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Old 05-29-2013, 03:48 PM   #1
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New versus Used

Hello All,
Pardon what may be a controversial question. My wife and I are wannabees. We have looked at boats, attended a couple of Trawlerfest events, etc.
Thinking ahead - as we will eventually sell the boat, we (and particularly my wife) want/need to consider resale. She is of the opinion that if we bought a used trawler with the "best" reputation (Grand Banks, K Krogen, Nordhavn), that we would be better off come sell time than a new boat that is lesser known, i.e. Fathom, Northwest, North Pacific, etc.
The used boats listed above would be in the 10 to 15 year old range, and I am concerned about maintaintance/repair on a boat of that age, versus new. Plus, when our used boat is sold 10 years out, it will be 20 to 25 years old, versus 10 years old.
So under those conditions, and a $350K boat, how do you vote?
Any sage advice is welcome!

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Old 05-29-2013, 04:23 PM   #2
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350k will go a lot further used then new, just as with any boat don't buy the biggest you have cash for but buy the smallest that will fit your mission.

Boats have a way of making a big pile of money get small. If you get new then you will eat up cash adding things that you will need that may be present on a used boat, on a used boat you will spend cash getting things right that the PO may have neglected.

I went used as we didn't have the money for what we wanted new. Hold back 15-20% of your boat money for the first year as you most likely will spent it on "stuff"

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Old 05-29-2013, 04:27 PM   #3
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There are just to many great used vessels for sale at prices 20 to 40 % lower then 5 to 6 years ago. Look deep and hard and save a lot of money for a vessel that was made well by the builder and taken care of by its owners. There are many vessels from the 80s in very nice condition for sale. What area are you looking in ? Good luck. Educate your self thru the web and walking the docks asking questions and be a good listener. Look at joining Marine Trawler Owners Association and Grand Banks Owners Club. Tons of info to be learned.
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Old 05-29-2013, 04:36 PM   #4
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My advice would be to purchase the boat that best suits your intended use. The Krogens and the Nordhavns are great boats but could be considered overkill for someone wanting to do coastal cruising "gunkholing". A used boat "can" be a great way to save a few bucks, however; this is really dependent on the current state of maintenance etc. A 10 to 15 yr old boat can easily be due for a bucket load of work. In most cases the motor should still be in good shape, but you may be due to rebed all fittings, portlights, thru hulls and systems such as the hot water heater and electronics may be due for an upgrade as well. In many instances the electronics will be fine but if you are the type that needs to have the latest and greatest then you will have to spend some money there as well.

You will likely get some good advice here but you may want to be more specific regarding your intended use of the boat ie: bluewater vs coastal vs liveaboard etc. If I was intending to go bluewater and only had 350k to spend then I would have to look at a used Nordhavn or Krogen. If however I was going to go coastal cruising I would likely look for something along the lines of a Grand Banks, Nordic Tug, Mainship 40 etc and my money would likely go further towards getting me a new or newish boat.
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Old 05-29-2013, 04:55 PM   #5
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The majority of the depreciation has already happened on a 15 year old boat. The rest is condition at that point. If you can look in the mirror and honestly say you will do the preventative maintenance and repair deficiencies as they arise selling that 25 year old boat should be fairly painless.

Forgive me for saying this but it sounds as though you are less than thrilled with the idea of big boat maintenance. If that is so and you can not find a well found older boat you may be better off new and taking the depreciation hit. Also get a reality check of yard rates in your area because if you are not the DIY type you'll need to hire out much of the routine maintenance. Oil change on a twin engine boat with generator is not as easy as it may sound.

Match the boat to the mission and maintain a healthy reserve for contingencies. Being honest with yourself as to the intended use is very important.

It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they've been fooled - Mark Twain
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Old 05-29-2013, 05:03 PM   #6
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I'd have to repeat what others have said, and add a little.

Boats have a depreciation curve. It starts off pretty steep, then at some point levels out. I think that buying a boat at a point where the curve is flattest will help minimize your losses when you go to sell.

That said there are certain boats that have a following, and might result in less loss than other boats.

Take the Krogen 42 as a prime example. I believe that an excellent condition KK42, if maintained properly will probably not go down much in value. Why? First, its on the low end price wise of boats that can cross oceans. That gives it instant marketability in people that are dreaming of long range cruisiing. Second, there is very little competition in the used market, save for perhaps the Willard 40, which is another boat with a strong following.

The Nordhavn 46 is another boat with a following, and little used boat competition. These are newer than the KK42 and the Willards but you're seeing the fleet age, with the first boats out of the mold approaching 20 years old. These boats still command a high price, I think again because of lack of competition, and a strong following. But, alas prices of N46's are dropping as well, with examples now listed in the low $300K range, something unheard of just a couple of years ago.

Remember that the price a boat sells for is not just the price someone is willing to pay for it, its the price the most desprate seller on the market is willing to sell theirs for.
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Old 05-29-2013, 05:17 PM   #7
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How about buying a 250K boat (Krogen 42) and take the 100K (350K budget) and do a refit? You'll have more boat than you will by buying a new 350K boat. When you are done, you'll have the boat you want, in almost new condition, that should have good resale.
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Old 05-29-2013, 05:32 PM   #8
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I would not buy a new boat as there are to many good used boats on the market.

To respond further, you need to provide some detail as to what is important to you. Size, creature comforts, status name, kind of cruising, your boating experience/knowledge, area and kind of cruising you are planning. The Nordhavn, Krogan, and Selen are more boat than most boaters need and higher priced. The boats present condition and how maintained is far more important than the brand name. Also make sure the wife/SO has the majority say and final say on the boat.
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Old 05-29-2013, 05:43 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by wizard View Post
Hello All,
Pardon what may be a controversial question. My wife and I are wannabees. So under those conditions, and a $350K boat, how do you vote?
No controversy at all. A new $350K vessel in the 42' to 46' size range you are considering does not exist, you will have to spend 3X the number to get even close, So you are looking at used vessels, try a Nordhavn 40, 43 or 46. Lots of happy owners of the KK42 as Hobo suggests. No KK 42s are less than 10 years old as they went to a 44 about 13 years ago.

Assuming you are coastal cruising there are a few options in the $350K 10 year old arena, but surprisingly few once you do the necessary re-fit to suit your needs.
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:04 PM   #10
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A lot of good advice has already been said. We considered the same thing with a much smaller budget than you are stating. All 3 of the boats we bought had good resale potential. But before you go out and buy a big ticket boat, take the time and consider chartering the boats you are considering. It will give you a great look at the boats as well as how they fit your cruising style, show you what you think is necessary, provide you with a good vacation and give you some time on the water to contemplate all of the advice given.

Even if we had your budget, I am sure we would buy a used boat. More boat for the buck.

Tell us more about your cruising plans and ideas. That can affect which boat folks recommend.
Keith Olive
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Vashon Island, WA
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:57 PM   #11
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Hello All,
We would be on the southern east coast, with a possible trek to the Bahamas. DIY does not concern me. Perhaps a more direct point would be to compare the KK 39 at $350K at ten years old to a new boat like a North Pacific at $400.
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:58 PM   #12
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I've always thought there are two rules that apply to buying any boat...
#1 Fools rush in. Don't be in a hurry. Walk aboard a lot of boats at the shows and picture you two and guests on board and see how much room you'd have. Look at storage space and see how much there is (or isn't). The "right" boat will become more and more apparent as you continue to look at various models and it will become easier to rule OUT certain boats than to find the right one.
#2 Buy your second boat first. If you don't do your research when looking at a boat you may end up buying the wrong one. It'll take you a year or two to find out it's the wrong one and then it may cost you a lot of money to get out from under it.
Mike and Tina
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Old 05-29-2013, 09:52 PM   #13
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You should have no trouble finding a very nice used boat for that price. A broker will know that the first offer is the best offer, so keep that in mind and go low. You will be surprised at how much $350k can buy. Sorry if that offends anyone selling a boat.
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:16 PM   #14
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So many people have made such very good points. I'll just add a few of my personal experiences and observations from having owned 13 boats over 43 years of boating.

10 of the boats I've owned have been bought used, 3 were new. As others have wisely said, there is no simple, absolute answer of "new" vs. "used" being "better". It really is a complex eqaution that totally depends on what you are looking for, what kind of boat will suit your needs, what kind of boating you plan to do, your willingness/tolerance/patience for problems and doing maintenance, etc. A boat to do true blue-water long distance cruising will differ greatly from one which will spend most of the time at the dock as a floating weekend condo. The one fixed variable in your equation seems to be price (as it usually is for most of us...), so that will dictate much. As Sunchaser said, if you want something in the 42-46 ft range, it doesn't exist new in that price range (and if it did, you wouldn't want it). $350k will buy you anything from a new 34 ft American Tug to a used 53 ft Hatteras to a new 27 ft Hinckley to a used 49 ft DeFever or a 55 ft Sea Ray - all of which are very different boats for very different purposes, and not interchangeable except for what they cost.

I completely agree with ScottieDavis's comment of buying the smallest boat that fits your needs and for your budget - which is the opposite of what many people do. Do you plan to actually go cruising and use the boat? So many people have commented that the smaller the boat, the more you use it. Will it be a floating weekend home that rarely will leave the dock? Then the bigger the better it might serve your needs.

Many people buy the very biggest boat they can for their budget, and end up sacrificing reliability, seaworthiness, and construction quality. They often end up unhappy, getting little use out of the boat, and also often end up pouring a lot of money into it trying to get it into shape.

This happened a few years ago with a friend of mine. He bought the biggest boat he could find for his $250k budget - which was over 20 years old at the time and not in the best condition. Over the next 5 years he ended up pouring almost $500k into it for one repair after another (first one engine, then the other, then one transmission, then the other, generator, rewiring electrical system, air conditioning system, fiberglass work, on and on, good money chasing after bad). The boat today might be worth half of what he originally paid for it, and despite all the work, he rarely leaves the dock out of fear that something else will break.

My own personal philosophy is to trade size for quality. Quality in terms of construction, reliability, seaworthiness. This wouldn't work if you are looking for a liveaboard, or need a certain minimum size to accomodate a set number of people. But, having owned a range of boats from "quality" to "price leaders", I've always been much happier with the quality boats. They have caused far fewer headaches, and let me have more time out on the water. They also hold their value better. I bought a 2001 34 ft American Tug new, and 4 trouble-free years later, sold it for exactly the same price I paid for it.

When I started out looking 3 years ago for my current boat, I was absolutely certain I was going to buy used. It was and still is a buyer's market, and I was tempted by the siren song of all of those ads on yachtworld, and had dreams of getting a bargain. They do exist out there, but my own personal experiences were that it was a lot harder that I thought.

I literally looked at over 100 boats in 3 years, and surveyed 24 of them. I was appalled at the junk that I found out there. So many of the boats that I saw, even in the $300-$400k price range, were just junk. 23 out of 24 boats I surveyed had significant water intrusion into the core, which is a deal breaker for me (and the only one which was dry, the seller wouldn't budge off a price for a 10 year old boat which was the same as a new one). Like with anything else that is advertised for sale, there were huge differences between the yachtworld ads and broker's descriptions, and what I actually saw.

I was also struck by how inflexible so many sellers were. While there are sellers who eventually get a dose of reality and lower their price to what the market will really bear, I found so many that, despite their boats being listed on yeachtworld for literally years (7 years in one case!), would just not budge off their prices. Sometimes this was for financial reasons, they owed that much on the boat and couldn't take a loss, other times for emotional reasons.

The bottom line of my own experiences was, after 3 years of looking at over 100 boats, I ended up buying a new one. This worked for me, for the kind of boat I was looking for and what I could get in terms of size for my budget, but your own situation will be unique to you. Even if you decide to buy something new, don't assume that just because it is 'new' means it's the right boat for you, or good quality - I've seen some scary things in the nooks and crannies of some new boats, in the dark, cramped places where most people don't go, that have scared me off of some brands!

If you think you'll own the boat for about 10 years or so, focus on what kind of boat will maximize your enjoyment over that time. After 10 years, the condition of the boat and the upkeep you give it will likely have a more significant impact on its resale value at the time than perhaps the make, and repair and maintenance costs over a decade of time will likely be a significant fraction of the original purchase price anyway. Like ScottieDavis suggested, figure out what kind of boat will really suit your needs for the kind of boating you're going to do, then buy the smallest, best built, best condition boat (whether used or new) that will meet your needs.

Then get out on the water and enjoy yourself. Life is short, and there are no do-overs. You've still got most of this season left!
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:46 PM   #15
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I've owned new and used. Financially on a percentage basis I've done much better with used boats.

Buy a used boat that has a "market" for the specific model. Get it surveyed, buy it right, take care of it and you will be better off.

No boat new or old is easy on the pocketbook in maintenance.....
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:56 PM   #16
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I agree with the last couple of posts (nos. 14 and 15).

The two boats I've purchased were new, expecting steep depreciation. But then the systems are/were new and should/did last 10 years or more.
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Old 05-30-2013, 05:30 AM   #17
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Used always wins for the Round Trip.

Today NEW equals "lighter and hi tech" which translates to unproven and frequently un repairable.

Fine for a throw away go fast , hardly a requirement for a trawler.

The real question is IF and HOW the boat will be used.

AS a dockside condo, big is good.

As a cruiser , over 200 hours a year, handy counts more than mere size , although there are some really handy 50+ ft boats.

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