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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
If a couple is planning on spending a few years cruising aboard a boat 38' to 45' there seems to be two schools of thought.
One school of thought is to buy the best boat you can and sail it. When something breaks fix it.

The other school of thought is to buy the best boat you can then put it through a complete refit so every system is in top shape.

If someone is in the second category then the next division is whether they choose to pay a premium for a boat with a lot of recent upgrades and top quality maintenance or if they just buy a boat with a good design, and bones under the theory they are going to refit it anyway.

I can't personally stomach the thought of sailing away on a boat with major systems unexplored and a mystery.

I would feel compelled to take the whole boat apart, inspect and repair everything and replace what is needed.

So my question is, if that is what someone is committed to do, is is likely that the premium paid for a good boat going to pay off in a faster cheaper refit?

What is your experience?

There will be a temptation to address the wisdom of a refit vs fixing things as you go.
I know different people will make different decisions in this regard and have good reasons both way.
I envy the people that could just take off on a boat they hadn't refit and learn and repair on the way.
I personally don't have that ability or confidence so that option is not one I'm likely to follow no matter how good it might be.
If you can please don't get off topic and talk about the just go option.
I am specifically interested in the potential payback of refitting a better boat vs a not better boat.
 

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Presumably before you boght the boat you looked it over well enough to have at least a rough idea of what was going to need refitting and what was good enough to leave alone. Now, I wouldn't leave the next day on an ocean crossing, but after sailing the boat for a year or so and fixing up the big things on the list, as well as what I found that I had overlooked, I think I would be comfortable that the boat was sound and that I knew enough about it to have a realistic opinion.
To answer your question, it seems that the price you offered for the boat when you bought it should reflect the amout of refitting you expected to do, so aside from your own time and labor it should about even out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes I suspect it is basically a dumb question. Everything depends on everything else.
How much more, how much time, what is new, how new.

As usual it's all about the details.
 

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From my experience, it seems the majority of boat owners who plan to sail over the horizon, actually don't. Most seem to get caught up in making sure everything is perfect before they go and of course, that's just not realistic. By the time some of the initial projects are finished, new ones appear and departure is delayed and so on.
With a good survey and a bit of prioritizing, I believe that one should bite the bullet and just go. So many things that need doing, but aren't critical to safety or sailing can be done in a beautiful anchorage far from the home dock. Sure, parts may be a bit more expensive, but now a days, nearly everything one needs for general repairs and maintenance are available in most places or somewhere near.
But time is not something that one gets back and every second lost is lost forever.
 

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I bought a well looked after boat, spent money on Sails, Rigging, Self Steering, Anchor chain. liferaft, Epirb, SSB, etc.

The refit continues 18 year later in exotic port around the word....
 

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Along with the reality, that sometimes buying a NEW boat can be cheaper depending upon the refit you go thru! I have about 60K in my 28' on deck boat I bought. That includes, sails, lines, interior replacement of all cushions etc. The only thing I have not replaced per say is the shrouds and stays. For an additional 20-40K or so, I could have bought a new boat 30-32' longer than I have from the same manufacture.

So the refit/build etc, can be a lot more pricey than one thinks, which is probably why many do not sail off into the horizon, they spend more time, money and energy into fixing the stuff, and tire before they take off. Where as one in reasonably good shape, or new, you can spend a year practicing, installing a few items you realize you need, then take off!

If it were in my budget, new would be my way to go about this.

Marty
 

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Even if you buy new, unless you buy a real high-end boat, it is unlikely to be fit to sail off into the wide blue yonder straight from the builder. So you will be adding ground tackle, extra sails, water-makers, solar panels, electronics - the list goes on.

A well equipped used boat that has some real ocean miles under her keel in the hands of an experienced owner will most likely have most of the really important gear plus most of the bugs ironed out. It would be better to do a refit of the essentials - such as rigging, possibly wiring and plumbing and replace stuff that is obviously worn out or getting close to 'use by' date. That way you will learn the systems at your leisure and you can set out with some peace of mind. Better than being in some foreign port - or worse at sea in a storm - and having to find out what does what the hard way.

Going the whole hog on a sound boat that is, say, 10 years old and has been obviously well-maintained, is probably overkill. If the boat was 20 years old, a more extensive refit would likely include replacing chainplates 'just in case' and quite likely the engine and stern gear. At that age the hatches could be in need of rebedding and the porthole plastics crazed. And so on....

As for value, my boat had her 50th birthday this year. The previous owner did a total refit and restoration just before I was lucky enough to acquire her, but I still had to upgrade the batteries and solar system to meet my cruising ambitions and I went for heavier rigging 'just in case...' But even if I have to spend half her current market value over the next few years on big ticket stuff that is now wearing out (sails, mainly) the nearest new boat would set me back five times what I have invested and probably would still not be as good a sea-boat.

So, find a boat with a good sailing track record and a history of proper maintenance then go for partial refit using the IRAN method - Inspect and Replace As Needed.
 

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In 2010 we decided to buy a bigger boat tio eventually go long term cruising. We first set a financial goal so that we would have enough to buy a boat, refurb it, cruise comfortably and return with some money in the bank. Our estimations put us at 5 years to achieve this goal.

First order of business was to purchase a good late model boat and live aboard until we left. This allowed us to learn all the systems and replace what we felt was necessary either for safety, efficiency, functional or aesthetic reasons. We purchased a boat 8/2010 and moved aboard full time 10/2010.

We have managed to meet our financial goal ahead of time and be leaving in May. We have done most all the projects but know there will always be things to be done as we cruise. Isn't that the definition of cruising anyway? I have actually started accumulating the necessary parts to work on some projects after we depart. Right now we are concentrating on projects that are easier performed at a dock; sewing, polishing, etc.

We did and will do all the work ourselves. Just yesterday I sewed new filler cushions for our salon settee to make it into a double.

One last major project will be to replace the chartplotter and radar. We did this when we first bought the boat but I used older equipment then and I want some of the features newer equipment offers.

So I guess i am in the second category. Have done this with 3 boats now.
 

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If you want a perfect boat that is refitted and is totally ready to go you will never leave.

Make sure that mission critical items are safe. Things like through hulls and standing rigging must be checked.

Go cruising and fix things as they break. Fedex delivers world wide now.
 

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^^ This.

The only way to achieve a perfect boat, is to either buy a new boat or throw a ton of money at an older boat to upgrade all systems simultaneously.

Some folks won't leave the dock without aerospace-grade systems and an accompanying level of QA (Quality Assurance).

I say that it kind of depends on the type of sailing you want to do.
I race in the Chesapeake Bay, and I intend to coastal sail. No ocean crossings.

For the kind of sailing I do, I prefer the "rolling refit".

The rolling refit entails buying an older boat with good "bones".
(Dry deck, cabin top, hull and appendages, through-hulls)
Next, inspect and repair "critical systems"
(Rigging, engine, electrical, minimally functional sails)

Go sailing.

As I sail, I roll through "secondary systems" as I can afford them:
Re-bed all deck hardware to keep the boat's "good bones".
New Sails.
Electronics: (GPS/chartplotter, tiller pilot, speed, depth, wind)
Liveability items: (stove, toilet, freshwater systems, heat/AC)
Hull form: (Sanding, fairing, templating)
Running rigging: (Customize the running rigging layout to suit my sailing style)
Cosmetics: (Brightwork, upholstery, ventilation, entertainment systems)


Some people want to sail. Some people think they want to sail, but what they really relish is the experience of boat rehabilitation. I'm a little of both. I love bringing my Pearson 30 back to fighting trim, but I enjoy sailing her even more.
 

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hey david, check out my islander 36 projects in paradise thread

not saying its the envy of all boats yet or ever will be but a full refit for me includes some of the stuff Im doing like for example new bulkheads, chain plates woodwork....gelcoat...deck repairs etc


I agree that its always about the best boat you can afford...Im a firm advocate of DONT BUY THE BIGGEST BOAT YOU CAN AFFORD

but quite the opposite in that a properly rigged 38 footer that has been modded and outfitted to your complete liking is better than a 45 footer that you have run out of funds to outfit or take shortcuts cause of cost etc...

not to mention that any big projects like bulkheads will be more demanding on a bigger boat, forces involved like rigging and keel work increases and with it expense etc...

anywhoo
 

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So my question is, if that is what someone is committed to do, is is likely that the premium paid for a good boat going to pay off in a faster cheaper refit?

What is your experience?

There will be a temptation to address the wisdom of a refit vs fixing things as you go.
I know different people will make different decisions in this regard and have good reasons both way.
I envy the people that could just take off on a boat they hadn't refit and learn and repair on the way.
I personally don't have that ability or confidence so that option is not one I'm likely to follow no matter how good it might be.
If you can please don't get off topic and talk about the just go option.
I am specifically interested in the potential payback of refitting a better boat vs a not better boat.
do you mean financially as an assetwhere you recoup costs oif refitting or are you talking about payback in the sense of having a better suited boat to yuour liking that makes you have better peace of mind regarding the safety of your boat?

if the first refits never recoup money...unless they are sold for 1 dolar and even then as a gift or before the wreckers the amount of money needed to biring a boat to life is often lost when you compare other boats for sale just like the one you are refitting

if the second there is absolutely no $$$ amount that will make your boat bomb proof or unsinkable etc...so peace of mind comes from being sane and objective in your decisions both BEFORE AND AFTER the refit

so for example and this is a very broad example if you bought new rigging but yor mast is original its sane to never go ALL OUT all the time...etc...

now if you oversize mast, have it stubby you have new plates, oversized rigging mast plate, keel reinforced you basically over design the rig its quite possible to do so and run her hard...

but what if your hull gets affetcted by this and suffers?

refitting is a delicate art of balancing good and bad...

ps. please define better boat and not better boat? are you talking about condition or design or $$ amount? etc...

cheers
 
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I just know, if I ever did a full re-fit, I would have a full page of squawks within a month.

If I were really configuring for an extended cruise, my re-fit would focus on safety. All other systems, would probably be based upon condition.
 
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David, I'm not sure those two lines of thought aren't "apples versus oranges".

OTOH, you're buying the best boat you can. What's that mean, in terms of budget or unlimited budget?

OTOH, you're buying a boat and having it refitted.

That's a difference, having a refit on anything, versus buying a pig in a poke.

I can understand the Pardey's point of view, and mean them no insult when I say they sound more like water hippies than "cruisers". (How many years with no showers and no head and just a dear cedar bucket?) It's a great way to go camping or whatever, but some folks don't just want to go camping.

So the way I see your choice is either buy whatever your budget can afford, now, and go. Or, buy whatever you can afford to buy and refit, for certain, then go. The trick in either case is to avoid the landmines that will keep you sucked into refitting or repairing for so long that you're either broke or out of time.

I'm all in favor of "go small go now" but even if I'm going on a "new to me" boat for a weekend, I want to put eyes and hands on it from bow to stern and make sure it is reasonably reliable for where I'm going. That may just mean "doesn't look like it will sink this weekend", that can be good enough. But if I was taking the same boat out for six months and heading offshore and out of tow range? I'd want to inspect the fuel tanks and have a discussion with Mr. Diesel about how the entire fuel system was, too. I trust diesels about as much as pit bulls, nice doggy, trust but verify.

So, time, budget, finite ends to things. Who does the inspection and refit, doesn't matter if they're competent to do it. How long or how much you allocate to it, doesn't matter as long as it suits your timetable and pocket.

I'd rather buy "stark plain jane" and add new, than untangle obsolete used gear a PO might or might now have installed or maintain correctly, fwiw. I just think it is easier that way.
 

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Along with the reality, that sometimes buying a NEW boat can be cheaper depending upon the refit you go thru! I have about 60K in my 28' on deck boat I bought. That includes, sails, lines, interior replacement of all cushions etc. The only thing I have not replaced per say is the shrouds and stays. For an additional 20-40K or so, I could have bought a new boat 30-32' longer than I have from the same manufacture.
How long have you owned your boat though, and how many sets of sails and lines have you purchased for it? New boats will need those items to be replaced on a regular basis too...

I replaced sails, electronics, furler, and running rigging on my boat last year (the first year of ownership). That was about $10k on top of the purchase price. Standing rigging will likely happen this year or next. Even if I get up to $35k total investment within 5 years I think I'm over $100k cheaper compared to where I'd be 5 years into a brand new and similar quality/feature set 28-32' boat.

BubbleheadMd and I have similar ways of looking at this I think. I did learn my boat really well last year preparing her for a summer of coastal cruising. That doesn't mean that I replaced every single item, but I have learned how to service almost all of them.
 

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The only way to know what the best purchase tactic would be for you, would be to make a very detailed shopping list of things that would need to be replaced b/f you would be comfortable sailing. Make this list on the older cheaper boat, that needs a lot, and on the newer more expensive boat that needs less. Compare. The major unknown human variable is how much stuff YOU feel like you need to replace b/f you go. If that is almost everything, then just get the older boat and replace everything.
 

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Alex,

I did ALL of that in the first three years of owning my boat. I've now owned it another 5 granted with out having to do anything. Again, depending upon the how you do things, new could be as good a deal as used.

I would say I have done a complete refit as one can refit. ALL of the interior panels that are removable, have been home to my garage, and revarnished. ALL of the cushions have be replaced. ALL of the vinyl covered panels, and foam backed vinyl on the hull etc have been replaced. NON of the original 20 yr old sails are around per say. ALL of the running rigging has been upgraded.

It is about as rifit as can be.

Marty
 

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Partial for me. I wouldn't mind choosing my own sails, lines, maybe even bottom paint or electronics but I don't need a year on the hard getting her ready either....

Something that was pre-loved and loved well but maybe some things were neglected or made due with do to $$$.

My boat was like that, the owner loved her, waxed, teak oiled, clean, replaced a line or two at a time. One by one replaced the winches and even had the cushions re-done about 5 years ago, etc, etc....But kept her on a trailer so the bottom was never attended to for the 10 years he owned her and the sails were all original for the 1988 Catalina.

I upgraded the sales and did a complete bottom job and was good to go.
 

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When I got my little boat it had been neglected , inside and out . Major stuff it needed all new canvas and dodger , a new head system and holding tank , a new fuel system & fuel tank clean , some seacocks . New running rigging and the mast head was froze up . Blister job & bottom paint . Fortunately the engine and electric system were good . My point is if you want to get something for less that needs some attention , try to get it with the basics in good shape . If that's possible . On the other hand if it needs a new engine/trans what the hey then you will know the engine is sound too.
 

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If you want to go while you're still young, make sure the essential stuff is tip top and go.

Remember that cruising is often defined as working on your boat in exotic locales. :D
 
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