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Discussion Starter #1
Hey folks!

This is officially my first post here. Let me introduce myself. I'm current enlisted navy working in the aviation electrical field, ex carpenter, machinist and general tinkerer. I tend to always have a project going on in my life and have just became addicted to sailing in the past 4 months. During my quest for my first sailboat (I learned on a flying scot) I stumbled upon the Northwest 21. This boat is so damn neat. Only 140ish were ever produced and it manages to pack enough sleeping area for 3, an enclosed head and even a small galley area. The boat I'm looking at has been sitting for the past years, but for the price of $900, I'm heavily considering taking it on as a project. I've looked it up and down as well as I can, but I'd really like to know which places to look for any structural issues or rot. I've looked everywhere but the bilge. The gelcoat looks to be in good condition with nothing but alot of moss and dullness. I dont see any cracks anywhere.Also, I havent seen the sails yet, but the owner ensures that theyre in "good" condition...we'll see.

Any advice as to what I should be investigating folks?

I'd add pics, but the message board isnt allowing me :(
 

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With your level of expertise, normally I'd recommend you have the boat surveyed, but it'd probably cost almost a quarter of the asking price. However, it might be worth it to you to have a professional go through the boat, leaving you with a lot more info about the boat and a project list.
 
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Not this one, then ;) (asking $3900)

1976 Northwest 21 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

Boats of this age, esp neglected/forgotten ones going cheap, will tend to have some water damage from leaks gone unchecked (around the rigging attachment points (chainplates), windows and ports, hatches. Sometimes this moisture gets into the coring of the deck and causes delamination and breakdown of the core material, resulting in 'bouncy' deck panels.

So look for that, look for evidence of plenty of water in bilge, 'high water' marks on bulkeads and berth fronts that are evidence of excess water at some point.

Is the one you're looking at an inboard? at that price the engine is likely to be a question mark too.
 
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Welcome! Post the pics on Photobucket or another photo site and then insert the IMG links into your posts. The biggest places to look for problems are anywhere there is a hull/deck penetration, whether it's a through-hull or something that goes in from above like a cleat, stanchion, mast step, or chainplate. Chainplates are especially important, because they hold the mast up. I've been on boats where the water traveled down a shroud to the chainplate, then ran down to the bulkhead and rotted the bulkhead. Look for water stains around the chainplates at the bulkhead as a first clue as to whether there's a problem, then poke a bit to make sure the wood under the chainplate is solid. Also look for soft spots on the deck, especially around the chainplates and look for wobbly stanchions (could just be loose screws, but good to check). Another important place to look is in the cabin near the base of the companionway stairs. Many times you'll get leaks through the hatchboards or the sliding companionway cover, and if it doesn't drain away, it can sit and can sometimes cause rotting in the floor (which you'll see as soft spots).

Hope this helps!
 

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Oh you guys are awesome. Unfortunately the board wont let me post pictures until I have atleast 10 posts, but lets see if I an atleast post a link to my photobucket so you guys can check this thing out. As far as I can see on the boat, there is almost zero wood used in the structual construction, and I say this from looking at just the cabin area and above. Even the transom is solid fiberglass. Ok turns out I can't post a link...grr
 

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Barquito
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Other than some sturctural killers, look out for stuff that will suck up your budget: replacing sails, motors, rigging (running and standing), personal gear (pfd, etc), operating expenses (launch fees, mooring, bottom paint...). As you will hear repeatedly, some cheap boats are not cheap. You should be able to paste in the IMG link from photobucket (I think).
 

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Make 10 quick posts right in this thread, we love pictures!
 
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Hey folks!

This is officially my first post here. Let me introduce myself. I'm current enlisted navy working in the aviation electrical field, ex carpenter, machinist and general tinkerer.
Welcome to the board.

With the CV above, let me say that for a $900 boat, you're eminently qualified to do your own survey. Just look for obvious signs of delamination (normally pretty visible) inside and out, start the engine, have a look at the sails. If the boat looks sound, sounds good, the gear mostly works (there probably isn't a lot of it) and the sails are good, what more do you want from $900?

If you use the skills you report above and the boat looks OK, put your money on the table and start boating.
 
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No motor, unknown sail condition, and it clearly leaks from above? It should probably be less money.

You need to survey the deck for delamination. You wrote earlier in this thread " As far as I can see on the boat, there is almost zero wood used in the structual construction". On almost every sailboat of this era the deck is made of a laminate sandwich of fiberglass, wood core (plywood or balsa) and fiberglass again. If the wood has gotten wet (due to deck penetrations leaking) the deck will need to be deconstructed, the core replaced, and epoxied all back together again. It's not a hard project, but it is a time consuming one.

For the same price as this boat plus a motor you can probably find a Catalina 22 in better shape.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Ok, so I'll study the deck as closely as I can. Upon seeing the boat it was all pretty overwhelming to even try analyzing everything, but with the help of you guys it's becoming pretty clear what needs to be looked into. I do know that a catalina or other boat of similar size could be obtained for less, but there's really something about the NW 21 that has grabbed me. It's horrible, I know a person shouldnt get all emotionally attached to a money hole like this, but the design is just so elegant and makes such great use of the space on such a small vessel. I'll make sure to inspect the sails heavily when I go back this week. No motor :/ ....I know, it's a bummer.

Part of the whole journey with a new boat for me will be the process of cleaning, restoring and making it my own. I prefer to always have a project going on in my life, and the thought of just simply buying a boat that is completely seaworthy and without the need to attention seems so boring to me. now, what should I be looking for when I look down into the bilge? I spoke to a tech at the local marina and he says that he has never seen a keel fail without visable cracks on the outside (which I dont have), and that it would almost be counter productive to even try turning one of the keel bolts.
 

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No motor is a plus actually, unless of course a new one in the box was part of the deal. If the boat was not in pristine condition when you got it, I doubt the motor would be. Used outboards can be a real pain. Lots are older 2-strokes anyhow. Save up and get a Tohatsu 6HP 4-Stoke - There is a model called "Sailpro" with a special prop and longer shaft that would work for you. My boat is a heavy 19 footer with 1100 lbs of keel and it scoots along at less than 1/3 throttle. Have never used more than 3/4 throttle even in 3-4 foot seas with wind. Uses a few teaspoons of gas each weekend. I sold a balky Johnson 2-stroke and am glad I have a reliable motor now!

You are in for a heck of a project, pace yourself. It took me 14 months to redo mine working constantly 7 days a week in my free time. Glad I did not quit.
 
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