33 years old in February; we bought her 12 years ago. Pretty much, we bought a sturdy hull with a layout we liked, and planned to replace "everything." Because of the boat's age, her low selling price plus trucking to our then-home port, meant we could afford to do all that. It seemed our boat was built at a sweet spot of age: they knew how to work fiberglass but weren't totally convinced of its strength, so we're considerably overbuilt (1-inch-thick hull!). Heavy and slow but oh so comfy. Especially with your skills, you could do this too, and get the additional advantages of (1) being able to install *exactly* the systems you want; and (2) knowing how everything is put together, you can fix it yourself if you're out in the boonies somewhere when things go bad.

Downsides: (1) In an older boat, you won't have a hull/keel design that incorporates any advances in marine architecture over the last 30 years - maybe someone with more expertise than me can weigh in on this. Older boats tend to have full keels or modified full; how much difference in sailing characteristics will be gained by swing, bulb, or other new-shaped keels? (2) Unlike a new boat, whose value is pretty straightforward, You will *not* be able to insure an older, refurbished boat for what you have invested in it.

FWIW, there's an old Sailnet thread that touches on this topic: http://www.sailnet.com/forums/cruisi...300-000-a.html In it, we posted the cost of our retrofits, copied and pasted below:

We replaced "everything." Everything we put in was new, mostly purchased at Annapolis Boat Show sale prices. The refit took about 2 years and we - mostly Dan - did everything ourselves except the engine, heater, and rerigging installations (for insurance/warranty reasons). The first priority was things that make the boat safer or sail faster, then, everything else (all prices in boat bucks, a.k.a, thousands of dollars)

Yanmar engine 20
Frigoboat keel cooled refrig/freezer 2
Lofrans windlass & remote switch 3
Autohelm under deck mount autopilot 5
Webasto diesel heater 2.5
replace all standing rigging 5
arch for solar panels with integral cockpit rail 5
Brig 10' inflatable dinghy with 9.8 hp outboard 5
Cruisair reverse cycle air conditioner/heater 2.5
North Sails new mainsail & genoa 5
Force 10 stove/ oven 1.5
replace fuel tanks 2
100' chain, 200' rope and Rocna 44 anchor 1.5

Those bigger ticket items account for $60K of our refit budget. The rest of it (each item $1000 or less) went for: solar panels, bilge pump & 4000 gph "Hail Mary" pump, upholstery/paint/varnish/formica, marine-grade wire, LED lighting, cockpit cushions, trifold swim ladder, bimini, stereo, sinks and faucets, Seagull water filter, 4 AGM batteries, Xantrex Link 20, 2 Garhaur 6-part purchases for dinghy lift, handheld Garmin chartplotter, and (*winks at CruisingDad*) a BBQ.

4 months into our cruise, there is not one single thing I'd change! The solar panels make all of our power needs on sunny days; we generally run the engine about 45 minutes every 4 days to make up the difference due to occaisional cloudiness. We chose not to use a generator (too noisy) and instead use extremely energy-efficient systems, like LED lights and the keel-cooled fridge/freezer, so that we could maintain ourselves with solar. We have no watermaker, but with a 100-gal water tank for 2 people, we can go 3-4 weeks before refilling. We also chose not to install radar because our chosen cruising grounds, US southeast & Bahamas, rarely have fog and we rarely run at night, therefore less need. Disclaimer: these are our solutions, for the way we like to live, I'm not assuming they'd be right for everyone.

end quote

We strolled the boat show last weekend and nothing new and shiny engendered any boat lust at all, except the Gozzard that cost literally TEN TIMES the current appraised value of our boat. I guess we did okay.


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Re: Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions

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Originally Posted by JulieMor View Post
It was when, at the boat Annapolis Boat Show this year, I found myself inside the Sabre 456, an absolutely gorgeous boat and probably my favorite there, that I asked myself, "How would you feel if you owned this boat?"

Outside of being able to own a boat like that, I looked at the boat being my home on water. Surprisingly, I thought something wasn't right (outside of the fact I couldn't afford it ). I then realized I would need to break it in first, give it some experience, some history on the water, before I could feel comfortable on it. But when I think about the older boats I've been on, I never felt this way.

Pam Wall was staying at the same B&B as we were. We got to meet her Friday morning at breakfast. When she said you have to feel some chi with a boat before buying it, I knew what she was talking about. I couldn't feel chi with any of the new boats at the show. I guess I like older boats.

I know there are a lot of negatives about buying an older boat and that a thorough survey is a must. On maintenance and repairs, I can handle much of that. I'm an electrician and an avid woodworker. I have a pretty good mechanical aptitude. And I like the satisfaction of fixing things myself.

On my dad's boat I installed all the electronics, repaired the generator, did most of the oil changes, repaired the heads, maintained and rebuilt the pumps, sanded the entire bottom (once) and painted it, season after season. I even did some gelcoat repairs.

But it's the structural stuff that concerns me. A boat 30-40 years old, especially one that's been well sailed, could have hull or rigging problems that are only another storm away from failure. That's where my apprehension begins.

For those of you who have made the plunge and bought an older boat, what has been your experience? What are the pitfalls? What have you had to pay for and what have you been to fix yourselves? And what boats really hold up that long?
My boat was thirty when I bought her. She is now 36. Haven't regretted it for a minute. But I would make sure you start with a very solid, well-built boat (mine is an S&S Swan). But that is only the starting point. Mine had new teak decks, new wiring, relatively new rigging, etc... You don't want to take all that on unless you have limitless time and/or resources. And I'm not sure I would want to buy a boat that age with a cored hull, as it can be hard to figure out its real condition. The key is whether it was a well-built boat to begin with and whether it has been maintained. Also, take a close look at the engine because that can be a big drain. We have only had to do routine maintenance since we bought her.
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Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions

I purchased a 1963 Rawson 30 Ketch. Solid fiberglass. We have put in a composting toilet, Engel Fridge, new engine (after 2nd year) new bottom job for about 30 grand. Boat was 9 and its still a great deal as everything else was new.
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Re: Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions

Some of the older boats I was looking at that I know are solid boats are Swan, Alden, Cambria, Shannon, Hinkley, S&S and Baltic. Other boats that caught my eye but I know less about their build quality are Morgan, Freedom and CSY.

I figure at best I won't be seriously in the market to buy until the house is sold and I don't see putting it on the market until spring. But since this will be a major purchase, learning all I can should start now.
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Re: Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions

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I purchased a 1963 Rawson 30 Ketch. Solid fiberglass. We have put in a composting toilet, Engel Fridge, new engine (after 2nd year) new bottom job for about 30 grand. Boat was 9 and its still a great deal as everything else was new.
Wow! Someone owns a boat that is older than my 1967 Tartan 27'.
Tartan made some boats that might be worth looking at: T 34C, T 37C.
Start looking at boats now, even if you are only just a 'looky Louie'.

Older boats seem to be the playground of the not so rich and famous. Older boats are the means by which many of us manage to get out on the water.

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Re: Buying a 30-40 year old boat - your opinions

Wing.."the Gozzard is mine ( smile)

Our C &C 35 hits her 30 th next year. Many newer boats re not built to the same specs...even the newer C&C. What wing said is our approach also.

Find the boat design you like, then fnd one in good condition. Wait till you have tht.

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