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My first Post. So I am looking at buying a used boat.

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by CSlaughter, Feb 6, 2015.

  1. CSlaughter

    CSlaughter New Member

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    I have been looking at the forums and reading a lot, and doing my homework. I have gained a lot of knowledge from everyone here.
    Being the type of person that likes to get his hands dirty, I am not afraid to try and do things my self, but I also know there are limits to what I should try and do. Sometimes it is money well saved hiring a pro to do the work for you..

    With that in mind, I keep looking for my first (Starter) yacht. Something the wife and I could spend the weekend in somewhere on the Texas coast. Many of the boats I am looking at need work. I look at some of the work and wonder if I could do it.
    Most of the time the interiors are very dated and need an overhaul or have already been removed. Much of this looks like work I can do, but I am no cabinet maker. Can anyone tell me some of the considerations or gotcha moments I would need to know before taking this kind of thing on?
    I know money is a big factor, storage, and a place to work on it. But what else?

    carl
  2. P46-Curaçao

    P46-Curaçao Senior Member

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    If you buy second hand, it's all about the surveyors 'to-do' list, your budget that's left, and the way you can do things yourselves (you only pay for the materials) or have it spend on pro's (you pay for labor and materials).
    Sometimes it is money well Spend, hiring a pro to do the work for you..
  3. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Welcome to YF.

    The real gotchas are structural and mechanical integrity. Depend on a good surveyor to check that out. For interior construction, look closely how things are put together on boats. Remember, things are not generally attached to 2 x 4 studs on boats or RVs. Ceilings and wall are often panels held on by hidden screws or clips. A lot is attached with glues. If what's needed is things like carpet, paint, wallpaper or such it's pretty much the same on land except that carpets exposed to the elements will be marine grade (generally rubber backed). One thing that drives many boaters nuts is leaks around the deck or windows. You can easily find a leak showing up in one place, and have the source outside a very good distance away. Often water will penetrate at a screw holding down a stanchion or rub rail that wasn't put in with caulking, and travels down through the deck or hull a great distance before emerging on an inside wall.

    Keep in mind that weight as a serious consideration. I recently heard of a guy who put granite counter tops in his galley. They had to be removed as they left the boat listing badly.

    If you can give us specific models some are prone to certain problems, or if you have specific concerns with a particular boat I'm sure we can give you some advice on what will be involved with that.
  4. AlfredZ

    AlfredZ Senior Member

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    Hi there,

    Welcome aboard Carl and hope you find your stay around is nice and useful.

    Your first boat will be your toughest and roughest teacher! It might hook you more into boating or make you another figure in the suicide statistics, all while redefining your relations with family and friends and eating up your funds. Fun eih?! :)

    What you can and can't do is a variable that changes by time, conditions, mood, basic knowledge and gained experience to name few factors, so you might not be a cabinet maker but by time or by seeing how others do things will enable you to tackle things that you have never done before, loosing money will teach you when to pay for professional help and when to live with the fruits of your labor. The good delight of modern technology, such as this forum and youtube, many DIY projects are archived with details and specifics, such projects if you look around vary from petty maintenance all the way to building your own boat! So my advise would be:

    Search here for threads about problems and fixes or projects that other members have gone through, you will find many great things from real people that were once in your shoes right now, such as the Carver forum, Post forum, or Chris Craft forum, many fixes, rebuilds and upgrade or modification projects that you will find interesting and will even push you to be more hands-on. Then tube similar projects to see in motion picture how regular "Joes" go about doing them. The last part would be to select a job that you think is common in all the boats you looked at and check its costs in your area, from material and tools if you wanna do it your self or request a quote from a professional. You will learn how to talk the talk and how to weigh whether you'll grease your elbows or let your wallet smell some fresh air! ;)

    I hope you find this useful and positively motivating. You will have lots of material to share in the future so keep us in the loop.

    Cheers,

    Alf
  5. CSlaughter

    CSlaughter New Member

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    Thank you for your advice

    I have not yet decided on any one specific boat. I have looked at several Chris Crafts but I am not hard set on them. I plan to do some scuba diving and they do not look like good candidates for that.

    So any recommendations you may have for a good dive platform would be appreciated. (Easy entry in and out of the water.)

    Carl
  6. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    As a diving YF member myself, a sportfish with a transom door is an excellent dive platform
  7. Fish Catcher Jim

    Fish Catcher Jim Member

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    Welcome to YF Carl,
    One piece of advice I will share with you and this is one you can count on. The members in here are very knowledgeable and very experienced and will tell you like it is. Like any other place you will get some off the wall things but hey thats just life.

    If you ever feel that some one is being a little pushy, well it is only because they know what they are talking about and simply want to make sure you catch on...Believe me....I learned alot in here and still am and made some really good friends too.

    Ask questions and you will get answers ......ask indepth questions and you will get wisdom.... No I am not bucking for a promotion..lol I just know that the folks here tell it like it is and that is what you came for.
    Have a great learning time
    Jim
  8. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Chris would definitely not be my first choice. They had some bad years through the 80'/90s. Around what size are you looking for? If looking toward these years, one thing to do is to take a good, slow walk around the decks. Many are balsa cored and have lost their integrity. Feel for soft spots, look for delamination, cracks, discoloration, etc. I second Beau's suggestion to look toward sport fishers with a transom door, and a good/strong swim platform. Since swim platforms are exposed to a lot of water beating against them (and sometimes idiots jumping down hard from the docks onto them), look closely at them, especially the underside and supports. One thing to consider is how much house space and how much cockpit space you need. The wife is probably the best one to ask about that.
    Some good names from that era are Hatteras, Bertram, Post, Tiarra, Cabo, Viking. There are many more, but that's a start. Another thing to consider, and I think you're already realizing it, is that boats designed for fishing will have a lot of wear and tear.
    Another thing to consider is your planned use. If you plan to stick in the bays or poke your nose out a mile or two most any boat will do. No need to buy a battle wagon when all you need is a row boat. But you don't want a day boat if you'll be running 40 miles off shore in whatever weather comes up.
  9. NEO56

    NEO56 Member

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    Hi Carl, Welcome to YF. It would help if we knew (other than diving) what you're going to use the boat for. I'm assuming that you'll want to get into clear water to dive, like maybe the Oil rigs...so you're in for a 25-50 mile run one way. Are you going to cruise and spend the weekend aboard the boat? Will you be inviting guests, or Family aboard? We really don't need your budget, but just know that, Insurance, dockage (which runs $6-9 dollars a foot per month in Kemah) whatever refitting you're going to do....all adds up in a hurry. I would also look at Cockpit Motoryachts, Viking and Hatteras top the list for me. They have relatively short cockpits, with transom doors to which you can add a swim platform, if they don't have one. But if you could be a bit more specific, about how you intend on using the boat...it would be a great deal of help to us...the more blanks you fill in the better we can help you scope lock on your best choices for a first boat.
  10. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    Welcome aboard.
    What brand new boaters does not know (yet) is how much time and money a used boat will require in repairs, upgrade and maintenance.
    If you think you just found a bargain boat that only needs new carpets and some cabinets, you are in for a big surprise, money wise and otherwise.
    It is not like getting an old Chevy truck that just needs new tires and brakes, then will run another 200,000 miles.
    Yachts are almost, but not quite, in the same category as helicopters:
    For every hour of flight, they need 10 hours of maintenance.
    A ratty old boat may be cheap and of good design, but usually have tons of deferred maintance.
    How would you like to overhaul engines, trannys, repair blisters, re-wire and re-plumb a 25 year old boat you got for a song?
    (In addition to the carpet and the cabinets)
    Listen to advice from folks who have been there and done that:
    Spend more money to get a well maintained boat than to get a cheap non-maintained boat. The initial savings may seem sweet, but you will pay in the long run. (Like marrying a slutty girlfriend:)
  11. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Can't repeat enough. Get a survey of the boat and the engine including a sea trial and an oil analysis. I know some purchasers of inexpensive boats say it's too costly or not worth it. That's because they're looking at the cost of a survey vs. the price of the boat. But you need to look at it vs. how much the boat could end up costing you with all the things it would need done.
  12. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    Agree with Olderboater, a survey is a must.
    I even had a survey done on a 21' Twin Yamaha Answer Marine "Divemaster" I bought 15 years ago: The surveyor dug up important information about the bottom view ports (glass bottom boat) that had caused accidents in the past.
    Had the ports glassed in and the boat re-surveyed. (All at great expense)
    The boat got stolen while in a storage yard during hurricane Irene and the insurance paid every nickel and then some as I could document surveyed values, expenses and general condition.
    After everything was said and done I got all my money back on the whole deal based on the survey, and I had a safer boat while I was using it.
    Since then I had all my boats surveyed including two 18' canal boats and several ocean going sailboats.
    That being said, don't spend survey and haul-out money on a piece of Sh!t boat. You will get a bad survey and end up not buying it, money wasted.
    Look for a nice and clean boat and one that is whispering your name, then have the surveyor put it under the microscope. THEN if things are still looking good, you make an offer with survey in hand.
    Good luck, it is an interesting road ahead:))
  13. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    We have had new boats surveyed as well. A lot easier to get repairs expedited before taking delivery than after.
  14. CSlaughter

    CSlaughter New Member

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    WOW, So much feedback. Thank you!

    Now lets see if I can clear up some of these questions. For starters, I am in no hurry. I have been looking into this for almost a year now and have looked at a few boats in that time. This more I look and research, the more my intended use for it evolves. as of right now. it think it will be more of a coastal cruiser. I will likely want to do some diving from it, stay aboard it for a long weekend regularly and do a little casual cruising with just the wife and I. I went to several marinas this weekend and reminded myself that 40 foot is still a nice size. from what I can tell. more boat equates to more maintenance cost..

    So I think I will take what you have given me so far and do a little refining on what I am looking at for now, and see where it takes me..


    Again, thank you for all the advice, I really appreciate it.
    I will keep everyone up to speed on what I do or DON'T do..

    Carl
  15. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    For a couple, around 40' (35' to 41' or so) is a good size. Not only will getting much bigger be more expensive, but it will require more time and you may well need to hire a captain for your first year. Also operating, and especially docking, could require more hands. Keep it as simple and convenient as possible. You should be able to find some good deals in that size range as that part of the market hasn't recovered much. Right now people are buying center consoles and big yachts. So don't be afraid to bargain. It's still a buyer's market in that range.
  16. CSlaughter

    CSlaughter New Member

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    More questions if you do not mind.

    I am located in Austin Texas. Not sure if that is going to be helpful, but thought I would throw it out there.
    I think I would like to "apprentice" one or two weekends a month at some sort of service / repair center. I think this will give me a good feel for what I will be looking at when I purchases my boat. Maintenance, upkeep, and general operation is something I am going to understand before investing.

    So a little about me. I am a corporate infrastructure systems engineer. In short, I work with computers, networks, and software all day. In my younger days, I really enjoyed working with computers, but now they just remind me of long hours of frustration and aggravation. At the end of the day, there is usually very little I can point to and say, "I did that.". I really enjoy getting my hands dirty and having something to show for it at the end of the day (Other than another webpage talking about some "New and improved Widget!") To be able at the end of the day to point to a repaired window, or a newly installed cleat has appeal to me.

    Knowing that, I thought about finding an old boat to do a little work on in my spare time. As we have all seen, there are a plethora of boats to chose from. but one thing I came to realize rather quickly, is not what boat to acquire, but rather WHERE can I store it while I work on it that is both close(ish) and cost effective. That is where an apprenticeship would be seem to be a good fit. they get low cost or possibly even free labor, and I get to learn a thing or two without managing the logistics of locating, purchasing, transporting, and storing of said boat.


    Anyone have any thoughts on this?
  17. YachtForums

    YachtForums Administrator

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    I feel your pain.
  18. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    The beauty of digging a ditch or cutting wood is instant gratification.

    Unfortunately your computer knowledge will be of limited help on small boats. You don't know the internal workings of things like radar, chart plotters and VHFs, etc., and they generally get swapped out when dead anyway. Throw-away society. It's good though that you'll feel at home dealing with manuals and system menus. Some of the new chart-plotters and radars have you scrolling through menus a lot. Another piece of bad news is that it'll be hard to find any yards willing to let you work as an apprentice. Liability. A third piece of bad news is that finding a yard willing to let do serious repair work on your own boat is getting harder and harder. Again, liability and bookkeeping as well as taking food off their plate. All these things aside, the best place to look would be a boat yard, not a marina.

    I recommend that any new or move-up boater hire a captain for a lesson or two. As part of the lesson they should teach you about all the systems on your boat, how to operate and maintain them. Believe me that an older boat will be a good learning ground. So will be your dock mates wherever you put the boat. Boaters are notoriously helpful. The beauty of mechanical systems is that you can trace most problems with your eyes. (most computer systems look the same whether they're working or not...at least to me).

    One hint to look for as you check out boats is that their outward appearance is a good indicator of problems within. People take pride in their boats. If you look at a boat that's filthy, with a bilge filled with oil and debris, walk away. Check that all systems are working, and the boat looks to be in reasonable shape. Then bring in a surveyor. What you pay him, and a captain for a couple of lessons, will be some of the best money you ever spend.

    BTW, have you and your family taken or at least signed up for a basic boating course yet? Another thing worth its weight in gold.

    As for Austin (a great music town), the only relevance I can think of is to make sure your air conditioners are working well, about once a month rinse out the screens.
  19. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    In theory your plan is good. However, I don't see that happening. What do you know that would qualify you even as an apprentice?

    I'd suggest taking courses, based on what your future boating aspirations are. If you feel it will be diesel, then take a diesel mechanics course. Unfortunately, most of what I see is going to be in the Galveston/Seabrook areas.

    Are you contemplating a boat for the lake or something to use coastal?

    Often the way to learn, to apprentice so to speak, is to hire someone to work on your boat who will allow you to watch and learn.

    What is your time frame to purchase? Are you assuming you'll be purchasing an older boat in need of a lot of work?
  20. CSlaughter

    CSlaughter New Member

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    Again. Thank you for your feedback.

    I am very handy around the house. I have done electrical, and plumbing, and some finishing work. as for mechanical. I am a rather good shade tree mechanic on my autos and have had smaller 15' - 20' lake boats in the past.

    I have done some research on some of the coast guard boating courses. But until I get a better handle on what I think I will be doing, I am un sure which to take. However a good marine mechanic school might not be a bad idea...

    Long term, I plan to move to a coastal city. It has an attraction that I cant ignore. but for now. I am stuck in central Texas. so a lake boat might be the way to start.


    Carl