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Old 04-15-2019, 11:49 AM   #1
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Budget advice on buying old vs.newer

Hola- I have a cash kitty of about $80K to purchase a liveaboard 30-42 footer. I'm very handy & can make my money go far. My question: Is it more prudent to buy a newer, more expensive boat that needs less initial work, or an older one that I can update more extensively from the start?
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Old 04-15-2019, 12:10 PM   #2
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Hola- I have a cash kitty of about $80K to purchase a liveaboard 30-42 footer. I'm very handy & can make my money go far. My question: Is it more prudent to buy a newer, more expensive boat that needs less initial work, or an older one that I can update more extensively from the start?
My thoughts...
You can save $ if able to buy older for the right price and DIY the refit / repairs. However... you will likely end up working more than boating for a few yrs.
Would you mind working on a boat fir s couple seasons / yrs?
Does fixing something and making it better provide satisfaction?
You will know your boat inside and out by doing a fair set of fix up.
It may not be strictly a $ & cents decision.
I'm sure there are other perspectives
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:51 AM   #3
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"I'm very handy"

Handy is good , but does not cover hull ,cabin or deck rebuilds.

I would look for a very simple structurally sound (all GRP , no buried plywood or balsa) and spend the first year simply living on board and repairing leaks ,wiring and simple stuff like toilets.
Heat and air cond. may require repair or upgrading.

Then more expensive stuff like off the dock refrigeration, auto pilot , anchor windlass and perhaps a batt system up grade.

This will give time to research what you really need before you purchase it.

You may find a "motor yacht" or sports fish is better than a trawler style for your purpose..
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:01 AM   #4
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Hola- I have a cash kitty of about $80K to purchase a liveaboard 30-42 footer. I'm very handy & can make my money go far. My question: Is it more prudent to buy a newer, more expensive boat that needs less initial work, or an older one that I can update more extensively from the start?

Can't advise, but my experience is that we bought a 3-year-old boat in very good condition... and I've been working on it ever since (14 years)... while using it in between times.

The "using it" part was a big driver for us; I had no interest (or ability) to spend all my time working on a boat while not being able to actually go boating.

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Old 04-16-2019, 08:03 AM   #5
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IMO buying in good condition is cheaper than fixing. Boat stuff is expensive and you are buying new at retail instead of used at depreciated value.
Look long and you will fins something well cared for at a good price since the internet has leveled all prices.
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:41 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Sofa King Fishy View Post
Hola- I have a cash kitty of about $80K to purchase a liveaboard 30-42 footer. I'm very handy & can make my money go far. My question: Is it more prudent to buy a newer, more expensive boat that needs less initial work, or an older one that I can update more extensively from the start?
Not knowing your age..... a fixer upper can cost more time and money than you want to spend. If you find a boat with a sound hull and engine and transmission that can pass the survey, that's good start.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:07 AM   #7
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IMO buying in good condition is cheaper than fixing. Boat stuff is expensive and you are buying new at retail instead of used at depreciated value.
Look long and you will fins something well cared for at a good price since the internet has leveled all prices.
Yes , agreed. Buying a good starting point is almost always the best way.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:11 AM   #8
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I believe you would be wise to stick with a boat, close to turn key that would be easy to sell if you change your mind. Since you are dealing with a big life change and are adjusting to a new routine, the ability to sell the boat easily if it isn't working out is important. Buying a cheaper boat may lower your risk of investment but getting rid of a project boat can become a nightmare.




Also be mindful of the ability to get financing for the boat, even though you don't need to finance it, if you decide to sell it (for any reason) and the boat is difficult to finance, you have limited your buying pool tremendously to cash in hand shoppers.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:45 AM   #9
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Budget advice on buying old vs.newer

Only you can really determine what’s best for your lifestyle, budget, motivations and skills but there are a few things you should consider:

1. It’s almost always cheaper to buy someone else’s refit, repairs or upgrades.

2. But, you may not like, want or appreciate a previous owner’s upgrades.

3. You can save a lot of money if you’re capable, willing and have the time to DIY. Just remember this can eat into actual boating time so you better love the process.

3. Buy the best boat possible. Think of it as a platform from which to start from. Engine(s), tanks, genny, decks, structure, stringers etc can all sink a project boat’s costs quickly. Focus on getting the big stuff right from the start.

4. Even new(er) boats need maintenance
, repairs and upgrades.

5. Keep it fun. Phase in projects in-between boating time. You need to refill your lungs from time to time to remind you why your willing to wrench on something for hours while you’re upside down in a bilge.

Good luck!
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:12 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Airstream345 View Post
Only you can really determine what’s best for your lifestyle, budget, motivations and skills but there are a few things you should consider:

1. It’s almost always cheaper to buy someone else’s refit, repairs or upgrades.

2. But, you may not like, want or appreciate a previous owner’s upgrades.

3. You can save a lot of money if you’re capable, willing and have the time to DIY. Just remember this can eat into actual boating time so you better love the process.

3. Buy the best boat possible. Think of it as a platform from which to start from. Engine(s), tanks, genny, decks, structure, stringers etc can all sink a project boat’s costs quickly. Focus on getting the big stuff right from the start.

4. Even new(er) boats need maintenance
, repairs and upgrades.

5. Keep it fun. Phase in projects in-between boating time. You need to refill your lungs from time to time to remind you why your willing to wrench on something for hours while you’re upside down in a bilge.

Good luck!
This is great advice. We try and use our boat even during projects. More than once we have cast the lines when paint or varnish was drying or half way through a project and waiting on materials. I rebuilt a 32 ft sailboat in my backyard that took almost 7 years. Some of that time I was saving money for next phase. We almost lost interest in sailing because the boat was sitting so long, it was not good. With our current boat we vowed to never let that happen again.
Buehler’s Backyard Boating book by George Buehler open my eyes to why we own a boat . You got to lay the tools down every now and then and use the boat.
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:32 AM   #11
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" You got to lay the tools down every now and then and use the boat."
Great advice... my Admiral tolerates projects early in the season but sets a "cut-off" date when projects end and time to boat more. It works out well and we follow it... most of the time... sometimes a supplier lead time causes an install after a deadline but those are exceptions.
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:28 AM   #12
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Everybody has a comfort zone, a zone where they tolerate "things". 5 yrs ago we purchased our 1982 41' President Trawler for something under your limit. We have done very little "must have" updates and a few "nice to haves" and we use the boat almost every weekend.
Some boaters make you remove your shoes from your feet before stepping aboard, I do not. Attend boat shows, talk to people. There are great deals to be had. The comment about resale is a good one.
Where are you located ? Alexandria ??
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Old 04-16-2019, 04:38 PM   #13
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Even the best of the boats you'll get with those requirements will need lots of care and feeding, and more $$ at some point. Carefully consider the budget, and don't spend all your money on the purchase.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:27 PM   #14
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Even the best of the boats you'll get with those requirements will need lots of care and feeding, and more $$ at some point. Carefully consider the budget, and don't spend all your money on the purchase.
Own a boat on a budget? Where have I gone wrong? SMIRK
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:36 PM   #15
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What is a fixer upper. Are we talking about a boat that needs new canvas, carpet and wall paper or are we taking about engine overhaul, soft decks and failed electrical systems.
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:05 PM   #16
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All boats sooner or later need repairs, modifications, and upgrades. If you keep the boat long enough you're going to end up doing these. The question is do you want to do them now or later?

Guessing that you a more likely to be older than younger, you might want to get them over with now while you are more able.
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Old 04-17-2019, 04:34 AM   #17
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There could be an argument to shop for a slightly older boat that someone else has made into their perfect boat with extensive repairs.

Old boats often have old everything for the most part. Wiring, plumbing, decking, fittings, hardware, furniture, appliances, fuel tanks, etc.... that will all wear out. I could make an argument to get one new enough where the bulk of that stuff has not deteriorated. Don't know where that is but could guess in the 20 to 30 year old range, depending on the boat.

So there could be an argument to get a boat that's 15 years old or less (unlikely on $80K) or one that someone has extensively fixed up.
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Old 04-17-2019, 11:24 AM   #18
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It might also depend on how you finance the purchase. If you are getting a loan, the lender may have constraints on how old a boat they will make a loan on.
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:35 PM   #19
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I agree with the philosophy of purchasing an older boat that 25 years later had a massive refit. Owners rarely get their refit money back, its just reality and if you have been boating long, the boat is more important than the money. You spend the money to get the boat you want realizing you are in for a financial loss, but - also a great deal of pleasure cruising.

I bought a boat for $15,000 and am putting it through a massive refit which I know I will never re-coup the money into the boat. However, I am giving the boat to my son after I can't use it anymore (age). So I have undergone work that I might not have done, or done the same way had I not been gifting the boat to him. So instead of an engine rebuild, or a remanufactured engine, I have bought a new engine. I know he won't be able to, more realistic want to, re-engine the boat when he gets it.

The flaw in purchasing older is unless you have extensive boating experience knowing what to look for, its easy to be mislead or not understand the consequences of an issue on a boat. When I bought my boat, the engine had 350 hours; I couldn't believe it but when a local re-fitter viewed the boat he said he felt the hours were true, not BS. He told me many bought boats because they liked the idea of owning a boat, not actually using the boat away from the marina.

What I didn't realize is that an engine with low hours, particularly a marinized gas engine sitting unused was worse than an engine with high hours. I now know.... lol!

When I bought the boat, the owner told me it didn't leak, I knew that was myth if I ever heard one. On an older boat just assume it leaks no matter what the owner tells you. So a stanchion leak can warn you of other deck problems, of rotted sandwiched wood between fiberglass decking which you will have to repair in one manner or another. Most of the time, the repair isn't extensive but how many stanchions are on the boat and they should all be re-bedded even if they don't leak, because they will. Do it early before the leaks and you will not have deck problems. There are many many videos on re-bedding stanchions.

Or maybe the owner will say, my batteries are getting older, you might get one or two season more out of them (translation: they are on their last legs). So you think, doesn't matter, I'll replace them with lithiums (Ha Ha Ha!!!!), you'll understand my laughter when you go price those batteries.

So the issue is, can you look at a boat with experienced eyes to determine how "little" that little problem the owner tells you about. You're thinking, no problem I'll just get the boat surveyed. This works most of the time, but I guarantee you not 100 % of the time. Even good surveyors can miss stuff. My last Catalina 27 sailboat had major problems that didn't show up until it entered our massive rain season in Vancouver. Then my Catalina became the boat that couldn't float. The problem was easily missed by the surveyor.

And for the owner who sold me his boat that didn't have leaks. Of course it did, and at the stanchions. But to my amazement, the wooden decking on this 50 year old boat was fine, no rot, almost a miracle. All the stanchions are being re-bedded.

And.... the boat had no scuppers and that only minimally entered my consciousness when I bought the boat. When I looked for scuppers, nothing, nada, zippo. So I got a jug full of water, dropped the water on the deck only to discover the water was meant to drain directly into the bilge - how stupid is that particularly in our Coastal BC monsoon season. And to add insult to the stupidity of the design, the bilge pump which was actually a very good one, was manual turn on only. I since learned that boats in the 60's had manual turn on, auto bilges pumps were just beginning to make an appearance. So before the re-fit, I had to drive to my boat every three days during heavy rains to turn the bilge pump on.

All of this to show you how easy it is to miss stuff. So if you can find an older boat with a recent large re-fit you will probably get the most value for money, of course as true with any generalization, your mileage may vary.
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Old 04-17-2019, 01:10 PM   #20
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Hola- I have a cash kitty of about $80K to purchase a liveaboard 30-42 footer. I'm very handy & can make my money go far. My question: Is it more prudent to buy a newer, more expensive boat that needs less initial work, or an older one that I can update more extensively from the start?
First off, I think you should really look at how you intend to live and what your needs are. We aren't liveaboards, but we have recently upgraded from a 30ft boat to a 42 ft boat and they are worlds apart. If you truly can live on a 30ft boat (many do) you will be way better off in monthly costs for moorage, initial purchase costs, etc. When we were looking for our current boat, we noticed a huge difference in the liveability between 36 or 37 ft and 40-42 ft. For us it translated into more aisle in the salon that we deemed important because of the two boater-collies we have.

That said, I think you are right in the ball park to get a decent boat you can enjoy for that amount of money.

As far as budget and your kitty, consider this: ANY boat you buy will need some sort of investment. Even a brand new boat will come with costs for you to outfit it (with the exception of a very few companies that deliver a complete boat including cutlery and towels.) We made a list of everything that would be a requirement for us, a good to have, a plus if we had it, etc and what the associated costs would be for each boat to have what we wanted. EG one of our requirements was some sort of diesel heat. A good to have would be a hydronic heater, as that would give us hot water without running a genset. We determined costs for what we could install those systems for, me being somewhat handy. As we shopped for boats, as we saw a boat lacking our required things or needed things we added that cost to what our eventual cost to buy and outfit that boat would be (along with whatever taxes and etc would need to be figured in.)

To get to the nuts and bolts, we had a kitty of just over $84K for our boat. We purchased it for 56K, and after taxes and etc for the purchase, had 18K left for the repairs, upgrades, outfitting we required, needed, or wanted.

We've done all the work ourselves and shopped for deals on all our purchases of equipment and supplies. We've used all of our 18K and more, and still have several major projects to do - one is a requirement (recoring a soft aft cabin top) and the other a want - a robust solar installation. We've had several projects come up that we haven't known of, as with anything, and religiously followed best practices in the selection and installation of equipment. One example is the hot water heater basically made it halfway through our 3 day delivery trip. It was never installed properly, with an AC plug underneath it...the project included completely rewiring that AC run from the breaker to a new outlet installed just for the heater, a new heater, relocation of the heater to make better use of space in the engine room, clean, degrease, paint everything along the way....you get the idea. This will be typical of most every project you touch on your new boat.

We spent a decent amount of our kitty on some electronic upgrades to the boat, to the tune of probably $2900. We put in an AIS transceiver, a Nemo gateway, a fusion radio with amplifier and 6 speakers. We also have a 10 sensor Aqualarm system we're putting in (engine, high water, and fire alarms) None of this was required to have the boat safe or functional, but we felt strongly it would make it more enjoyable and comfortable for us.

We'll be able to do both of our unfinished projects, we'll tackle one this summer and one next spring, using funds we're setting aside for boat maintenance, but that's how quickly you'll eat up an $80K kitty.

FWIW, our boat came to us 98% functional, with needs to replace some batteries and exhaust elbows. We knew about the soft aft cabin top, and had a list of other things for us to do. It came with all the docking, mooring, and anchoring gear we will need as well as dishes, cutlery, filters and oil, original equipment manuals, etc. We picked it up and spent 3 nights on it taking it home, so it definitely wasn't a "project boat" but it wasn't a 100%er either.
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