A Sail Away Offshore Cruising Boat For Less Than US$100,000—Part 1

Could this be our project boat?

For some time, John and I have been discussing whether it's possible (or even sane) to buy and refit an older boat to a seaworthy, ocean-going standard, on a maximum budget of US$100K.

As we both tried similar capers in our younger years, this at first glance seemed straightforward enough, just as I remember it did first time around. But years later the awful memories have come flooding back, starkly revealing the reality of that crack-brained endeavour—what was I thinking of?

But human nature being what it is, I know that there are at least some of you out there with minimal budgets desperate to throw off the lines and head for the horizon. And the very best of luck to you—if I was twenty-odd years old again I’d be right there with you.

So, for you ‘dreamers by day’ who are determined to give this a go, here are some thoughts on how to buy and re-fit an old, basically sound, boat and head for far horizons on a budget of $US100,000.

John here. As many of you know, I have long worried about how unaffordable seaworthy, ready-to-go, offshore cruising boats are. Our first attempt at fixing that was the Adventure 40 project to build a brand new, simple and robust boat for US$200,000. I still think that's the best solution for most of us, but sadly it came to naught.

So I'm very excited about this series that will form part of our How To Buy A Cruising Boat Online Book. Colin and I have been discussing this for quite a while and have come up with the following plan:

  1. Three parts from Colin on the structure of the boat to buy, and a realistic analysis of the pitfalls and how to avoid them so they don't derail the project before it even gets started. Starting out with a sound hull deck and appendages is a good 75% of the battle won.
  2. Colin's take on alternatives to fibreglass hull materials, to go along with mine from some months ago.
  3. Two parts on engines: one from me on re-powers and the second from Colin on saving the old engine with a partial or even complete rebuild—both of us will focus on DIY since hiring professionals, except for small specialized jobs, will bust the budget.
  4. I will take on other mechanical and electrical equipment, as well as electronics. Spoiler: simplicity will rule, or bye-bye budget.
  5. I will then look at rig and sails.
  6. And, finally, I will wrap up with a sample refit budget of what each area is likely to cost us, depending on the state of the boat, so that we can realistically figure out how much we can pay to buy the boat and still come out at our target sail-away figure of US$100,000 or less.

Back to Colin:

It’s not just about the boat….

In my view, no-one should take on a major refit without an honest appraisal of:

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  1. The Right Way to Buy a Boat…And The Wrong Way
  2. Is It a Need or a Want?
  3. Buying a Boat—A Different Way To Think About Price
  4. Five Ways That Bad Boats Happen
  5. Sail Area: Overlap, Multihulls, And Racing Rules
  6. Learn From The Designers
  7. 8 Tips For a Good Voyaging Boat Interior Arrangement
  8. There’s No Excuse For Pounding
  9. Of Cockpits, Wheelhouses And Engine Rooms
  10. Cockpits—Part 1, Safe and Seamanlike
  11. Cockpits—Part 2, Visibility and Ergonomics
  12. Offshore Sailboat Winches, Selection and Positioning
  13. Are Refits Worth It?
  14. Refits—The Radical Option
  15. Refit#1—A Trans-Atlantic Boat For Less Than US$100,000
  16. Refit #2—A Good Boat Made Ocean-Ready
  17. Refit #3, Giving a Tough Old Ocean Greyhound a New Purpose
  18. Things I’ve Learned From Three Refits That Will Help You
  19. Buying a Cruising Boat—Five Tips for The Half-Assed Option
  20. Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New Voyaging Boat
  21. Cyclical Loading: Why Offshore Sailing Is So Hard On A Boat
  22. Cycle Loading—8 Tips for Boat and Gear Purchases
  23. Characteristics of Boat Building Materials
  24. Impact Resistance—How Hull Materials Respond to Impacts
  25. Impact Resistance—Two Collision Scenarios
  26. Hull Materials, Which Is Best?
  27. The Five Most Important Things We Need to Check When Buying a Boat
  28. 6 Warnings About Buying Fibreglass Boats
  29. Buying a Fibreglass Boat—Hiring a Surveyor and Managing the Survey
  30. What We Need to Know About Moisture Meters and Wet Fibreglass Laminate
  31. Buying a Boat—Never Say Never
  32. You May Need a Bigger Boat Than You Think
  33. The Three Biggest Lies Yacht Brokers Tell
  34. Q&A, What’s the Maximum Sailboat Size For a Couple?
  35. At What Age should You Stop Sailing And Buy a Motorboat?
  36. A Motorsailer For Offshore Voyaging?
  37. A Sail Away Offshore Cruising Boat For Less Than US$100,000—Part 1
  38. A Sail Away Offshore Cruising Boat For Less Than US$100,000—Part 2, Decks, Hulls and SS Fittings
  39. A Sail Away Offshore Cruising Boat For Less Than US$100,000—Part 3, Rudders and Keels
  40. A Sail Away Offshore Cruising Boat For Less Than US$100,000—Part 4, Steel, Wood, Aluminum or Ferro, and Summary
  41. A Sail Away Offshore Cruising Boat For Less Than US$100,000—It’s a Lot About You
  42. Planning and Budgeting a Refit—Boat Parameters
  43. Planning and Budgeting a Refit—Upfront Costs
  44. Planning and Budgeting a Refit—Rudders, Part 1, The Problem Defined
  45. Planning and Budgeting a Refit—Rudders, Part 2, The Solution
  46. Planning and Budgeting a Refit—Keels, Part 1, Types I Do And Don’t Like
  47. Planning and Budgeting a Refit—Keels, Part 2, Non Destructive Testing of Bolts
  48. Planning and Budgeting a Refit—Keels, Part 3, Torquing Keel Bolts
  49. Planning and Budgeting a Refit—Keels, Part 4, Keel Removal and Inspection
  50. Planning and Budgeting a Refit—The Engine
  51. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 1, How We Shopped For Our First Cruising Sailboat
  52. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 2, The Boat We Bought

Colin, European Correspondent here at AAC, is a deeply experienced offshore sailor who holds a Yachtmaster licence, and a gifted photographer and talented writer who has added a whole new dimension to Attainable Adventure Cruising. In addition, since Colin and Louise are from England and had their OVNI 435, Pèlerin built in France, they bring a European perspective to our site. You can read more about Colin and Louise and their business at their website.

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