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GunkHoler

How nice should this boat be

12 posts in this topic

Hi All,

Newb here, posting with some trepidation after having read other thread. But, this site's a bit better than the others, so here goes nothing.

Basically, I've got a Santana 27 in fair-to-good shape, and I'm trying to decide how nice to keep her. It's a subtle question, and a bit of a longie, so be bear with me.

In a little more detail, the boat was my parents', and I am now inheriting it in slow motion - I've taken over all the maintenance, and am taking over more of the costs every month, as they are getting a bit old to really use it much.

My dad kept her in good functioning shape, if not perfect aesthetic condition - a good furler, quality-if-not-fancy lines well laid-out, a clean, well-maintained interior, nice heavy Bruce anchor and chain/rope rode, newer electronics, and self-tailing sheet winches.

She's certainly not new, and she does have some projects that need doing. Namely, the hardware and portholes all need to be re-bedded, along with a few electrical odds and ends, and she'll need new running rigging before long. And I'll do those, because it's the boat I grew up on and the boat I've got, and I want to keep her working well and safely. My wife also loves sailing as much as I do, and I foresee it being a thing we do for years to come. 

But I also have to face facts that my wife and I are both 6-foot, and it's just frankly a bit small for us. It likely won't be for 2-5 years, but we'll be switching to something in the 32-36 range before too long, if only to avoid banging our GodDamned HEADS ALL THE TIME!

So the question, then, revolves around the much, much longer list of "things that aren't critical but would make the boat nicer". Things like adding spreader lights or a heater, upgrading the stove, re-doing the interior carpets, and on and on. I replaced the main athwartships bulkhead last year, including veneer matching, and also fabricated new floor inserts and extended the halfshroud chainplates after re-coring the deck at their penetration point. So I have the skill to, for example, put new cabinets into the kitchen to go with a new stove. Or add an electric water pump. Or or or.  Anything I can't do, I've got friends who can for free or cheap (machining, stainless welding, cnc parts, custom laminate plywood, solar panel setups, etc).

My impression is that simply by virtue of size, as much as we love this little boat, all the improvements in the world couldn't push her selling price much above maybe $12-14,000 - and that would likely entail hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to get her up to mint condition. If I simply keep her in "good" shape, maintaining what's there but not adding much new, my impression of Craigslist is that I can likely get two-thirds that for her. In other words, I could put $5,000 of heater and plywood and new electronics into her and likely not see her price rise by much more than that $5,000, maybe less.

So, Thoughts, Anyone?

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It sounds like you are already thinking that it doesn't make sense to put a lot of time and effort into upgrading the boat, and I would agree with that. Maintain it and do what is necessary to keep it functional and hold its value. Beyond that you won't recoup your investment, and when it comes to more major modifications, I'm always frustrated when I see people trying to sell a boat that is in good shape, but that they have also modified to their taste, which is almost always not what I would have done, and so as a prospective buyer I'm thinking about all the work I would have to undo the modifications they made. 

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If you could put $5,000 of heater and plywood and new electronics into her and likely not see her price rise by about $5,000, why not?

You'd get several years free use out of the upgrades.

But it won't be like that. In a few years time, a buyer will value those electronics at maybe 20 % of what you paid.

You might get a better return on longer-life items, such as the heater and plywood, esp since those will add a lot to positive first impressions.

In general I'd reckon that while repairs and maintenance will have some reward on sale, improvements will have much less return

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Due to their short design lifecycle, electronics have the worst ROI of any boat upgrade.

Simply put, the brand-new electronics you installed today, are already obsolete.

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On 8/9/2017 at 10:52 AM, Ajax said:

Due to their short design lifecycle, electronics have the worst ROI of any boat upgrade.

Simply put, the brand-new electronics you installed today, are already obsolete.

Yup!!!  (and I already regret my full suite of B & G electronics purchase....well, except for the autopilot)

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No, no, and no.  If the boat is too small, and you're thinking about selling/trading in the next few years, it makes absolutely no sense to be sinking money into upgrades. You will see a minimum return on the investments...10% or less.  Focus on maintaining the existing gear, replacing only that which is necessary. Keep everything operational, and keep the boat clean and presentable. I'll also add that the boat should be used fairly regularly, as boats that sit tend to become neglected, and that ends up being reflected in the eventual sales price.

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On 8/9/2017 at 10:42 AM, TwoLegged said:

If you could put $5,000 of heater and plywood and new electronics into her and likely not see her price rise by about $5,000, why not?

You'd get several years free use out of the upgrades.

But it won't be like that. In a few years time, a buyer will value those electronics at maybe 20 % of what you paid.

You might get a better return on longer-life items, such as the heater and plywood, esp since those will add a lot to positive first impressions.

In general I'd reckon that while repairs and maintenance will have some reward on sale, improvements will have much less return

I'm with you on the electronics. The boat actually has a pretty good setup in that department already (Raytheon chartplotter/knotmeter/tillerpilot combo all networked together, with themselves and chartplotter). The upgrading that I would do would be to migrate the fuse/switch panel to a less exposed position, since it's currently at the bottom of the companionway steps (wtf Gary Mull lol), and watertight the battery compartment.

Electronics would probably be one of the smallest costs, though - the heater upgrade would be a third of my $5,000, especially after I got done rebuilding the dang settee backrest around it. 'Plywood' would be another third - redoing the galley cabinetry (to add countertop space, put in a decent sink, and get rid of useless built-in icebox compartment). I'd also plumb in a propane stove at that time as well as an electric water pump.

The tiny scupper/huge cockpit combo is also a logic-defying design feature, so I'm always fantasizing about upgrading it to something like a 3" through-hull and hose (it's currently maybe 1.25"). That and the electronics would make up the last third of that $5,000, I think. 

As much as the money is the time, too, since I'd be doing all of it myself.

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6 minutes ago, RKoch said:

No, no, and no.  If the boat is too small, and you're thinking about selling/trading in the next few years, it makes absolutely no sense to be sinking money into upgrades. You will see a minimum return on the investments...10% or less.  [...] Keep everything operational, and keep the boat clean and presentable. I'll also add that the boat should be used fairly regularly, as boats that sit tend to become neglected, and that ends up being reflected in the eventual sales price.

You are speaking the same language as the good angel who sits on one of my shoulders.

Keeping the existing systems rock-solid is my number one, definitely. The panel move and scupper enlargement are the two things that seem like they might still make sense to do as winter projects, since they kind of overlap - they're not so much upgrades as.... 'solidifications'. Thoughts? 

Should add: case in point - saw same boat on craigslist, in better shape, with radar (?) and mast steps (??), not to mention newer sails, a newer motor, and a cleaner paint job.... for $7500. Definitely a sober reminder that I'm working under a ceiling.

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I'm kind've in the same situation.  The only "upgrades" I would do to the boat are:

1) Ones for safe operation (necessary)

2) Ones that improve your enjoyment of actually sailing/being on the boat.

Two examples of mine: "I'm so glad I recored the composted transom, as now I don't fear that the outboard will rip off", and "by replacing all the incandescent bulbs on the boat with LEDs, I don't worry about how long my small battery lasts when we're anchored out".  Other things I've done just improve my enjoyment of actually sailing my boat.

When I sell it, I won't make anything back on any of it, and that's ok.

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2 minutes ago, bplipschitz said:

I'm kind've in the same situation.  The only "upgrades" I would do to the boat are:

1) Ones for safe operation (necessary)

2) Ones that improve your enjoyment of actually sailing/being on the boat.

Two examples of mine: "I'm so glad I recored the composted transom, as now I don't fear that the outboard will rip off", and "by replacing all the incandescent bulbs on the boat with LEDs, I don't worry about how long my small battery lasts when we're anchored out".  Other things I've done just improve my enjoyment of actually sailing my boat.

When I sell it, I won't make anything back on any of it, and that's ok.

Ha. Our transom is good but I literally just replaced the composted pad on the kicker swingarm (lets the dink motor double as a backup) and switched to LED bulbs for the exact same reasons.

The elect. panel move and the scuppers might fall into the 'peace of mind' category, as both would eliminate small-but-constant worries I have, especially when I'm out in bigger wind/waves (relatively speaking). Got pooped in a tidal stream out in JDF one time - a cockpit full of water made her stagger like a drunk, and it lasted *way too long with those joke scuppers.

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You're fortunate in that you already know this isn't your long term boat so just keep that in mind going forward. I think a lotta times owners lose sight of that fact and start putting cool stuff on that they want with their next boat and that's where they get caught in the trap, the one where they say "I'm now ready to sell and I should get this much 'cuz it's got all this stuff that cost me a mint to install". Never happens. And then the longer they wait, the less the boat is worth and it just keeps on going down in value. Believe me, I looked at a lot of those for about 18 mos. 

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GunkHoler.....I also own a Santana 27 that I keep in Eagle Harbor.  I have owned the boat for two years.  The previous owner did a pretty significant refit on her, including all new Neil Pryde sails (main, two genoas and spinnaker), new sail and tiller cover, new standing and running rigging, topsides professionally spray painted, new 6HP outboard, some new electronics, new KiwiGrip applied by the owner and other improvements including the remounting stanchions, portlights, etc.  I have done other projects as well.

  However I am trying to limit the improvements that I make on the boat (as opposed to normal maintenance bottom paint etc) to ones that I really want to enjoy but also anticipate a zero return on my investment. 

So while I would love to have a furler, I know that I will not get the dollars back and will live with a hank on headsail and rig a jib downhaul.  At the same time a larger outboard that my wife could actually start in an emergency was important to us and worth it to us for the $1,000 incremental increase in cost after selling the one that came with the  boat.

The good news is that these are really great boats, sail really well, and have a strong design pedigree. We should talk and compare notes and I would love to see your boat as well.

 

Sunshine In Port Madison.JPG

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