Schooner

Schooner

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Our guide to boat buying

So with so many buying boats (yachts if over 33' in length) I thought I would write a guide for boat buying.
This will be a long read, and is recommended for a serious boat buyer. Points I will cover are as follows.

1. Best way to find your boat
2. A quick personal survey
3. Making an offer, and for how much



 So at this point I will assume you have chosen the type of boat. Motor boats with 2-3GPNM (Gallons of fuel per nautical mile) Trawler with 1-4NMPG (nautical mile per gallon) motor sailor with 6NMPG sailboat with 8-11NMPG.
 Your price range.
New boat 40' for $175,000+ I will not discuss new boat purchases.
Slightly used boat 40' 75,000+
boats over 10 years old 40' 25,000+

So how do you locate your boat.
My personal favorite is http://www.sailboatlistings.com This is the best place to find a bargain.
Second choice is Craigslist.org and  http://www.searchtempest.com/ for looking outside your area.
You can always fall back to Yachtworld.com. The listings are about 2-4 times the true sale price, so offer accordingly.



The quick personal survey

The quick personal survey can be done in less then 3 hours. I will base my list on a sailboat purchase. All things equal the sailboat is the most complex.

Step one, the bilge visual inspection.

When you crack open the bilge you are opening a window to the previous owners(PO) soul.
This is where the truth is. Did the owner, or broker, tell you he loved the boat? If so you can expect to find a spotless bilge, with no water at all. Everything will be secure. All raw (sea) water fittings will have two clamps on each connection. You should see no rust of any kind on the clamps, and see fresh bilge paint. If the boat is over 10 years old the hoses should be new.
This boat will cost the most. It has been loved and cared for, with every upgrade done, most likely by a shop. If your looking for a bargain, stop now, this is not it.

The next level of care is a normal, but good owner.
All of the sea water fittings will still be double clamped. They should not show any serious rust. 
The bilge should be clean, but not spotless. Its a bilge after all. Expect failing paint if over 10 years old. This will be the type of person that will do most jobs himself. He will have common knowledge of the simple working systems of his own boat.
There are key items to separate the do-it-yourselfer from a bad owner.
The bilge should be well kept, and everything should still be secure, and proper. Finding any garden hose parts (green clamps for example) will tell you the owner was cheap, and didn't care. Finding double clamps on all the lines, fresh and salt, shows he means well, but may be slightly misinformed. If the boat is over 10 years old, expect new lines still. if over 15 expect new wiring. hoses should be flexible. Wires should move smoothly, and not be stiff. All wire junctions should be water tight.

The final level of care is no care at all, and the best bargain.
If you see single hose clamps of salt water hoses, rust, filth, leaks from anything, stiff wires, stiff hoses, old thruhulls, oil in the bilge, old bilge pumps, a high water line (evidence of flooding) then this boat may either be a bargain, or junk. Expect to do a major refit after purchase, with a cost of about $500-1000 per foot.



Step two, the engine visual inspection.

 This is the second heart of a sailing beast, and the only heart of a powerboat of any kind. If it is a power boat, expect much more. Any powerboat beyond 20 years old should not have the original engine. If it does, and you cannot repower yourself, expect to pay about $300-600 per horsepower. Starting at 40HP for $15,000 adding 300-600 for each HP over 40.
The second choice (already repowered) is the best option. Why? because they have paid the hit and will never recoup the cost paid. If the boat is less then 20 years old, then you need to start examining the heart.
Assuming the boat is more then 10 years old you should expect every hose to have been replaced.

The perfect owner.

You should expect to see all new belts and hoses. The paint on the engine will be in great shape, with almost no pealing. The exhaust riser will be newer. When you pull out any dipstick the level will be spot on. Do pull them out. Sniff them. Nothing should smell of burning, or smoke. You should not see a waterline on the engine, and there should be no leaks at all. All raw water fittings will have two clamps, and after 20 years, the alternator should be new. Shut off the thru hull. remove the heat exchanger zinc. It should be new, or almost new. IF it is gone, or nearly gone, you do not have a perfect owner. If the hoses are original, and show signs of paint on them, this is not a perfect owner. Written on each filter, oil, fuel, should be a date and hours. The fuel filter should not be more then 100 hours old. The oil filter should not be more then 100 hours old.

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The good owner.

You should still be expecting a repower if the boat is over 20 years old. Belts should be new, and not show wear. The exhaust riser will be newer then the engine if the engine is over 15 years old. Hoses should not be original. The alternator should not be more then 5-8 years old. There should be no leaks. All raw water fittings should have two clamps. The paint may be worn, and cracking, but there should be no loose paint, as this may fall into the blige and clog a pump, causing flooding. Shut off the engine raw water thru hull. Pull out the zinc on the engine heat exchanger. Note its condition. If it is completely gone, this is not a good owner. If hoses are dry rotted, belts are old, engine is leaking, this is not a good owner.

The careless owner.


This will make for a low purchase price, but it will cost you on the back end during the refit.
Expect to see single clamps on raw water hoses. Expect to see original hoses, worn belts, original alternator,
minor leaks. Pull out the dipstick on the transmission. Does it smell burnt? If yes, then it will need replacement, expect the same from the engine. When was the last oil change? Fuel filter change? Is the zinc gone? Is the oil lower then it should be? Is there water inside the oil cap? Unscrew it and look for a milky white on the inside. If this is the case, the engine is gone.

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Starting the engine.

Making sure to have the thru hulls open, turn the key to the run position. Check your voltage. With glowplugs off it should be no less then 12.6 volts if unplugged. IF the voltage is good crank the engine. It should start within 10 seconds with the throttle set to idle. If it does not start within 30, there are problems. Look first at the exhaust. It should not show any smoke. If you see a bit of smoke, it may have valve seal issues. Is it running smooth? If stumbling, missing, not running on all cylinders, it may have major fuel, or compression issues, warranting a new engine. Allow it to idle for about 3 min. Make sure the oil pressure is good. Make sure it is showing a charge. Make sure water is coming out of the exhaust. If not, shut off the engine. It has issues, and you should assume a replacement is necessary if any issues are seen. It may not need replaced, but for negotiation purposes it needs an engine. 

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The deck

Teak?

Is the deck teak? Unless it is in flawless shape, expect to pay for that beauty. Replacement cost in the USA for a teak deck is $35,000+++ Teak removal is expensive, and may also cost $35,000. There are a lot of books on teak decking, I will not rehash here. Basically it should not be missing any bungs, and not be coming up anywhere. All the calking should be in perfect shape. If you do not see Bristol condition, expect leaks.

Wet deck

 This is only if you suspect a wet deck. Have you found a soft spot? Then do this check.
The deck must be dry, or expect to pay more then the boat is worth, unless you do it yourself. Remove some headliner near the outside of the coach roof. Drill a small hole, 1/4". Drill only into the core, not thru the deck. Pull out the bit and the wood should be 100% dry. If water comes out, the wood is at all damp. You have leaks, and a compromised core. Refill the hole with marine-tex making sure to work it into the void. replace the headliner, and clean up any mess you made.

Thru deck rigging

The thru deck rigging should have been replaced in the last 5 years. It should not leak. There is a ton of information on this topic online, and in print.

Electronics


It is best if the electronics are recent, and from the last 5 years. The old owner has taken the hit for the purchase, and you can use them for a long time yet. Loran-C is no longer in use. If you find one, you will know the owner has not used the boat in a long time or does not care. The autopilot should be of good quality, and properly mounted, as should everything. It should be well laid out, with all wires hidden.

If the electronics are old, expect to pay 8,000-15,000 for this portion of the refit.

This is the end of the quick pre-offer inspection.
If the owner or broker does not want you to do this through of an inspection, move on. Unless your looking at a 300' superyacht, there are thousands of boats to choose from.

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How much to offer.


I do not care what the asking price is, and neither should you.
Here is a general rule of thumb.

Condition, length, age, type.

35-45', 15-20 years old, production sailboat by a good manufacture.
Perfect condition, $2,000 per foot.
Good condition, $1,500 per foot
OK condition, $1,000 per foot
Poor condition, $300-500 per foot.

35-45', 10-15 years old, production sailboat, by good manufacture.
Perfect condition, $3,000 per foot.
Good condition, $2,500 per foot
OK condition, $1,500 per foot
Poor condition, $500-800 per foot.

35-50' 15-20 year old powerboat, anything but custom
Perfect condition, $1,500 per foot.
Good condition, $1,000 per foot
OK condition, $700 per foot
Poor condition, $100-500 per foot.

35-50' 8-15 year old powerboat, anything but custom
Perfect condition, $2,000 per foot.
Good condition, $1,500 per foot
OK condition, $1,000 per foot
Poor condition, $300-500 per foot.

35-65' custom built boat, age 12-20 years
Perfect condition, $1,000 per foot.
Good condition, $800 per foot
OK condition, $600 per foot
Poor condition, $100-300 per foot.

35-65' custom built boat, age 5-12 years
Perfect condition, $1,500 per foot.
Good condition, $1,200 per foot
OK condition, $900 per foot
Poor condition, $100-300 per foot.

35-65' home built boat, age 5-18 years
Perfect condition, $1,000 per foot.
Good condition, $800 per foot
OK condition, $600 per foot
Poor condition, $100-300 per foot.

35-65' unfinished boat
$100-400 per foot. scrap value + 40%


Sailboats have the highest price point.
Starting at a seven seas boat like a tayana 37 and declining to a coastal crusier like a hunter 35.
Custom build sailboats are only worth about $1,000 per foot in good condition.

Powerboats that are semi-displacement and coastal trawlers (less then 3,000 mile range) are some of the cheapest boats out there. This is because they are lightly built, have no redundant propulsion are not very stable, and are not sea worthy.

The lowest price belongs to planning boats. These use so much fuel you should only expect to use them once a month for a short trip. A weekend of fun may end up costing you $1,000 in fuel. They are dock queens, and can be had for about $500 a foot, but carry the most ridiculous asking prices. I have seen some 32' planning powerboats for $120,000 that were 15 years old. In reality, unless a sucker is found, a boat like this may only sell for $25,000 in great condition.

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Always be polite, smile, and keep a good attitude, even when they say mean things. Remember they think their boat is worth a lot of money. Your just now breaking the news about how low boat prices are today. This is not 2006. When your talking about a powerboat, fuel is not $1.50 a gallon at the dock anymore. Its creeping up on $5 in many places in America.

Take your time. Allow your low offer to sink in, but call them back in a few weeks with the same offer. Let them know you are interested, at your price, not theirs.






Monday, June 9, 2014

Generator updates

So I needed to move a 200# generator into the lazertte. I racked my brain how I might do this. Finally one day I said, "don't I own a crane?". So I removed the sail from the main boom. I got the old boomvang from the cabinet, and rigged it to the boom via a line. I pulled and pulled, and it would not rise up. :P It was caught under the lip of the hatch. LOL. Once free it rose right up, and I slowly lowered it down, as I climbed down into the lazerette. I love the size 70 hatch.

Now that it was down I had to slide it to the new home.
A week ago I rode a bike home from Home Depot. Under my arm was a 4'x2' sheet of hardwood plywood.
It took a few days to paint it with bilgecoat paint. Then today I drilled holes and installed lag bolts with 5200 so they were sealed, and will not come out.




It looked great. The 3/4" plywood should stand up for longer then we will ever own the boat, maybe 20 years :) When we do sell her in 3-5 years and build our larger boat, the new owner will have an awesome generator setup.


Out with the old


In with the new



Whats left to do? A LOT. First I must somehow get the 1" exhaust adapted to 1.25". Then I can connect it to the water lift muffler. The intake for the raw water pump is 5/8" the hose coming from the strainer is 5/16" so another adapter. Then I must supply fuel. I will change the racor filter out for a 2 micron, and that will be an easy hookup. I must plug in the wires for the harness, mount the new battery. Connect 12 volt power to the unit. Then hook up a charging line so the battery stays charged. I need to secure the unit to the plywood. I need to install the copper strapping to keep the unit in the zinc protection of the rest of the boat. THEN... I need to install a filter system, That must be built from scratch, so I can filter the oil and not change it every 10 hours. I must sound proof 3 sides, building a door so I can check and add oil as needed. I must install the blower to cool the generator when the sound proof enclosure is on. I must run a new power wire from the unit to a new power selector  switch. This will then be run into the new inverter when I buy it. Whew, thats all. So expect at least 4 more updates. For now the aft deck is less cluttered, and the unit is protected from the rain.




Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cool it!

   Its been getting hot in here. the days are in the 80's and the temp in an uncooled, closed up boat with teak decks can climb into the 100's. The bad news is our AC was on the way out, and now its dead from the dock power issue. I went and got a new start solenoid, to no avail. The start coil was dead as far as I could tell, and the unit was in bad shape mechanically anyway after 20 some years.



Timing (and Christ) were on our side again. I needed an 18,000 BTU unit to replace our main. I started to look online at the usual places. Then I checked the local craigslist. There was a newish unit here in town!!! $550, with pump and all. I investigated by only sending an email. I waited 3 days before heading off to sailors exchange. When I got to the exchange I asked about getting a unit, I was told there was a unit that did cooling only on the shelf for $600. Bummer, because we need heat as well. Just so happened as I was doing my regular deal browsing I was approached by an employee. He told me he had a unit for sale and once he described it, I knew it was the one on craigslist. We got to negotiating, and when we were done he was going to keep the pump I didn't need, deliver it, and the unit was mine for $350. WOW!!!





























 It worked great until a few days ago. It was a really nasty hot day, and it just could not keep up. Then came the error message for overpressure. This basically means there is not enough water flowing to cool the refrigerant. So I took my little cleaning snake, and I ran it thru the tubes, in a 90 degree cabin. Nothing. Then I reversed the flow. It worked! now the unit is flowing nicely, along with the aft AC unit. And in the first hour the two working together have dropped the temperature at time of writing to 82. we will see how it holds out in the long term. Even if it breaks, being a new digital unit, it will be worth fixing.

The new unit is actually smaller in size. It looks like it was just designed in a better way, but with newer technology also so the compressor is smaller. The compressor does run very very hot, not sure how the old one ran, but ouch, its hot. Now I just need a way to utilize the extra room that is left over. I still have to secure it, and because its not 100% yet, I am waiting until I know its all done, before I secure it once and for all. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Busy Busy Busy

   Wow, no updates in a long time. Sorry. So we have been busy saving money for the trip, and at the same time I have been working on repairs, small repairs, major changes, and major rebuilds.
Where to begin. Ah yes, the generator.

   I for a long time had been looking for a generator. I had made about 15 calls in about 6 months. I had spent a lot of time online, reading stories of failures, reading what people hate about the generator they have, what do they love about it. I eliminated one from the start. I would not buy a 3600RPM unit. They are very loud, and vibrate a lot. In fact the one we had was 3600, and for the short time it worked for us, I found it very loud.
The next item on the list was what power we needed. I found a slew of 8000 watt units, I quickly realized with everything on the yacht running we only can use 5000 watts, if we try very hard. So 8000 to do simple things at sea like charge batteries, make water, make hot water, was overkill. I realized on most ocations we would use no more then 2500 watts, only using slightly more on very hot, humid, windless nights to run the AC unit. At 1600 watts when running it is the single biggest power consumer on the yacht. We have a second AC unit as well. It uses 1200 watts. so with just those two running for a nasty night we are looking at 2800 watts.
The next issue was fuel usage. The very slow 1800RPM units have a big displacement. the fuel usage I read about was in the 0.5-0.8GPH range. However I heard about one more generator, with a Kubota engine that ran at 2400RPM.
The smallest unit that has been made, and made well, was 2500 watts. these are very rare. I however found I could buy a new unit from Phasor that was 3500 watts for only $4500. This is a 2400RPM unit, properly fresh water cooled, and the fuel usage was 1 gallon of diesel every 5 hours under 1/2 load. 1 gallon every 4 hours under full load.
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So begin my search for a Phasor Generator. Every day I scan the boat classified listings for things that are a great value, and snap up any I can find and I can use. One morning I saw her. "Phasor 3.5 kw marine diesel gen set" It had been completely rebuilt. Asking price was 1200, firm. Well, lets say I nearly dropped out of my chair. A unit I was about to pay $4500 for, had just fell on my lap. The catch was I had to drive half way to New Orleans to get it. No problem. For $3300 I would drive half way to Fiji.


More to come!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Our new, fun, multi-color tender

Well, after a long long time of working on it, I can now say it runs nicely.
However let me start with this:



FREE CRUISING GEAR!!!!!

I was given an engine that does not run, with a good condition lower unit. This was issue number one with my outboard.

When I was sold this outboard I was given the nautical equivalent of the "old lady driving to church" story about this engine. That it had been on a sailboat, and shop maintained. I can slice up some fine German or beef baloney, but I cannot fill an order that big. First, they had not lubed the lower unit in who knows how long. When you turn the shaft by hand, its actually hard to turn. That explains why the engine was hard to start, didn't want to run, randomly shut off, would pop out of gear, ECT.

This may also be why I was never able to plane.



Once I changed it out for the free one, MAGIC!!!!! This thing runs pretty good now.
It is UGLY, but functional, just like the rest of the dinghy.

I tried it out, taking it the entire way out to the municipal mooring field. Where I had a job diving on the Chris Lea.



Success! Glad to have a great working tender!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Amazing oven

Well today we ran out of propane for the stove. Normally this in itself wouldn't be worth a blog post. Except for one detail: we've been using the same tank for 5 months! The last fill was when we left New York.



The oven we had before we moved onto our yacht ran on propane too. Propane also fueled our heat so the tanks never really lasted long. A month in the summer is how long we could count on it to last and a week or so in the winter. We didn't cook as much with that stove as we do with now so we figured this one would last about a month at the most.

After the first month we rethought that. The second month went by and we still didn't need to fill it. The third, fourth, and fifth month we didn't need to either. We were starting to wonder if it would ever run out. Apparently we have a very efficient stove. Other then not having enough room in/on it sometimes it's a great little stove. It's gimbled too so that came in handy when we were sailing.

Needless to say we still had complaints about it. Actually it wasn't until a few weeks ago that we figured out how to use the oven part correctly. It used to be that after we were done with the oven to turn it off we would have to turn the gas off. It turns out that the knob was stripped and wasn't turning like it was supposed to. Duh! Now the oven works perfectly. We can't fix the "too small" part of it though. All in all, still a great stove.



Joshua went out to change the propane tank. I had him get a new one before we left Charleston and it's been latched to the deck ever since. All shiny and new with readable stickers. The one he pulled out of the propane locker has seen better days. In fact, it looks like it's been through war! I commend it for holding up.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bottoms clean, engines junk.

   Well after we earned our diving certification things have slowed down a bit. To be honest I, Joshua, have been a bit lazy. I say a bit because I have cleaned the bottoms of 3 boats now. Cleaning the bottoms of boats is about the hardest job imaginable, and by far the hardest job I have done.




Close your eyes and imagine not being able to see anything but dark brown. While you see this dark brown, you are swimming into a current, pushing yourself away from the bottom of a boat with your hand as you swim towards it. Inside your wetsuit are small shrimp, 1000's of them. All crawling, biting, squirming. In your hair, nasty little bugs. Yeah, its gross, hard work. When you have spent 2 hours, kicking like crazy you have a last effort to return to a boat. Only you weigh 400# now, with all of your gear. I enjoy punishing myself.

 

  

   Here I am cleaning our boat bottom. So far I have done 3 types of bottoms. The first one was ours. Its a fin keel. It has a very long waterline, but only a 12' keel in the center jutting down into the blackness. Our bottom paint is somehow still good after 5 years in the cold New york waters. We only had a layer of silt. It has not been cleaned in a year, so I have no idea how it only has silt on it.
   The second was a 26' sailboat with a wing keel. Not only did it have two keels, but it had bad bottom paint. I ended up scraping all of it with the 6" knife. In the end he lost a lot of paint because those hard shelled critters don't let go. I also think the paint was poorly applied, It seemed to not adhere to the bottom of the boat. After this I reserve the right to adjust the price according to how bad the bottom is. This was badly neglected.
   The third boat was a full keel 43' spindrift. The bottom was covered in small shrimp, like I told you earlier.
 Its not that it was bad growth, It was just living growth. No fun. I came out covered. The fun part was chasing Dana while covered in bugs.



   Engine. I found a great deal from a marine repair shop

Or so I thought. I got a 1970-80 johnson 9.9HP, for $375. It came with a 30 day warranty . So I was having an issue with it, so I took it back to the dealer. It is the boat repair place at riverside marina, St Augustine. This guy is unbelievable. He said it was the water pump, and the water pump is not part of the warranty. wait, WHAT? In some stretch of the imagination he thought I sucked up a plastic bag, or mud and it would not be covered. I said, you gave me 30 days, he says "It does not apply to this"



Oh, so that 30 days has some exclusions that are not mentioned until I have an issue? AVOID!!!!
I have spare time, and will take him to small claims. He has not heard the last from me.
   So after this discussion, with him becoming irate, he goes and now you owe me two days storage on the dinghy...... Really, he asked me to bring it in and leave it.... I said, oh yeah how much is that... he said take your (expletive) and get out. Class act. This guy is a serious looser, and is not knowledgeable in, well, anything except how to be a jerk. He speaks fluent jerk. I ordered the parts from west marine, hopefully this fixes the issue of it skipping out of gear when hot as well. Guess I am learning outboard repair...


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