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Old 03-03-2016, 08:21 PM   #1
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Trawler for retirement?

I'm planning to retire in 5 years and thinking about cruising the Great Lakes for a few weeks every summer while I'm still youngish and healthy. I've owned a couple of small inboard cruisers (25 foot IO mercruisers) but nothing larger. I'm quite handy and I'm comfortable with most mechanical and electrical repairs and I've worked on diesel farm and construction equipment. But I have no experience with bigger boats. I'd like to find a 30-40 boat that needs some work to save money. Any good books or other resources to recommend? Does your experience tell you there isn't much savings to be had by my own labor? What should one spend on a 30-40 foot diesel trawler worthy of summering on the Great Lakes?

Appreciate your advice!

North Fjord
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:34 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum! If you plan to save money on the purchase of your boat, more than likely you will be working on the interior and exterior of the boat, not as much the drive train. Best to consider your skills for fiberglass work and interior carpentry.

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Old 03-03-2016, 08:36 PM   #3
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard. There's a ton of savings to be had by doing your own work BUT the boat is just a portion of expenses you will incur.
Insurance
Storage (summer AND winter)
Repairs/upkeep
It all adds up...BUT it's great fun.
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:37 PM   #4
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Does your experience tell you there isn't much savings to be had by my own labor?
I am completely unqualified to answer any of your questions but this one. You can save HUGE amounts of money by doing labor yourself. Caveats include: It will take you 5 times longer than you expect and even with your own labor it will cost 3 times as much as you expect. Results can be great as long as you are patient enough to learn each step as you go. You don't want to have to pay someone to fix your initial mistakes. The upside is that once you learn to do something, you will have a better understanding of your boat, always a good thing.

Now, I am not the brightest bulb, so your results may be better than mine have been over the years. In you have the time, enjoy getting your hands dirty, and have the personality to finish what you start, then go for it.
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:13 PM   #5
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Bought the boat in my avatar for 30k 9/14 have spent 50k (all my own labour) to get her where I want her and I'm not quite finished yet. Buy the best you can afford and maintain as you'd be lucky to get 25c on the dollar for any improvements you made.
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Old 03-03-2016, 10:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
I'd like to find a 30-40 boat that needs some work to save money.
This could be debated as much as anchor selection. Depends greatly on your skills and the value of your time.
As mentioned already...whatever you guess or estimate won't be enough.

BUT....you can still have a good time!
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Old 03-04-2016, 12:25 AM   #7
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For most boat jobs labor is the bulk of the cost. The only exception is repowering. Even in a repower you can save a ton of money by doing the work yourself. Interior work is fussier and takes longer than exterior work. If you enjoy the work it is well worth it.

I bought the boat in my avatar for very little. I completely rebuilt it myself including repowering and replacing ALL systems. It was a lot of fun and I get lots of satisfaction from the finished product.
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Old 03-04-2016, 09:39 AM   #8
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Sounds like a great idea! The great lakes are great for boats. The fresh water keeps them running fine and the short boating season and covered storage keeps them looking young. Your biggest problem will be finding a derelict to rescue.
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Old 03-04-2016, 10:57 AM   #9
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We bought the Eagle knowing and planning it need a lot of maintenance, and up grading. However maintenance, repairs, up grades take cash as they usually can not be financed. So if you have the time skill and cash. If not might be better to buy a more expensive boat that meets you needs requirements. What ever you do make sure you have the cash finances. We spend an average of 1 to 3 grand every year, and I do the majority of the work. But the boat is my summer hobby and our home.
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Old 03-04-2016, 11:27 AM   #10
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I bought my boat last fall and have been working on it a lot (seeing as how I'm retired). I paid $20K and have put another $10k into her so far. I think less the $10k more will have her very close to where I want her. I could not have done this if I didn't do much of the work myself. I'm pretty handy and was a trained auto mechanic in my early life so getting the engines and genny running wasn't tough for me. I've refurbished an old wooden ChrisCraft Constellation before so wood work is familiar and fun to me. I do my own electrical and plumbing as well. It just takes time and a willingness to learn. The biggest thing to get over is being able to plan your work & follow things through to completion. Afterwards you'll know your boat and have that sense of pride that you did it yourself and you know it was done right. (hopefully) Even if you need some professional help from time to time (don't we all) you'll know what to look for and will be less likely to be ripped off by so called pros who know less than you.

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Old 03-04-2016, 04:18 PM   #11
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Thanks very much to all. There are so many variables the toughest part is deciding what you really want. I'm looking at several Nordic Tug 32's online for <150K. Beautiful boats that look ready to cruise turn key. That's within my budget but I enjoy working on things and part of the fun might be see what you can do with an older boat and some elbow grease. Has anyone had experience with leasing or boat time-shares? That might be a good way to decide how much we enjoy cruising before committing to a big purchase. I need to read up and see what's available that way.
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Old 03-04-2016, 06:23 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by North Fjord View Post
Thanks very much to all. There are so many variables the toughest part is deciding what you really want. I'm looking at several Nordic Tug 32's online for <150K. Beautiful boats that look ready to cruise turn key. That's within my budget but I enjoy working on things and part of the fun might be see what you can do with an older boat and some elbow grease. Has anyone had experience with leasing or boat time-shares? That might be a good way to decide how much we enjoy cruising before committing to a big purchase. I need to read up and see what's available that way.
One of the first, and I think the best, pieces of advice I got from TF was to charter a boat similar to one you are thinking of buying. I haven't done it yet, but I am booked for a short charter next month in they same type of boat that I am considering purchasing.

From the outside looking in (ie I don't own one) I think Nordic Tugs are great boats. They do command a premium however. For the same price, or less, of a Nordic Tug 32, you could buy any number of boats which may offer you more boat, in exchange for some time and effort.

I am too busy and too lazy to take on a project boat, but for those that do (and complete it) they end up with a great boat for less money and lose much less in depreciation over the typical life of ownership.

Again, I love the NT32 and if it wasn't for my wife wanting a second cabin and room for lots of family, I would buy one in a minute.
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Old 03-04-2016, 06:56 PM   #13
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"I'd like to find a 30-40 boat that needs some work to save money. Any good books or other resources to recommend? Does your experience tell you there isn't much savings to be had by my own labor? What should one spend on a 30-40 foot diesel trawler worthy of summering on the Great Lakes?"

I think 32 ft is a point at which a diesel makes more sense than gas engines. If you're shopping for a 35-40 ft diesel cruiser/trawler, you can expect to spend anything north of $40,000 for an operating-but-in-need-of-attention boat. The bigger, newer and nicer, the farther north of $40K you get.

Want a Nordic Tug or a Nordhavn or an Ocean Alex or a Grand Banks? You'll need to dig a lot deeper into your wallet. Want a 30-40 yr old Taiwan Trawler (TT) like a CHB, Nova, Jefferson, Marine Trader or PT with good mechanicals and strong bones but needs some updated interior, electronics and exterior TLC? Maybe you can buy in for $60K or less but expect to spend lots to update.

I think one of the best values on the market today are the Bayliner PH models like the 4788. Lots of bang for the buck and well suited for the Great Lakes and coastal cruising. You can probably pick a decent one up for a tad over $100K.

One feature I'd insist upon for that area is a generator, air conditioning and decent bug screens. In CA those features are not required and, in fact, didn't come on my boat. I do carry a Honda generator, though.
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Old 03-04-2016, 08:53 PM   #14
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[I I do carry a Honda generator, though.
Thanks for asking if your generator "bugged me" when moored near. It didn't as the sound was mild, and you didn't run it when we were trying to sleep. ... As for as for bug screens, they can be essential in SF Delta waters where you often roam.
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Old 03-05-2016, 07:00 AM   #15
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For a few weeks in the summer a charter would be lowest cost and over the years allow you to gain experience in what you prefer.

IF you decide to become a full time Cruiser , you will have an idea what to look for.
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Old 03-05-2016, 08:08 AM   #16
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I'm looking at several Nordic Tug 32's online for <150K. Beautiful boats that look ready to cruise turn key. That's within my budget but I enjoy working on things and part of the fun might be see what you can do with an older boat and some elbow grease. Has anyone had experience with leasing or boat time-shares? That might be a good way to decide how much we enjoy cruising before committing to a big purchase. I need to read up and see what's available that way.
Even if you buy a $150K boat your will have plenty of work to enjoy and keep you busy. That's just boats. I agree that chartering is a great way to "feel out" how much you will enjoy cruising. That how we did it. We did 7-10 day charters for four years and then went after a boat of our own. Good luck, enjoy the adventure.
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Old 03-05-2016, 08:33 AM   #17
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To me it sounds as if you can afford (<150K) a boat that actually doesn't need much work. (well, that depends upon what you consider 'repairs' versus normal maintenance.)

The more 'shiny stuff' a boat has the more it costs to maintain it. Of course this is a generalization, but it holds true concerning brightwork (varnish, paint, chrome) and it's more expensive to buy/replace. The plainer a boat is the cheaper it is to maintain.

Hire a reputable surveyor to go over any boat for a prepurchase survey. It will open your eyes to possible problems.

Personally, I looked for a boat that had already been 'majored' by a PO and then paid less. My boat was already repainted, the engine was rebuilt, and she only had 1700 hours since rebuilt. Granted a 35 year old boat needs TLC, but short money out front leaves more in pocket to spend on upkeep, upgrades as I go.
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Old 03-05-2016, 09:14 AM   #18
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North Fjord...

We boat in the NE and love the Great Lakes & Canadian canal systems.
I agree w/ most of the comments offered so far - one thought I'd add is to consider how much of a rebuild / refit project you really want to undertake and how convenient would the boats location be to your location during the refit.

It's more difficult to do major projects when you are commuting to the boat - easier when close by. Personally I would want something I could cruise with while doing improvement projects vs something that would be "on the hard" with me doing major projects for several seasons... but you have to decide what works best for you & your situation.

I also agree w/ the comment that getting into interior / exterior upgrades is one things - getting into major engine / gen work is another (from a cost standpoint). My experience from looking at many boats over 25+ yrs is that it is hard to find ones where the interior / exterior needs significant work and the engine(s) Gen have been well cared for - it seems that boats in general are either well cared for or ignored and go down hill.

We started w/ a Bayliner gasser cruiser and agree they can provide a lot of enjoyable cruising for the $. We have since moved up to a 34 diesel Mainship and would also recommend them as a good Great Lakes boat.
One factor we weighed heavily in our choice was ease of locking as we do a fair amount of canal travel...side decks & good access for locking can make canal travel enjoyable vs a chore. Lake Erie & Ontario provide access to some great canal travel in Canada & NY.

My signature includes a link to our boat website where you can find some of the minor upgrades we've done to our '34... my goal was nothing major as we were already retired and wanted to enjoy cruising more than working on the boat.

Good luck w/ your search and new adventures
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Old 03-06-2016, 06:45 AM   #19
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Look in the SW Florida Craigs list , or Florida Mariner.

There are $15K to $25K 30ish to 40 ish sized boats that are fixer uppers ,.

Many of these are OK to drive home to the G. Lake and do the tons of cosmetic work usually required at your leisure.

Since they are "fixer uppers" NO broker will EVER list them as a huge number of broke Lookey Lous waste countless hours of the brokers time .

Take a couple of weeks winter vacation and see what you can find.

http://miami.craigslist.org/mdc/boa/5429795902.html

http://miami.craigslist.org/brw/boa/5456556510.html

http://miami.craigslist.org/pbc/boa/5421337524.html

http://miami.craigslist.org/mdc/boa/5473456148.html

http://miami.craigslist.org/mdc/boa/5471783018.html


Just a few ,ay reasonable low prices.
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Old 03-06-2016, 07:29 AM   #20
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Look in the SW Florida Craigs list , or Florida Mariner.

There are $15K to $25K 30ish to 40 ish sized boats that are fixer uppers ,.

Many of these are OK to drive home to the G. Lake and do the tons of cosmetic work usually required at your leisure.

Since they are "fixer uppers" NO broker will EVER list them as a huge number of broke Lookey Lous waste countless hours of the brokers time .

Take a couple of weeks winter vacation and see what you can find.
A new Nordhavn would be cheaper.
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