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Considering a Purchase - Advice?

Aug 12, 2020
8
Columbia 26 MA
Hi all,

My wife and I are relatively new sailors, with a couple of years of instruction under our belts, living in New England. We've fallen in love with sailing, and are looking for our first sailboat, with a few criteria:
  • Small enough to single-hand / manage with just the two of us
  • Comparatively simple -- I'm fairly technical, but we'd rather not inherit a systems-heavy boat initially
  • Under $10k, if possible, to leave budget for upgrades, maintenance, mooring, and storage as needed
  • Ready to sail, ideally with an owner who actively does so
We intend to focus on day sailing, a bit of light coastal cruising nearby, and intend to continue to take lessons as we develop our skills. We'd love to be able to sail to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket next summer.

We've been searching for a few months, and we're getting close with what we think may be the right boat: a 1967 Columbia 26, moored in Maine, on her second owner, fairly well maintained, and actively sailed. We looked at her in person last weekend; this is the video of my walkthrough:


We have put down a small, refundable deposit to hold her through the end of the month. We're having her short hauled and inspected by a surveyor next week.

Asking price is $7,500. According to her owner, the following has been done, and all records are available:

• 2010: Yamaha 9.9hp, 4-stroke, long shaft OB engine (less than 80 hours)
• 2015: new fuller
• 2016: new sails (Main + Genoa), dodger, sail + tiller covers
• 2017: rigged for single-handing
• 2019: new battery, new radio, new wiring, installed bilge pump
• 2020: new cushion covers

Full listing here: Perfect First Sailboat: Columbia 26 Sloop

I noticed and asked about the stanchions, which need to be rebedded; that's happening on Saturday, on the owner's dime. The gelcoat has some cracks, but they've been evaluated by the current owner's maintenance guy as superficial; I'll be asking the surveyor to back that up, and evaluating cost to have it professionally resolved. The brightwork needs attention, as well, but I am comfortable doing so myself as a hobbyist woodworker/cabinetmaker.

Am I missing anything? Anything to evaluate that I haven't thought of, or should be scared off by? Thanks, all!
 
Last edited:
Sep 25, 2008
6,232
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
If the stanchions require re-bedding, that means they were leaking. And if they were leaking and the deck is cored, that can be a serious issue which, frankly, I wouldn't trust to any ordinary surveyor with a moisture meter. That the owner is doing the work/having it done is also a warning sign as I woulnd't be too quick to trust that they looked further than surficially and fixed any underlying issues such as deck core rot. A careful inspection is important. I'd remove one or more to actually see what damage, if any, has resulted BEFORE repairs are done..

I cant imagine getting caught in an unexpected storm off Nantucket in a 26 ft boat so remember the old sailor's motto - anticipation always beat seamanship skill
 
Aug 12, 2020
8
Columbia 26 MA
Thanks, Don! Much appreciated.

With respect to the stanchions, I asked about them directly, and the owner indicated that they did not leak, but she was intending on having them looked at and rebedded this season regardless of sale. She's been honest thus far, but my concern is also deck rot, and I'd like to ensure that's carefully evaluated before we proceed.

With respect to Nantucket/Vineyard sailing, we've no intention of being out in storms so early into our sailing career -- and we'd head for port at the first signs of weather. (We know our limits, and we're beginners who have no ego invested in proving anything!)
 
Jan 4, 2006
3,776
Hunter 310 West Vancouver, B.C.
Comparatively simple -- I'm fairly technical, but we'd rather not inherit a systems-heavy boat initially
Welcome to the site. You're off to an excellent start in sailing.

With respect to the above item, you'll find that working on these systems is also a tremendous source of satisfaction when you see them completed to your initial vision. Mind you, a complete P!SS OFF when they don't :cuss:.

Don't sell yourself short if you have a logical mind ................ it's all within your grasp and a good learning experience for the next boat.

BTW, nice looking boat.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,950
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
I think that would be a good choice for you. It’s a bit heavy and performance numbers are on the slow side. But she’ll be forgiving and take care of you. Because of the long-ish “Fin” keel she should track well and if the sail plan is balanced you could leave the helm briefly to attend to whatever needs attention. Make sure mate is as skilled as you in sailing - your life may depend on it. So give her the helm early and often.
 
Aug 12, 2020
8
Columbia 26 MA
Absolutely. She's a Texas girl - I don't think I could keep her away if I wanted to! I've been leaning towards taking the tiller while she's been handling the sheets on tacks thusfar, and we're both learning how to read charts and care for systems.
 
Dec 28, 2015
1,323
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
Thanks, Don! Much appreciated.

With respect to the stanchions, I asked about them directly, and the owner indicated that they did not leak, but she was intending on having them looked at and rebedded this season regardless of sale. She's been honest thus far, but my concern is also deck rot, and I'd like to ensure that's carefully evaluated before we proceed.

With respect to Nantucket/Vineyard sailing, we've no intention of being out in storms so early into our sailing career -- and we'd head for port at the first signs of weather. (We know our limits, and we're beginners who have no ego invested in proving anything!)
They leak.....its just not noticeable yet inside and all of the goop smeared around them say so. These things don't tend to just loosen up unless someone loosens them or there is rot in the core underneath it allowing the glass layers to smash together. A boat of that vintage, a loose stanchion like that and the owner saying it doesn't leak...... I would be very picky of the deck core and rot. The bullseye crack in the deck is indicative of a strike. probably from the mast being removed or something like that (hopefully). It is also a sign of rot underneath. The top glass layer cant support the weight and it cracks. Take better look at the bulkheads and were the chainplates attach for signs of leaks/rot. i could tell in the video due to the panning of the camera. The bathroom bulkhead had paint flaking off it looked like? Why?

Its a cute boat. You need to take a day or two away from it then go back without the grins on your faces (saw them in the video) and look at it with logical and skeptical eyes. Get the engine checked out by someone (if that isn't you) who knows what they are looking at. Replacing it will double your costs of that boat. Don't take over someone elses headache and pay them to do it!
The price is high to me.
 
Aug 12, 2020
8
Columbia 26 MA
Given some of the points and open questions - these are photos of the areas I was concerned about:

Given the feedback so far, we're considering (a) going through with the survey, even if it's just to better understand what to consider if we don't proceed, and (b) holding off until the early spring, and buying something in the $15k-$20k range rather than the $7500-$10k range. TBD.
 
Dec 28, 2015
1,323
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
Make sure it comes with winch handles for those winches. I believe they might be hard to find.

Why was the bulkhead painted (where it is flaking off) ? Possible to cover up water damage? The pictures of the bulkheads look pretty good except for the paint issue I would look into. What is the last picture of? Looks like a access port with a broken tank? its hard to tell.
Verify the toilet and system works properly. A toilet rebuild is about $85 for the basic pump kit and goes up from there.
It has one reefing point on the main but I'm not seeing reefing rigging on the boom.
Its really clean and the previous owner took good cosmetic care of it.
 
Aug 12, 2020
8
Columbia 26 MA
Thanks so much, Mike!

We'll be digging in and asking. Some of this pre-dates the current owner, but we'll be asking about (and negotiating on price if we proceed based on) all of this. With respect to the head, it's on my list. It supposedly works, but I'd switch this out for a composting toilet early on. Other things I see would be upgrading/replacing the VHF, and adding a GPS-based chartplotter.

I can't figure out what that tank is. It looks like broken plastic, and it's under the vee berth, but the water tank itself is fine and is separate from this.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,950
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
The price may be a bit high. A comparable Pearson 26 would probably be about $4,000 and less if it weren't in very good condition. I don't know if you'd get the engine for that. At some point sellers will pull some of the gear off and sell it separately. That's why the listing should detail the included equipment.
Sails should be good for your intended use. The furler should be good to go. I wouldn't be scared by the crazing of gel coat. You're going to have that in any boat of that vintage. I didn't see the impact area but you want the surveyor to check that out. The stancions leak. The goop around them tells you so. There's a technique for re-bedding which isn't expensive. If the core is soft that's a problem That would require a substantial price reduction or a return of the deposit.
You need a survey - you'll need part of it for insurance anyway. Boats aren't like cars. If there is a problem and you can't move the boat yourself you are more or less at the mercy of the boatyard. Even if you decide to junk it - it still can cost money.
 
Dec 28, 2015
1,323
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
Thanks so much, Mike!

We'll be digging in and asking. Some of this pre-dates the current owner, but we'll be asking about (and negotiating on price if we proceed based on) all of this. With respect to the head, it's on my list. It supposedly works, but I'd switch this out for a composting toilet early on. Other things I see would be upgrading/replacing the VHF, and adding a GPS-based chartplotter.

I can't figure out what that tank is. It looks like broken plastic, and it's under the vee berth, but the water tank itself is fine and is separate from this.
I'd look into why the lifelines are so loose. Maybe they weren't hooked up but it looks like they were. Are the stanchions in such bad shape they leave them loose?
Regardless of what you are going to do with the toilet is of value to the boat and if it isn't working the value is less. If the tank is up in the Vberth I would assume it is the septic tank. That would be a huge hit on the value. No need to tell the owner your plans. I would really research the use of a composting toilet for your application where you'll only be using it for a day or two. A Porta-Potty seems more applicable considering this and the size of the units.
Do not underestimate the impact of a soft deck. You can fix it for sure. It isn't hard but that doesn't equate to it being pleasant or easy along with the down time and costs associated with it. I've seen a lot of boats of this vintage go for the cost of the motor due to this. Its a great way to get a cheap boat and do a little sweat equity if that is up your alley.
Regarding the chartplotter. I was going to do the same thing but went with a IPAD and ISailor. I'm very happy with it and the redundancy of having it on all of my devices (for free) is a plus. I'd consider as a option.
Sounds like you are going to get it, now its down to for how much. That is the hard part that pays off with a little work and research like your doing. It did for me. I own a 78.
 
Aug 12, 2020
8
Columbia 26 MA
Thanks, everyone.

We're likely going to step away from purchasing this. We'd intended on getting a survey, but given the issues and insights raised here, we're thinking of holding off, and finding something slightly larger (30-32'?) and in better shape.

The Luna is a beauty, but I'd rather spend $15k on a boat without a questionable deck and head, which we can grow into and more confidently sail around MV/Nantucket. Spending an additional $15k+ on a $7500 boat that (per Don's comments) might not stand up to an unexpected storm where we intend to sail seems like a foolish use of capital, versus finding a more seaworthy boat to begin with.
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,695
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Reading your bio, the videos, the comments and your observations.

An owner described his boat... "Someone who...is full of adventurous spirit, but limited financially. Someone who has a champagne desire and a beer pocket book. .... a great minimum cruiser."

Your conclusion that the boat is a bit small and may be less pleasure and more work than you choose. A pass makes perfect sense.

With a little practice a boat up to 35 feet fits well in the realm of a solo sailer boat.