Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Cape Cod
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Re: Just curious if anyone still makes a living fixing up old sailboats
This is a little off topic, but we took a fairly "worn" down east style power boat and refit it, making a working fishing boat a boat that doesn't do anything useful - - - the definition of a yacht. We hoped to spend 1X the purchase price on the refit, but like many refits we ended up way over budget spending 2X the purchase price. To be clear, the math at the end for total $$'s spent was: 2X purchase price + purchase price = 3X purchase price, 1/3 over budget.
We absolutely love the boat. I tried to buy something like this where someone else had been the "fool" and did the work, but could not find what we wanted...and we were very specific about what we wanted being old curmudgeons. We did not want a fake downeaster built to look like one for dudes out on a picnic. We wanted a rugged pickup truck 4X4 boat that could have in it's past picked up a 100 lobster traps, but cleaned up to either fish offshore or use as the family truck-ster on fireworks night.
There's the rub, if you are flexible about what you want, there are far more options. It's definitely one of a kind, and turned out exactly as we imagined. I'd guess it's market value is about 1/2 of the total money in. Doesn't matter, they are going to bury me with it. Love vs. money....love wins.
As for this site, we still spend most of our time sailing and we won't part with the sailboat until we are too old to pull on the strings, and hope to get buried with the sailboat too. Gonna need a big grave site I guess.
My guess is my experience on this refit would be typical of an older sailboat refit. Unlikely to be a lucrative business if you run it as a spec build; however, if you find a fool like me who wants something specific, and refit for that customer, I think you could make a go of it. Some people just want the old MG with wire wheels refit like new. There are certainly a few dummies like me.
I'd find the dummy first, then go jointly look for the boat.
Boating is a financially irrational activity. As soon as you accept that fact, it's like the end of the old joke: "we've established what you are, we are just negotiating price."