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Looking at an O'Day 34

Feb 27, 2021
15
O'Day 30 Wilmington
My wife and I, after having had two 22' trailer sailors, have started our search for a mid-30' range sailboat. Our intended use will be to spend the weekends on (likely marina most of the time) while also doing some overnight trips and a week or two during the year. We live near the coast in eastern NC.

Yesterday we drove several hours to check out a 1981 O'Day 34. Prior to this, I have stayed, for a personal Spiritual Retreat on a Sabre 30, so that is all I can really compare anything to in terms of size a feel. Overall we really liked this boat. The interior space more than pleased us. We did have some concern/questions about the cockpit...it seemed a little small. So, here are some questions I'm hoping some of you will feel like responding to...

1) Generally, I'm wondering if a steering pedestal/wheel will make the cockpit feel smaller?
2) On a 1981, any idea how many through hulls/seacocks there would be?
3) The biggest issue I found in our hour on the boat, is water damage to the two aft bulkheads...in front of the nav station and the galley. The bulkhead connected to the nav station has pretty significant damage...I could stick my finger through it in I would say a square foot area. The broker downplayed it some in that for our intended use it was not necessarily a top priority. I'm not convinced. What are your thoughts? Would this be a project that is reasonably doable as a DIY? (I am a woodworker and do about all maintenance at home).
4) OR...would that kind of damage be enough to scare you off? (I wasn't as concerned as I would have been had it been the forward bulkhead where the chainplates attach.
5) If we move forward on this boat, I would very much like a second visit. I would hope to get the broker to help/allow me to check all systems...crank engine, turn on all lights, check pressure water system and water heater, light stove and heater, locate and test all seacocks, etc... Is this a common or reasonable request?
6) If we were still interested we would then move on towards a survey and sea trial.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

THANKS!
 
Aug 7, 2018
179
Catalina 350 Great Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario
Good morning, I purchased and did extensive work, much of it woodworking and electronics on an O’day 34 a few years ago. We loved the boat. We sold it at a profit last summer to move up to a few creature comforts. PM me and I can provide you with a phone number . I am by no means an expert in all boats but I think I am well quaklified to talk about an O’day 34 80s vintage.
 
Aug 7, 2018
179
Catalina 350 Great Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario
That price looks about right for the vintage and condition. I would not worry about the woodwork cost and process as you are a woodworker. The engine, sails and standing rigging will be the “big if”
 
Aug 7, 2018
179
Catalina 350 Great Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario
You may also want to check out the Catalina 36 for sale on this site. It’s around 23k if I remember. New listing in VA
 
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Sep 23, 2009
1,450
O'Day 34-At Last Rock Hall, Md
I have 34 that may vome to market soon. New engine drive train and fuel tank 2012. New running rigging 2013. New standing rigging with mast cables and lights 2019.
But to answer your questions. The wheel frees up space while sailing and most odays from 28 up were ordered with it. Check the pullies and bracket underneath is not corroded.
There are four thru hulls. If orginal, I would replace them.
Would have to see a pic of the damage but wonder why the po never fixed it. Watch for soft decks.
They are solid boats great for coastal cruising. About the only walk away would be keel bolt issues or excessive soft decks.
Lots of good info on the oday section here.
Good luck.
 
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Jun 11, 2004
1,185
Oday 31 Redondo Beach
the cockpit... seemed a little small. So, here are some questions I'm hoping some of you will feel like responding to...

1) Generally, I'm wondering if a steering pedestal/wheel will make the cockpit feel smaller?
Can you lie down fully stretched out in the cockpit to take a nap? If so, for me, that's big enough. One thing you can do is remove the wheel when you are entertaining or just hanging out. That will make it a little easier to get around.

2) On a 1981, any idea how many through hulls/seacocks there would be? David said 4 and he probably knows. But on my 31 there are several hull penetrations that are just above the static waterline; bilge discharge, scupper drains, holding tank discharge.... Some of these are below waterline when healed or motoring. These were all plastic (not Marelon) and susceptible to failure due to age and UV exposure. You might want to check those.

3) The biggest issue I found in our hour on the boat, is water damage to the two aft bulkheads...in front of the nav station and the galley. The bulkhead connected to the nav station has pretty significant damage...I could stick my finger through it in I would say a square foot area. The broker downplayed it some in that for our intended use it was not necessarily a top priority. I'm not convinced. What are your thoughts? Would this be a project that is reasonably doable as a DIY? (I am a woodworker and do about all maintenance at home). Brokers! Have they ever seen something that is a deal breaker?! At a minimum I would want to try to figure out where the water was coming from and see if anything else was affected. Probably DIY but it would be nice to know before purchase. Perhaps badly leaking stanchion bases? Leaking rub rail hull/deck joint?

4) OR...would that kind of damage be enough to scare you off? (I wasn't as concerned as I would have been had it been the forward bulkhead where the chainplates attach. Depends on where the water was getting in.

5) If we move forward on this boat, I would very much like a second visit. I would hope to get the broker to help/allow me to check all systems...crank engine, turn on all lights, check pressure water system and water heater, light stove and heater, locate and test all seacocks, etc... Is this a common or reasonable request? I would walk away if you couldn't do that.

6) If we were still interested we would then move on towards a survey and sea trial. Good

Any thoughts or suggestions? Is that a propane stove? My 1985 31 came with CNG which is not a problem for me but it sounds like a lot of people are having trouble sourcing CNG. Just something to consider.
 
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Feb 27, 2021
15
O'Day 30 Wilmington
Thanks Richard! Based on location, it looks like the likely water leak was from some stations. I know they did rebed those. The stove, and heater, are propane. And I the cockpit, honestly mybwife sat in the cockpit more than I did...so, I'll have to check it out later. There were also two or three diesel fuel cans in cockpit...that didn't help the feel.
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,367
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
My thought:

1) Generally, I'm wondering if a steering pedestal/wheel will make the cockpit feel smaller? Doesn't look like is makes the cockpit smaller from the photo below. You will like the convenience of a steering wheel.
2) On a 1981, any idea how many through hulls/seacocks there would be? A marine survey will confirm that or you can make your own estimate ........engine raw water intake and discharge, sink discharges, head/holding tank discharge, toilet fresh water intake, shower water discharge, bilge pump discharge
3) The biggest issue I found in our hour on the boat, is water damage to the two aft bulkheads...in front of the nav station and the galley. The bulkhead connected to the nav station has pretty significant damage...I could stick my finger through it in I would say a square foot area. The broker downplayed it some in that for our intended use it was not necessarily a top priority. I'm not convinced. What are your thoughts? Would this be a project that is reasonably doable as a DIY? (I am a woodworker and do about all maintenance at home). I would get a repair estimate from a qualified boat contractor and consider a repair allowance from the seller (not uncommon to do during boat purchasing process) and of course you then can consider repairing it yourself.
4) OR...would that kind of damage be enough to scare you off? No, but I would want to be sure it was repairable.........
5) If we move forward on this boat, I would very much like a second visit. I would hope to get the broker to help/allow me to check all systems...crank engine, turn on all lights, check pressure water system and water heater, light stove and heater, locate and test all seacocks, etc... Is this a common or reasonable request? Yes and broker and seller expects that as purchase agreement is generally contingent on a sea trail and in the water and out of the water survey.
6) If we were still interested we would then move on towards a survey and sea trial. Good plan.........you always have the option of not approving the sea trial and/or survey so the only out of pocket expense is the haul out and survey if you decide not to purchase the boat.
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Last edited:
Oct 22, 2014
15,677
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
@Blowboat Congrats on your decision to seek a larger boat. It can be a joy and a pain. More and less freedom.

The O'Days are nice boats and very capable coastal sailboats.

Your quest and observations are similar to others who have chosen to take the adventure. @sail sfbay has provided great answers to your questions.

As you have experience with trailerable boats apply that knowledge to this purchase. If you really liked the tiller arrangement, there is nothing to stop you from seeking a tiller in this sized boat. They can be more work if not balanced. You will need to try this out for yourself. Wheel steering has the look and feel of a big boat, but as you have observed it can take up a lot of space in your cockpit.

Cockpit size is a blessing for party time and a curse in heavy weather with boarding seas.

Putting your finger through a "bulkhead", means to me, more has been going on here than just a little water intrusion dripping from stanchions. Your are in an area, along the Carolina coasts, that have seen more than one boat experience water storm damage and then neglect. The pictures in the Yacht World Ad present the boat in the best light. I would want to open all of the compartments, search under all cushions and hatches. Look inside with a strong flashlight. Take lots of images and then take them home for further inspection.

When inspecting a boat you should be looking, recording and counting everything you see. You should turn on and off every gadget, system, and thru-hull you find. Do it yourself, and then during the survey it will be done again. Note everything that doesn't work or is odd.

I encourage new buyers to approach the project like you did the Spiritual Retreat. Open minded but with a focus. You are not buying a car, trying to get the most gadgets and features for the least price. You are seeking a boat that provides a space and an environment in which you live. A vessel that will take you to places of your dreams. That boat needs to be safe and capable too enable you accomplish this. You need two clearly identify what these dreams are now and what they may be. List and prioritize these concepts. Then seek a boat that fits these ideals.

It will be a compromise, as all boats are.

Your DIY application of woodworking skills, is helpful, but do you really want to be sitting in the boat in the marina for months on end. Some of us find that type of project a part of our desires. Others find that the work is boring, and we would rather be on the waters exploring.

You need to decide what you want. All the rest is the process.
 
Feb 27, 2021
15
O'Day 30 Wilmington
Thanks everyone for your comments...they are very helpful. It seems this is not the boat for us...made especially clear when we received word that the owners had accepted an offer! But I'm ok with that. Like the boat...but had some concerns... we'll keep looking!