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Old 12-29-2005, 11:17 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 19
Default Build or buy

Hi all,

As I am a new member I may still err as far as the rules here etc. are concerned. I have been a "guest reader" for a while and have found this site wonderful for picking up tips and valued opinions regarding sailing and boat maintenance. I have sailed a bit but never on my own boat. I have decided after much deliberation to get into sailing a bit further and get a yacht.

I am doing this against everyones advice but so be it !!

I have been looking on the net for 2nd hand catamarans and even on sites for "salvage" boats. I do not have the spending power of buying a new cat and then have some left for cruising.

My question therefor is " Do I build from scratch... fit out a hull deck & bulkhead or buy a older boat and refit her over time ?"

I also want to know what the cost implications could be in savings for the different ideas ?

Hope someone can help here


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Old 12-30-2005, 05:35 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Home Port: Darwin
Vessel Name: Sandettie
Posts: 1,917

Hi and welcome to the site. Over many years, I have fitted out a hull and deck, completely refitted a salvaged yacht, and refitted three other yachts in varying stages of repair. In any case it is vital to first realise the extent of your talent to fit out a water craft. It is completely different to, and requires a level of knowledge far greater than, say, fitting a new kitchen, bathroom and toilet at home. It is vital to have the support of family and to have a knowledgable, dependable human resource ready to correctly answer what may seem at the time to be the silliest of questions. Marine materials and hardware are expensive and in most cases cannot be substituted by cheap, non-marine products. I fitted a 36' GRP yacht which I bought as a new hull and deck. Interior structural work, the engine, steering and ballast cost as much as the hull and deck; the rig and deck hardware cost even more. The salvage boat was a nightmare and the three 'fixer-uppers' were fun and challenging...but, by the time they came to me, I had a reasonably high degree of experience and knowledge. To refit a multihull will generally cost you far more per completed foot than a mono, so as a cost saving measure if you want to go the multi route, I would look at well constructed tri's, rather than a cat (Lower initial cost). I urge you to forget the salvage option and whatever you choose please consider using a registered surveyor to assess at least the structural state of the boat you want to buy. Many people commence a build or refit project and throw in the towel after three or four years; the boats they abandon can be the best buys for people such as you and I. You will need plenty of cash and because your life may depend on the job you do, you need to do it right. My experience is that the best way to do the project is to quit full time work, take a part time job and treat your yacht project as your day job. In that way I was able to build the 36' yacht from hull-deck to launch and sail in 9 months at a cost saving of 50% over a new boat (not including the value of my own labour). Whether you are doing a partial refit or a total rebuild, there will be 'suicide' days. Do the project over years instead of months, and there will be suicide weeks, family catastrophies, your dog will learn to hate you, your friends will treat you as though you are an insurance salesman, your house will fall into disrepair, you will forget to wash and facial hair will grow wild. (I often wonder if Saddam Hussein had been building his own yacht when he was dragged from that hole in the ground) However, if you do it within the period when enthusiasm is easy to keep topping up, you will remain sane and end up not with just another boat....but with a lifestyle that all your present day gain-sayers will envy. Best of luck. David

"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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Old 12-30-2005, 09:34 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 2,098

We have a friend who, almost through his circumnavigation, bought a hull and deck because he found his "perfect boat", though a new one was too expensive for him. He spent more than 10 years finishing it, had a heart attack 9 years into the building, and isn't going cruising anymore.

I'm not big on new. I like used boats, cars, houses. I like the idea that the buyer of the new .... works out the kinks, the defects, the mistakes. Look around, as David advises, and see if you can find somebody else's broken dream. But beware that the work done is good enough that you aren't redoing everything. Take your time in making your choice to look around and find what is best for you. There are a lot of boats out there, more than one is going to be the right one for you.

By the way, there aren't very many "rules" here. Be yourself, be kind, and you can't go wrong.

Good luck,

In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

MV WATERMELON (New) | Cruiser's Dictionary, free ebook

= Cruiser's Dictionary, North America,
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Old 12-30-2005, 02:59 PM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 19

Thank you for the advice Auzzee & JeanneP,

Although I am fairly competent with my hands I do realise the value of your warning that fitting a boat out is harder than fitting a kitchen.. that i think is the scary part. As i have never worked in fibreglass or epoxy that scares me even more.

I have been in contact with Dudley Dix designs and they are busy designing a 55ft Radial cat to be constructed in plywood. As many older designs were built like this I am sure that the methods are safe.

Any advice on this method of construction ???
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Old 12-30-2005, 05:07 PM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 71

Welcome DOUW Venter... now how B stupid of me, I dont know which is your christian name.

Anyway , welcome to the BB.. you will make some close friends here, plus obtain some helpful advice.

once again , its hard to outdo the advice AUZZEE gave you. I had a steel hull 36' centre cockpit yacht professionally built, then fitted it out myself. Boy did I make some mistakes!!!!!!

However I did what Auzzee suggested... gave up work , then worked full time on the yacht.. I was up and sailing in no time.(but I did wash and didn't grow a beard)

Talk to the people in SA about your ideas.. one good person to approach for advice is Tony at "CRUISING CONNECTIONS" in Durban (http://www.cruisingconnections.co.za), He has done it all, plus can assist later with sailing gear and advice.. Give him a call.

Let the BB know what you decide to do and progress reports from time to time. We will all be interested

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Old 12-30-2005, 06:03 PM   #6
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 19

Thanx Brian

My name is Douw and surname is Venter.

I have actually just read the E book on Cruising Connections written by Tony on Advice to yachties arriving here in South Africa and mostly dealing with the great port of Durban.

I will definately contact him in the New Year.

For all readers.... SA is THE place to visit... we have great scenery and although often we are perceived as a politically unstable country that is a crock of &%*$%.

We have become a true "Rainbow Nation" and any cruiser that are in 2 minds about their trip planning... come around this way

Thanx again for the advice and if anyone needs to ask questions about South Africa and Mozambique I will be happy to answer or find out for you



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