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What is the fate of the Dollar sailboats?

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,163
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Is this what's for dinner?
Skals propeller crop.jpg

No, it's the outboard on my sons $1 sailboat. We just hauled it for the season. I 'winterized' the outboard: Pulled the gas line and let the engine run out gas, 'sputter' done.

Off it went to storage yard inland. I'll get out there and pull the garboard plug. But that might be it the $1 sailboat. It never got a cover on it last fall(I feel terrible for that,...), nor bottom paint this spring. We were all too busy, me with other things and he, working in Boston. This is our 3rd season of abuse,...
Skals propeller_.jpg

Why does this poor boat deserve such abuse? I think I can sum up the dilemma.

The last owner simply used the boat for a decade or more. It only slightly more care but no real work went into the boat. When it came time to sell (he wanted a bigger boat), he soon found out, as he lowered the price, the boat had no market value.

He realized - as he bought the bigger boat - the old boat had no value. Then he realized, he may even have a liability on his hands. But I knew he didn't: The boat was intact and everything worked. Unlike the growing number of old boats in storage yards - that no longer sail, parts missing, broken engines, etc - ...junk disguised as 'project boats', his old boat was ready to take for a sail. Old, not maintained(peeling paint above and below decks), but working.

I splurged and bought it for our son (our daughter doesn't want a $1 boat), for $1. He and my daughter sailed off the first spring after an hour or so of the 3 of us rigging it.
NAMO rigging 2.jpg


Brand isn't important (it's a 26' 1968+-, O'Day Outlaw). But it's not a design that is sought after in this area. Worse, as more old boats back up in the sales pipeline, too many options are out there for buyers with even a small budget, to buy an old, tired, glass boat.

Further, a poor attribute of the boat is that it takes rain water by the bucketful through poorly designed/built, or both, drainage of the cockpit and locker lids. We've worked on that a bit but to no avail. I have a drastic idea we may have to apply, but will we?

To really bring this boat back, it really only needs one step, which I can see clearly: It has to be completely disassembled - every bit and piece-outside and in, sanded and painted-every inch, and re-assembled. 50 year old parts and fastenings. Excited yet?

That's all. You could probably do it over an entire winter if you put it in a heated building.

Then what would you have for all your work(500 hrs perhaps)? What else would it need? New sails, all running and standing rigging, engine,...then you would have something with value. With luck, maybe a value of 10% of your investment?

For 3 seasons it has returned great value in sailing a ton of local kids all around Penobscot Bay.

My son and I are in it together(I bought it,...), although he is paying the bills on it. A free boat isn't free, he's finding out.
TT Namo 2018.jpeg

One problem is I probably know too much about boats, what they're worth and why, what 'work' they need, and how much time and $ that work, is.

He's not into rehabbing boats (thanks to watching me probably), but will no doubt own several sailboats in his future. He's a natural sailor and, like me, he can't, not sail.

I know I'm just around the corner from the next $1 boat, bigger, better, nicer. Ok, it may cost a couple K, but that's the small part of owning an old boat.

My mission is to keep the dollar boat, together. Still able to sail, able to pass on with a few more patches and stitches (maybe cut the price to .50)

NAMO rigging.jpg
But the $1 boat's fate is tenuous...
 
Apr 14, 2009
684
Sabre 28 NH
That's definatly a meal.
For a dollar can you throw in a stick of butter & we'll call it deal :)
 
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Nov 6, 2006
8,560
Hunter 34 Mandeville Louisiana
She looks pretty good.. bet ya could double your money (sale for $2) or better !
 
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Jun 21, 2007
2,092
Hunter Cherubini 36_80-82 San Francisco Bay's "Hurricane Glitch"
Putting aside all of the joking, I would do just as you're doing. As long as it floats, and you and family get fun out of it in its current condition, don't put another dime into the beauty. Other than maintaining the outboard. BUT only sail it on very low wind days. Stay really close to shore in plain view of potential rescuers. Always keep the life jackets on. And use it only during the summer fall months when the water is warm. Hypothermia is a killer. Keeping an eye on the standing rigging is a must. Plus block and tackle. Sudden collapse of the rig is very dangerous! And a decade or so from now when it cannot be maintained at all anymore, splurge and spend the money to have it demolished. That will be a much better investment than fixing it up in the hope of some good resale value.
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,163
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Putting aside all of the joking, I would do just as you're doing. As long as it floats, and you and family get fun out of it in its current condition, don't put another dime into the beauty. Other than maintaining the outboard. BUT only sail it on very low wind days. Stay really close to shore in plain view of potential rescuers. Always keep the life jackets on. And use it only during the summer fall months when the water is warm. Hypothermia is a killer. Keeping an eye on the standing rigging is a must. Plus block and tackle. Sudden collapse of the rig is very dangerous! And a decade or so from now when it cannot be maintained at all anymore, splurge and spend the money to have it demolished. That will be a much better investment than fixing it up in the hope of some good resale value.
Thanks, I may not have expressed, that I'm serious in that this will be a more and more common situation. Inevitably these zero value boats that still sail, will be used. But there is little reason for many of them to be maintained because of the huge supply of replacements.

'Good resale value' is out of the question with most boats in this state. Even much larger craft, if there is no following, no groups promoting the design, dwindling popularity, the only value you can hope for is being able to pass it on for further use.

In our area, if this was say a 26' Pearson Ensign, it would be worth re-habing the boat. This may sound odd, but you can love a Pearson Ensign, more easily and become attached.

I once inherited a project Beetle Cat. A plank on frame wooden boat, it was beyond my capabilities to restore (I didn't know that at the time which is typical of project boat owners). The previous owner was even less capable to restore it. Somehow the Beetle Cat had found it's way too far inland from it's Cape Cod origins. It had spent too much time poorly covered and was beyond help. I sold that house years ago to move to Maine. The day before closing, it went up in a roaring blaze in the back yard.

That's not an option with todays $1 boats when they lose their only value. As you say, you may have incur the expense of euthanasia for the good of sailing.
NAMO sailing out.jpg
 
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pateco

.
Aug 12, 2014
2,207
Hunter 31 (1983) Pompano Beach FL
This is a picture of our free Hunter 31 racing last weekend. Like your $1 boat, they are never free, but they provide a ton of fun for what you have to put into them every year to keep them going.

2018-11-04 12.37.18.jpg
 
Last edited:
May 23, 2004
3,302
N/A N/A Colonial Beach
Interesting read and you make a valid point.

The hard part is when you know the areas on a boat that are needed to make it safe. I wouldn't trust a boat with questionable rigging and the expense of replacing it adds up. If it has a diesel engine, that can get costly (then again, I absolutely loath outboards based on the way I tend to use boats). Sails are costly and, if you sail in a region like the Chesapeake Bay, canvas is expensive (even doing it yourself costs) and you REALLY need to have sun protection.

You really can't put sweat equity into a boat. No matter how much work you do on it and how much work you do on your own you won't even make the money you put into parts on it. Here is the thing, if you like the boat, see the value in the boat for you, and you plan to keep it for a very long time then it changes the equation. All boats loose value. It you take an older boat and fix it up it is often cheaper than buying a new or newer boat. You won't be hit as hard if your area gets property tax either.

In the end the money you put into it is rewarded back to you in the amount of enjoyment you have with the boat.
 
May 23, 2004
3,302
N/A N/A Colonial Beach
My last boat, the Compac 23, wasn't in bad shape when I bought her but I still put a lot of work into her. She got a lot of compliments.
When you fix up an older boat to the point that you get compliments on her frequently it does make you feel pretty darn good!
 
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