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Old 05-29-2013, 06:36 PM   #1
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When do you pull the plug?

As I enter my 7th year of ownership of a 1973 trawler, and continue to spend the nickels and dimes (and other boat bucks) on repairs, upgrades, etc I always wonder where the law of diminishing returns kicks in... i.e. what does it take to finally pull the plug and say “No More!”


We bought the boat for a song, but have spend a bunch of bucks on everything from transmission rebuild, injector pump rebuild, shaft and stern tube replacement, new A/C.. .. plus replacement of the normal stuff... windlass, electronics... I have kept up with oil/filter service etc. but the engine's over 4000 hours, and despite the bulletproof reputation of these Lehmans, I wonder what might be lurking out there.


I've done a lot of stuff myself, replacing the boarding platform, a lot of painting, new canvas, interior cosmetics, electrical mods. etc. and right now the boat's looking and running OK. Still, I have this fear that a major malfunction could drop a bomb on me at any time.


Has anyone experienced that point where you say “ to hell with this! not spending another dime!”


Not looking for an excuse to buy a bigger boat (I know that anything else I might buy will have all the same, or different quirks) but would appreciate anyone's thoughts on when enough is enough... what made you pull the plug?
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:03 PM   #2
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To... “Pull Da Plug”, so to say, in regard to stop-repairing/begin-selling any often used mechanical item of value (boat in this instance) – I feel requires two basic elements:

1. Current sale price potential is suitable for me
2. I’m really wanting to not own, use, or enjoy said item any longer, i.e. I’ve become tired of it... or disgusted with it; either already have or plan to soon replace it with some other item(s) that will fill its space in my life

Otherwise I basically do not sell valuable items!

Hope my way of looking at it helps your decision.
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:08 PM   #3
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I've got an early bronco that I feel the same about. I've been spending lots of money and time on the boat and the bronco just sets. I would like to sell it but the money I get out of it would never fill that hole that would be left. In the boat case you could buy a bigger or different boat. My lugger I could never sell because it make me feel like I'm in a different world when I'm on it. Bronco, I am getting close.....;
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Old 05-31-2013, 12:35 AM   #4
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My current, and I expect last boat, we have had since 1985, 28 years now, actually a few days past. It is my hobby beyond just using it and without it I'm not sure what trouble I'd get into. Perfect, no way, but as long as we continue to boat and we don't lose it somehow,it will be our boat.

We have looked off and on and I'm no longer willing to start all over again with an unknown. Further for the money we can put on top we wouldn't really get anything better. Actaully worse in many ways.

And by the way my boat is a '78, now 35 yrs old and the engine, original has ~5500 hrs. It is a Cummins so not a direct comparison but run 'em the way we do and do the mtc. most of these engines will likely go a long time yet.

If we do have to replace it , although not really prepared, I have a sort of plan.

I suspect and expect that when the day comes that we can't handle it physically or financially we will have to sell it but not untill that time.

There is nothing wrong with keeping your current boat unless you simply want a different boat and can deal with it or want out of boating.
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Old 05-31-2013, 05:46 AM   #5
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For most old boats the death of the engine is the big cost factor that would kill the boat.

If a yard replacement is required the cost soon excides the value , even years out.

A wrench owner can do his own swop/rebuild and lower the swop to $5K or so .

A well maintained diesel has a long life , so following Da Book, and doing ALL !! the preventive maint is essential.

Proper oil changes on calender time , not simply engine hours , and oil sampeling are essential.
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Old 05-31-2013, 11:10 AM   #6
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With all the repairs and upgrades you have done, it seems to me that you passed the give up point some time ago. Why trade for an unknown? Assuming you did all the repairs correctly, you would just be giving someone else a great boat. Plus, I'm sure by now you know every inch of her and can detect a coming problem before it gets out of hand. That is where we were on the sailboat before we bought the Nordic (seven years and almost a complete refit). Now, when we sell her, someone will get a boat with all new systems and no prolblems for much less than it cost us to get her there. Not that we expected to get all our money back - we enjoyed the heck out of the boat and I actually enjoy most of the work aspects (my version of restoring cars).
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Old 05-31-2013, 12:03 PM   #7
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It seems a lot of people are doing that with their boats. Most marinas have boats that people of abandoned and/or can not pay for. Unless you live on a boat it’s a cash drain. I could not justify owning the Eagle if we did not live on her, and even then it would have been cheaper to live on the dirt.

I think the time will be a couple years after we retire, if it does not fit into our plans/live. When it comes time to sell my biggest concern is will the buyer be able/willing own and maintain the Eagle?
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Old 05-31-2013, 12:44 PM   #8
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ARoss, that's an excellent question that I'm certain very many boaters ask themselves. I know I have, but in pondering your question and thinking about the various boats I've owned I was surprised to realize that size, type and design flaws were the primary motivation for selling my boats versus repair frequency or cost. This despite the fact that all of them had required considerable on-going repairs over the time that I owned them. In fact, all were sold in far better condition then when I bought them and all sold for less than I paid.

I think I am on the same page as C lectric and he sums it up perfectly "It is my hobby beyond just using it and without it I'm not sure what trouble I'd get into."

Samuel Clemmens or Ken Grahame also summed it up nicely as well when he said "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

My heart goes out to those who are not handy or have no technical talent, owning any large boat will eventually and inevitably cause them to throw up their hands in exasperation and/or break them financially. Buying a brand new boat is at best a 5 year reprieve from the bigger jobs but not the little ones like failed guages, pumps, leaks, etc, etc, etc. These start the moment the boat is splashed.

As us old timers age (speaking for myself), I think we are more reluctant to tackle structural or major repairs, that's a young persons game. When I bought my present & incidentally last boat!! I purposefully sought out a neglected one that was structurally perfect but had numerous electrical and systems issues because these types of repairs were all within my talents and could be used as a significant bargaining tool on price. In the end I found numerous faults the surveyor missed and quite honestly I actually found myself eager to tackle them the second the sale closed. For me, puttering about fixing these things is an enjoyable part of boating, it also establishes my right to bitch and complain about the costs for parts & materials to anyone who will listen.

Now if you'll all excuse me I have to go snap open a cold beer and go fix the macerator on the aft cabin head for the 10th time. Meanwhile up on deck my long suffering wife browses the classifieds and yacht world.

Cheers all.
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Old 05-31-2013, 01:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Capt Kangeroo View Post
When I bought my present .. . boat . . . I purposefully sought out a neglected one that was structurally perfect but had numerous electrical and systems issues because these types of repairs were all within my talents and could be used as a significant bargaining tool on price. In the end I found numerous faults the surveyor missed and quite honestly I actually found myself eager to tackle them the second the sale closed. For me, puttering about fixing these things is an enjoyable part of boating. . ..
Well said!
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Old 05-31-2013, 05:31 PM   #10
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ARoss, There is no such thing as "No More". As long as we own boats we will be tinkering with them.

The problem for me is, I still work on it even though I barely use it. My boat is always ready for the big cruise, but there is always some other issue in life that prevents it.

I refuse to give up because as soon as I do, all the lights will go green and I will have no boat to take off in.

I think you have addressed most of the major issues, you should be able to use your boat with minimal upkeep.

Most any boat you buy will require constant tweeking--but I suppose you know this already.

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Old 05-31-2013, 09:33 PM   #11
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It's called recreational boating for a reason. If you're not having fun, then get rid of her and buy another one, or not.
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Old 06-01-2013, 01:20 AM   #12
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The problem for me is, I still work on it even though I barely use it. My boat is always ready for the big cruise, but there is always some other issue in life that prevents it.
JohnP: That was me about 2 years ago. Remember? "I'm losing my love of boating syndrome." Well, since January of this year the old bug has bitten me again and I'm using it much more often now. No more excuses for not going.

In the last 48 hours I've driven the boat for 14 and been on her for about 17 hours. Mostly fishing. Going out again tomorrow (Sat) for Spotted Bay Bass.Tuesday she comes out of the water for a bottom job and then I'm set again for 2 more years.
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Old 06-01-2013, 03:06 AM   #13
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Walt, it's great to see you got your mojo back
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Old 06-01-2013, 03:20 AM   #14
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Ditto!
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Old 06-03-2013, 06:17 AM   #15
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Has anyone experienced that point where you say “ to hell with this! not spending another dime!”
Almost everytime Tom finds a new project that has to get done yesterday!

But then we'll have an amazing day on the water!!

I think the only answer is when it stops being fun, that's when it's time to pull the plug.
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Old 06-03-2013, 06:32 AM   #16
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I purchased a boat realizing it would be a money pit; costing more than a ground-based home. I haven't been disappointed.
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Old 06-03-2013, 10:29 AM   #17
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I purchased a boat realizing it would be a money pit; costing more than a ground-based home. I haven't been disappointed.
I think that sums up my boating experience too. Thinking it is cheaper than owning a home isn't reality at least for me.

Like most of us, I enjoy working on my boat and doing projects that improve the function of the boat as well as the value.

When to pull the plug??

That's like me asking you how fat my wife is.
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:22 PM   #18
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At 10,000 boat trips.
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:32 AM   #19
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"It was Saturday they told me, about Jimmy down the dock. How a heart attack had stopped him dead....I thought about our talk. He swore that in a year he planned to lay those law books down. Now the boat's for sale...and Jimmy's in the ground!!!"....Kelly McGuire...Redfish Island

Our time here is not unlimited. Untie those lines and take your boat out...if even for a day!!!!
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Old 06-06-2013, 01:06 PM   #20
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I am getting closer the closer I am to retirement! 40 years of boating, 15+ year of the 40 year being a live aboard. Its sort of the same feeling I had when I ran out of excuses why we could/should NOT buy the big ugly boat. Next year we will have to start deciding what to do with the Eagle. My gut says SELL, but my heart says, NO!
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