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Another First Boat Question

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 77 ✭✭ 47akak


    Looking for a small trailer-launched day sailer ideally with a swing keel to use on Lough Derg. 17-20 foot or so. I've done a couple of beginners sailing courses but I want to start off slowly with the real thing myself.

    How long is a piece of string question maybe but typically with boats similar to this in spec and price what condition should I expect to find them in? Are they usually problematic in some way? Getting a full inspection and having to walk away 2 or 3 times is a good chunk of the price of the boat in this price range so I'm minded to take a punt on something and see how it goes.

    If anyone has any tips for assessing boats in this range I'd appreciate it.

    https://www.donedeal.ie/sailing-for-sale/sailboat/28519612


Comments



  • I have just beaten you to it! I just bought an 18ft trailer sailer with a swing keel. My plan is very similar to yours. Long term (in retirement) maybe we’ll have a nice 30+footer but for now it is about keeping it simple and building experience. I do have Day Skipper, Navigation and VHF. While that all sounds, and is great, I actually don’t have a lot of experience. The old adage of ‘life getting in the way’ and all that.

    I’m certainly no expert but I’ll give a few tips which are based on my recent experience. Advice could go on for pages and pages so, mine sort of kicks in after the point where you have decided on your budget and that a swing keel trailer sailer is what you want.

    1) Do your research.
    If you have settled on a particular type of boat then look to see if there is an owners website and forum. The 80s was the heyday for TS production. Unfortunately, there were no internet forums then, but some owners forums did start in the 2000s. There might not be much activity on the forum now, but, if there is one, it is probably loaded with excellent information if you trawl through it. On the one for my boat, I found a ‘cheat sheet’ for buying secondhand and it was brilliant.

    If there is no owners forum (and even if there is) do plenty of Google searches for your type of boat. Look at as many pictures as you can. Read blog etc. In summary, do your research and then, research some more, and after that, research some more. Make yourself as much an expert in that type of boat as you can possibly be from the comfort of your own couch.

    2) Pay attention to the trailer.
    In some ways, I view the trailer as more important than the boat. It’s easy to get distracted by the boat so the first thing I will look at when I go to see any trailerable boat is the trailer. (I’ve had trailerable powerboats for 20+ years.) Its condition will also likely tell you a lot about the boat and the attitude of its owner. A trailer needs to be in excellent road worthy condition and suited to the boat. The bottom line is, a crap trailer is dangerous and it could cost someone their life.

    It’s not something to take a chance on and, in any event, the last thing you want is a nice boat, but you're afraid to go anywhere because of a crap trailer. Unfortunately, a lot of trailers are crap. They are often old and poorly maintained and in many cases badly rusted. Thus, if you find a great boat on a dodgy trailer then you need to factor in the cost of a) a trailer refurb or indeed a new trailer and possibly b) flatbed transport to get the boat home after the sale so that you can work on the trailer. One of the first things I did was research how much a new trailer would cost me.

    3) YouTube is your new best friend. (After Me that is!)
    Watch a few youtube videos on buying a boat (again this is research ;) ). Obviously, 1) some are better than others and 2) they will be a bit general but if you pick up 1 good tip per 10 minutes then after just a couple of hours viewing you will have a good set of tips that are relevant to you.

    I like this one by Michael Briant of Sailing Gently.



    Good old fashioned plain talking with none of that T&A stuff that is only intended keep your eyeballs on screen in the hope that you will become a patron.

    4) Listen very carefully to the seller.
    Is the seller a genuine sailor/boatie? Why are they selling? When was the last time they used the boat? Are they passionate about their boat? Will they be helpful to you once you have paid? Will there be a little sense of sadness when you disappear over the hill or will they be dancing a jig around a bonfire onto which they have thrown the sim card for the number from the ad?

    Good or bad, the boat is the boat, but you have to deal with the seller. Try and get a good handle on the type of person you are dealing with. My seller was incredible post the sale. Literally, hundreds of photos, video calls etc. How he prepped the boat for me was just amazing. It’s like having 24hr customer support. That’s not to say you can’t buy from someone that just wants to sell and be done with it, but just know what you are likely dealing with and then divide that expectation by at least two.

    5) Sailing or DIYing?
    Do you want to be sailing or do you want to be working on the boat? For any boat, but particularly for older boats, you need to decide on just how much project work you are prepared to take on. Bear in mind that everything is likely to be more complex and take more time and money than your initial estimate. It is possible to pick up a bargain boat. The other possibility is that the bargain very quickly become a costly mistake. For me personally, I don’t mind a bit of DIY but I’d rather be sailing.


    6) Condition vs Price
    Yes, it is possible to get an old trailer sailer in excellent condition, but all will have aged and most will not have received the TLC they deserved. Unfortunately, it is not simple a case of you get what you pay for. Very occasionally, a good boat will be under priced. However, you are far more likely to come across the scenario where a crap boat is over priced. When it comes to old boats (and most trailer sailers are old) the asking price is little guide to the actual condition of the boat.

    To my mind, the market tends to work like this: Vendor A is a sailor and they, for very genuine reasons, decide to sell their boat. They looked after it as their pride and joy etc and they advertise it for a not unreasonable and very justifiable price. Receipts to prove etc. Vendor B, sees vendor A's ad and says ‘jeasus I’ve one of those yokes out the back for years. Is that what they are making now.’ They take out the powerhose (if even) and then advertise it for the same price. That’s my experience of the market.

    I had this kind of scenario. Beautiful boat, passionate owner, receipts etc the whole shebang. Unfortunately, she sold the day before I was due to view her. Another one was available at the same time, for very similar money. My feeling was that she was significantly over priced (she wasn’t a patch on the other boat) but according to the seller ’the price was the price’. Now don’t get me wrong a seller can only sell for what someone will pay. The problem at the moment is, there seems to be quite a bit silly money chasing a small pool of boats.

    Anyway based on what I could decipher about the boat and the seller, I wasn’t tempted to go look. Obviously, I would have looked if she was just down the road, but it would have been a long road trip so that influenced the decision also. Maybe that boat was a little gem but if she was, it was by accident not a loving maintenance schedule.

    7) Be patient.
    My little story above leads me to something that Sailing Gently and many others of experience will point out... There is always another boat! I was so disappointed when the classy boat I referred to above sold. I thought, I had no hope of finding one as good as it. Then I had a disappointing excursion to view a one I walked away from (see next point). On the drive home that evening I was thinking it was time to forget about it for this year. It was likely that best boat of the season was gone and any of the others would take far too much work to bring up to that standard. Then what do you know. As I’m driving home, the then owner of my boat was just listing her for sale.

    8) If in doubt, go about.
    Your greatest advantage as a buyer is that you haven’t bought a boat, yet. However, as a buyer, it’s easy to give up your greatest advantage too easily. If something doesn’t feel right then walk away. There there is always another boat.

    I viewed a boat that was about half my budget and significantly cheaper than the one I did buy. I drove two hours to go see it and I walked away without making an offer. In the ad, and the initial discussion with the seller, it appeared a reasonable prospect. I knew it needed work, but I was hoping that most of it might just cosmetic. Not so, and my saving grace was, the aforementioned, cheat sheet.

    With time and skills perhaps that boat can be saved. However, the potential level of work and the risk was not for me. I was ‘expert’ enough to know that the boat definitely had a serious problem. What I was not expert enough to determine, was 1) how long it had that problem and 2) how much damage had it caused. My guess was 1) probably a long time and 2) a lot. If my guess was right and then in a worst case scenario, she was potentially one belly smack away from a hull failure.:eek:

    Then again maybe she wasn’t that bad and for a guy with time and skills, maybe she could have been a real deal. I’m not that guy and I had my doubts so I walked. And guess what? There was another boat!

    9) The Keel
    Obviously, on a swing keel trailer sailer you have a swing keel. It's her major advantage but it’s also a major point of potential weakness. You need to become familiar with the lifting mechanism. You need to understand how that works (owners forum) and what your plan will be if there are issues. Given the age of the boat, the chances are that if anything goes wrong, you will need to have a new part fabricated. It’s a key area that you should discuss with the vendor. Ideally, there will be some maintenance record but probably not.

    10) It’s a package not a boat.
    You are buying a package and you need to consider all the elements of that package. The key components of the package are the trailer, the hull, the mast & rigging, the sails, the interior, battery & electronic, and engine. Then, there is peripheral stuff that may or may not come with the boat. Anchor & chain, fenders, warps, compass, VHF etc. The critical point about this is you need to be expert enough on all of these components (especially the major ones) to make your decision. If you are not, then find a friend(s) who can help. Obviously, this is what a surveyor does but you can’t afford to be doing surveys on boats that you are not going to buy. Thus, even if you are getting a survey, you still need to be good enough at all of this to get to the point of where you are saying this is the one.

    Remember, no matter how well you do, there will be stuff that you need to buy to get yourself, your crew and the boat kitted out. You won’t find spending a couple of extra grand so make sure you have allowed for that in your budget.




    Right, that should give you food for thought. :D




  • WildWater wrote: »
    I have just beaten you to it! I just bought an 18ft trailer sailer with a swing keel. My plan is very similar to yours. Long term (in retirement) maybe we’ll have a nice 30+footer but for now it is about keeping it simple and building experience. I do have Day Skipper, Navigation and VHF. While that all sounds, and is great, I actually don’t have a lot of experience. The old adage of ‘life getting in the way’ and all that.

    I’m certainly no expert but I’ll give a few tips which are based on my recent experience. Advice could go on for pages and pages so, mine sort of kicks in after the point where you have decided on your budget and that a swing keel trailer sailer is what you want.

    1) Do your research.
    If you have settled on a particular type of boat then look to see if there is an owners website and forum. The 80s was the heyday for TS production. Unfortunately, there were no internet forums then, but some owners forums did start in the 2000s. There might not be much activity on the forum now, but, if there is one, it is probably loaded with excellent information if you trawl through it. On the one for my boat, I found a ‘cheat sheet’ for buying secondhand and it was brilliant.

    If there is no owners forum (and even if there is) do plenty of Google searches for your type of boat. Look at as many pictures as you can. Read blog etc. In summary, do your research and then, research some more, and after that, research some more. Make yourself as much an expert in that type of boat as you can possibly be from the comfort of your own couch.

    2) Pay attention to the trailer.
    In some ways, I view the trailer as more important than the boat. It’s easy to get distracted by the boat so the first thing I will look at when I go to see any trailerable boat is the trailer. (I’ve had trailerable powerboats for 20+ years.) Its condition will also likely tell you a lot about the boat and the attitude of its owner. A trailer needs to be in excellent road worthy condition and suited to the boat. The bottom line is, a crap trailer is dangerous and it could cost someone their life.

    It’s not something to take a chance on and, in any event, the last thing you want is a nice boat, but you're afraid to go anywhere because of a crap trailer. Unfortunately, a lot of trailers are crap. They are often old and poorly maintained and in many cases badly rusted. Thus, if you find a great boat on a dodgy trailer then you need to factor in the cost of a) a trailer refurb or indeed a new trailer and possibly b) flatbed transport to get the boat home after the sale so that you can work on the trailer. One of the first things I did was research how much a new trailer would cost me.

    3) YouTube is your new best friend. (After Me that is!)
    Watch a few youtube videos on buying a boat (again this is research ;) ). Obviously, 1) some are better than others and 2) they will be a bit general but if you pick up 1 good tip per 10 minutes then after just a couple of hours viewing you will have a good set of tips that are relevant to you.

    I like this one by Michael Briant of Sailing Gently.



    Good old fashioned plain talking with none of that T&A stuff that is only intended keep your eyeballs on screen in the hope that you will become a patron.

    4) Listen very carefully to the seller.
    Is the seller a genuine sailor/boatie? Why are they selling? When was the last time they used the boat? Are they passionate about their boat? Will they be helpful to you once you have paid? Will there be a little sense of sadness when you disappear over the hill or will they be dancing a jig around a bonfire onto which they have thrown the sim card for the number from the ad?

    Good or bad, the boat is the boat, but you have to deal with the seller. Try and get a good handle on the type of person you are dealing with. My seller was incredible post the sale. Literally, hundreds of photos, video calls etc. How he prepped the boat for me was just amazing. It’s like having 24hr customer support. That’s not to say you can’t buy from someone that just wants to sell and be done with it, but just know what you are likely dealing with and then divide that expectation by at least two.

    5) Sailing or DIYing?
    Do you want to be sailing or do you want to be working on the boat? For any boat, but particularly for older boats, you need to decide on just how much project work you are prepared to take on. Bear in mind that everything is likely to be more complex and take more time and money than your initial estimate. It is possible to pick up a bargain boat. The other possibility is that the bargain very quickly become a costly mistake. For me personally, I don’t mind a bit of DIY but I’d rather be sailing.


    6) Condition vs Price
    Yes, it is possible to get an old trailer sailer in excellent condition, but all will have aged and most will not have received the TLC they deserved. Unfortunately, it is not simple a case of you get what you pay for. Very occasionally, a good boat will be under priced. However, you are far more likely to come across the scenario where a crap boat is over priced. When it comes to old boats (and most trailer sailers are old) the asking price is little guide to the actual condition of the boat.

    To my mind, the market tends to work like this: Vendor A is a sailor and they, for very genuine reasons, decide to sell their boat. They looked after it as their pride and joy etc and they advertise it for a not unreasonable and very justifiable price. Receipts to prove etc. Vendor B, sees vendor A's ad and says ‘jeasus I’ve one of those yokes out the back for years. Is that what they are making now.’ They take out the powerhose (if even) and then advertise it for the same price. That’s my experience of the market.

    I had this kind of scenario. Beautiful boat, passionate owner, receipts etc the whole shebang. Unfortunately, she sold the day before I was due to view her. Another one was available at the same time, for very similar money. My feeling was that she was significantly over priced (she wasn’t a patch on the other boat) but according to the seller ’the price was the price’. Now don’t get me wrong a seller can only sell for what someone will pay. The problem at the moment is, there seems to be quite a bit silly money chasing a small pool of boats.

    Anyway based on what I could decipher about the boat and the seller, I wasn’t tempted to go look. Obviously, I would have looked if she was just down the road, but it would have been a long road trip so that influenced the decision also. Maybe that boat was a little gem but if she was, it was by accident not loving a maintenance schedule.

    7) Be patient.
    My little story above leads me to something that Sailing Gently and many others of experience will point out... There is always another boat! I was so disappointed when the classy boat I referred to above sold. I thought, I had no hope of finding one as good as it. Then I had a disappointing excursion to view a one I walked away from (see next point). On the drive home that evening I was thinking it was time to forget about it for this year. It was likely that best boat of the season was gone and any of the others would take far too much work to bring up to that standard. Then what do you know. As I’m driving home, the then owner of my boat was just listing her for sale.

    8) If in doubt, go about.
    Your greatest advantage as a buyer is that you haven’t bought a boat, yet. However, as a buyer, it’s easy to give up your greatest advantage too easily. If something doesn’t feel right then walk away. There there is always another boat.

    I viewed a boat that was about half my budget and significantly cheaper than the one I did buy. I drove two hours to go see it and I walked away without making an offer. In the ad, and the initial discussion with the seller, it appeared a reasonable prospect. I knew it needed work, but I was hoping that most of it might just cosmetic. Not so, and my saving grace was, the aforementioned, cheat sheet.

    With time and skills perhaps that boat can be saved. However, the potential level of work and the risk was not for me. I was ‘expert’ enough to know that the boat definitely had a serious problem. What I was not expert enough to determine, was 1) how long it had that problem and 2) how much damage had it caused. My guess was 1) probably a long time and 2) a lot. If my guess was right and then in a worst case scenario, she was potentially one belly smack away from a hull failure.:eek:

    Then again maybe she wasn’t that bad and for a guy with time and skills, maybe she could have been a real deal. I’m not that guy and I had my doubts so I walked. And guess what? There was another boat!

    9) The Keel
    Obviously, on a swing keel trailer sailer you have a swing keel. It her major advantage but it’s also a major point of potential weakness. You need to become familiar with the lifting mechanism. You need to understand how that works (owners forum) and what your plan will be if there are issues. Given the age of the boat, the chances are that if anything goes wrong, you will need to have a new part fabricated. It’s a key area that you should discuss with the vendor. Ideally, there will be some maintenance record but probably not.

    10) It’s a package not a boat.
    You are buying a package and you need to consider all the elements of that package. The key components of the package are the trailer, the hull, the mast & rigging, the sails, the interior, battery & electronic, and engine. Then, there is peripheral stuff that may or may not come with the boat. Anchor & chain, fenders, warps, compass, VHF etc. The critical point about this is you need to be expert enough on all of these components (especially the major ones) to make your decision. If you are not, then find a friend(s) who can help. Obviously, this is what a surveyor does but you can’t afford to be doing surveys on boats that you are not going to buy. Thus, even if you are getting a survey, you still need to be good enough at all of this to get to the point of where you are saying this is the one.

    Remember, no matter how well you do, there will be stuff that you need to buy to get yourself, your crew and the boat kitted out. You won’t find spending a couple of extra grand so make sure you have allowed for that in your budget.




    Right, that should give you food for thought. :D

    Thanks so much!


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