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keel bolts can be checked by lifting inspection plates in the floor.....
Not really. You can only see the exposed part of the bolt. The bigger issue is what it looks like below the bilge and inside the keel. I’ve never known a survey to check this, which is why I would want to know if they’re original.

In my case, we had a boat yard put rock salt in my bilge to try to melt ice that had formed. She went up on the hard, it poured rain and our keel stepped mast allows meaningful water in, especially when wind is toward the furling mast slot. The bilge drain (remove a through hull near the mast) hadn’t been opened yet. Then, as luck would have it, the cold front that produced the rainstorm dropped temps way below freezing. It was a bad situation.

In any case, that dumbass rock salt move has caused severe corrosion on the nuts and threaded posts you can see. I have a strong suspicion, the threads below will be fine.

On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that the nuts and threads in the bilge look fine, if they’ve been clean and dry for a lifetime. However, if the keel joint has leaked in the past 30 years, they could be corroded where you can’t see. There may or may not be telltales of rust at this joint. It could have been cleaned up and sealed. Further it’s possible the rust at the joint is just the iron keel, if it has one, and not the bolts. I know one of our members here has posted pics of his keel bolts, when he dropped his keel. They looked okay on top, but the parts below the bilge were half corroded away.

I’m not saying all boats need new keel boats in 14 years. I’m only saying it’s a genuine wildcard on a 30+ year old boat, if they’re original.
 
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So I am looking at buying a San Juan 24 and it's my first sailboat. There is one for sale at a reasonable price but it has a few cabin leaks

"Cabin leaks are two,one at the back cabin wall gusset and one at a through bolt fitting on the cabin top.... I'm also willing to drop my asking price a little"

What should I look for.... are these serious or just part of owning a sail boat

Steve

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Discussion Starter #23
I'm trying to cipher if buying one that old is cost-effective, (with the assumption of it being in equally good condition), does a sailboat that many decades old depreciate faster than one that is 10 years or so newer, and if so, how do you determine its reduction rate?
 

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Goat_boy, leaks like those would generally fall under normal maintanence..things need to be re-bedded for water intrusion as part of owning a boat. Now if the water intrusion has done damage to the core around the leak, that is a whole other can of worms.


Dispatch, Once something gets to be 40+ years old it generally is not going to depreciate anymore, the caveat being that if it is actively maintained, and well kept. If it has been let go, and is a total wreck needing lots of work, the value can drop, even to the point of having a negative value as the cost to scrap it out is more than the value of the bits and pieces.


Just my .02
 

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To a great extent. This is a 'how long is a piece of string' question. There are so many variables that there is no one size fits all answer. There are many basic truths within the discussion points above. The reality is that no matter how much stuff that you put aboard a boat, an older boat will always have it's upper value limited by being a somewhat obsolete design, and if poorly maintained and upgraded it can easily have a negative value.

The upper value of an older boat will barely increase no matter how much equipment and upgrades are added to the boat, since the fundamental fact that the design and basic equipment are out of date is not changed by adding a lot of expensive items to the boat. That is further compounded by the fact that items that are added are used at the time that the boat is being sold.

Additionally 30-40 years ago was not a great time in boat building, especially for companies like Pearson. It was a time when the better boat builder were investing in better quality control and engineering to produce lighter stronger boats. Companies like Morgan, Pearson, Cal, and O'Day were struggling financially and could not put out the capital to improve their build quality and engineering, so continued building comparatively crude designs that were also crudely built. Much of the corners which were cut impacts the long term strength of the hull and the ease of maintenance and updating these boats.

On used boats that are reasonably well maintained, equipped, and maintained they typically reach a floor after 25-30 years where their maximum value doesn't really depreciate any further and their sales price value is solely controlled by their condition.

The way that I have generally priced boats is that I will track a number of similar designs from a number of different manufacturers on Yachtworld and other online sites. I log every one that I find with the asking price when listed, equipment, and price drops, how long it was on the market, and the last price before it was sold. I produce a base price which is the average of the last listed prices, with 10% and 15% knocked off of that number. I typically add 20% of the new cost of each item of recently added gear that is not on all the other boats (i.e. one boat had a new $3500 radar installation, I added $700 to the value of the boat.)

There are owners who buy an older boat, dump a lot of money into the boat and insist that the sales price should reimburse them for most or all of their outlay. Those owners are being unrealistic and frankly usually are not worth negotiating with since they will be typically looking for 20-50% more than that boat would ever be worth and they rarely budge enough to get the price down to something realistic until something changes and they eventually need to sell at a lower more reasonable price. .

And while all of that might suggest that buying a newer design might make sense, I am not sure that it does. There have been several huge jumps in boat prices over the past 30 years. And with those jumps, newer boats tend to be much more expensive to buy, and also tend to have a lot more depreciation over time. After about 10 years of age the boat also moves into a more expensive maintenance cycle of any older boat as sails, standing and running rigging, engine, electronics and so on approach the end of their useful lifespan.

So the only accurate answer on this is 'it all depends'.

Jeff
 
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I'm trying to cipher if buying one that old is cost-effective, (with the assumption of it being in equally good condition), does a sailboat that many decades old depreciate faster than one that is 10 years or so newer, and if so, how do you determine its reduction rate?
What the others have said… An old boat has probably reached its low price point. You can’t really raise it much, but you can lower it through poor maintenance.

If you’re looking for a financial justification to buy a boat, you’re not going to find one. Unless the boat is going to be your primary home, it’s almost always going to be a poor financial investment — but an amazing investment in life!
 

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What the others have said… An old boat has probably reached its low price point. You can’t really raise it much, but you can lower it through poor maintenance.

If you’re looking for a financial justification to buy a boat, you’re not going to find one. Unless the boat is going to be your primary home, it’s almost always going to be a poor financial investment — but an amazing investment in life!
I suppose one could do a really great restore and raise the value compared to similar hulls and vintage. But clearly you're not dealing with a antique or collectible... it's an old boat!
 

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Does the boat "Speak" to you? We have a 52 year old boat that we love. We have spent far more than it's worth in improvements and maintenance over the ten years we have been the caretakers. It has given us countless hours of pleasure and delight. Oh, and a few not so delightful hours (We are really good with an angle grinder.) We also had a 40ish boat for a couple of years that was a learning experience. We sold it for a moderate loss. In both cases, we had surveys by an accredited surveyor. There were no surprises. If you find a boat that you like and it fits your needs, get a survey. Make an informed decision. A good old boat has been around long enough for all the quirks to be known. You shouldn't spend a fortune on it. And you can walk away without losing your shirt if it doesn't meet your needs. Buying a boat is, after all, not a rational decision.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Since my last post I've looked at so many... boats that weren't even worth going to see and were a total waste of my time, money and efforts in doing so.

With so many boats on the market not selling for years, it's confusing, what would you say is the max you should expect to spend on improving a sailboat of this type and age?

What I mean is, based on what you 'actually will' pay for the boat, is there a maximum percentage (or maximum amount), of that you should not go over for which is too much money to invest to bring it to excellent condition?

Before paying for a professional inspection, how do you determine if a boat is even worth the asking price due to the fact it needs too much to thoroughly fix than it is worth?

How much should you upgrade a sailboat or should you just use it 'as is' if its in usable, bare bones running condition?
 

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Since my last post I've looked at so many... boats that weren't even worth going to see and were a total waste of my time, money and efforts in doing so.

With so many boats on the market not selling for years, it's confusing, what would you say is the max you should expect to spend on improving a sailboat of this type and age?

What I mean is, based on what you 'actually will' pay for the boat, is there a maximum percentage (or maximum amount), of that you should not go over for which is too much money to invest to bring it to excellent condition?

Before paying for a professional inspection, how do you determine if a boat is even worth the asking price due to the fact it needs too much to thoroughly fix than it is worth?

How much should you upgrade a sailboat or should you just use it 'as is' if its in usable, bare bones running condition?
Marine Survey 101
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Been there, done that.

Since I was here last, I've spent about $1,000 in inspection fees on two boats (I've looked a many, many more but only found two that were worth making an offer on), I traveled to and from and made serious offers on to buy(I even put deposits deposit down on), but the owners in both cases would not budge on the asking price even when the inspectors found serious issues the boats needed in order to just simply operate it safely, not to mention other major things they needed.

What makes these arrogant sellers think they can sell a boat at a demanding price, that from day one when they bought the boat they put little to nothing into it, they think they can demand asking price for a provenly neglected vessel?
 

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Just a technicality but 'bait and switch' usually involves advertising one item and then trying to sell a different item.
I don't understand the sellers that you are running into; if they have been trying to sell a sketchy boat for a long period of time, I'm surprised that they don't jump at the chance to sell it. Sorry you are having such a hard time.
 

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Then don't say "I don't feel your pain", it's patronizing.

I'm not looking for sympathy, maybe just a little guidance, do you have any idea how hard it is to get the true accuracy on a sailboat that is 2, 3, 4, 5 or more states away from you without going and seeing it in person?

Not to mention trying to gauge one that's in Canada?
What worked for us was identifying a desirable boat on offer about 1400 miles and 9 states away and then doing local research by finding a sister ship and talking with the owner. We did that through the boat builder and lucked out when the sister ship owner invited me to take a look at his boat. The next step was to discuss the boat in detail with a broker that instilled trust. Then we made the trip and shortly thereafter made an offer that was accepted. We still have the boat 23 years later.

The key here was to connect with an honest, knowledgeable broker. Making that determination may require a certain ability to get an accurate reading on people—not just boats—on the phone.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
What worked for us was identifying a desirable boat on offer about 1400 miles and 9 states away and then doing local research by finding a sister ship and talking with the owner. We did that through the boat builder and lucked out when the sister ship owner invited me to take a look at his boat. The next step was to discuss the boat in detail with a broker that instilled trust. Then we made the trip and shortly thereafter made an offer that was accepted. We still have the boat 23 years later.

The key here was to connect with an honest, knowledgeable broker. Making that determination may require a certain ability to get an accurate reading on people—not just boats—on the phone.
I hear yea, the brokers weren't an issue they passed along what they could I just wish they would have had first hand personal knowledge of the boats to know what condition it was really in.

Some they do, some they don't.

I must have made over a dozen calls back and forth on each one, it was when I received updated photos was when I was surprised to see the vessel wasn't anywhere near the over 5 year ad photos looked like (Morgan 43), that's when I got a little concerned. I was still assured it was a good, clean boat, it was fiction.

On the second boat even the inspector said for me to reconsider buying it as it needed too much investment than it was worth.

If it weren't for the distance you have to travel to see them, it would be a lot simpler and a lot less stressful but I'm finding Canadian boats are far superior in overall good condition and cleanliness.
 

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The situations you describe are not uncommon. However, it’s highly unusual to have them as consistently. None of us have the first hand knowledge of each situation you’re describing, but the routine has to make one wonder if you’ve done a sufficient personal inspection or if the surveyor is being fully fair with their assessment. It’s also common for surveyors to think they have to earn their fee back and insure they find something negotiable. I personally know boaters who always bid more than they intend to pay, expecting to lock it up in contact and chew the price down post survey. I prefer to have a deal, unless there is something very bad that was undisclosed or unknown. For example, this guy made an offer on a boat with clear water damage to a bulkhead. You could see the staining. Post survey, he wanted a price reduction for the repair. The owner expected it was already considered in his offer. I’m not saying you’re doing the same. Just perspective.

You’re clearly stuck in the middle. The only solution is to do a sufficient inspection if your own, to hopefully avoid a survey surprise, or accept that you’ll have a few failed surveys. We all have.

I hope you find the right boat. It’s hard, but not usually this hard. The 40+ year old statement makes me wonder if you’re expectations and budget are aligned with the likely condition of the target market too.
 

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I was surprised to see the vessel wasn't anywhere near the over 5 year ad photos looked like (Morgan 43), that's when I got a little concerned. I was still assured it was a good, clean boat, it was fiction.

On the second boat even the inspector said for me to reconsider buying it as it needed too much investment than it was worth.
I found out while boat shopping why adverts were 5 or more years old...only once the hard way after I traveled to see the "derelict". Everyone over the last 5 years had passed on it too, for good reason. Still sucks to find out the hard way sometimes. I wound up keeping a very close eye on listings, but sorted by new listings, as deals would pop up, but would not last very long. Sometimes even listed in the wrong category. A good example of this is a good friend of mine bought a Gulf Star 50 ketch, for a song of a price because it was listed in the powerboat section of Yachtworld, and nobody called on it, it didn't help it was in southern Ohio either.

No boat is an investment, for 99% of the time. You can plan on putting more money into it, that you may or may not ever see a return on when selling...a sad fact of ownership. My own boat included, which I am currently restoring right now...I will lose my shirt on it, most likely. :|
 

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I've owned 5, sold 4 of them, still on number 5.

I never made money on a boat. Never. Only lost money. Sold them all for less than I purchased them, and dumped money into each one, and lots of it during the time I owned them. I guess if you own a machine shop, you like to work with fiberglass, you can fix electronics, can repair and make sails, you can rebuild engines, and you value your time at $5/hr for all this work, willing to self insure, own your own dock, own a travel lift and a boat yard, maybe you could make a profit on a boat. Even then, just go price a gallon of bottom paint. Unless you own the paint factory :).

IMHO, we don't like to acknowledge ownership cost. If we did it might bring us to our senses. Even a well found boat will cost you the purchase price in on going costs in a very few years. So, I don't even think about resale, recovering my investment, all that stuff. It's an illusion. The only issue is how expensive is this all going to be.

And the cheap part is buying it.

I'll repeat my usual advice to new buyers, find a well found boat that is in commission and has been in regular heavy use by a knowledgeable owner, and pay up, it will cost you less in the long run. Boat repairs take way longer and cost way more than you you expect. Unless you are the guy I described above, then it's a good idea to go buy a bargain and best of luck.

How do you find a boat like this? If you don't know your way around the local scene, find a good broker with a good reputation. It's a small industry, small volume, everyone knows everyone else....it's not hard to find the good guys. And the bad guys cannot hide.

YMMV.
 

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Okay folks, lets tone this down some.

Whatever Dispatch's capabilities may or may not be, a lot of us have all been there facing similar frustrations with a seller and/or broker, and with boats that are past their 'use by date'. Most of us who have bought boats at one time or another have run into the situation where we have looked a a number of trashed boats with owners who have unrealistic expectations on what their boats are worth to them vs the marketplace. As I have assisted folks in locating the right boat, I have watched a particular buyer looked a large number of boats that have been sitting around for a long time in a neglected condition that was misrepresented in the ad, with an owner that was married to what seemed like too high a price.

And even if this has not been your own personal experience, that is no excuse to dish on a member coming here for advice.

Jeff_H
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Now, with my moderator hat hung on its peg, I did want to take a stab at some of the questions raised in this discussion.

I'll start with the question contained withing Post 29: "What would you say is the max you should expect to spend on improving a sailboat of this type and age?"

There is no rule of thumb on this. The way that I have tackled this is to track a particular make and model that interests me on various boat for sail websites. I keep a log with every boat that is listed, its initial asking price, equipage, how long it stayed on the market, and the asking price when it disappeared from the listings. Its not precise but my assumption is that the sale price was probably 10-15% of the last asking price. I also assume that the condition of the boat relative to its asking price was a lot worse than when it was listed if the boat remained on the market a long time. If nothing else this gives me a very rough sense of the marketplace on that model. That can literally take years to develop on a rarer model.

The next thing I factor in is how long I plan to own that boat and how I plan to use it. If I plan to own the boat for a long time, then I don't mind putting a lot into it over time. I see that as a kind of 'user fee' for something that gives me a lot of joy. (I tend to own boats for a long time and have owned Synergy for 18 years and the prior boat for roughly 13 years)

Before even looking at candidate boats I had made a list of "must have now's", and a timeline of must haves over time. Based on my financial situation, I set a budget in the short run and a budget over time. For example on my current boat, I expected to put 100% of the purchase price into the boat over a 10 year period of time and own her at least that long. That 100% of the purchase price number does not include the cost of normal maintenance during the time that I owned her. But part of that cost expectation came from altering the boat to suit my needs rather than the normal things a buyer should expect on the boat.

In the case of Synergy, she had spent most of her life before I owned her as a race boat. Cruising systems had either not been installed or had been allowed to die and not be replaced. Similarly, Synergy had been raced by a crew between 8 and 10 people. For my use I wanted to her adapted to race and cruise single-hand. I readily acknowledged some of the items that needed to be added clearly were things that any potential buyer would want to have aboard, while others were unique to my needs. Those that were typically expected items, I used to evaluate the fairness of the asking price. Those that were unique to me affected what I wanted to pay for the boat in terms of whether I could afford to buy this boat, but were not taken into account in terms of my offers on the boat.

Speaking generically again, once I identified a boat that seemed like a good candidate I visited the boat, and inventoried what was on the boat vs what I wanted on the boat. I compared what was on the boat to same make and model boats as well as the condition of the boat to sister ships. I then made a list of what needed to be replaced immediately vs long term, including costs to survey and move the boat to where I want to use her, and that helps create the price that I offered, and make a determination on whether I could even afford to make an offer on a particular boat. Also, before making an offer I also determined a maximum price that I would be willing to pay for that particular boat and put all of that in writing since I lime most folks, tend to play games in my mind if I like a boat.

When I make an offer on a boat, I do several things, I include contingencies for a sail trial and survey including all systems, and an engine run survey. I include an inventory of equipment that is understood to convey with the boat and note those items that I specifically believe to be operational, as well as acknowledging any defects discovered before survey that are either baked into the mix, or subject to price adjustment if found by survey to be a major issue. I also include a provision that if defects are found during those trails and surveys, the price can be adjusted up to certain percentage. (That said, when I bought Synergy, the seller insisted the price was his rock bottom price so agreement specifically stated that all I could do with discovered defects was to either proceed with the deal or cancel out. No price ajustment was posible and I accepted that). But more typically, I spell out how the costs of repairing defects will be determined and how the cost would be split between buyer and seller, and the maximum amount that either of us were responsible for and how the payment would be handled. (i.e. the cost estimate might be from a specific boat yard or marine chandlery, and the seller's cost deducted sale price or perhaps the funds escrowed from the closing costs, and paid when the work is done.)

I try to work everything out in a purchase agreement before any serious money gets spent on surveys or launching and hauling.

Unlike some above, I will say that I have made money (sale price exceeded purchase price and cost of upgrades) on a few boats that I have owned (if you don't count my labor fixing them up), but most of the boats that I owned have been at best break even, or cost me something beyond maintenance and operating expenses.

Where it gets tough when looking at 40-50 year old boats is that many of these are truly shot. Many have wildly negative values, meaning it will cost several times what they will ever be worth just to put them into reliably usable condition. Many are completely obsolete designs that are not likely to appeal to anyone other than a very small segment of the marketplace. Many were poor designs when compared to their peers and are especially poor designs when compared some of the better boats that are out there at a similar price range from another later era.

But for any particular seller, they may love their boat and when they think about replacements, there are only a limited number of choices that they can afford and so they set a price that makes sense to them, and there is no way that they are going to move one way or the other. Its like that with my boat. I would not be willing to sell her for a fair price as long as I can sail her and she suits my needs. But when I am done with her, I would probably sell her for small fraction of what I had in her because I doubt that she would have the kind of universal market appeal that might demand a higher price.

In other words, my general suggestion is to be organized about your search and information gathering. Ask the Broker or Seller very pointed questions about the age of photos, last operation of critical equipment, known damage and so on. In the case of a broker, find out he has been on the boat, when and if there have been any recent offers. Make sure to put as much as possible into the purchase offer.

Jeff
 

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I closed on a 42 year-old boat two weeks ago. It was an estate sale, so the PO was not available to tell me anything, but he did sit down with his wife and draw up a punch list that she shared with me before I even looked at the boat.

I went through it myself and found a sound structure and mechanical systems that were upgraded and well maintained. The engine, the rig and the sails are all hunky dory.

I made an aggressive but fair offer, given the cosmetic work that will need to be done. It was accepted and so I went through the boat again with an experienced, accredited marine surveyor. He found some things I missed but nothing even close to a deal breaker.

I didn't nickel and dime the estate but handed over a check for what I'd offered. We did the whole deal on a handshake and it worked out well for both parties. So, not everyone acts in bad faith.

To the OP I would say limit your search area geographically and never be in a hurry to buy a boat. There are northern boats put up for sale in Florida after a cruise all the time. So be patient and let her come to you.
 
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