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PAULCR1 10-28-2012 06:50 PM

Used equipment
We are in the process of looking for and buying a sailboat. Being neophytes we don't know how to rate existing electronics on a used boad. We have been looking at boats with and without solar panels and wind generators but don't know what their lifespans are. Same with Autopilots, sails, rigging, GPS, chart plotters, etc., etc.. Is there anyway of finding this stuff out or is it just a hit or miss situation. Should it be discounted from the sale price of a boat or do you accept it as an incidental cost? Any help would be appreciated.

Flybyknight 10-28-2012 08:56 PM

Re: Used equipment
Respectfully recommend that you find the BOAT! that appeals to you, then research it's equipment, or ask specifics here.

kd3pc 10-29-2012 08:47 AM

Re: Used equipment
most electronics on a used boat have virtually ZERO value in the great scheme of things due to age, installation or lack of maintenance. Useful lifespan is what you, the captain or owner, need to safely use the boat.

As far as any discount on the sale price, you can reasonably posit that any gear over 5 or 6 years is obsolete, as compared to new gear. It may well be quite useful and serve your needs well, but repairs and updates are likely not available, especially when compared to new gear.

For me, all I really need was an autopilot, depth/wind/tridata instrument, and a chart plotter so the 15+ year old gear aboard was fine for my use.

chucklesR 10-29-2012 10:22 AM

Re: Used equipment
IMHO, the other thing that is worth it in older gear is the autopilot, and then only if it can at LEAST communicate via NMEA 183, version 1.5 or better.

If you are intending on going cruising then everything else is obsolete, some of it cost more than it is worth to remove.

There are just too many things like VHF with built in AIS, HD touch screen chartplotters and HD radar out there, all of them great for function and add a safety bonus; sticking with old stuff is penny wise and pound foolish.

Barquito 10-29-2012 12:10 PM

Re: Used equipment
For some things, if they work, they work. An old VHF radio will be able to hail a bridge tender as well as a new one. However, old stuff won't have as many features as new stuff. Old sails can be fine. You need to do a sea trial. Take an experienced sailor along to look at the shape of the sails underway (they get baggy when old). Standing rigging can be inspected for defects, however, you should plan on replacing if it hasn't been done in a few decades. Without extensive knowledge of all the systems, you are going to have to trust the survey to a larger extent.

paul323 10-29-2012 01:38 PM

Re: Used equipment
It is difficult to give solid advice on such a broad question. A lot will depend on what you intend to do with your boat - a weekend warrior is very different from somebody doing offshore cruising. A boat sailed in saltwater ages faster than one sailed in freshwater.

Another variable is how often, and how hard, the target boat has been sailed. I have done more sailing on my boat that the PO had done by a ratio of 3:1+. And my sails, running rigging, etc, are aging faster! Racing boats tend to be used harder than fairweather cruisers.

Having said that, electronics become outdated before they fail. My GPS is almost 10 years old; it is in black and white, but works fine for what I want. My knotmeter and depthsounder are original (30 years).

Some *major* ballparks: Standing rigging - 10-15 years. Sails - 10 years, longer if you don't worry too much about performance. Chainplates - 25years. Engine - depends heavily on maintenance.

Best advice I can give - look on a new boat as a collection of parts. Unless you have a lot of money, you probably won't be able to buy many more parts (look at me and the old GPS). A well-equipped older boat may well be a better deal than a sparely-equipped newer boat. My boat only came with 3 sails (main+ 2 headsails). A buddy bought a slightly smaller boat with 6 sails (2 spin, 3 head, main). I am kinda jealous about his when you look at boats, look at what they have, look at what they need, add 10%-20%, and there will be the true price.

Final thought - see if you can get some advice (definitely use a qualified surveyor). Don't fall into to the common mistake of buying a boat for (say) $15k, investing $20K, and ending up with a boat worth....wait for it....$15K. That's why I say look at the boat as a collection of parts. Most stuff you buy for a boat (especially electronics) is generally worth $0 when you install it. Much of the stuff you are talking about does not (should not) add materially to the value of the boat - despite what sellers may think. The stuff just helps you choose one similar boat over another.

Good luck!

hellosailor 10-29-2012 02:28 PM

Re: Used equipment
You need to consider whether the electronics still function. Whether they are obsoleted by newer gear, whether there is any support or the maker has shut down. A VHF is a VHF, except, the new ones have DSC and if that matters to you, anything older has zero worth. Similarly, if there's a radar even three years old but you don't use or need radar, that's still worthless to you.

If you don't know what the instruments are or what they are worth to you? Better to buy a plain jane boat that doesn't have them, and add what you need after you figure that out.

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