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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking into purchasing a sailboat for cruising. Money limitations dictate that it will have to be an older model (25+ years). I've read some opinions that suggest purchasing in a northern climate (upper east coast or great lakes) is better than a southern climate (gulf of Mexico). The theory is less sun, less humidity and less time in the water = less wear and tear. This seems to make sense, but I am wondering what people's opinions are and how important a factor this is.
Thanks!
!
 

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The boats in the Pacific North West typically are valued at 10% higher than other areas in the US and Canada. Boats in hurricane prone areas like the Gulf have a higher probability of being previously damaged... This can be discovered through the survey process but is a consideration.

I purchased a boat that spent part of its life on the hard in the desert (San Carlos Mexico) and it seems that this climate is a lot easier on the boats than wetter, humid environments.

There are significant costs to purchase a boat far from where you live when you factor travel costs to look at boats, purchase and finally transport.

I would say the most important factor is the quality of the individual boat, how it has been maintained and the equipment it has.

Good luck with your hunt!
 

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Purchase location

Agree with GW, and I would add an assessment of the local economic climate. Michigan could be a good deal. Key factor is your locationa and transportation costs. Smaller boat on trailer that you can pull vs larger boat requiring costly professional shipping, loading unloading etc. Not to mention travel time looking at boats. Generally you should be able to find a good boat in your local. Barganing skills are key, it is a buyers market. Cash talks loudly.
 

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Blowfish,

you've already gotten great advice. Search your own area for a boat that has been well cared for by the PO. You'll save tremendously on your travel expense and time and ultimately on shipping/tranport expense's if you're buying something larger than a trailerable boat.

Enjoy the search, take your time. If you can drive there in a day it and the boat is one you are truly interested in, it's worth the drive. I spent two years searching, and as eager as I was to be on the water, I wanted the ' perfect boat' for me. I found a 31 year old Sabre that was a gem, truly loved and pampered by the PO and dilegently upgraded by him too.

Be sure to have a survey of the boat you finally decide to purchase. Not just an 'insurance survey' (not that there's anything wrong with them) but a full fledged bow to stern, top to bottom check of every system, the deck and hull.

Buying the perfect boat is great fun, enjoy the journey and welcome to Sailnet...MGM
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks to all! I hadn't really considered that the likelihood of potential storm damage (which I assumed, but perhaps improperly, would be revealed in a survey) would vary by region, good point. Regarding transportation, I live in the middle of the country, so I won't be bringing it here. The plan is to pick up and go from wherever I buy the boat, so transportation isn't an issue. Given that, it seems that if 1 year in the tropics is like 5 on Lake Michigan it would make more sense to buy a boat in Michigan. However, if the differences really aren't that dramatic and it depends primarily on how the owner has maintained the boat, then I won't restrict my search. I guess the real question is, if you were searching for a 25+ year old boat (and location of the boat didn't matter) would you restrict the search to northern states and/or the great lakes region?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Moe, I checked out the Chris Craft and she's a beauty! It looks like the owners have put a TON of work into her. Unfortunately I'm looking for a draft of around 4'.
 

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To answer your question: yes freshwater, northern boats are generally in better shape than salt water, warmer climate boats. There are hundreds of boats for sale in the great lakes area, so it wouldn't really be limiting yourself to concentrate your search here.
 

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Many Great lakes boats have never seen a barnacle. Never had their anodes changed. cleaner overall in many respects. I'd say Michigan is a good spot. Indiana, or Wisconsin. Lots of sailors on lake Michigan.
If you have the time on your hands, you can sail it wherever you want.
Salvage boats, such as come from Hurricane-blasted states like florida and texas, Are not always total wrecks, but You have to have a good eye, and be prepared to replace a chunk of the electricals and perhaps some of the interior if they've been submerged. If you're a handy guy, this could be your gateway to a BIG boat.
It all depends on what time/resources you can spend, and how handy you are.
Then again there are some real fire sales on boats right now. In fact, if the US GOvt's plan to stem the flow of foreclosures becomes a reality, look for a rash of repo'd boats just prior to the legislations enactment.
 

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You might want to add a dash of demographics to your search. Even though as someone mentioned their is a 10% premium on PNW boats there may not be as many available due to the lower population density and fewer boat owners. The Great Lakes area has a much higher density population and therefore more boats to choose from and likely more economical prices. Do some demographic research to find out where the most boats are. Of course southern climes will have more boats per capita than northern ones but then again there is high density population around those big lakes and many folks would have a boat laying around somewhere that they may have to sell given todays economic climate.
 

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Looks like you and I are in the same boat, Blowfish. I live in PNW (Seattle), but I tend to do my boat searches both here and in the Great Lakes region. I've heard from several folks that boats in the Lakes tend to be in better shape and I was able to confirm with a co-worker who has family in the business back there that many folks pull their boats out in the winter which may be better than just leaving them in the cold freshwater. I say "may" because I have to wonder what kind of damage freezing temps may do to the fibers in a fiberglass hull that has absorbed fresh water - any thought? She has also given me a good bit of insight into just how bad the economy is getting there and at least compared to the relatively unhit PNW I'm guessing the chance of picking up a deal there is much better. I'd also guess that any repairs the boat needs will be cheaper there than someplace like Seattle.

One thing I'm learning is just because a boat sails primarily in salt doesn't mean it is necessarily stored there. A fair number of people here sail Puget Sound (salt), but then lock into Lake Washington (fresh) to store or live on their boat. I'd guess that is true many places in the NE as well.

What kind of boat are you looking for? I'll try to keep an eye out while I walk the docks here.

Modul8 - I hadn't thought about the foreclosure upswing. Anyone know how to find out about foreclosure boats?
 

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I found that boats North of Baltimore and well South of Annapolis are more reasonably priced than those within that limit.

Same goes for dockage and yardwork.

With exceptions, of course!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Looks like you and I are in the same boat, Blowfish. I live in PNW (Seattle), but I tend to do my boat searches both here and in the Great Lakes region. I've heard from several folks that boats in the Lakes tend to be in better shape and I was able to confirm with a co-worker who has family in the business back there that many folks pull their boats out in the winter which may be better than just leaving them in the cold freshwater. I say "may" because I have to wonder what kind of damage freezing temps may do to the fibers in a fiberglass hull that has absorbed fresh water - any thought?
Very important consideration. The winters in the Great Lakes area are a series of freeze-thaw cycles that can be very hard on a boat. Blisters appear and disappear depending on the temperature. Hulls that are saturated tend to delaminate quite quickly. There are fewer of these however as the vast majority of the boats are hauled out for the winter so they are only wet from about May to the end of October.

I personally avoid any boats that have not been conscientiously covered for the winters as the water works its way into any and all fissures, crevices, holes etc. and then expands as it freezes. Over the course of five or six years, this can cause appreciable damage to a hull, and more particularly, a deck wherever fittings have been attached. Fittings need to be rebedded periodically - find out when this was last done.

That said, there are many boats here that have been well-maintained and cared for. The freshwater is kinder to a fibreglass boat than the salt water is and they age gracefully here.
 

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I am in Michigan and I bought my boat in Florida.
The worst condition boat I looked at, by far (among about 50+) was on Lake Michigan. The premiums asked for good boats on the lakes was over my budget. there are a lot of derelict boats around here. True, one hurricane can totally destroy a boat. But years of sitting out uncovered in the winter can also make a real mess of decks. As soon as you have some water leaks, the freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw cycle will make a real mess. And all the unemployed cut back first on maintenance. I go to my boat all winter long and see plenty of boats totally uncovered and caked in ice. Ice that gets into the scuppers and expands and cracks the scupper, etc. Masts leak water into the bilge and the water freezes and makes a mess of bilge pumps, stringers, wiring, hoses, etc.
So you need to decide what kind of boat you want, what amount of work you are willing to put into it and then search everywhere until you find the RIGHT boat. Since you are prepared to transport, then don't limit yourself to one area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The freeze/thaw was definately a concern. It's tough when you have to spend $1,000 just to go see a boat. A couple of failed trips and you've already blown the budget! Elzaar, my search is still pretty broad at this point, though I like the Pearson 35s and Endeavor 37s. Headroom is key for me.
 

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I am in Michigan and I bought my boat in Florida.
The worst condition boat I looked at, by far (among about 50+) was on Lake Michigan. The premiums asked for good boats on the lakes was over my budget. there are a lot of derelict boats around here. True, one hurricane can totally destroy a boat. But years of sitting out uncovered in the winter can also make a real mess of decks. As soon as you have some water leaks, the freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw cycle will make a real mess. And all the unemployed cut back first on maintenance. I go to my boat all winter long and see plenty of boats totally uncovered and caked in ice. Ice that gets into the scuppers and expands and cracks the scupper, etc. Masts leak water into the bilge and the water freezes and makes a mess of bilge pumps, stringers, wiring, hoses, etc.
So you need to decide what kind of boat you want, what amount of work you are willing to put into it and then search everywhere until you find the RIGHT boat. Since you are prepared to transport, then don't limit yourself to one area.
What Xort failed to mention was the number of Sailnetters that looked at boats for him. There is a Sailnet thread dedicated to to people helping buyer look at a boat prior. You yourself may want to consider that approach yourself...
 

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Jody
I was about to mention that...
There is a sticky at the top of this forum. There are about 5 pages of volunteers who will do a preliminary looksee for you.

The 50 is the ones I did go see! made vacations out of them. tripping around Florida in the winter ain't too bad a deal for a yankee!
 

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Good information on the freeze/thaw cycles. Buying here in Seattle is sounding better and better if I can find the right boat at the right price. I'd rather not pay to transport, but I like to travel to Chicago area and might just leave a boat there until ready to head out if I found a good one. I hear repairs are much cheaper there.

Blowfish, I'm 6'3" so believe me I understand your limitations. I spend as much time trying to figure out headroom as I do keel-types. There seem to be a fair number of Endeavors out here, but I think they would be too slow even for me. I am on the sticky for checking boats out here, though so are about five other folks likely with more actual expertise. All the same, if you see a decent lead I'm happy to go walk a dock to look at it and snap some digitals.
 

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Xort -

Are you saying that you would not buy a Great Lake's boat or that you just wouldn't credit it with likely to be in any better shape than a Florida boat? What was the general condition of the boats in Florida? One of my options is to just buy a boat already south and save myself the trip sailing down the West coast. I hope to sail whatever I buy for about four months before putting it into a yard to have more work done for several months before actually leaving my job. If this is bordering on a thread hijack let me know. :)
 

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All I was saying is that you can't expect yards full of gleaming boats at discount prices.
The shipping option makes it easy for anybody anywhere to buy a boat. When I sold my small power boat a few years back, the broker said he was getting sales from Sweden, sight unseen for certain types of boats.

Also, some types of boats are more popular in certain areas. Cruising boats are not real common in the great lakes vs day boats. Doesn't mean you can't find one, in fact, it does mean that the cruising boat doesn't have much of a local buyers pool and might get discounted.

There are good boats and crappy boats everyhere. There are sellers who are very unreasonable and buyers looking for a quick sale, everywhere.
 
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