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Looking ahead as we learn to sail, repair etc and wait for the last duckling to leave the nest we look at all the boats we might consider to sail away on and wonder. Unless a financial windfall blows over we will be buying and older boat for a refit. Which brings me to the question...What kind of shape are boats lets say from the 1980's really in? Sure plastic is plastic but it does it not age and become more brittle? So much can be replaced in a refit but there still is the hull. Just wondering what all the gurus think and notice of boats 25 years or more in age.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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Core rot and deck delamination is a condition to very wary of. Though not a technically difficult condition to fix, it is very labor intensive. There are plenty of threads here to look up to find the details. Make sure you know whether the hull itself is a cored hull. I know of a guy who bought a cored hull boat, not realizing there was such a thing. The core was bad and he wound up having to trash the boat. Engine condition is something to consider as far as cost. A new diesel will set you back 10gs or close to it. My major cost items were new electronics such as radar, SSB, etc. The major labor was in recoring the decks. Hope that helps but there are many things to consider. Unless you like doing the work, you'll probably get a better deal right now just buying a boat that someone else has renovated already. There are a lot of boats for sale at good prices in these economic times.
 
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Also, make sure you get a thorough survey, the deck as mentioned by smurphny but specially the underbody - primarily looking for blisters as construction and laminating quality varied widely among the builders.
 

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Old as Dirt!
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Looking ahead as we learn to sail, repair etc and wait for the last duckling to leave the nest we look at all the boats we might consider to sail away on and wonder. Unless a financial windfall blows over we will be buying and older boat for a refit. Which brings me to the question...What kind of shape are boats lets say from the 1980's really in? Sure plastic is plastic but it does it not age and become more brittle? So much can be replaced in a refit but there still is the hull. Just wondering what all the gurus think and notice of boats 25 years or more in age.
Fiberglass does age, is damaged by UV radiation, and will become brittle. The extent of this in any give yacht depends upon the quality of the original construction; and, the quality of the maintenance the yacht has received during its life span. Chalking for example, occurs when the resin in the gelcoat formulation has been destroyed by UV radiation, leaving behind only the pigments (the "chalk"). Unfortunately, UV does not stop at the gelcoat and can damage, and eventually destroy the underlying resins (although that may take thousands of years.) For an excellent discussion of the matter see (click on) Fiberglassic Guide to: Boat Construction and Repair - fiberglassics.com. In selecting an older boat as to the hull, one would want to look at a boat that was well constructed to begin with and was well maintained during its life-span (more likely the case for a boat with only one or two prior, devoted, owners).

More important than a hull, however, are a boat's systems that age regardless of care lavished and, particularly, wiring. The effect of humidity on wire is inescapable and one can find that despite the greatest care, 25 year old wire is on it's last legs unless it has been constantly upgraded/replaced (and hopefully the old wire removed rather than just abandoned in place, creating a "rat's nest").

Despite the foregoing, one can find "Good Old Boats" in good condition and frequently at very favorable prices. One just has to be patent and dilligent in one's search.

FWIW...
 

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I have a 1987 Irwin 38 CC bought for average market value last year. It has alwys been a weekend home / condo (the first owner was a single guy who never even used the oven).

It had 600 hours on the engine.

In short, there are mid 80's boats and there are mid 80's boats.
 

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My wife and I purchased 1981 Shannon Ketch from a private owner through a broker earlier this year in Rhode Island. While we were there we stopped in at the Shannon boat building facility and posed the same concern to Bill Ramos, the #2 man at Shannon. His response to us was, there is an older sailboat (from the 60's I believe, it may be a S&S but I'm not sure now) and there is a core sample taken from the hull every year. What has been found is that like concrete, the fiberglass continues to cure as time passes. I had heard that 100 years was the estimated life of a GRP hull but Bill told us it may be even longer. So if like us you are looking at an older fiberglass boat, I would think the hull would be the least of your worries as long as you look at "quality" boats from that era.
 

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Barquito
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With a proper inspection, the hull shouldn't be worry. It is getting all the old equipment replaced that will add up ($), or break down later. But, for those of us who would not be able to afford to go sailing otherwise, there really is no other choice.
 

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Many of us are in the same "boat". IE: We will be looking at 15 to 25 year old boats.

Yes you need a survey.
Yes you need to become as well educated as possible.

In my opinion their are two major classes of boats.

Class 1
In the first class you have a boat that was bought new by a knowledgeable owner with the money to do it right.

Everything on the boat is on a rigorous maintenance and/or replacement schedule.
Barrier coat, bottom paint, Sails, running rigging, standing rigging, bedding of all deck fittings, chain plates, tangs, tanks, engine, through-hulls, hoses, electronics, wire, paint, pumps etc.

This owner will have a log with everything done on the boat along with receipts and part numbers. You will find that just about everything has been replaced at least once maybe twice in 20 years.
Once you buy this boat you will find that as obsessive as the PO was he will have forgotten something that you will have to then dig into for the first time in xx years. But yes you will have a pretty good boat.


Class 2
The boat was bought and repaired as things broke. When you buy this boat it is entirely possible that you will be able to continue to fix things as they break for many years and it not cost you too much.
It is also possible that you will hit one of the big unexpected ones. Things like soft core, hull to deck leaks, engine problems are some of the things that many not show up on the survey.

The bottom line is that their is a lot of luck involved. We don't like to talk about it as it is uncomfortable but it is true. Some really competent smart people get hit with big repair bills and some total noobs get away with everything for years.

But of course percentage wise clueless noobs get taken to the cleaners most often but anyone can be unlucky.

Class 1 boats sell for the top price of their class usually to people the OP knows, often very quickly. They account for less than 1% of the market.

Class 2 boats are a what most of us end up with and we have to take our chances.

The other alternative is to buy a Class 2 boat and do a full refit. It takes from 50% to 100% of the purchase price and about two years for most people. Then you have a class 1 boat for a couple years until you get behind on maintenance.
 

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bell ringer
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Shortnsalty;2058657 Just wondering what all the gurus think and notice of boats 25 years or more in age.[/QUOTE said:
It would made difference in my mind as to which 25 year boat you are talking about and how much you are willing to pay for it!
 

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TROUBLE
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We bought our 1982 Hunter 36 5 years ago for $20K. I did my own survey and have never regretted it. We spent 8K for haulout, bottom job, new rudder, new cutlass bearing, new thru-hulls, new propeller, replaced head and holding tank, standing rigging inspection, new halyards, new anchor and chain, new dinghy and outboard, bimini, and a new chartplotter.

We left Kemah, Texas November 2012 and just returned to Texas last month.
after over 1 1/2 years and 5000 miles, the only thing that I had to replace was a fuel boost pump that was leaking diesel into the bilge. Not bad, but maybe I'm just lucky.

I'll add that you can get by without many of the toys that you think you MUST have. We don't have an autopilot, windlass, liferaft, EPIRB, SSB, radar or AIS. I do think I'll add an AP before we head to the Bahamas again.

We still live on our boat.....and it's still floating. :)

Where we went- http://www.sailblogs.com/member/brogdon/?show=map

Ralph
 

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Discussion Starter #12
We really have not decided on a brand of boat yet. I have a few more years before we would have the free time to travel by sail. Right now only weekends on our C-22 while we are learning. I really want to start a list of boats we might choose from, start to go see them and find one we fall in love with. This way if one pops up in the right condition for the right price we could snag one and begin a refit.
 

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I looked at a lot of boats in this age range and talked to people who sail/liveaboard on this age of boat.

Here are some things I learned.

Teak decks are BAD. Unless they are brand new pass on that boat and even if brand new check the deck core if possible.

Tanks can be a problem. In many cases the tanks were installed before the deck went on. There often is NO WAY TO REMOVE THEM WHOLE. They have to be cut up and removed piecemeal. Then you need multiple custom made tanks to recover the same tankage.

Engine I would avoid a boat with an older NON MAINSTREAM engine. Something like a Mercedes or Ford. Sure pistons might be available but that heat exchanger? A boat that has been rengined recently would be one to look for if you plan on doing lots of motoring. I bought a 1978 boat with the original Perkins diesel. Most but not all spares are still available and recon units are still possible. If I did have a catastrophic failure I could do a one for one replacement. Fitting a new Yanmar would be much more costly as things like shafts couplings exhausts need changing and new mounts fitting. ** Does it leak oil SURE it is a Perkins }

Osmosis The elephant in the room. minor infestations can be dealt with on a diy basis, grind wash fill prime and antifoul. I know of people who have been doing this for 20 years. So tht would not scare me [ much]. Major infestations peel dry and epoxy. Factor it in to the price and get a yard in a HOT DRY country to do the work. Don't diy and cheap out on the materials, there is a boat in a yard out here with the coating peeling off and dinner plate size blisters.

Cored hull, Not for me.

Cored deck soggy spots would not be a deal breaker for me.. Consider sailing somewhere like Trinidad and having the work done there. Diy is possible especially if you are happy with a slightly rough final surface.

Electronics. Hmmm do you REALLY need radar, his and hers chart plotters, marine SSB sat phone. I could manage fine with a Garmin 72 paprer charts and a hand held VHF plus a local mobile phone. Come to think of it I do.

I looked at many boats and finished up buying a 1978 New Bombay Trading Company Explorer 44 which had been the subject of a recent major refit which included new tanks. The couple who sold it after sailing it for a very short time must have had a thousands of hours sweat equity in her plus a bundle of money. I think I got a really good deal.
 

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What kind of shape are boats lets say from the 1980's really in? Sure plastic is plastic but it does it not age and become more brittle? So much can be replaced in a refit but there still is the hull. Just wondering what all the gurus think and notice of boats 25 years or more in age.
My boats glass hull is 53 years old this season. I can't find any evidence of fiberglass fatigue.

I've installed it's third engine, several new systems, but as to the fiberglass hull, I don't think I've seen the halfway point in it's life span.
 

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I bought my boat (1978 vintage) this past spring. Since it has been at the marina, launched, docked and sailed, countless number of people have commented on what a great looking boat it is and are shocked to hear what age it is; their reaction is similar: "wow, it is in great shape".

Not counting purchase and delivery, I have bought a couple new dock lines and an alternator belt (which I subsequently found in one of the holds). No big expenses. In short, it is possible to get a 36 year old boat that is sail-ready and in great condition.

When I was contacting potential sellers and looking at boats, the most important factor I considered was the seller. Their character, personality, and just spending time talking to them would, I believe, provide valuable insight on how they took care of their boat. In the end, I went with my gut based on the seller (obviously with a boat I was very much interested in) and have not looked back since.
 

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My 35 year old lady is solid, but needed neglected work... Paint, running rigging and standing rigging needed attention. an engine with 3300 hours on it... What do you do? You take care of it. Things fail as you start to use them. In one year, I've lost the bilge pump system, refrigerator cooling pump, stereo and speakers, galley faucets, hot water heater and port light gaskets. Since I love mechanics, plumbing and electrical marine stuff, I have as much fun maintaining my boat as I do sailing her.
 

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I just found out what the innards of my glass look like after being hit by a boat down here that dragged an anchor in a blow....

the glass on the leading edge of the bow was VERY VERY VERY dry...thats about all I can say...

glass still has an unkwnown lifespan to this date...however my incliniation and thoughts on the matter make me guess that the way it will expire is by way of drying out and turning to dust as the glues fail and the glass dries to dust.

just a guess...

anywhoo im at 42 years old.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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I just found out what the innards of my glass look like after being hit by a boat down here that dragged an anchor in a blow....

the glass on the leading edge of the bow was VERY VERY VERY dry...thats about all I can say...

glass still has an unkwnown lifespan to this date...however my incliniation and thoughts on the matter make me guess that the way it will expire is by way of drying out and turning to dust as the glues fail and the glass dries to dust.

just a guess...

anywhoo im at 42 years old.
Sorry you got hit. Maybe you're just looking at the shredded glass rather than a "dry" condition. I have bored a few holes in my 47 year-old hull for thru-hull fittings and have found only completely solid, THICK glass layup. As far as I can tell there is no deterioration. I think the original quality of a glass job is by far the determining factor in longevity. If the glass was laid on haphazardly with either too much or too little resin and improper density, it will be weak both initially and even worse, as moisture penetrates, as years go by. I believe the concerns about older fiberglass are a bit overblown.
 
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yes this is the chopped stuff that is used to finish off the two hull halves...especially down centerline.

it should be dry, probably too dry however its better to be a bit dry(resin wise) than too saturated despite the common perception that more glue is better...anywhoo it was just a quick look into a part of my hull...

fwiw also on a 73´ hull I only have a few small blisters that are cosmetic...Im right at the stage where builders were switching and saving some bucks in production...however im safe there...

the laid up stuff say in the keel area and bilges would be interesting to see...however looks like all other hand laid glass boats Ive been on...GOOD jajaja
 
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