OK, I get it. "Everyone" says that if you buy a fixer-upper sailboat with the goal of turning it into a cruising boat it will all end in tears. Some will tell you that you'll wind up with nothing but an expensive disaster that you'll have to pay someone to dispose of it in some landfill.
I could go on but I expect you've already heard it all before and it's boring...
What I will do is point out that the disaster or failure scenarios of this sort have a lot to do with people who have made stupid mistakes in choosing their projects, have little in the way of an intelligent plan for the needful work involved in the enterprise, and a poor skill set where boat building and repair are concerned. Which is another way of saying that if the boat refit project failed it's because the person doing it screwed up big time.
Every once in awhile I'll point out what I think is a possible project boat like the Ericson 26 so we'll use that as our crash test dummy. Which brings us to the question of whether or not an Ericson 26 is a good choice as a cruising boat for you?
So, you'll need to put away the rose colored glasses to do some research and a bit of math. Seriously if you don't properly research the project and work out the costs you're in clusterfuck territory. For starters you really need to research the market for the Ericson 26.
- What does an Ericson 26 in great shape cost?
- What does an OK Ericson 26 cost?
- Does the Ericson 26 have an inbuilt issues which will need to be repaired and cost you money (FYI ALL production boats have some issue(s) or other that will need attention so find out what it is)?
- Can you afford an Ericson 26?
With me so far? Most boat projects fail simply because someone did not ask and get real answers to those four simple questions. Let's say you've answered the previous questions, got your answers and think it's time to move to the next level which requires a few more questions.
- Is the Ericson 26 a boat that I'll be able to cruise comfortably on without major changes?
- Do I have access to an affordable location in close proximity to work on the boat?
- Am I willing to put some effort into learning the needful skills to refit the boat?
Some of you may have noticed that none of these questions involve the actual fixer upper in question. My advice is to always do your homework before not after viewing a possible project as the more you know about the boat the better your advantage you'll have when you actually look at it.
In fact I'd recommend, before you go boat project shopping, that you build a dinghy as a proof of concept that your abilities are up to the task. My advice for most folks is to build the Bolger Nymph from Dynamite Payson's "Build the New Instant Boats" As it's a great dinghy, does not take a lot of outlay in materials, and pretty much shows you if you have the needful skills and mindset or not to take on a much bigger project like the Ericson. No pressure but if it takes you more than 24-hours of labor to build a Nymph rowing version you might want to forget the idea of anything larger than a dinghy refit projects.
We'll get into how we handle looking at a fixer-upper in the next bit...