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Old 11-18-2013, 10:27 PM   #1
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Wood Trawler Owners Opinions

I am considering purchasing a 30 year old 40' wooden Trawler which appears to be in quite good condition and has been well maintained by the owner. It is not a convertyed fish boat. Like all wood boats it needs a bit of attention but only in small areas of the deck and stern. I don't have a huge budget but want a boat that my wife and I can be comfortable on for weeks at a time cruising in the Gulf and San Juan islands, hence my decision to look at good wood boats in addition to fiberglass trawlers that may need decks, tanks etc etc.
I am not afraid of doing nearly all the repairs and maintenance needed thru the 4 or five years I plan to own a trawler.
I have a few questions which I hope some of you can answer from experience
1- On the average, what percentage of the asking price would a good wooden boat sell for? I know that is a loaded question but lets assume everything regarding the boat is middle of the road including the asking price.
2- If comparing a good wooden boat to a similarly sized and equipped Taiwan trawler that needs repairs to the deck teak etc, what percentage cheaper would the woody be
3- When it comes time to sell, if I keep the boat in above average condition and don't ask a ridiculous price for it. Will it sell within six months, a year or will there be no market for them five years from now.
4-Having owned a wooden boat, would you do it again or would you run the other way as fast as you can.
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Old 11-19-2013, 05:54 AM   #2
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1- On the average, what percentage of the asking price would a good wooden boat sell for? I know that is a loaded question but lets assume everything regarding the boat is middle of the road including the asking price.

100% if the price was fair


\\2- If comparing a good wooden boat to a similarly sized and equipped Taiwan trawler that needs repairs to the deck teak etc, what percentage cheaper would the woody be

0%


Each boat is sold individually , not in comparison to some mythical similar boat

3- When it comes time to sell, if I keep the boat in above average condition and don't ask a ridiculous price for it. Will it sell within six months, a year or will there be no market for them five years from now. That mostly depends on the location it is in when you are selling.

In FL a wooden boat is hard to give away , in lower Canada on the lakes they can be sold easily . Each area is different AK is far easier to unload a woodie than say Panama.

I would stick with a fixer upper that at least had a GRP hull, even if you need to replace the pilot house , decks and fuel boxes.

For lowest cost you may find a 30 ft IO like a Bayliner for $2k or $3k to be able to do the cruises you desire with almost zero outlay , but loads of sweat equiry.

At the end you might double your money , get $5K for a non fixer upper , but that 500-1500 hours of work will go for free!
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:25 AM   #3
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Regardless of the condition, if you want to turn it over quickly you may be disappointed. I had one 20 ft woodie in fairly good condition, that I had to dump in the end, because I couldn't even give it away when I moved overseas. Its a sad fact of the wooden boat market.

I can understand the love of a wooden boat, having owned a couple, but financially they don't make sense. Still - I'd consider another if the right one come along for the right price. I'd know that I wouldn't ever being able to sell it for the money I put into it, if at all.
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Old 11-19-2013, 08:53 AM   #4
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Divide the selling price by 5. How much is each year of cruising & adventure worth to you. If your only going to own it for 4 or 5 years, buy it, cruise it, enjoy it, keep it looking nice but don't be a slave to it and don't put a cent into it that you absolutely don't have to. After your 5 year timeline is up, if there is anything left of it, sell it for anything you can get. If by then it's a floating wreck, which is highly likely, take it out and sink it.

My last wood boat in the mid 1970's, a 36 Owens woody took me to the verge of bankruptcy and divorce. All my time was spent working on it and I was spending tons of money I couldn't afford. Had I just used and enjoyed it rather than trying to preserve my investment/capital cost, it would have been a positive memory for my family, not a negative one.

If you can go into it with the mindset it will be worthless in 5 years, go for it but don't be a slave to it. Use It & have fun!
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:59 AM   #5
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Check out the thread "part out and scrap?". A good solid boat you could use now or a discussion point for your wood boat thoughts.
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Old 11-19-2013, 12:29 PM   #6
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Check out the thread "part out and scrap?". A good solid boat you could use now or a discussion point for your wood boat thoughts.
VERY CORRECT!!

Decades ago (mid 20th Century) - Owners' Definition of a Pleasure Boat:

"Hole in water, usually surrounded by wood, into which one throws money!"

Current Owners' Definition of a Pleasure Boat:

"Hole in water, usually surrounded by any number of materials, into which one throws money!"

Future Owners' Definition of a Pleasure Boat:

"Hole in water, usually surrounded by ???, into which one throws money!"

You Can See - dates may change - but cost of owning a pleasure boat does NOT!

Just be careful when buying an inexpensive wooden boat that there is NOT some sort of REAL BIG WOOD ROT or FASTENING or ENGINE POWER or ELECTRICAL problem inherent. Then cut the best $$ deal you can and enjoy the heck out of your years afloat. At the end sell it if possible. If not junk it (in proper manner - of course, LOL).

Happy Boating Daze! - Art
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Old 11-19-2013, 12:38 PM   #7
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I am a wood boat guy. I live aboard an old Ex commercial fishing boat built in BC back in the 60s.
After 13 years she owes me nothing yet continues to provide service as intended by me.
She is not a dock queen.

I prefer wood , I prefer to work with wood. I picked up a vessel years ago that had a sound hull solid machinery, and excellent tankage. Being wood the conversion was easy, maintenance is very much the same as any other "hull" material.

Cheap and effective and not a yacht, a solid boat willing to work , to provide , and has always got us home, always.

Boats. Not many will hold there value and most will never keep pace with cash invested.

As a disclaimer I have a unique skill set with "pleasure cruising" here in BC.

Old used boats with little value are work , money , or a ton of money. Be that wood, metal, frp, rock. Its a choice of just how much time you make for cruising , playing with sanders, canvas, maranized engines, heads, paint, leaking windows, haul outs, surveys, electronics , man its a long list.

How do you want to spend your time. Is the boat going to work for you or are you working for the boat , even if that's in the office. < grin >
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Old 11-19-2013, 04:16 PM   #8
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Wow. Thanks for all the info. It kind of scares me. I neglected to mention the price in my original post
Boat was built as a pleasure Trawler in BC about 1980 seems well built and well maintained. Asking price is 45K and I was thinking of offering 30K until I read all your replies, now I am pondering which direction to take.....



Quote:
Originally Posted by OFB View Post
I am a wood boat guy. I live aboard an old Ex commercial fishing boat built in BC back in the 60s.
After 13 years she owes me nothing yet continues to provide service as intended by me.
She is not a dock queen.

I prefer wood , I prefer to work with wood. I picked up a vessel years ago that had a sound hull solid machinery, and excellent tankage. Being wood the conversion was easy, maintenance is very much the same as any other "hull" material.

Cheap and effective and not a yacht, a solid boat willing to work , to provide , and has always got us home, always.

Boats. Not many will hold there value and most will never keep pace with cash invested.

As a disclaimer I have a unique skill set with "pleasure cruising" here in BC.

Old used boats with little value are work , money , or a ton of money. Be that wood, metal, frp, rock. Its a choice of just how much time you make for cruising , playing with sanders, canvas, maranized engines, heads, paint, leaking windows, haul outs, surveys, electronics , man its a long list.

How do you want to spend your time. Is the boat going to work for you or are you working for the boat , even if that's in the office. < grin >
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:33 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by stanfromhell View Post
Wow. Thanks for all the info. It kind of scares me. I neglected to mention the price in my original post
Boat was built as a pleasure Trawler in BC about 1980 seems well built and well maintained. Asking price is 45K and I was thinking of offering 30K until I read all your replies, now I am pondering which direction to take.....
Stan - Be careful what you pay for any boat, of any material - used or new.

Although I have no idea what boats are going for in your neck o' the woods...

34 yr old 40' wooden trawler at $45K asking price in U.S. better have gold stashed in her keel.

For me, even at $30K for an old 40' woody there still needs to be a really good reason why it could be worth that much???

I’d check well in your area to see if the prices you mention for asking or offer are commensurate with market in general. And, no matter what offer you give, if it is accepted, put plenty of contingencies in the contract so you can back out if needed or negotiate the price downward if desired. Then, before signing on the dotted line, get a real good marine surveyor Who-Knows-Wood-Boats that are decades old... as well as a great marine mechanic for powertrain check out.

Best Luck!
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Old 11-19-2013, 07:38 PM   #10
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Hello Stan,

My POV may be different from many here, but I can’t see owning any large pleasure boat, especially timber, as being financially rational or even justifiable to/by anyone but yourself.

The reality is that big boat ownership means a continuous, increasing cash liability that is only ended by selling or giving it away.

Timber boats demand continuous vigilance and IMHO require a higher standard of craft skills to maintain.

Total outgoings for my previous boat, a 46’ timber sloop, averaged 20% of purchase price per year over 19 years, and after absorbing all that time and cash, sold for a little over the purchase price. The costs of my current 50ft timber motor boat, are heading the same way.

Even knowing all this, I’m very happy with what my timber boats have given me - added to the simple pleasures of just being afloat, is the sheer delight of cruising in a one-off timber ‘classic’ designed and built with the practical aesthetics of a renowned craftsman.

Only you can decide - there is no common scale to measure your price for your pleasure.

Cheers, John

P.S. retirement helps
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Old 11-19-2013, 08:17 PM   #11
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[QUOTE=Art;193051) 34 yr old 40' wooden trawler at $45K asking price in U.S. better have gold stashed in her keel.[/FONT][/COLOR]

[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]

Based on your comment above, this Huckins better have diamonds stashed in her keel then.

1956 Huckins Fairform Flyer "Neptune" Power Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
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Old 11-19-2013, 08:22 PM   #12
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Hello Stan,

My POV may be different from many here, but I can’t see owning any large pleasure boat, especially timber, as being financially rational or even justifiable to/by anyone but yourself.

The reality is that big boat ownership means a continuous, increasing cash liability that is only ended by selling or giving it away.

Timber boats demand continuous vigilance and IMHO require a higher standard of craft skills to maintain.

Total outgoings for my previous boat, a 46’ timber sloop, averaged 20% of purchase price per year over 19 years, and after absorbing all that time and cash, sold for a little over the purchase price. The costs of my current 50ft timber motor boat, are heading the same way.

Even knowing all this, I’m very happy with what my timber boats have given me - added to the simple pleasures of just being afloat, is the sheer delight of cruising in a one-off timber ‘classic’ designed and built with the practical aesthetics of a renowned craftsman.

Only you can decide - there is no common scale to measure your price for your pleasure.

Cheers, John

P.S. retirement helps
John - Well put! By one who really knows...
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FF View Post
1- On the average, what percentage of the asking price would a good wooden boat sell for? I know that is a loaded question but lets assume everything regarding the boat is middle of the road including the asking price.

100% if the price was fair


\\2- If comparing a good wooden boat to a similarly sized and equipped Taiwan trawler that needs repairs to the deck teak etc, what percentage cheaper would the woody be

0%


Each boat is sold individually , not in comparison to some mythical similar boat

3- When it comes time to sell, if I keep the boat in above average condition and don't ask a ridiculous price for it. Will it sell within six months, a year or will there be no market for them five years from now. That mostly depends on the location it is in when you are selling.

In FL a wooden boat is hard to give away , in lower Canada on the lakes they can be sold easily . Each area is different AK is far easier to unload a woodie than say Panama.

I would stick with a fixer upper that at least had a GRP hull, even if you need to replace the pilot house , decks and fuel boxes.

For lowest cost you may find a 30 ft IO like a Bayliner for $2k or $3k to be able to do the cruises you desire with almost zero outlay , but loads of sweat equiry.

At the end you might double your money , get $5K for a non fixer upper , but that 500-1500 hours of work will go for free!
Agree with everything except about being easily sold in Canada. Many marinas up here now refuse to lift wooden boats (after a few big ones (37 90') coming apart in the slings). Its getting hard to find someone to survey them. I stopped surveying them years ago because nobody wanted to pay me for the 2-3 days it takes to properly survey a 37 footer. ... well maybe they are easy to sell .. if you sell them by the pound .... say about 10cents/lb. I know several that have been for sale for years.
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OFB View Post
I am a wood boat guy. I live aboard an old Ex commercial fishing boat built in BC back in the 60s.
After 13 years she owes me nothing yet continues to provide service as intended by me.
She is not a dock queen.

I prefer wood , I prefer to work with wood. I picked up a vessel years ago that had a sound hull solid machinery, and excellent tankage. Being wood the conversion was easy, maintenance is very much the same as any other "hull" material.

Cheap and effective and not a yacht, a solid boat willing to work , to provide , and has always got us home, always.

Boats. Not many will hold there value and most will never keep pace with cash invested.

As a disclaimer I have a unique skill set with "pleasure cruising" here in BC.

Old used boats with little value are work , money , or a ton of money. Be that wood, metal, frp, rock. Its a choice of just how much time you make for cruising , playing with sanders, canvas, maranized engines, heads, paint, leaking windows, haul outs, surveys, electronics , man its a long list.

How do you want to spend your time. Is the boat going to work for you or are you working for the boat , even if that's in the office. < grin >
This is one of the best posts I've seen on the subject. To me OFB fits one of the two "typical" types of wood boat owners I see here in the PNW. He is in the "guys-that-know-what-they're-getting-into" category. Practical minded with no pretense and at least a subset of woodworking skills and experience to go along with decent boating knowledge. The other main type is the "I-own-a-wood-boat-look-at-it-(and-me)" category. They pay top dollar for all maintenance and repairs to be done by professionals. However, many do their own brightwork so they can feel like a hands-on wood boat owner. One thing the two types have in common is they don't care what it costs: the first guy not caring how little it costs, and the second how much.

But seriously, if you don't find yourself fitting one of those two types, all is not lost. If you "fall in love" with a boat and it happens to be wood, you could very well find yourself in one of the most rewarding relationships you'll ever have in your life. Either that or a nightmare. What kind of person you are will depend on which way things go...
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:21 PM   #15
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With any boat the three most vital aspects are condition, condition and condition. Well over 50% of my marina neighbors are classic wooden cruisers, the best maintained examples echo John's(Eagle419) post above.

You can make a small fortune owning large boats, but only if you start with a large one IMO. Others may disagree with that statement but they also have enough decades of experience with boats and the first hand knowledge to buy something they have the experience to repair themselves.
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