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Old 01-21-2013, 05:37 PM   #1
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Default Advice on Older Used Boats

We are shopping for our first boat, looking at something 36'-38' dating from the late 70s and early to mid 80s. Does anyone have general advice on makes and models that stand up well after 30 years, recognizing that the condition of individual boats will vary widely depending on the owner, sailing history & maintenance?

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Old 01-21-2013, 11:43 PM   #2
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Hi guys,

Its an exciting time when you are looking at your first boat. The question shouldn't really be about makes and models i don't feel, as there are loads of different boats out there with just way to many variables.

Consider the hull material first and for most. Fibreglass, steel, wood, ferro. I have found over the years that it comes down to which material you are comfortable with and which you are happiest working with. All boats need maintenance, so it comes down to what you prefer in hull material cause you will be spending time on it at some stage. Next consider your basic requirements and make a list of must haves, wants, can do with outs. and go from there.

I wont even get into full keel, fin keel, tiller or wheel steering, etc etc etc .. you get my drift, it really is down to personal preference as there are too many pros and cons to get into here.

The age of a boat isn't very important, its how well it was maintained. I have seen 50 and 60 year old boats that were fantastic and I have also seen some only a few years old that were pieces of crap.

Buying any boat is a highly individual and often very emotional experience and no matter what anyone says you are the ones that need to be happy with your decisions.

I know I know, not really helpful huh. Well I have owned wooden, steel,glass and ferro boats and I now have a ferro yacht and love it. Compared to the ones I owned in the past this one suits my requirements best and a well built ferro hull is great as well as being low maintenance.

Don't look at the age of a boat but DO look at its condition and suitability for what you have in mind.

***Get 6 sailors round a table or at the bar and you will get 10 different opinions...

Bottom line ... have a great time enjoying your adventures,


"No matter where you go, there you are".
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Old 01-22-2013, 05:56 PM   #3
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Default 30yr old boats...

My Wife and I just purchased a '82 Amel, and are very impressed with the build quality. Very little core, and almost ALL fiberglass and resin - would cost a literal fortune to build a boat now with that much raw material (good for us!).

One thing, there is a plethora of items that will crop up, and I suggest you focus in stages i.e.: interior (Forward, Center, Aft), exterior (varnish, paint, canvas etc), rigging (standing and running), engine, electric (12v and 120v), plumbing etc etc...honestly, the good news is you will know your boat INSIDE and OUT after a year. When compared to the average 'charterer' out there you will look like Mr Miyagi (Karate Kid), and those who have no clue where to locate most important systems will come to you for your 'sage like advice' when anchored out. This has led to MANY a free libation, and food stuffs >> don't knock it! Simple mechanical/electrical/sail or canvas maker knowledge can pay dividends when in remote locations

IMHO: Purchasing a boat, shaking down a new purchase, owning a boat, refitting, upgrading, provisioning, and using are all small steps in the process - and it's a Marathon >> Not a Sprint! Enjoy every step, and know this is a PROJECT, not a Ikea closet dresser (you don't ever really stop upgrading/improving).

Sorry for the rambling, hope it made sense - Erika and I have enjoyed every day on board Cerulean since we purchased her (not living full time yet!). But, boy there have been days of sheer frustration/madness/chaos trying to problem solve items and breaking something else in the process of "repairing" or 'upgrading' another

S/V Cerulean
Jeremy & Erika Hermanns
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Old 01-23-2013, 02:54 AM   #4
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I would start with the very first question. What can I realistically do with a boat rather than what do I want to do with a boat. That entails a lot of parameters: how may months a year will I be on board? Will I live on board or ashore?What sailing area will I be in (cold or warm water)?And the list goes on. It is easy to be seduced by a boat that is not suitable to our requirement, some cold headed thinking is the very first step in my humble opinion.

Fair Winds,
S/Y Charisma
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:35 PM   #5
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Jer and Francis both have great points!

The only thing I can add is that you have to love the process (the one Jer outlines). If you don't love the process, the actual work that needs to be done, you may change the type/size/price of your purchase.

I had a friend once who told me he wanted to fix a flip homes for a living. I asked him if he liked evaluating homes to buy, determine construction goals, supervising contractors, working with brokers. He said he didn't like any of it, and in fact still had projects in his own home he couldn't finish. But he heard fix and flips make good money.

So, you gotta love the process, the work, and the problems, as well as the rewards and the play.
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:39 PM   #6
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To answer more directly, I would say I have my eye on similar years and sizes and have active searches running on yactworld.com for:

Irwins, Freeport Islanders, Fujis, Southerlys, Halberg Rassys, and Freedoms designed by Hoyt.
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:27 PM   #7
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Hi thought i would tell my story , was looking for the same in ozz , found her , solid glass epoxied below water line , previous owner cruised her for 14 years then left her on the mooring for 3. Surveyed ok , mainly cosmetic stuff
4 weeks in the motor filled up with water , rebuilt the volvo on the mooring ( not to dear if your only paying for parts) replaced all seacocks and thru hulls ( one was leaking , yes the raw water for the motor ) . Every where i look some thing needs doing even if its only a coat of paint. would i do it again , you bet , for me its a journey in self satisfaction , been working on boats for 30 years . Also if i had waited till i could afford my dream boat i would still be on shore dreaming, i still dream but now its of an extended cruise when im finished . ( getting closer every day ) If however your not so inclined i would also suggest what was mentioned before,changing the search parameters to what your comfortable with.
All boats need work older ones just a bit more ( some more than others ) Wheel in one hand , cup of tea in the other , sailing just because you can ...cant beat it ... got to go now ,port winch needs a service , wonder what i will lose over the side this time lol
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:21 PM   #8
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Great story Chris. I think you are right..... love the journey not just the destination.

So with that in mind, what I'd say to Jen, is know what you love and know what you will have in this whole thing, and that will determine the age, condition, size, and price of your vessel. Spend a lot of time on yacht brokerage sites looking at pics.... look at their condition, size, space, etc... you can't tell everything from photos, and some pics are terrible, but you will get to know your models and sizes pretty well.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:08 PM   #9
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I'd suggest if you want more info on choosing a boat you should do some reading. There's plenty of books available on the subject. I've picked up a few for my Kindle for only a couple of dollars each on Amazon. Don't believe just one author though, read many. I found this generally raised more specific questions which a search on previous forum topics may be able to help you answer. If you can't find your questions previously answered, the good people of Cruiser Log are usually happy to help.

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Old 01-25-2013, 10:34 AM   #10
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Default Advice on Older used Boats

Great stories and advice.

Last year, my wife and I decided that we wanted to get back into boating after 15 years! For my part; looking back now I can't imagine what possessed me to stop in the first place; other than the kids had grown up and lost interest, preferring other pursuits. In the interim I consoled myself with scuba diving off ribs and skippered hard boat diving and the occasional fishing trip. Over time though, the appeal isn't what it used to be :-).

Anyway, we were talking about holidays like you do, and started to consider a static cabin as a holiday retreat. We actually went to view a few of thiese in various locations near the UK Kent coast and both agreed, this was definitely not for us. Then, to my complete surprise my lovely Wife said "how about another boat, I know you have been missing it".

Like a man possessed, the quest began!

After all, back in the day I had passed my RYA Day Skipper and subsequently my Offshore Yacht Master and the thought of getting stuck into some navigation revision and a ICC endorsement; I knew would lead to some proper cruising.

Living in the UK, our last boat had been a Freeman 30 with twin 120hp Perkins Sabres. She was built in the 1960s and though really well equipped, needed quite a lot of TLC which she dually got. Lots of very hard work on the hull and mechanics in the beginning.

Over the years, I lavished hours and hours on her whilst other more fortunate friends sat out on their rear decks sipping gin and tonics . Dont get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of it. ! But.... armed with hindsight, I now had a number of 'must have now and a number of .. can do later things, that formed the basis of my search.

So, if you intend to keep her for any length of time, you may want to consider some of the following priorities:

Separate rear cabin with full head height there and throughout the saloon.

Good sized galley with room to install a gas hob and fridge

Stowage Space - Stowage Space Stowage Space

Very good sized head / WC with room / ability to install a shower.

Have the hull and engine / s professionally surveyed.

Make absolutely sure that she is completely sound both mechanically and structurally.

Don't be concerned about all the toys like auto pilot, chart plotter and radar over any of the above.

Don't be concerned about hot a water system and space heating over the above.

Above all; be absolutely sure that the interior layout suites your lifestyle.

Dont initially be concerned about finishing and aesthetics.

Everyone has a budget, but if like most of us, it wont buy everything you want in one go ; stick to these simple principles and you will get a lot more boat for your money and a satisfying feeling in terms of the boats longevity.

Working within the above criterion, the only other 'must do things' for me was a Dutch Steel chine hull with good sea keeping, low fuel consumption and a second steering position on the aft deck.

After 2 months of searching in the UK and finding nothing, it dawned on me that I should look in the obvious place. Holland. After a further 2 - 3 weeks, and internet searches late into night and weekends, we had found her. A 10.5m Dutch steel cruiser with aft cabin, a very well designed spacious saloon, galley, dining area and WC with a single 90Hp Daf diesel, a second steering position and a bow-thruster.

Needless to say, there were the survey costs, the transport back to the UK and then the usual anti - fouling and Anodes replacement on top of the purchase price. Then there was the fact that she has no toys, no heating, no propane gas and the internal aesthetics and finishing we're not to our taste, but then the Dutch know what they are doing when it comes to building a boat! She was built in 1972 and still in perfect condition.

Maybe we were just lucky, but by lowering our expectations in terms of ticking all the boxes and being prepared to add the toys and other cruising essentials over time, which I am looking forward to immensely but the way; I think we made the right decision and as a result, I am a very happy man.

Happy cruising
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:48 AM   #11
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Hi Jennifer,
Looking for a new boat is a lot of fun, but it can be stressful. The kind, type, sort, whatever doesn't really matter as long as you like it. Some boats have a better reputation but that doesn't make the others less good boats. I should know. I bought a Columbia Challenger (24') and sailed her across the Pacific and Indian before crashing into a freighter in the Mozambique Channel and limped back to Mayotte and in a fit of despondency sold her. She was a great boat, but no one would ever call her a good sea boat. I thought she wasn't bad.

So I returned to San Diego and bought a Columbia 24, same hull, more cabin, less cockpit, fixed her up and circumnavigated in her via Panama and the Red Sea. By the way, both boats were engineless.

The point of all this is I looked at thousands of boats before I bought and developed a technique for it. It seems to work well. Here it is:

Find a type of boat you can live with. (Sorry, no boat is perfect and if one was, it would be out of your price range. Its a rule!)

Start looking at all the different boats you can find that are of your type. (I spent a lot of time looking at old Columbia 24's for example.)

Before long you will become an expert at the type of boat you have selected. Little things that might be over looked by a less experienced boat buyer will become very apparent to you. (A lot of boats are ridden hard and put away wet. Others have spent their days in the stable and stress wise are brand new.)

You are now well aware of the problems and price range of your type of boat and are ready to start bargaining. Yes, the price is very important. You are going to need a lot of money to fix up your boat just the way you like it. If you haven't been to West Marine recently, go. Prices are very high and are higher in the rest of the world.

In summary, See as many of the same kind of boats as you can. Buy the best you find for a good price. All boats are good. It is the crew's confidence in them that makes them better. OK, OK, Some are scows! But their crews still love them!

After circling in my 24', I bought a Dickerson 41 (some believe one of the best boats ever built) and Circled in her also via Panama and the Cape. (Cape of Good Hope. Cape Horn is always called the Horn or the Damn Horn!) Now we are in New Zealand, going around again! Some people never learn! Or else we are addicted to an exciting, rewarding way of live and refuse to give it up!

[moderator edit - removed sales link]
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Old 01-29-2013, 05:01 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by jenniferanncollins View Post
We are shopping for our first boat, looking at something 36'-38' dating from the late 70s and early to mid 80s. Does anyone have general advice on makes and models that stand up well after 30 years, recognizing that the condition of individual boats will vary widely depending on the owner, sailing history & maintenance?
...coming in a little late though...

Many great names of boats have been mentioned and lots of good advice from fellow cruiser log members. Nothing much to add!
A good choice is indeed to look for older boats as you are looking for:
Easier to repair and alter to your needs.

I find it very useful that there are many fellow sailors who have blogs on their boats and on what they do with and to their boats: lots of valuable info to find out what boat suits best.
Hallberg Rassy for example: A very average looking boat is the HR 31 Monsoon out of the 70ies - in the late 80ies the "Golden Lady" rounded the globe two times: Monsun
and another one successfully took the North-West Passage: The Boat A Passage through Ice . Not really something everyone should try, but a good example that might help to decide which type of boat it could be at the end.
Just roam the net - there are many more examples!

Have fun!
SY Aquaria
If you have the time, you alwas have the right winds.

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Old 01-30-2013, 02:05 AM   #13
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Wink Good old boats

I grew up on c&c and never really got over that style of dual purpose boat. I hate to motor and want a boat that sails to weather and in light air. The late 70' early 80s racer cruisers still kick butt for not a lot of dough.

I had a 30' racer I was cutting my teeth on but was looking for exactly what you describe. I ended up with a 1983 Jenneau Sun Fizz 40. It was a bank repo I found in Detroit in November. They said I was one of only 2 people who even looked at it. I got a great price but spent the next 2 years re-doing everything. But it's a GREAT boat. (Sane as o-day 39 which is one to look for ) . The boat was sailed over from France some time in late 90's so it's capable of crossing an ocean and sails like a witch! (Perf of 117 - look at phrf ratings even if you do not race. It tells you weather you will really sail the boat or if you will motor all the time - pu - that stinks!). We race a few times a year and have won a few times, but we spend more time cruising and relaxing on the hook.

Those older "racer / cruisers" are like ATV's and they just look right. You dont need 2 wheels and a 10 foot wide transom to have fun. i hate the look of new boats. Other great boats from that vintage are c&c ( I had a crush on the Landfall 38 ). Tartan, cal, some of the Morgan's, Ericsson, persons, and many more. You can sail circles around most new cruising boats for 1/10 the price.

I love that 30 year old plastic, and remember anything can be fixed. If the boat has an "issue" you can get it for a song. Work less and sail more.
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:04 PM   #14
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I just joined this forum and have been restoring an old 1967 Alberg 35 for three years+ now. If you have any questions on the specific problems of an old boat, the costs involved, or methods of repairing, I've probably dealt with most of them. The older boats will not get you there as fast as a new, light racing rig but WILL get you there...safely.
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:35 PM   #15
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Thumbs up

Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
I just joined this forum and have been restoring an old 1967 Alberg 35 for three years+ now.
I would love to see your progress. You should start a new thread and let us all in on the action.
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Old 02-27-2014, 03:55 AM   #16
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Some boats were overbuilt back when fiberglass was new. Heavy double with core hulls.
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Old 02-27-2014, 04:07 AM   #17
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It is worthwhile to remember that fibreglass technology has improved remarkably in the past 40 years. When considering an old fibreglass boat, ask the surveyor to test the resin for star cracks and if possible pliability. Often, glass which was laid up to an inch and a half thick, goes very brittle with age. Thickness alone is therefore not a good indication of the integrity of the hull.

In very thickly laid hulls, It is vital to check for large dark spots in the inner hull which need to be 'pricked'. If they contain water (often foul smelling) it is an indicator for osmosis which must not be ignored. Below the waterline is crucial for this and check for weeping and rust stains below the area where the chain plates are encased.
"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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Old 06-28-2014, 06:25 AM   #18
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Hi Jennifer or anyone asking this question,

Like many things in life, the size of one's budget usually determines what one can buy, but not necessarily what they need or should buy.

Of course the intended use and other needs make a difference too.

Without stating the available budget, there is not enough info to suggest a fitting yacht.

Age of the boat is less important than having one that fits the budget to purchase and prepare for the use and maintain.

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