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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,

The joy and nerves of purchasing one's first boat are upon me. I've gone from pining for a boat from my "dream list", all of which are very much out of my price range, to shopping for something I can afford now. Enter the Bristols: from what I have read, they came from a respected yard where they were well designed and well laid, capable of passage making (yes, with upgrades), popular with a decent owners organization, and surprisingly affordable today.

Cutting to the chase, tonight, I'm going to view a 1968 Bristol 32 that's being offered for sale at a price that generated my interest. I've been more successful at finding data on the more popular 24's and 27's than I have the 32. That coupled with the fact that this is the first time I'm shopping for a yacht, I have (a myriad of) questions. I'll limit them.

Main concern: The boat is on the hard in the owner's driveway. The owner purchased it 1.5 years ago, then was in an accident that rendered him incapable of sailing. He's never had it in the water. He purchased it from a local marina (whom I've contacted; they don't remember the vessel off the top of their heads but are researching for me) who was selling it for an elderly man. The current owner seems knowledgable enough, but, I'm leery of purchasing without knowing when it was last in the water. Owner says that the seacocks, stuffing boxes, and fuel filters have been serviced along with new bottom paint, "amongst others". Most of his attention/work has been paid to the cabin.

If the first looks today are good, I'll be seeking someone with more knowledge than I to come and have a look see with me. But for tonight, here's what I'm looking for, please add to this list:

Leaking tanks (water in the bilge, fumes), engine run?, mold / signs of leakage in cabin, state of the electronics, quality of included sails, crazing, chainplates, condition of rigging...

Your experience and knowledge are always appreciated.
 

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If you can't afford a survey think about the unexpected repairs you won't be able to afford.

Do not buy it without putting it in the water!! Does the engine run? Batteries dead? Electronics work?

Let it sink on the current owner's dime, not yours!
 

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I owned a 1976 Bristol 32, don't know how much different it would be..
When I brought here - in the mid 90's she was a rock solid boat! the only core issue I had was in the cockpit where the travelor was - had some spongy balsa, but that was it. Did need to rerig, new thru hulls, new sails refrig and added a propane system but the hull was in perfect shape.

If your getting insurance- you will need a surveyors report. What kind of engine- I believe they originally had atomic 4 gas engines.
Good luck
 

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If you can't afford a survey think about the unexpected repairs you won't be able to afford.

Do not buy it without putting it in the water!! Does the engine run? Batteries dead? Electronics work?

Let it sink on the current owner's dime, not yours!
Didn't think it was pertinent to the post, but, boat costs are being split between two people. A survey is not out of the question. For future finders of this post, we're those annoying, idiotic, seat-of-our-pants types. You've been warned.
 

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Buy and read Don Casey's "Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual", the first section of which is entitled "Inspecting the Aging Sailboat", before inspecting a boat you are considering purchasing.

Also read "This Old Boat" by Don Casey to understand better what you are getting yourself into.
 

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Buy and read Don Casey's "Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual", the first section of which is entitled "Inspecting the Aging Sailboat", before inspecting a boat you are considering purchasing.

Also read "This Old Boat" by Don Casey to understand better what you are getting yourself into.
Great recommendations. Thanks.
 

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Good engine easy to repair. Engine hours? Does PO have maintenance records?
When I brought my present boat PO had all the records - PO did some stupid things but overall he's been terrific with me. Hope you have the same luck!

I paid for a survey and he was right on with all the problems and the repairs that needed to be done. It reads like a punch list for me.
 

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Good engine easy to repair. Engine hours? Does PO have maintenance records?
When I brought my present boat PO had all the records - PO did some stupid things but overall he's been terrific with me. Hope you have the same luck!

I paid for a survey and he was right on with all the problems and the repairs that needed to be done. It reads like a punch list for me.
Thanks for all of this. The last line especially.
 

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Just my opinion but I don't put the electronics on the list of deal breakers. If the boat hasn't been sailed in quite a few years there have been advances with newer electronics that you might want to have anyway. Also, if the PO didn't sail the boat how you intend to sail it, the electronics they have may not make sense for your intended use. Any of that stuff can easily be added later.
 

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Re. the Don Casey book. Your library may have it. I know mine does.

Re. survey, look at it yourselves first, then if still interested you would be crazy not to have a survey done. As has been said here earlier you will need one for insurance anyway. If there are issues that need addressing you will need to have another one after you fix them (to satisfy insurance company) unless you pay a reputable yard to repair. I believe it will be cheaper to fix yourself and then get another survey.

In my case I bought a boat that had a leaky fuel tank. This was noted in the survey so no insurance until afterI replaced it myself and then hired a surveyor just to inspect my work so it was much less than a full survey would have cost.
 

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For you first inspection, additional to information above, and before you get a surveyor:
  • Look inside lockers for signs of water leaks.
  • Check hull to deck joint and if you see bolts they should not be rusted, otherwise you are looking at an expensive repair.
  • As you walk on deck pay attention to how solid it is or isn’t.
  • Don’t pay attention to electronics.
  • Check the sails - are they soft, can you poke your finger thru it? Or are they hard and heavy.
  • Ask how old the rigging is.
  • Check the rudder and the shaft for play – there should be none.
Now if still interested get the survey, you will want to negotiate the expenses for any repair from the asking price

Good luck.
 

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great link.

I'm biased, but a big fan of Bristol!

That said be aware that you are looking at (and may own) a 45 year old boat so go in with your eyes wide open. With older boats it all comes down to maintenance. I'd say that when you look at the boat, scrutinize the owner as much as the boat itself.

Look at his car, his house, talk about his projects (both on and off the boat). Does he do things well or just knock it out? Does he have pride in his work? Is boat work a chore for him or a labor of love? The older the boat is the harder it is to get this sort of info since there have been potentially many owners in the chain.

good luck! the 32 is a beautiful boat.
 

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'68 Bristol had aft cockpit traveller, so no issues like the '76 and newer. Decks should feel solid as concrete since they are solid fiberglass (no wood cores). If they don't feel solid, there could be something, but these boats are not known for weak decks. '76 and newer had 4ft reduction in mast height on tall and short rigs, as well as a little less ballast (couple hundred pounds). Boom was about 2 feet shorter. I don't think Universal was an original engine in '68 so you might luck out on the associated hardware, maybe even the fuel tank. If it hasn't been addressed, the most likely source of water in the bilges will be from the hull/deck joint. Bristol used quality hardware, but the joint will leak unless it's been re-sealed. Check for play in the rudder. Though well built, even it will need attention at some point. In cabin look at chainplates and shelves for signs of delamination from water or severe hull abuse (like banging around in a marina during a hurricane). Good luck.
 

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Cannot stress the value of a survey enough. I would walk through the boat, see what you can see. In looking at boats recently, that was enough to make me walk away several times. But in the end, I found a boat that I liked and the owner had spent a lot of time working on the boat (and was knowledgeable and skilled).

Long story short, the agreed price was $7k. Surveyor found some somewhat important problems with the boat that the owner wasn't aware of. Owner dropped price to $6500 and is now fixing all the problems. I feel a bit bad. The surveyor valued the boat quite a bit lower than I think was reasonable (from knowing the market a bit). So the owner was really caught short and I feel a little bad for him. But I don't have extra money floating around.

You can really only find so much by yourself unless you know what you are looking for. Best $475 I ever spent. I would search hard for the best guy in your area and whatever he quotes you, pay it.
 

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A big thanks to everyone who has been contributing to this thread. I've read your advice and appreciate it all. I'd like to respond to each of you but time is short today.

I was able to see the boat last evening just after sunset. The initial looks from my inexperienced eye were good ones and I walked away excited. I woke up this morning more critical and grounded, enjoying the back-to-reality effect "sleeping on it" has had.

For various reasons (time, fear that I've already advertised this boat way too much on my own here and elsewhere, not wanting to bore, etc…) I'll not go into deailed specifics nor post all of the photos taken (there are many). For anyone who has taken an interest in this little quest or who is just curious to hear more or perhaps lend some more advice, PM me and I'll be glad to go over everything in detail as I'm wanting to do by the minute.

I liked the current owner / seller. Seemed as genuine and humble as a man can be. Gave me full access and answered all questions as best he could. Was proud of what little work he had done to the boat (new floor, little bits of cabin upgrades). Having never been able to sail the boat, there's little he could tell me regarding anything related to performance / seaworthiness / etc… He seems to be the 3rd owner…and I got the story of how it got to him: At his time of purchase, the then owner thought the boat may have been struck by lightning in a storm while moored and had the rigger at a Long Island marina go through the boat looking for signs of said strike. The rigger found none. Current owner says marina's rigger gave the standing rigging a good bill of health (chainplates, stays) except that the main shroud was 3/16" instead of recommended 1/4". This was 1.5 years ago. There is good stack of documentation that we did not have time to go through. You can tell it pains him to have to let it go and he seems to genuinely care for the boat. I like to think of myself as an empathetic person, but, I'm doing well to keep business and emotions separate.

Pros - She's pretty. She's clean… very clean, inside and out, lazarets to head. "Full keel" / non-centerboard, main traveler aft, tiller. Free of any hull defects / concerns. Looked straight to the naked eye. Paint looks OK but could probably use a fresh coat of bottom paint for good measure. Decks are solid, no soft spots, research confirmed that they're not cored. The Universal 3 cylinder diesel (age/hours unknown, forgot to ask) started up in 3 seconds from cold and was killed / restarted several times and purred like a kitten. Batteries well maintained as well as essential electronics. Very little slack in tiller / rudder. Prop spins nicely. No signs of leakage anywhere that I could see/stick a camera into (it had rained that day). No water in the bilge (thankfully since it has been on the hard for years). Water tanks are stainless. Holding tank plastic. Fuel tank stainless. Owner reports no leaks whatsoever from tanks. No fumes. All lines NOT led aft (hallelujah!). No crazing and only 2 cracks found in cabin fiberglass (corner of companionway on ceiling, and above port side ports at the curve of the cabin roof -- this last does cause a bit of concern as there looks to be water marks / stain around it).

Concerns - Being dismasted and rigged for transport, mast and standing rigging were hard / impossible to inspect last night (important bits hanging off the bow and stern a good 11 feet in the air, in the dark). Boom was free and looked good. Access to chainplates and through hulls from inside the cabin was blocked due to interior woodwork (see photo). Stanchion bases and other bolted hardware on deck showed signs of rust (see photo). A previous owner had replaced all ports and did a **** job / unfinished job of it on the interior; current ports are sealed (non-opening) and caulked/RTV'd; concern stems from the reason why they were replaced and not that they don't open. Winches have not been updated. Sails in questionable condition. Ancient roller furling. Will need new running rigging and possibly new / upgraded standing.

That's the short version of the long and short of it.

I'm now piecing together a financial picture of just what it will cost to: survey, purchase, insure, transport, step the mast, re-rig standing and running, launch, clean, paint, repair sail, find berth, prepare for everything to break, and stock the cooler :)

Unless some invisible-to-me-yet-glaring problem shows up, I think I'd be very happy to have this as a first boat. But, one careful step at a time.

Again, many thanks for all of your knowledge, opinions, and advice.
 

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