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Old 07-18-2014, 12:08 AM   #1
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Looking to Buy a Willard 30

Hi everyone,
I'm a newbie here and very interested in the Willard 30 voyager or nomad
type boats, they are soooooooo salty! I have also mentioned in other threads that a Prairie 29 is also very appealing to me and I think they are
both good choices for me if I can just find one.
Any suggestions or ideas will be most wellcome.

Thank you all for this very informative & hospitable forum.

Larry (nosalt)
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Old 07-18-2014, 03:29 AM   #2
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Look in the brokerages first, then listings like Craig's List in areas around the water. Salt or fresh, many small trawlers went inland and live in fresh water. They are not hard to find for sale, much harder to find for sale in "your" area. Consider trucking it to your area, I paid about $10,000 to ship from Virginia to Washington state all fees inclusive. Good luck, I love mine!
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Old 07-18-2014, 06:39 PM   #3
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Thanks Doug,
I am checking a few leads as of today.
Thanks again for your thoughts.

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Old 07-18-2014, 08:33 PM   #4
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Look at Pacific Motor Boats (a Willard site) and at the yahoo group "Willard Boat Owners".

Try to find a W30 that's been repowered. Thirty some hp is best.

Check the ballast to see if it's expanding and bending bulkheads or causing other damage. Some Willard's have blisters that are more than a nuisance. Check the decks and more importantly the cabin sides for backing plywood rot/soft spots. Fuel tanks for leaks.

I replaced tanks, engine and much ballast in mine. Hard work and very expensive. Try not to find my footsteps.
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Old 07-19-2014, 08:05 PM   #5
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Hi Eric,
Thanks for the heads-up on willards. What do you mean by shifting
ballast damage, how does that occur, causing bulkhead damage?
What about an engine with extremely few hours, like it was seldom
used and then stored for a decade or so? How does one assess such
an engine?

Larry (no salt)
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:08 PM   #6
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Early Willard's used concrete in the keel for ballast. Over the years the material absorbed moisture and swelled up, and the iron pieces added to the mixture for added weight rusted in the concrete matrix. This swelling had a tendency to push on the bulkheads. Many owners have removed the concrete (tediously) and replaced the ballast with a more stable method or material. Mine is a late production boat using lead fully encapsulated in the keel, lucky me. You should do some more research on Willard's and read all of the "fix-it" stories so you have a good idea what you are getting into or what someone else has already gotten done. It can make quite a difference in the value you should be willing to pay
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:43 PM   #7
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Larry,
The ballast in W30s is concrete and steel punchings. When they punch holes in sheet metal fabrications the little usually round discs fall out of the big machines and onto the floor. Then they are swept up and put in a dumpster. Willard bought this scrap steel and put it in with the concrete down in the bottom of the boat as ballast. My Nomad has two tons of such ballast. It's said to be common practice at the time. Like over propping one of the accepted practices of the time that later became some of the bad things we did long ago and now looked down upon.

The steel does it's job well until water gets inside the concrete through a crack in the concrete. My Nomad had a leak in the stern tube and ingested water into the concrete in the Lazerette. The rusting and corroding steel punchings expanded through oxidation and the concrete mass pushed the aft bulkhead between the Lazerette and the hold fwd threatening structural damage. Used a small and large jackhammer to break apart the concrete and remove it. The bulkhead was pushed fwd well over an inch. Put in a new stern tube and replaced the concrete ballast w lead. Had to do lots of scrounging to find enough lead.

Seldom is a low time engine what it seems. Perhaps I should say often but an engine w 5000 hours and consistent good maintenance would be usually preferable. Wear dosn't kill engines .. neglect and years in the bilge are an engine's enemy. The ideal engine in an old boat is a new one. Some people do good maintenance and keep few records and others keep excellent records. Either is fine. But tests done by professionals are golden. Spend some money and get the engine properly evaluated.


The perfect Willard W30 will have a recent engine installed properly and both fuel tanks replaced. Plenty of newish electronics and recent batteries help too. And of course sound wood in the cabin sides and decks is important. Most things like paint, carpet, upholstery and a fouled bottom can be fixed. The boat should be hauled and the blisters evaluated by one that really knows. I think all Willard's have blisters. Never heard of a boat sinking from blisters though. Some boaters over react and spend earth shaking amounts of money. My blisters I consider more of a nuisance than a real threat.

Let us know what you find.
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Old 07-20-2014, 12:00 AM   #8
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Hey Doug and Eric, thanks,

I mean it, just the thought of jack-hammering old concrete is a nite-mare.
Is there a way to check and see if there is concrete in the ballast?
When did they switch to lead ballast? Has anyone written any book on
Willard's historical designs and construction practices or other useful
information which might help in avoiding similar pitfalls?

I thick Willard made some great boats, especially after they passed the
learning curve and that is why they are held in such high regard. I have
got to find out more about these classics in order to minimize major future
expenses. I do realize it's a boat and an expensive hobby, I just would like
to avoid buying a "Money Pit".

Thanks again,
Larry (nosalt)
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Old 07-20-2014, 12:20 AM   #9
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Money Pit would be a good boat name. Cutting up and mulching $20 bills in the home garden would be cheaper but not nearly as satisfying.
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Old 07-20-2014, 11:45 AM   #10
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I think Eric narrowed it down for you. Ballast replaced and new fuel tanks would be the largest projects you could anticipate. I walked around those by buying a "newer" Willard, one of the four post 1999 built PH models. There was one of those for sale in Washington when I was looking, lead ballasted and with a single aluminum fuel tank. It was overpriced and I had to pass on it, but it was preferable to the one I wound up with, with a few very nice features. Skylight hatch in the PH, a stainless frame and cover over the cockpit, 450 hours on the Yanmar engine, aluminum mast. He was asking $125,000 (down from $145,000) and I was sure it wouldn't appraise that high. Turns out he still owed that much on it and wouldn't take a loss on his debt, so instead he is still making payments on it and paying slip space and insurance. A no win situation for him. It was loved and lightly used though, and the one I got was left unattended for years on the hard with no love. Love makes a difference :-)
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Old 07-20-2014, 12:35 PM   #11
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Not all Willard's have concrete ballast. Our 1977 30/4 has a bolt on cast iron keel which is much deeper draft than others except for the 8 ton cutter which has the same keel. when we bought our boat we stripped the bottom to gel coat to check for blisters, we had no blisters at all. Who applied coats of barrier epoxy, zinc primered the keel and bottom painted her. Overall they are nice boats and worth bringing back into shape. The concrete removal does sound like an tremendous task but doable and replacing the tanks is a logical thing to do at that time. Tough boats with great lines and attributes.
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Old 07-20-2014, 01:43 PM   #12
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Larry I didn't know there were W30s w/o concrete ballast. But I'm quite sure all those w 3.5' draft do. There are access ports in the Laz and the concrete is right below the engine. If you want to make sure you could scrape it w a tool and see how it feels and sounds but I think they are all concrete except the boat Kieth got and probably the "8 Ton" sailboat. Prior to survey just count on it and during the survey rely on your surveyor.

In the W30 line they didn't switch to lead ballast. And the thing that made the jack hammering an "ordeal" is the fact that one needs to do it down in a hole. There is a book on Willard boats .. Of sorts. See the yahoo groups and find "Willard Boat Owners" (WBO) group and read hundreds and hundreds of posts on Willard boats. Everything is in there. Windows, engines, anchors, rudders, steering, water tanks, fuel tanks ......... everything that has been done or thought about on the W30s is in there .. well almost. It's all 100% Willard. The windows on W30s are plexiglass or Lexan ... How to deal w them is there.

Getting a really good surveyor and my post #7 should do much to keep you from the "money pit" other than "it's a boat" part. And you could possibly do well buying a cheap boat that isn't very presentable but has good basic things like a newer engine, fuel tanks, stable ballast ect. The big advantage of re-fitting a boat is that most important things are the way you like. I got to choose my engine, gear, fuel tank material, electronics, stove, anchors, batteries ect ect. But buying a boat that another or others have put lots of money into gets you the best buy.

And avoid the urge to buy the first boat you find. There are always Willard's for sale. Until you buy your'e in the drivers seat and have control. It can be a fun experience. Looking at boats is hard to beat.
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Old 07-20-2014, 05:26 PM   #13
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Thanks Eric,
You guys are a tremendous wealth of knowledge and insight and I
will keep these thoughts in mind as I search for my future Willard.

Thanks again,

Larry nosalt
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Old 07-20-2014, 08:40 PM   #14
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I like your taste in boats, NS.

Here's another Willard website, if you haven't seen it yet.

Willard Boats | for fans of Willard Marine's production trawlers, 1961-2003
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Old 07-20-2014, 10:03 PM   #15
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Thanks AusCan,
From what I can see, you have very good taste in boats as well.
I'm looking at the Willard site also.
Thanks again,

Larry nosalt
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Old 07-20-2014, 10:57 PM   #16
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Thanks AusCan,
From what I can see, you have very good taste in boats as well.
I'm looking at the Willard site also.
Thanks again,

Larry nosalt
Just saw a Willard - I guess 30' - for sale by owner in Friday Harbor. Sorry I can't give you more information, but if you call the marina at Friday Harbor, WA, they may be able to give you the owner's name. It is on whatever dock leads from the temporary 2 hour dock to the main dock. You pass by quite a few from H dock to the main dock so I can't tell you which one it was.
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Old 07-25-2014, 02:31 PM   #17
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I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this boat on Ebay but here is the link:
Classic 1973 Willard Vega Nomad | eBay

its an older model but says its never been in saltwater. FWIW.
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Old 07-25-2014, 03:20 PM   #18
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looking for a Willard 30

Thanks Captain Craig,
I have seen this older Nomad on ebay and not so sure that it is such a
good deal. Many are watching it on ebay and the thought of having to
remove all that concrete ballast and black metal fuel tanks would be worth
the auction bidding war that must be taking place, plus the added expense
of transporting it to Florida. All this is sight unseen, very risky and no guaranty of merchantability after the purchase.
But very tempting indeed!

Thanks again,
Larry (nosalt)
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Old 07-25-2014, 04:31 PM   #19
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This one is in Stuart, Fl and has paravanes and a guarded prop. I thought it might be of interest.
Seems pricey, but it has lead ballast and aluminum tanks going for it.


1994 Willard Trawler Power Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
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Old 07-25-2014, 05:20 PM   #20
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For under a couple grand for diesel, anouther couple grand for beer and viddles, a month or more would be better, It would make a fabulous late summer cruise to Florida.
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