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Old 08-15-2017, 09:15 PM   #1
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Considering buying a 34 Mainship

Hi,

I am seriously considering buying a older 34 Mainship. 1980 to 1983. I have a 50K budget. There seem to be many for sale from a low of 20k TO 50k.

I have never set foot on a trawler. I have a lot of experience owning boats both sail and power both large and small.

I want this boat as a second boat as I have a 28 foot Contender center console at the moment.

I want to use the boat in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. I am retired and I have a lot of time to enjoy boating and fishing.

I have no reason to be in a hurry to get anywhere and have no intent to operate in bad weather where I can avoid it. I run the Contender to the Bahamas from time to time an off shore from the Keys. I some times get stuck in 5 to 6 foot seas with 25 knot winds which is pretty uncomfortable in a open boat.

I run the boat alone most of the time, not because I enjoy that but it is hard to find people to go fishing with or at least people who know how to fish and don't get sea sick...lol

I need a boat with a lot of range as I want to go to the Cay Sal bank to fish and swim. That entails 50 miles across the gulf stream to Bimini to clear customs in the Bahamas and 140 miles to Cay Sal and 60 to 80 miles back to the nearest fuel in Florida...around 300 miles

I ASSUME a 34 Mainship will be as sea worthy as the outboard I have now.

Any feedback concerning the 34 would be a big help.

You can assume I will put the boat in good condition with good quality nav gear including radar and an autopilot and electric windless. I already own good safety gear like epirb and sat phone, and small life raft and such.

Thanks,

Billy
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Old 08-15-2017, 10:10 PM   #2
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There is much to like about the older Mainships, like that salty, sort of "Downeast" profile. What they lack in elegance of finish they make up in practicality. Build quality seems robust - witness how many hulls remain in service. There is almost always a deal out there to be had on one of these boats. My biggest objection is the absence of side-door access from the lower helm to the deck. If you single-hand a lot, as we both apparently do, that's an important consideration. Many here on the TF see this differently, but for me, it's a deal-breaker.
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Old 08-15-2017, 10:36 PM   #3
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There's plenty of information on here & elsewhere regarding Mainship 34's. As far as the basic boat goes, they have enough of the amenities needed to start cruising comfortably. Just be ready to address the water intrusion issues they all have with their decks sooner or later unless you found one that has already had those problems remedied.
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Old 08-15-2017, 10:47 PM   #4
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They are great boats, I've got a '84 Mark III and am very satisfied with the boat. But as Blissboat mentioned, these boats do not have a side door from the lower helm to the deck. It makes single handling problematic. As I've said, they are great boats, but you should do some thinking about this fact.

Another consideration, with these boats a bow thruster is a godsend.
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Old 08-16-2017, 12:09 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blissboat View Post
There is much to like about the older Mainships, like that salty, sort of "Downeast" profile. What they lack in elegance of finish they make up in practicality. Build quality seems robust - witness how many hulls remain in service. There is almost always a deal out there to be had on one of these boats. My biggest objection is the absence of side-door access from the lower helm to the deck. If you single-hand a lot, as we both apparently do, that's an important consideration. Many here on the TF see this differently, but for me, it's a deal-breaker.
Bliss,

Thought most of the Mainships had the side door access, I know the later ones do. But if not, that would be a deal killer for me, too.

Overall, Mainship seems to be the "Chevy" of boats. Easy to buy, own, operate and sell. Not fancy and pretty simple, and the older ones did have a few issues as mentioned.
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Old 08-16-2017, 06:10 AM   #6
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In your budget range, a Mainship 34 would be a hard value to beat. Simple boat, biggest flybridge for a boat this size I've ever seen, decent cockpit in the MK1, the head with separate shower is a really nice feature. The lack of a side door doesn't bother me, maybe because I've never had one. I would like a transom door to the platform, but you can't have everything for this budget.

There are 3 versions of this original, I have the MK1. The MKII has a smaller cabin, larger cockpit, usually the 200HP Perk, short flybridge, and is typically considered the "fishing model" The MKIII has a larger cabin and smaller cockpit.

Range, depending on engine is with the standard 300 Gal tanks (2 x 150) is no problem for the Cay Sal trips. Some of these in the fleet are starting to fail but at

For Keys and Bahamas the 3' or less draft is really a nice feature, as is the fully protected prop. I was going to Nest Key once in Key Largo's "back country" (Everglades Park) and a Ranger stopped me. He had come up behind me and was curious what a boat this size was doing in such skinny water, but noted that as he came up from behind I wasn't kicking up the bottom. He then told me that he could see at least 2 ft between the keel and the bottom through the gin clear water. Told me to have a nice day.

The Perkins engines in most of these boats are very reliable, but are getting old. One of the most common repowers is a Cummins 6BT. There previously mentioned soft spots are an issue but usually not structural.

Been all over the Keys and Bahamas, mostly Berry's and Abaco, not further South, never was in conditions where I was concerned with the seaworthiness of the boat.

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Old 08-16-2017, 08:25 AM   #7
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Ours was an '87 Mk III, with a J&T DD 8.2T. Good boat. That engine doesn't get much love from many folks, but it worked fine for us.

The original owner installed outriggers and used it offshore for tuna. We didn't fish much here in the Chesapeake, so never used those... The transom door was a feature he needed for tuna and we needed for our big dogs, so that was good.

The "no side door" wasn't much of a problem with one crew aboard, and I could deal with it most times by myself when single-handing. OTOH, it was one of those "how could this boat be better" issues I thought of back then... "fixed" when Mainship brought out their later 350 (which morphed into the 390).

Ken suggested a bow thruster; we didn't have one, but I'd guess that'd speak to that no-side-door/single-handing thing, too. Would be fairly fancy to add a stern thruster, too; no side door required at all.

Two other features we would think to improve if we were buying that boat today: the V-berth (we prefer centerline) and the ladder. We could (and did) live with the former, and it's not without its own advantages. Today, I think I'd sacrifice some cockpit space to maybe replace the ladder with a curved staircase, if actual measurements (not just my memory) prove that viable.

Otherwise... and maybe even not otherwise... we'd be happy to have that boat again. I've even thought specifically about going back to one, as one of our possible eventual down-sizing options, should that become necessary for some reason...

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Old 08-16-2017, 08:57 AM   #8
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I have a '78, and echo most of the comments here. On my boat fuel tankage is 220 gallons. Maybe that was increased later, but it still gives the range you need if you travel at moderate speeds. No side door but I don't miss it. I've single-handed over 3000 miles and > 100 locks, no issues with getting around for maneuvers. Have a clear passage between lower helm and cockpit but mostly run from the flybridge. The cockpit on my boat and all M1s is very deep and without a transom door getting in and out is not easy. On the M2 and M3 it is lower, which I think I'd like. Build quality is basic but adequate. Love the large flybridge and covered cockpit on the M1. Water tankage is low, I think originally something like 50 gallons, but there is room for additional tankage aft, which the PO added on my boat. The deck coring issues are well documented, but apart from that there aren't any big concerns in terms of durability/maintenance.

When I went looking for an inexpensive reasonably capable efficient boat for travelling with one or two people this boat bubbled to the top of the list, and I've been happy with my choice.
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Old 08-16-2017, 10:17 AM   #9
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I have an 82 Mk1 Mainship, happy with it. Bow thruster makes a huge difference in moving in tight spots. But practice not using it just in case. Regarding side doors, I never really use the lower station anyways, don't like the lack of visibility there. For the price they are hard to beat.
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Old 08-16-2017, 11:09 AM   #10
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Thinking with your mindset some pro's/con's from a Mainship 34 owner.

Pro's
Economical(~1.5 gallons per hour at 6-7 knots)
Semi planing hull can be pushed to 15 knots if you have the power
Plenty of hulls to choose from
Great open layout in the salon(no molded in furniture)
Large flybridge
Full keel to protect running gear(i'f I didn't have this i'd be screwed)

Con's
No side door. I'm 32 and fit so I can run along the sides and single hand. If I were even 20 years older i'd seriously have to think about it.
Solid hull but plenty of rot can be found in the coring in the decks(particularly the rear and flybridge)
Flat back sucks in a following sea above 2'.. She can handle it but its no fun to operate(lots of wandering) Autopilot is almost needed for this alone.


That being said if you don't need a open salon and some other features you might want to look at the Marine Trader which has a side door.
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Old 08-16-2017, 12:05 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the feedback. Most of what has been said is about what I had assumed.

The 34 Mainship sort of looked like it would fit the requirements with the limited budget of 50K. I don't want a "fancy" boat. I want a "bunk, a air conditioner, and a coffee pot"....lol

The fuel tank looks like it will be ok. The water tank is too small and I will carry extra in 17 gal jugs.

Most of the boats I have looked at have a bow thruster and I assumed that they could be a bit difficult around the dock. I have had a good many occasions to dock a 53 Hatteras alone...not fun but doable. Here in South Florida there are not too many places where there is a ton of current to deal with at the docks where I operate. Docking any boat is a skill that requires experience and training. Slow is pro. If it takes me a couple of tries to get in the correct position, so be it. I am only concerned about doing it safely and really don't care much about what the on lookers think.

I do all my own repair on all my boats, not because I always want too but if I do the work I know for sure it is done correctly....99% of the time...lol...I have been known to screw up a thing or two...lol

I always go through the "what if" questions and carry spare parts in excess of what I see many people carry.

Over the last 60 years of boating I have come to some hard realizations. The cheap stuff is never a good deal but some time I just can not afford what I want so I have to make do.

Too survive for a few weeks in a boat only three things are needed, keep the boat off the land, keep the water out of the boat, keep fresh water in the boat to drink. In the last few years I have added a sat phone to that list...lol

Thanks again,

Billy
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Old 08-16-2017, 12:16 PM   #12
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Only thing I would add is the beam roll offshore will be much different than your center console. If you haven't been in a larger narrow "cabin/flybridge" type boat at 7-8 knots, might want to give it some thought or try to hitch a ride one time. I had an '82 MK1 and put 2000 hrs on it, loved it.
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Old 08-16-2017, 01:21 PM   #13
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Only thing I would add is the beam roll offshore will be much different than your center console. If you haven't been in a larger narrow "cabin/flybridge" type boat at 7-8 knots, might want to give it some thought or try to hitch a ride one time. I had an '82 MK1 and put 2000 hrs on it, loved it.
Thanks Sealife,

I would love to be able to take a ride on a 34 Mainship or something like it . I would also be willing to travel to most anywhere to get the opportunity to do so and pay more than my share for the trip.

I am retired and have the time and resources to do most anything I want within reason. I would certainly love to take a cruse with someone, short or long. I am sure I would be a valuable resource to most anyone who is short handed. I am up for most anything.

I don't want to toot my on horn or seem like a know it all but I am a well experienced sailor both power and sail. I have a 100 ton Masters and know at least the Florida east coast well and the Bahamas.

I am older and not as strong as I was at 30, but I am still tougher than a lot of young guys I fish with...lol

As for the beam sea issue I sort of assumed the boat would react along the lines of a 38 Hattaras I have operated. The center of gravity being higher due to the fly bridge and not having a lot of draft.

I also do not have a clear idea of how the boat would react drift fishing in a normal 2 to 4 foot sea.

Perhaps someone will see this post or perhaps there is a better place to post a request for a ride of this type???

Thanks,

Billy
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Old 08-16-2017, 01:49 PM   #14
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Only thing I would add is the beam roll offshore will be much different than your center console. If you haven't been in a larger narrow "cabin/flybridge" type boat at 7-8 knots, might want to give it some thought or try to hitch a ride one time. I had an '82 MK1 and put 2000 hrs on it, loved it.
Thanks Sealife,

I would love to be able to take a ride on a 34 Mainship or something like it . I would also be willing to travel to most anywhere to get the opportunity to do so and pay more than my share for the trip.

I am retired and have the time and resources to do most anything I want within reason. I would certainly love to take a cruse with someone, short or long. I am sure I would be a valuable resource to most anyone who is short handed. I am up for most anything.

I don't want to toot my on horn or seem like a know it all but I am a well experienced sailor both power and sail. I have a 100 ton Masters and know at least the Florida east coast well and the Bahamas.

I am older and not as strong as I was at 30, but I am still tougher than a lot of young guys I fish with...lol

As for the beam sea issue I sort of assumed the boat would react along the lines of a 38 Hattaras I have operated. The center of gravity being higher due to the fly bridge and not having a lot of draft.

I also do not have a clear idea of how the boat would react drift fishing in a normal 2 to 4 foot sea.

Perhaps someone will see this post or perhaps there is a better place to post a request of this type???

Thanks,

Billy
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Old 08-16-2017, 01:50 PM   #15
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Only thing I would add is the beam roll offshore will be much different than your center console. If you haven't been in a larger narrow "cabin/flybridge" type boat at 7-8 knots, might want to give it some thought or try to hitch a ride one time. I had an '82 MK1 and put 2000 hrs on it, loved it.
Thanks Sealife,

I would love to be able to take a ride on a 34 Mainship or something like it . I would also be willing to travel to most anywhere to get the opportunity to do so and pay more than my share for the trip.

I am retired and have the time and resources to do most anything I want within reason. I would certainly love to take a cruse with someone, short or long. I am sure I would be a valuable resource to most anyone who is short handed. I am up for most anything.

I don't want to toot my on horn or seem like a know it all but I am a well experienced sailor both power and sail. I have a 100 ton Masters and know at least the Florida east coast well and the Bahamas.

I am older and not a strong as I was at 30, but I am still tougher than a lot of young guys I fish with...lol

As for the beam sea issue I sort of assumed the boat would react along the lines of a 38 Hattaras I have operated. The center of gravity being higher due to the fly bridge and not having a lot of draft.

I also do not have a clear idea of how the boat would react drift fishing in a normal 2 to 4 foot sea.

Perhaps someone will see this post or perhaps there is a better place to post a request of this type???

Thanks,

Billy
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Old 08-16-2017, 01:53 PM   #16
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sorry...I don't know how to delete the extra post.

I am much better at running boats than computers....lol
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Old 08-20-2017, 08:41 AM   #17
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The old 34 is one of the best boats made as far as versatility. It does most things very well.
I owned a model I for 14 years and wish I still had it. I repowered with a bigger engine, new genset, added trim tabs, and re-cored all the bad spots in the decks.
The bigger engine made a great boat much better.
The boat handled so well I never considered adding a thruster.
Side door was a non issue as I ran from above all the time.
It was better without the door because it yielded more usable space inside.
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Old 08-20-2017, 01:22 PM   #18
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All my investigations to date have lead me to think the 34 Mainship may be the only boat that meets the requirements I have. At least so far I have not spoken to anyone who would not recommend it.

There exist a good many other boats that would serve my need better but not at a price I am willing to spend. Having a budget of 50K is a pretty small amount of money to try to acquire any 30 foot plus boat. Any boat I have ever owned, new or used has required repairs and additional equipment.

The boat I own now was the first I bought new. For me that has turned out to not be money well spent. The Contender cost around 170K. Most likely twice what I needed to spend on a boat to do the same exact thing.

I see a good many 34 Mainships for as little at 20K. Buying one around that price with 30K to spend on repairs and replacements may be a better deal for me. I assume deck repairs on any early eighties boat. I would prefer any boat I buy have no electronics nav gear because I will most likely replace it any way. I assume a lot of electrical wiring replacement on any older boat. The Perkins diesel is easy to repair and while the parts are not cheap it is not a huge amount. I have a farm with several Perkins diesel engines that run for years without many problems. The need to be rebuilt from time to time and I well understand the cost and effort it takes. The gen set is really even less of a issue.

As I have time and the experience to do repairs this may be less of an issue for me than many people.

30K as a budget for repairs may or may not be enough....just not 100% sure at this point.

Billy
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Old 08-21-2017, 07:15 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Planobilly View Post
All my investigations to date have lead me to think the 34 Mainship may be the only boat that meets the requirements I have. At least so far I have not spoken to anyone who would not recommend it.

There exist a good many other boats that would serve my need better but not at a price I am willing to spend. Having a budget of 50K is a pretty small amount of money to try to acquire any 30 foot plus boat. Any boat I have ever owned, new or used has required repairs and additional equipment.

The boat I own now was the first I bought new. For me that has turned out to not be money well spent. The Contender cost around 170K. Most likely twice what I needed to spend on a boat to do the same exact thing.

I see a good many 34 Mainships for as little at 20K. Buying one around that price with 30K to spend on repairs and replacements may be a better deal for me. I assume deck repairs on any early eighties boat. I would prefer any boat I buy have no electronics nav gear because I will most likely replace it any way. I assume a lot of electrical wiring replacement on any older boat. The Perkins diesel is easy to repair and while the parts are not cheap it is not a huge amount. I have a farm with several Perkins diesel engines that run for years without many problems. The need to be rebuilt from time to time and I well understand the cost and effort it takes. The gen set is really even less of a issue.

As I have time and the experience to do repairs this may be less of an issue for me than many people.

30K as a budget for repairs may or may not be enough....just not 100% sure at this point.

Billy

FWIW I bought a mainship 34 for 25k that while has great mechaincals had a couple of spots of rotted coring. 2 A/C's, TV, Modern electronics, new batteries, recent bottom job,etc. I overpaid but the boat was close to me.

I knew this and i've already fixed them.

50k should buy you a 34 mainship in perfect shape and i'd even go as far as to say it should be repowered @ that price.

35k with original perkins in pristine shape for a late 70's early 80's.

20-25k for a small project

15k for a running project(neglected).

I considered one with a blown engine but nice in every other way for 8k but was impatient. There's a path to a 5.9 cummins with a marinizing service for 5k @ h&s marine service. Used engine from early 90's Dodge ram/used dodge ram(cheaper in the end), send in motor, pay 5k and they add all the parts to make it 100% marine. (no affilation) www.hsmarineservices.com



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Old 08-21-2017, 11:57 AM   #20
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Considering buying a 34 Mainship

50k is more than enough for a mid 80's 34III. I know of one that is for sale, cruise ready and the owners spent a ton of money recently on upgrades. It's listed for $35,900. And worth every penny. I've known the owners for 4 years and the boat is meticulously kept. You'll just have to come up to RI to get it.
If you do end up getting the boat and you want to upgrade some things to make it almost perfect, radar, autopilot, gps and if you think you need it, bowthruster.
PM me if you want more info. Believe me, this is the boat you want if you're set on a Mainship 34.
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