the $250 deal killer…

So yeah, I found myself considering buying a boat that that simply screamed “Danger, danger Will Robinson!”. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. So, just how did I find myself in that situation?

For starters, I’ve been looking for a boat that would make a good VolksCruiser poster-boy of the how to fix up and cruise a boat comfortably on a budget. Documenting the project would create fodder for the blog, media for a VolksCruiser film, and a framework for a book. Throw in the fact that I’d actually like to downsize a kiss from the CAL 34, I’ve been seriously keeping an eye out for possible projects that fit.

Part of the problem in boat buying is mission creep. You start out with your need/want list and a budget which amounts to a plan of action and all is good until mission creep begins. Here’s my basic want list…

  • Shoal draft
  • 30-32 feet
  • Tiller steering
  • Comfortable/livable interior
  • Affordable (spelled around $5k)
  • A refit budget of $5K or less

So far, so good, right? Sadly, it’s actually pretty difficult to find a sailboat that fulfills the list. So you start making adjustments by including boats with wheel steering, less than perfect interior plans, and deeper draft. The next thing is you include bigger designs and all of sudden you find yourself looking at a 36-foot boat with a draft of six feet…

The 36-foot boat with the too deep draft, however, has a lot of room (more room for the guitars), wide side decks, and it’s priced right. That said, the draft is still irksome. Of course, I know of one owner of the design cut off the bottom of the keel and added lead winglets to the keel and is a happy camper…

Then you see an Irwin Citation 38 with four and a half foot draft and all of a sudden you’re jumping on a plane to survey the sucker…

So it does go.

In my own defense, I’ll point out that I would never have bothered to look at the boat if there were not a lot of misinformation as to its condition from the owner and pictures that may have been at least four years old. Arriving at the boat I did the math and while it would have made a fine cruiser, the work and expense to get it there would have been more than I was willing to spend. In fact, in doing my numbers it seemed that just about anything you needed to do on the boat would have cost around $250 dollars. for instance the pulpit, pushpit, lifelines, stanchions (plus two missing stanchions) all added up to a couple of thousand dollars. Same with dealing with ports, hatches, and prisms and just about every system on the boat seemed to have you pulling out big chunks of money and that’s with me doing 100% of the labor and buying materials at cost.

Even so, I was still considering the boat as a doable project but what shut it down completely was that the boat came with all of the owner’s junk. I figured we’d have to spend a couple of weeks tied to an expensive dock just to rid the boat of all the excess non-working crap the owner pointed out came with the boat, as if boxes of rusty tools, half a dozen dead batteries, and other nautical garbage was somehow a bonus.

I expect even the dumpster we’d have to hire, would cost $250 or so.

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7 thoughts on “the $250 deal killer…”

  1. Rob. A view from across the pond. $5K here would never even buy you the rusting skip/ dumpster to put the garbage in. For that little it would be truly impossible to find anything .floatable let alone liveable in.
    I have sold small rowing gigs I have built myself for more than that. Is it truly realistic to start this low and still hope to live on what would be an almost hulk? I guess the Carib is a better place to start looking as so many folk sail across from here and chicken out of the return trip, but even so….
    Some logs lashed into a Kon Tiki would be far more expensive.

    1. Actually there are a lot of good deals in the UK and Europe but there is a trick to finding them. The first thing to keep in mind where boat pricing is concerned is that the market is simply insane. Half the boats for sale pricing is just delusional. In my experience you can still buy a lot of boat for $5K and another $5K set aside to bring it up to snuff. The 38 footer is just outside the VolksCruiser comfort zone and, as such, was over my stated budget and I used it because it illustrated the whole issue of mission creep.

      Prices are actually high in the Caribbean and the general quality is low so it’s a bad place to buy. That said, there are always exceptions.

      I’ll be writing a lot more on how to buy a VolksCruiser for a fair price but decided to share my experience with a problematic boat as a good place to start.

  2. Loads of good boats in the EU at that budget that could be Volkscruisers. It used to be the case of expensive boats going to cheap places, but its now cheap boats can get you to expensive places. I aim to do an entire season in the Azores on a “cheap” boat, and expect to not take a hit on the boat when i sell it. I still dream of the South Pacific, but 2 decades in Scandinavia have made hot climates a real struggle…….I guess that is why the “sensible” people have air-con on their boats? LOL

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