Just curious if anyone still makes a living fixing up old sailboats - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 41 Old 08-10-2016 Thread Starter
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Just curious if anyone still makes a living fixing up old sailboats

A decade ago - i think it was viable - don't think so anymore.
There was an old Endurance 44 in my marina in Florida 5 years ago- several years ago someone bought it , fixed it up ( a bit) and has been trying to sail it for the last 2 years -started at $39K now down to $31K I think he needs to go about 15K less to sell it. Great lines, just don't think there is much or a market for 30 year + and older boats unless they are classics like a Pacific Seacraft or something a long those lines
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post #2 of 41 Old 08-10-2016
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Re: Just curious if anyone still makes a living fixing up old sailboats

Mario G. at Port Annapolis Marina is their top marine mechanic and in the process of restoring a 1968 Morgan 41 ketch, which he purchased in Baltimore's Inner Harbor a couple months ago. He and his lovely wife currently live aboard a 32 Endeavor, but hope to have the Morgan completely restored by the end of October to sail south to Florida where they spend most winters.

All the best,

Gary
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post #3 of 41 Old 08-10-2016
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Re: Just curious if anyone still makes a living fixing up old sailboats

A handful of people do it - Tim Lackey has been doing it for years.

I've always made money when I sold my project boats (well except that once) but certainly not enough to live on.

I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.
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post #4 of 41 Old 08-10-2016
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Re: Just curious if anyone still makes a living fixing up old sailboats

Not easy. Bought a Benford 38 Fantail September 2014 for $25k. Have spent 70k (all my own labour) on her and was just surveyed at $115k. I probably could get $80 - 90K for her. Thats ok with me since I knew the story going in.
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The hysterical laughter you hear as you drive a way in your"new" boat ..... is the seller.
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post #5 of 41 Old 08-11-2016
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Re: Just curious if anyone still makes a living fixing up old sailboats

A number of yards do, but generally just to keep their employees busy during slow points of the year. As long as you are paying them to be there better to have them doing something productive.

Generally it has always been next to impossible to cover the labor of fixing up an old boat.

Greg

Last edited by Stumble; 08-11-2016 at 11:54 AM.
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post #6 of 41 Old 08-11-2016
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Re: Just curious if anyone still makes a living fixing up old sailboats



Seems to me.. you can't do it by flipping the boat (awkward pun). Like buying a cheap, fixer upper and fixing it.

My thought is it is because the labor cost is more than say a house... I don't know, and maybe if you need new sails, there is probably not many people who will make the sails themselves

I have a Designer's Choice 15 (I am sure most people are thinking 30 ft boats) an I paid $1,027.. I think someone w ho is more talented than I could said off the bad paint job.. fix the gel coat.. fix the bad fiberglass underneath where the self-bailer is and maybe sell it for twice what I paid.

But my guess is, if I had to buy sails... I would lose money.

On bigger boats I wonder who could do all the things.. well....

In the end, isn't it just a job. The work you do to make the boat worth something.. was your labor.. are you worth $10 an hour or $100?

And like a house, when you have to sub out the electrical.. then you are moving backwards.

I know guys who have made it a career of fixing up boats, but they don't work for themselves, they work for some rich guy...




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post #7 of 41 Old 08-11-2016
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Re: Just curious if anyone still makes a living fixing up old sailboats

I think you're right, the window to make money refurbishing an old boat and reselling it, closed about 10 or so years ago(there are some exceptions).

I've been in the design building (home ) biz my whole working life and the last decade - especially, has seen new construction costs spiral.

I see the increase mostly in the labor market. Plus today there are newer more complex systems that require more specialists. With these factors (and others), the speculative market in new homes has just about disappeared in my region (New England).

You can tie the above into the marine industry as well. There's great potential for businesses that care for other peoples boats, to prosper but the owner of the boat will never recoup his investment of labor and material costs, never mind the business profit margin the owner is charged.

The boat speculator has to make money on his time - pay his expenses(building, tools, etc) - and end up with a profit to make the work worthwhile.

Boats aren't assets (like homes) and as the market has gone soft (and getting softer), you could lose a lot of money trying to rehab and turn over an old one today.
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post #8 of 41 Old 08-11-2016
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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."
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post #9 of 41 Old 08-11-2016
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Re: Just curious if anyone still makes a living fixing up old sailboats

I have to say.. of all the things that could be "flipped" to make some $ boats are the last of the list. Lately with all the high end car flipping shows on TV it's making the whole idea seem viable when it's really not.

CDY you going to be the "Richard Rawlings of boats?
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post #10 of 41 Old 08-11-2016
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Re: Just curious if anyone still makes a living fixing up old sailboats

flipping vs maintaining--- flipping is difficult now, as it is still a buyers market...but maintaining ones own boat when it is in dire need of total repair is still happening.
i would not do this in usa where the labor is sooo bludi pricey, but, if you are in a reasonable place and can do some by self, it is still feasable.
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