Newbie to boating - advice?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Jm fails, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. Jm fails
    Joined: Oct 2012
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    Jm fails New Member

    As the posts mention, I'm new to boating. I'm interested in acquiring a project boat, something in the range of 27' sail boat. Looking under $10 grand. I know someone who will be going with me to check them out, looking for something with solid sails and a hull that's intact. Most I've seen the engines are in pretty bad shape, same for the interior and have no electronics. As I said this would be a project boat, so it would be to work on the weekends/spare time. I'd like to get it to be in excellent shape by the end of the remodel. Looking to buy quality components and material but doing the work myself, as I am pretty handy. I'm looking for some advice/information in several categories:

    1. Remodeling costs - assuming almost everything needs redoing what am I looking out? (From flooring to Boat kitchen components, saloon area - table couch cushions, lights, etc)

    2. What should I look for when looking at the potential boats for purchase?

    3. Any information on the web of how to for boats.

    4. As I have a family and kids that I would like to sail for the day, in terms of safety gear related to electronics (GPS, beacons, communications) what should I look for and invest in.

    5. Information as to what's the best place to search for a replacement engine in good condition.

    If you can help me out and pass on the knowledge from any of the above questions, or can think of anything related to purchasing and remodeling a project boat, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank you and god bless,
  2. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    the best advice is to not do it, but look for one someone else has already rebuilt and now must sell. It will save you lots of money and time, and put you on the water faster. It is far cheaper to buy a good condition used boat than to rebuild a neglected one, even if you get it for free.

    If you simply want a project, for there is some sanctification in doing hand crafts for its own sake, than do it with that in mind, but do not expect to save money doing it yourself. buy a sea worthy boat that only needs cosmetic upgrades, resurfacing, etc., again you can use the boat from day of purchase, and enjoy making it look nice and petty the longer you own it.

    You can find major projects for little or no money in any marina, often just for back slip fees, or in boat yards. go ask at any boat yards if they have any repo boats. most marinas have regular auctions for abandon boats. they go cheap, and often the are very nice seaworthy boats.

    before you buy anything get as much time in other people's boats, go to your local yacht club and ask to crew for others during weekend races. The more you know about sailing the better idea you will have in what you like and do not like in a boat. get to know other sailors, you might even consider taking some sailing classes. The best way to go sailing is on other people's boats!
  3. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    Thats like saying,--- Im going out tonight to look for a wife --what should I look for.
  4. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

  5. Jm fails
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    Jm fails New Member


    Unfortunately, I'm not finding this thread very helpful.

    I don't think it will be cheap. It is supposed to be a project. If I wanted a finished boat, I could purchase one. I'm not trying to save money by getting a "deal". I have owned power crafts in the past, so I know about storage costs/maintenance/general boating, do I guess I should have started with newbie to sailboats.

    I am not looking for an insight into whether I should do it or not. I am looking for advice in to how to do it.

    In response to the what should I look for, I'm not asking about aesthetics, I know the general vessel I'd like to get, but any tell tales of problems, related to the sails, hulls, or anything that would make the craft structurally unsound.

    If anyone can help with those questions, as opposed to the "you'll never get your money back" "you'll waste your time" "you'll have to pay people to finish certain areas", please reply, otherwise, thanks for the advice, but I already know all those things, so just save yourself the time.

  6. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Hi JM,

    Welcome to the forum. I am a bit surprised by all the negativity above--usually posters on this forum are much more positive. To help you along, I suggest you get a copy of Dan Spurr's Boatbook: "Upgrading the Cruising Sailboat."

    It is full of useful information. I have known Dan personally for over 30 years and he writes from lots of experience. That will be a good start for you.

    Good luck!

  7. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    You have stated you are new to boating. When looking for a used boat take someone experienced with boats who will know what kind of damage or poor workmanship to look for.
  8. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    you know jm, your response seems rather peevish, and you have only yourself to blame for not giving enough details, the thread is even labeled as "new to boating", what else are we supposed to think? I can not tell you how many times a years we get newbies on this form who have never even been on a boat and get this romantic idea of building a sailboat and sailing around the world, they fall in love with a idea without even knowing what they are taking on. If you want help many are here are willing to take the time to asnwer you, but no one can help you unless we know more about your situation.

    A rebuilt motor can cost you $5000 alone, it just depends on how much you are going to do yourself. You can spend anywhere from $10k to 40k refurbishing a sailboat in the size you describ. I would rather spend in the $5k to $6 range for a good boat, and than spend another $5k outfitting it the way you want. this stays within your stated budget and still gives you the flexiblity to remodel/refurbish to your standards. do you intend to do all of the labor yourself? To you have all the tools necssary? is your 10k budge total, or for purchasing? what is your total budget?

    The most complete boat with a sound hull you can afford. best buys are expetly done projects that are not comleted because of owners ill health, divorce, unemployed, etc. check the boat yards for projects for sale.

    Craig's list, and go to the local marina and boat yard web sites to find out when their next auction will be to find good buys. this forum has lots and lot of info are repairs and replacements, there are several other fourms as well, woodenboatfourm, and some specific to the type/brand of boat you buy.

    Not enough information; if you are going coastal cruising within sight of land, not much. radio, GPS perhaps. If you intend to go off shore there is a long list of stuff you can get, most of which you do not really need. need more information.

    craigs list, local marine repair yards often end up with rebuilt motors that the owners can not pay for, and will sell at a good price.
  9. WestVanHan
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    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    He's a newbie but isn't.

    He can pay a surveyor,and his friend who is knowledgable enough to look at boats can tell him the costs and where to get things.

    .....yet doesn't know what safety gear to invest in??
  10. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    I would suggest you buy a smaller boat, but one that has some pedigree and is in good shape, needing perhaps some cosmetics.
    Ebay has a lot of boats in the 20-24 ft range. You could easily find one within your price range.
    As far as getting help looking at boats, look for what appears to be an unbelievable deal and then bite the bullet and pay a surveyor to look closely. Decks can look great but have a rotten balsa core. Core damage is to be avoided and osmosis (blistering of the bottom) is bad too. Look for high quality------- quality parts and overbuilding with heavier than average rigging, well made spars, and decent winches. Go with a name if possible---- a boat with a good reputation. Many brands are just cheap. Kells, MacGregor (Venture), and so forth. You'll know the quality makes by the price but sometimes you can find a real deal on a quality boat.
    Make sure there are good sails. You can revarnish for peanuts but buying a new sail is expensive. It's nice to get a whole bunch of sails with the boat.
    Here's some sage advice: Buy it from a person who has lots of money. They usually have work done by a yard and usually they address problems as soon as they appear. Poor guys like me make do when they don't have the cash to fix things right.
  11. hloinfo
    Joined: Oct 2012
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    hloinfo New Member

    Just do it

    Hello JM, I have bought 3 project power boats over the years 2 Chriscrafts and 1 Owens. On each one I was most concerned with having a sound hull first. (by the way, they were wooden boats). Most of your questions really can be answered many different ways, so I'll just state a couple of truths: everything will take longer and cost more than you thought, however I thoroughly enjoyed restoring my boats back to beautiful, solid vessels. As a side note I thought the first boat a 1960 25 footer was huge, then it got small, the next a 30 footer was huge and lastly a 36 footer that was huge.

    Each boat was a favorite til the next forlorn looking boat that only needed a little work lol, would come into my life.
    just do it, you most likely will never get your money out of any boat, but the process and pleasure is priceless.
    Good Luck, Harry
  12. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member


    There are thousands of project boats available. Some are even free. Search for free boats on the internet, look in the back of WoodenBoat magazine (wood boats only) and talk to owners of marinas and repair yards. Lots of boats of all kinds and in all states of repair.

    If it's a project you want you'll get it. But do not underestimate the cost. Have it surveyed or get someone knowledgeable, like your friend, and have them estimate what it would cost to rebuild the boat. Then double that. That is probably the minimum estimate.

    I am currently restoring a 1971 Sea Ray 190, that has a mercruiser 165. That engine is the same as the Chevy 250 and is very common and parts are readily available. It cost $405 and that was really the cost of the trailer it was sitting on. I originally estimated it would cost around $3500 to strip out the interior (everything was rotted) and do engine repairs. The engine runs and has good compression so mostly it is bolt on stuff that has to be replaced. But the cost is already getting close to $7000.00 The sterndrive alone cost well over $1200 to repair because I had a professional technician do it.

    Also, do you have the time? I am retired and can work on the boat whenever I want to (and my wife doesn't have other plans. don't understimate the value of this.) I have been working on it since January. I did have it in the water in July, but found more problems and will be finished with replacing the raw water cooling system shortly. That is actually a short amount of time. Larger boats often take years to rebuild.

    So this is not meant to discourage you but rather just to let you know what you are getting into. It can be fun, gratifying and frustrating. It can take far longer than you think. See

    I have been working around and on boats all my life and I still underestimated what it would take. Because estimates are based on what you can see. It's what you can't see that causes the big costs and take the most time.

    But when you get done you have something you can take great pride in.

    As for what stuff you need, you have had some good advice here. Take a basic boating course, and then start taking advanced courses. These will let you know what you absolutely have to have, and what you might want to have but don't necessarily have to have. Also your friend can take you around to marinas or boat shows and show all the stuff that is available. Frankly you can spend a hell of a lot of money on stuff. Far more than the boat costs.

    If you get a sail boat, buy a good set of sails. They will cost more but last far longer, and they will fit right. Used sails have lots of wear and have stretched, and may even have to be recut to fit right. The price of the sails plus recutting can cost almost as much as a new set. I have been that route and I spent a lot of time repairing sails.

    One caveat, don't be afraid to say, i don't know what I'm doing, or I don't want to do that. That's why I had the sterndrive rebuilt. I simply did not have the tools and workshop, and frankly did not want to. Let someone who does it for a living do it, or get someone who knows what to do to help you.

    Good luck. I hope you find a good project.
    1 person likes this.
  13. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    If dropping more than $10,000 on a used boat my advice is to have a professional marine surveyor who is working for you take a look at it. If you make an offer before doing so it should be contingent upon the survey.
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    This has a bit higher asking price , but it is ready to go, not a "fixer up er" .

    Call me if you are interested ,

    1982 BENETEAU First 32 , located inland from Ft Myers F
    LOA 33ft 6inches .....LWL 27' 7 1/2 .....Beam 10'11 1/2 Draft 5'8
    Displacement 8370lbs,..... Ballast 3635 lbs.
    Head room 5'11 1/2
    Former Med ocean racing champ, fully equipped for offshore cruising,
    This boat sailed from the Arabian peninsula to England to race then from Europe to the States on her own bottom.
    Engine, , Volvo MD 7B
    3 blade cruising prop installed with 2 blade folding Gorrie prop mounted on spare shaft.Last Drop stuffing box seal.
    Sails ,Brand new North full batten (4) Mainsail 204 sq.ft.
    Head sail roller furling Head sails ,#1 Genoa 354 sq ft. Hood mylar,,#2 Genoa 283 sq,,#1 Jib 220 sq,,#2 Jib 138 sq,,Storm Jib 49sq.,,Spinnaker 750 sq.Elite and Elvstrom sailmakers.
    2 Somar spinnaker poles
    Barlow two speed winches (2)#25 (2)#23 (2)#16
    Barlow single speed (2)#15
    2 Francespar cheek blocks
    4 Easylock halyard locks
    CQR 25 and Danforth 20 anchor ,rode and fenders USCG kit
    GOIOT manual rope and chain windlass ,spare Gypsy
    Ampair 1000 wind generator
    NEW Simrad TP 10 tiller pilot
    New bulkhead compass
    Galley. SS sink pressure and hand pump FW.
    Almost new propane Eastham Maxol range , oven and gas broiler.
    Interior almost new soft goods seating etc.
    Teak and Holley cabin sole is NEW unused.
    Good dodger and sun cover on SS tubing .
    All books for engine and installed gear , including factory delivery manual.
    This boat should be out cruising , not tied to my dock. Ready to go.
    The price of $14,900.00 seems very reasonable compared to the Yachtworld asking prices , look there to see views and interior , there all the same.
    RECENT up grades ,
    New automatic bilge pump, new manual bilge pump, SS propane BBQ , replaced all fuel lines and valves and installed Raycor 500 Filter.
    New single lever shifter and new cables.
    Fred 860-346-5008
    * Location: Ortona Fl

  15. bpw
    Joined: May 2012
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    bpw Senior Member

    With a $10,000 budget no real need to look for "projects" in the under 30 ft range. Plenty of ready to go sailing boats for that price. My last cruising boat (in 2002) cost about that much including cruising gear and took me to Mexico for several years. We have about $20,000 in the current boat and am writing this from Valdivia, Chile having left California a few years ago. And quite a bit of that $20,000 is in the "nice to have because we live aboard" or the "serious high latittude cruising gear" category, something you don't need to be concerned with.

    If you are willing to buy something with an atomic 4 engine instead of a diesel there are even more options. No one wants the gas powered boats but they are actually quite nice little sailboat engines. Quiet, light, easy to repair.

    Florida is also one of the cheaper boat markets in the US, so you live in a good place to go boat hunting.

    Talk to a surveyor, many have access to and can give you an idea of what actual selling prices are vs. asking price, often there is a very substantial gap. Local surveyors often hear about boats going cheap in the area and can point you in the right direction if they know what you are looking for. A few hundred dollars for an hour or two of the surveyors time can be very worthwhile in the early stages of the boat search to help you refine what you want and give you ideas of what boats you should be looking for.
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