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Old 03-07-2009
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hello! 1947 Hinckley

I have recently been offered a 1947 Hinckley Sou' West, 32' sailboat. It would be a dream come true to own her, but unfortunately I have to be realistic! Currently I am doing research to see if it would be a wise investment, and doable restoration. I have no experiance with boat restoration, but my family has a lot. So I would have a little bit of help from them, and they would be there to answer my questions. The boat is in fairly good condition from what we can tell so far. It looks as though it will need a whole new deck.

Anyone have any restorations stories, or advice for me?

Thanks!
Sarah
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Old 03-07-2009
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Good Morning and welcome to Sailnet.

As the owner of an older wooden sailboat, I can say the challenges may be substantial and expensive. Without any first hand knowledge of the vessel it will be hard for anyone here to give you too much advice other than the general warnings about old wooden boats.

Most but not all here are sailers not wooden boatbuilders (no disrespect intended at anyone on the forum, please no pissy PMs ). I suspect you will hear the excellent recommendation to have a marine surveyor, qualified to assess a wooden boat of this vintage and construction method, do at least an initial survey of the boat.

Unless you have one in the family or are close friends with one, you should expect to see some costs for such a look.

If the initial assessment suggests a more complete survey, then you can decide if it is worth the cost of an expanded and thorough survey. Others may feel differently but I think it is very unwise to take the vessel on without such a survey. If you plan to insure the vessel, most, but not all, insurers will ask you for a copy of the survey report and will include that in their decision to offer a binder or if they do, set the premiums.

If after the surveys you decide not to accept the offer, you will be out the cost of the surveys but will surely save yourself from the potential of much greater costs. No boat is ever free!

Too many times folks get into such deals only to be overcome by the challenges to finances and skills. A vessel that otherwise might survive and live again is destroyed by well meaning folks who lack the resources and skills.

There are a number of organizations around the US and elsewhere that are always on the lookout for such boats to be used in the training of folks looking to become boatbuilders.

Another forum you might want to pose your question at is the Wooden Boat Forum. This question is raised there quite often and there are many professional wooden boatbuilders that participate there.

Best Regards, John
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Old 03-07-2009
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I can't agree more with the full survey suggestion, particularly if you're not personally experienced in restoration or what to look for when inspecting the boat. Wooden boats, while classic and beautiful, have their own set of caveats, some of which can be crippling if you're not sure of what you're doing or if you lack the funds to make the necessary upgrades/repairs. There's nothing worse than spending good money on a boat only to find that you don't have the resources to get her up to speed.

A boat being in "fairly good condition" and "needing a new deck" have the strong possibility of being somewhat contradictory. A professional surveyor with a background in wooden boats will be able to tell you more. Being a fiberglass guy myself, I'm really not qualified to advise you on that front, but there are plenty of pros out there (as well as plenty of others who've hit the pitfalls you can hopefully avoid by doing the research).

Whatever you think the boat will cost you, for budget purposes, my advice is to triple that number to account for the inevitable "hidden" costs of maintenance, upkeep, storage, repair, insurance, cosmetics, etc... some of the costs are one-time fees (you only buy the boat once), but the vast majority are recurring expenses. Do your homework, and even if this deal doesn't pan out, you'll be in that much better shape to approach the next opportunity.

Good luck!
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Old 03-07-2009
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The Hinckley's are among the finest and most desired boats ever built. Here's my Hinckley story - in 1960 my dad bought a Hinckley Bermuda 40 (a black-hulled beauty named Lola) and as a family we sailed her for many years on the East coast - Marion to Hamiliton race, everywhere. In the late 60's my parents retired in TN and we sailed the boat down the East Coast, around the horn of Florida and up into the Alabama Gulf Coast. They sailed it for a few years, until my dad couldn't, then she sat there for many years until my dad died. My mom asked if I wanted Lola - she was in poor repair and would cost thousands to bring her back to her glory days (including a deck), so I turned her down - and helped mom sell her for next to nothing. Do I regret that - yes - my wife and I have had Paloma, our Bristol, for many years - but she's not Lola. The moral - buy the boat, then figure out how to afford it - it's a boat you can keep for the rest of your life.
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Old 03-08-2009
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Thanks for the advice everyone! I will ask my uncle if he would be qualified to do an actual boat survey. He probably is. We just looked at it real quick one day. Once the snow has melted a bit more we will go back and do a better inspection and assesment (when we can safely put a ladder up to it to get a closer look).
Johnshasteen- I like your buy now- worry about the long term cost later attitude! This would be an ongoing project for me, I would be dabbling with it over time.
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Old 03-08-2009
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Sarah-
I once fell in love at first sight with a Loki class yacht, very reasonably priced. But like all wood boats--if anyone has slipped behind on the maintenance, you've got a HUGE CHORE ahead of you, in terms of pulling nails, replacing planks, sistering beams...the deck may very well be the least of it, since a leaky deck on a wood boat means water below, and lots more work to be done.
A classic wood boat is a thing of beauty to behold--but you want to make Real Damn Sure it won't eat you alive.
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Just remember...AS the PRICE of a boat approaches 0...the COST of the boat approaches infinity.
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