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Old 06-29-2020, 03:48 PM   #1
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Would you buy or avoid this boat if you were in my shoes?

Let me start by explaining my circumstances...

My wife and I have owned one boat in the past. She was a 24’ Bristol Corsair that had been lovingly restored and was perfect in every way - except that she was a sailboat (and we are lousy sailors). We spent many a wonderful evening/night/weekend and ate many a wonderful meal aboard her — but almost all that time was spend in the slip.

Circumstances (that I won’t get into here) have led us to the conclusion that our best path forward is to to liquidate all our assets and buy a trawler to liveaboard. Our total budget is going to be around $20K (a loan is not an option). That will need to include the purchase, taxes/registration/fees, any repairs that are immediately necessary, and hopefully a few thousand dollars leftover for an emergency fund. Yes, I realize that’s not a lot of money and clearly, any boat we find in our price range that’s big enough to liveaboard comfortably with 3 dogs is going to need some work. That’s OK. We are both very handy, quite comfortable with all manner of tools, and unafraid of sweat, elbow grease, and learning/tackling new things. We are no strangers to carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical work (though we have less experience with the latter and no experience at all with Diesel engines - but we know a few really excellent mechanics). We are resigned (actually looking forward) to doing repairs and fixing up our new home. The main thing we’re looking for is a boat “with good bones”. Something that is funadamentally sound/solid.

I should add that we’re really sold on CopperCoat; we like the idea of painting the bottom and not having to worry about it for 10+ years. Whatever boat we buy, the plan is (at the first haul out) to strip off all the old paint and put CopperCoat on. While she’s on the hard, we’ll of course look at any other issues that need to be addressed. Because of this, we’re not particularly afraid of wood boats.

Now, the boat...

We have the opportunity to buy a 36’ Grand Banks (we love GB trawlers; our dream boat is a 42’ Europa model) at a very attractive price. The boat was surveyed in November of 2018 and as you can see in the survey, the surveyor (whose credentials seem, to me, impeccable) was impressed by the boat’s build quality and stated “The framing is intact and has been well ventilated with very little wood decay found. Every floor panel including beneath all the seating and bunks were raised for inspection and found no evidence of a problem” After the survey, the most significant issues were dealt with at that time by the current owner. Since then, the boat has been docked and no maintenance has been performed - no scraping, no zinc replacement.

To me, the boat does indeed seem to have “good bones”. Further, I’ve come to know the owner pretty well and believe him to be a really honest and good person. With 19 months having passed (and another 2 or 3 likely to pass) since the last haul out/bottom painting (and at that time, the new paint was applied over the old), it’s clearly going to be time for a haul out and bottom painting at the time we take ownership, so this fits in Well with our plan to strip her down to the timber and apply CopperCoat. In fact, once we have all the old paint stripped off, our plan would be to have a thorough inspection of the hull done (inside and out, fasteners removed at the inspector’s discretion) by a surveyor who specializes in wood boats. We would then make all necessary hull repairs before applying the CopperCoat.

My biggest concern, here, as I see it, is the 19 months of zero maintenance and the fact that the most recent bottom paint was applied over the old paint. Do barnacles/mussels/algae cause more damage/“dig deeper” if they’re allowed to just live there for over a year and a half? Could they have compromised all layers of paint such that the wood is exposed (i.e. at a microscopic level) by their roots? In other words, does the lack of scraping and zinc make it much more likely that the hull will now have significant problems?
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:07 PM   #2
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:23 PM   #3
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If you don’t already know everything you need to know about wood boats then you are headed for disaster. What I know about wood boats is that I don’t know enough to own one.
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:24 PM   #4
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Have you gotten an estimate for the work you described? Does it fit within your budget? Do you have an estimate for the annual expense of maintaining a wooden boat? I don't know the answers to these questions, but you should, and knowing that should give you the answer.

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Old 06-29-2020, 05:32 PM   #5
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Walk away until out of sight then run.
Wooden boats frighten me.
Some yards require the owner to sigh a waiver before they will haul and block it.
Dont leave it on the blocks too long.
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:38 PM   #6
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Greetings,
Mr. DB. Welcome aboard. Where will you be boating? I don't think there is THAT much water in AZ. $20K for what you have in mind is going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible. IF you find yourselves in over your head, selling a wooden boat will simply add to your losses IMO.

Wood boats are susceptible to pests other than barnacles which are a surface problem. There is some sort of worm that actually eats wood.



It may be doable and I wish you the best of success.
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:48 PM   #7
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During my time as a charter fishing boat captain and mate, I worked on and rebuilt a number of wooden boats. Wooden boats can be good, and can also be terrible. Unless you are very familiar with wooden boats, I would advise against one.
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:51 PM   #8
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If I was into woodworking as a full time hobby, I might think about having a wood boat, then reality would step in and say not no but hell no. Wood boats are a never ending full time job. If the boat has had no maintenance in the last 2 years it will need a lot of work to catch up and then the work load will just be lots and lots. I would not own a wood boat. In Mexico the labor is cheaper and the marinas may accept wood boats. In the US a lot of marinas will not accept wood boats. Many insurance companies will not insure them. But you need to know what your needs are and what level of work you are willing to do. I believe you said you were fairly new about boating, buying a neglected or even a somewhat neglected wood boat would not be my way to learn about boats. But whatever way you go, I wish you luck.
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:52 PM   #9
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:59 PM   #10
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Every boat yard around has a couple of wood boats in various stages of "renovation"
Usually in the very back of the yard, covered in torn blue tarps flapping in the breeze. Sort of like your where your dreams will be in a year or two.

There is a reason the boating industry transitioned to fiberglass.
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Old 06-29-2020, 06:11 PM   #11
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Walk away until out of sight then run.
Wooden boats frighten me.
Some yards require the owner to sigh a waiver before they will haul and block it.
Dont leave it on the blocks too long.
It might work out if he keeps her on a lake in AZ that is only a couple of inches deeper than her draft.
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Old 06-29-2020, 06:11 PM   #12
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I truly am sorry to read on the other thread about how you got into your financial situation.

I don't see anyway to buy (survey/register/insure) and maintain (maintenance and dockage) a liveaboard trawler on a 20K total budget.

Perhaps, you should consider a travel trailer instead?

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Old 06-29-2020, 06:20 PM   #13
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Old 06-29-2020, 06:58 PM   #14
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Wooden boats are the absolute best boats, they are sea-kindly, quiet and generally very pretty. A GB 36 will have yacal frames and Phillipine mahogany planks. Probably bronze fasteners but maybe not. There is a GB32 in our neighbourhood that is entirely planked with teak as apparently the yard ran short of mahogany so they just kept going with what they had. Imagine an entire hull, not just the transom, varnished? A teak deck takes on an entirely new meaning.

Having said all that, the amount of work to maintain a woody is massive. That's the down side. Massive.

Once, before I bought my 'glas GB32 I wanted a wood GB 42. I found a beauty in Gig Harbour (I think it was) and the owner was finishing off some varnish on the stern rail. It was really spectacular and the purchase price was reasonable. When I asked him how much work it was to keep her up, he said "when I get finished back here, I go back to the stem and start all over."

Needless to say, I bought a fibreglass boat and even that became a nuisance (there is a lot of wood topsides on a GB) and now I am all-aluminum.

Wooden boats are wonderful but unless you want a full-time hobby, I wouldn't touch it with a barge-pole.
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Old 06-29-2020, 07:28 PM   #15
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I'm going to try to say this nicely, you can't afford it. If you could do everything yourself, which most people can't, you still have to buy materials and pay to have the boat hauled. With a wood boat, you don't always get to determine when the next haulout will be. Things happen. When a seam starts leaking significantly, you can rationalize all you want about why that can't be happening, but the reality is that you're still hauling the boat.

Wooden boats are like fighting cancer. Taking a minimalist budget approach pretty much guarantees a poor outcome long term.

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Old 06-29-2020, 07:38 PM   #16
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You guys are awesome. Thank you so much for all the the candid, “pull no punches” advice. We’ll look for a fiberglass boat.
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Old 06-29-2020, 07:44 PM   #17
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Even if a fiberglass boat needs work like soft decks, they usually won’t sink the boat. So you have more leeway with fiberglass boats that wooden boats. Plus if you fix up a wood boat and then go to sell it you will have lost all the value you added. As the saying goes, you can’t polish a turd... You will be light years ahead with a glass boat.
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Old 06-29-2020, 08:37 PM   #18
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Nothing I appreciate more than a beautifully restored wood boat that’s not mine to pay for.
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:13 PM   #19
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I would dream to have a wood boat but unfortunately I do not have nor the budget neither the time, but still I love them. It is a pity to see some very nice wooden destroyed because nobody want them.

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Old 06-29-2020, 10:57 PM   #20
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- except that she was a sailboat (and we are lousy sailors)........

...We are both very handy, quite comfortable... learning/tackling new things.?
If the probably with the sailboat was that you were lousy sailors, and you are quite comfortable learning new things.....Why not learn to sail ??

I think your money would go further in a sailboat than a powerboat.
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