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  Topic Review (Newest First)
02-15-2013 01:11 PM
Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

The top three things to consider when buying an boat are; Condition, Condition, and Condition. I suggest that you ignore all the electronic doo-dads and only look for a well maintained vessel.

The Boat Buying thread, started by SailingDog years ago is a great place to start. To summarize it; a sailboat consists of three, or four, main systems;
  • Deck & Hull
  • Rigging (Standing & Running) and Appendages (Mast & Boom)
  • Sails
  • Engine and Drive Line (optional)

Look for a sound deck and hull. There should be no spots where either of them flex from any pressure that you can apply. Walk all over the deck, push on the hull, look at the boat on stands; there should be no flex anywhere. Go a step further, and spend $300 on an Electrophysics CT-33 Moisture Meter. This will help you determine if there are any hidden surprises.

Look at the standing rigging. Take a cotton rag to the stays and shrouds and rub it up and down. If the rag sticks, then you have likely found a broken strand, or "hook" in the rigging. Any hooks in the rigging mean it is time to replace. Look VERY closely at the chainplates and turnbuckles. There should be no cracks at all. Rust tends to form in cracks, called crevice corrosion, and will be visible. Also look over the running rigging (lines, shackles, blocks cleats, etc.). The line should not be frayed anywhere, shackles and blocks should be inspected just like the chainplates.

Look at the mast & boom. There should be no cracks or obvious patches. Because they can weaken the appendage, there should also not be too many unused holes, from old stuff that was removed.

Raise the sails. They should fit the rig, and not be too short, or long. They should not have obvious patches. Look closely at the stitching of the sails. The stitches should not be frayed, and should be intact.

Because the boat may, or may not have an engine, I'll leave it off this list....
02-15-2013 12:16 PM
Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

I agree with Denverd0n. I am always amazed at the way people, especially individual sellers (like you'll find on Craigslist), arrive at prices for their boats. I've seen some in HORRIBLE shape and the seller wanted close to the average selling price, or above the selling price, because "I paid $XXXX more for the boat 20 years ago" or "I put $XXXX into the boat over the last 10 years". That's all well and good, and can certainly impact the actual value of the boat, but I'm sorry, if you put $30,000 into restoring a boat that typically sells for $10,000, you're probably not going to get someone to pay $30K, or likely even $20K for the boat. You might find someone who appreciates the work you've put in and will pay a premium for it, but for most buyers, if there are two roughly comparable boats, they're going to go with the one that is less expensive. For example, I mostly daysail, with the occasional overnight. If I saw two boats that were in essentially the same condition (e.g., two 1982 Catalina 30's that both needed new covers for the cusions, woodwork redone, etc.) but one had a watermaker and the other didn't, I'm not going to pay a premium for the watermaker. I don't need it. So, the guy selling the boat with the watermaker has a choice - sell to me at the same price as the guy with the boat that doesn't have the watermaker, or be stuck waiting for another buyer, and one who will pay the premium for the watermaker.

Some sellers are also emotionally attached to their boats, and really hate the idea of selling, and so they justify a higher price than the boat really commands based on their rose-colored view of the boat and its condition.

I find that brokers are, generally, better about setting the prices for their boats, but even THEY are ultimately stuck listing the boat at whatever price the customer wants.

The way I've worked it is to use NADA's guides as a rough idea of what comparable boats sell for. If I really like the boat, I might even contact BoatUS for their pricing service, but I like NADA because the info is easily available. Then you have a good baseline for what constitutes a fair price for a boat that is in "average" and "good" shape. If the seller is offering a boat that looks to be in good shape at a price that is already 30-40% below the average selling price, you probably can't justify another 50% discount. Now, I'm not saying it might not be worth a try (I've done it), but just be aware that the seller may say no, and may choose not to deal with you again even if you increase your offer.
02-15-2013 11:22 AM
Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
I don't think you can offer half of asking prices, but 20-25% lower seems to be pretty doable in my limited experience.
For some boats, half the asking price would be too much. For others, 20% off the asking price would be too little. Any sort of generalization in this regard is pointless. There is no useable "rule of thumb." Everything depends on the boats condition, and condition will vary from pristine to barely floating.

You have to spend time out looking at boats, get a good idea of what constitutes good condition, poor condition, and average condition. Only then will you have an understanding of what asking price is reasonable, and how much you should actually offer for any particular boat.
02-14-2013 09:48 AM
Alex W
Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

I don't think you can offer half of asking prices, but 20-25% lower seems to be pretty doable in my limited experience.

I really like my Pearson 28-2. It's really a 29' boat (smaller than your target range), but has a lot of space below for that size and sails nicely. Being under 30' makes my moorage a lot cheaper (it saves me about $1000/year compared to a 30-33' boat). If I wanted something a little larger I would also keep an eye out for the similar 31-2 or 33-2. There is a clean looking 28-2 at the upper end of your price range in MI on Yachtworld:
1985 Pearson 28 Sail Boat For Sale -

Other boats that I strongly considered were a C&C 30 (I liked it, but didn't like the lack of a quarterberth), Islander Bahama 30 (liked it, but the one we considered closely needed too much work). I wanted to see Cal 29 and 31 models, but didn't come across any. We looked at maybe a dozen boats priced in the $15-$25k range (including many mentioned here). I didn't see too much from the mid 80s to 90s in your price range, but more opened up between $20 and $25k. However pricing is very regional and Seattle might be more expensive than the Great Lakes.
02-14-2013 09:17 AM
Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

Tons of boats to choose from here in the Great Lakes that fit inside your parameters.

Consider these (all of which I've seen on Yachtworld recently in the GL area):

-Islander 28/30
-Ericson 35/32/30
-Irwin 30/34
-Bayfield 32
-Endeavour 32
-Pearson 32/30
-Hunter 31
-O'day 31/30
-C&C 30
-Catalina 30 (You'll probably learn to appreciate the beam)
-S2 9.1/9.2

"Should I be looking at a higher price range, newer boats, avoid certain makes, or wait till I have more money? "

Condition is king, which to some extent nullifies age and also drives price.
02-14-2013 01:11 AM
Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

I suggest that a Pearson or c&c are both great sturdy boats and faster than most. Nothing wrong with a cat 30. You get a lot of features for your dollar with a hunter but give up something in build quality - at least in the model years you would be looking at. Can't comment on the others.
One more pc of advice, pay attention to what comes with the boat. It is easy to get focused only on the boat itself thinking that everything else can be added or improved later. Things like sails, blocks, roller furling, GPS, plumbing, dingy and outboard, etc. can easily add up. In fact, they can add up to as much as you are budgeting for your whole boat.
Just saying remember to compare the stuff that the boat comes with when comparing boats.
Good luck!
02-14-2013 12:49 AM
Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

Plenty of candidates in within your parameters.. since you're familiar with the Ranger 29 I'd expect you could find a decent 33 of the same vintage.. a surprising performer, as are pretty well all the Mull Rangers...

But nothing wrong with a Cat 30, C&C 30, CS 33, Ontario 28 or 32, the list goes on.. most of these should be easy to find on the Lakes.
02-14-2013 12:35 AM
1st time buyer looking for guidance

By crossings and cruising, I mean around and within the Great Lakes. Thanks for the advice!
02-14-2013 12:05 AM
Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

You might also add O'Day, Pearson, and Irwin to your list, though some Irwin's apparently had inconsistent build quality. I suspect, however, that many of the poorly made Irwin's are landfill fodder at this stage.
02-14-2013 12:00 AM
Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

You say you want a boat for crossings and cruising; what do you mean by that? The regulars here seem to have fairly specific meanings for those terms, and in many ways they are opposites of each other. When someone first comes here they (as I did up until recently) tend to think of boats capable of crossing oceans as being cruisers. As an overgeneralization, cruisers make bad racers and bad blue water boats (capable of crossing oceans). Blue water boats make terrible racers and not exactly great cruisers. Racers are horrible cruisers and not very good blue water boats. There are a lot of exceptions to these rules but if you break down the boats along those lines, I find it helps figure out what you want. If you want a blue water boat, you won't find one in your price range that isn't a project. I mean no disrespect by saying that - your price range is higher than mine. If you want a cruiser (comfortable for 2-4, maybe 5 people for Lon weekends or a week here or there) your budget should get you a decent boat. I know of a Cherubini-era Hunter 30 in very good shape with air conditioning and other creature comforts that is listed at $12,500. She is in Deltaville, VA, probably too far for you. But those boats are out there. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the Catalina 30; read the reviews. They are incredibly popular, have a fair reputation, and have good name recognition with entry-level sailors like us so they should be easier to resell.
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