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Old 01-06-2019, 01:42 PM   #1
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New Smaller Boat or Older Larger Boat?

Folks, considering two options in purchasing a trawler - would like to hear if anyone has advice on the following. We are looking at new smaller trawlers (38-40 ft) or a larger used boat (44-55 ft). While a new boat will be reliable, we like the idea of a little more space in a larger boat. Aside from the resale issue (i.e., financially we'll lose money), does it make sense to purchase an older boat and refit or rebuild all the major systems? Will we end up with reliable older boat, or will still have a lot of breakdown issues? So for example, an early 90s 44ft Defever for $200K, if I replace the engine, drive train and bearings, electronics, genset, HVAC unit, rudder/bearing/steering gear assemblies, inverter, seacocks, tanks, appliances etc., will I end up with a pretty reliable 44 ft Defever, or just a mess on my hands? Again, no worries on resale, just want something that is pretty reliable in a bit larger boat. Thoughts (other than I've lost my mind?

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Old 01-06-2019, 02:15 PM   #2
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I refit my 45' boat as opposed to buying new. Some of what you listed is unnecessary, and there are other items you have omitted. Cost savings will depend a lot on whether you're doing the refit yourself or paying others. Without knowing how much cruising you plan to do, it's difficult to suggest whether a repower makes sense. Many marine engines can be rebuilt for a small fraction of the cost of repower.

Why don't you start by describing how you plan to use the boat, and how many miles or hours per year you plan to put on the engine.


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Old 01-06-2019, 02:20 PM   #3
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An early 90's should have the machinery in good shape. No need to replace everything, but maybe a few things like gennie and AC's as they tend to age faster than propulsion engine. I have done engine surveys on 50yr old boats that passed with flying colors, and also ten year old boats where engines and gennie were a mess.

I've cruised extensively on my 38. I find that to be the minimum size for two (or three) in comfort. 44-55 is getting pretty big. 44 sounds ok, but above that can be a real handful. If you need the size, that's ok, but don't go too big.
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Old 01-06-2019, 03:18 PM   #4
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If you NEED to replace all that stuff, you bought the wrong DeFever. Unless you are comparing a bottom of the barrel ragged out POS to a new boat....

You can do a total refit on any pile of crap and make it like new, probably for less than buying a new boat, as long as you are willing to wait the several years it will take to complete the work. Like they say: you can have it cheap, on time and of high quality, pick two.
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Old 01-06-2019, 04:34 PM   #5
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ted, good questions. The plan is to keep it on Hilton Head year round and use the boat on the east coast running up and down coast, bascially marina hopping to see family in Miami, Key West, Sarasota, Hudson River area, and NC. Also, plan to do the Great Loop and the great lakes, but understand that 44-50 starts to get big for the loop. Add on - also once i am retired, the plan is to use teh boat quite a bit. Wife is dying to go to Key West, and Charleston by boat, so we'd be out maybe 3-4 days per week.
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Old 01-06-2019, 04:36 PM   #6
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There are some older boats that have been kept in great shape. Don't rule those out.
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Old 01-06-2019, 04:39 PM   #7
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Personally I would go with the bigger boat. I don’t often hear people say they wished they had bought a smaller boat, usually after a couple of years thay wish they had gone bigger, if they have the resources to support a bigger boat. If you buy small and then decide you want bigger, you will take a hit on the resale. Besides I like to work on my boat...
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Old 01-06-2019, 06:35 PM   #8
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Along with the refit costs, you also should consider the operating costs of a larger boat compared to the smaller one.
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Old 01-06-2019, 06:47 PM   #9
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I would look at the layout on various boats till you find one that talks to you (insert wife here). It could be a 38’ or a 44’. Then start looking at age, condition and cost. Remember, a boat’s a deprecating asset.

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