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No clue, no experience, bit of money, alot of will

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Howdy guys and gals,

As I'm sure has been common in the last year, having closed borders has made me want to see a bit more of my own country and do something new. I am fortunate to be young and have very little commitments other than going back to university at the end of summer. I've been travelling the last few years and have a little bit of coin and I've decided that I want to turn that into no coin and by a boat (lol) and learn some new skills, spend the summer on the water. 

I've managed to sell a few friends on the idea, which will give me the opportunity to share the adventures, the costs, and the responsibility for the inevitable mistakes. 

We are still in the research phase of deciding what would be suitable, how much we should spend, where we would like to go etc. I am originally from Whangarei so it is likely we would like to spend the summer between Northland and Coromandel, and hopefully out to Great Barrier at some point. Ideally we would like to have room for four of us to liveaboard for most of the summer, and a bit of extra space for the odd guest. We have no delusions about personal space and are fine living cramped together, as our budget will likely dictate. 

We have a couple vessels in mind already, from perusing TradeMe - I will link them down below if anyone wants to point out any obvious holes in our plans. 

My questions to you fine folk if you would be willing to depart with some wisdom;

For a start, most of us have very minimal sailing experience, assuming none might be better.

Is this a terrible idea to buy a boat and teach ourselves? 

We are looking for something in the 9 - 11m size to accomodate us, are there any obvious things we should avoid, particularly for new sailors, or maybe somethings that we should seek out that would make learning a bit easier? Hull Construction / Design?

As far as due diligence before buying a boat, is it highly recommended we get the boat professionally surveyed before buying?

Following that, do insurers generally require that a boat be recently surveyed to insure it? Does anyone know the general cost of a survey, and does it have to be hauled out to be surveyed?

Buying something in Northland or Auckland would be a hellofalot easier for us, but our favourite pick at the moment is based in Picton. Presuming we could play around the sounds for a few weeks learning, is it an extremely stupid idea that we try and sail it up the North Island? 

What are the big stingers as far as things breaking? Obviously anything to do with the stucture of the boat won't be cheap, nor the engine. Where I'm unsure are the things like sails, winches, anchors, nav equipment etc. Any wisdom around what to look for to ensure they're in good order, and how expensive repairs can get would be very appreciated

Our budget is around 15 -20k total including cost of the boat, operating and a maintenance fund. I realize its not much, we're not looking for luxury or a boat that will last us 20 years. 

I realise I'm asking alot. Any information you could provide would be a great help. 

Thanks, Gabriel




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10 hours ago, NoMaker said:

Our budget is around 15 -20k total including cost of the boat, operating and a maintenance fund. I realize its not much, we're not looking for luxury or a boat that will last us 20 years. 


Stepping Out cost $14k, spent about 600 in purchase costs, just under a grand a year in insurance, 3k a year in mooring, recent bottom repaint ran just under 2k (one in 5 to 7 year job), next antifoul job will be between 500 and 750 (one in 18 month job).  Maintenance that we knew was required when we bought it has been about 2.5k (new sail cover and complete replacement of spray dodger), an unexpected engine maintenance was about $500 and a chunk of my time.  We are hoping to have a pretty much maintenance free period for the next 18 months.

On that basis, our 10m yacht probably has operating costs of $6k/yr including a sinking fund (bad term) for maintenance and replacement of $2k/yr.

YMMV up north - possibly cheaper mooring and depends how much work you do yourself.

Sabre makes a very good point - to an extent spending MORE on a very well maintained yacht will reduce your maintenance costs and downtime.  In a jointly owned yacht, downtime is the killer.  Everyone wants to sail, no-one wants to paint.

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10 hours ago, Sabre said:

Love the topic heading and I'm all for that.

I reckon you could make an H28 work. Young easygoing sorts are much happier sharing small spaces than grumpy old(ish) men like myself. (Assuming you are youngish).

H28s are the Toyota coronas of the NZ cruising world. Solid, dependable and very forgiving. You won't find much better bang for your buck.

I wouldn't recommend sailing one up from down south with limited/no experience however.

sh*t tonnes of H28's around though so ask around Auckland/Northland and you will soon find one even if it doesn't have a 'for sale' sign. Plenty of good cruising grounds up there to find your feet relatively safely if you use your head.

In a perfect world you would probably only want to spend half your budget on the actual boat purchase unless you find an owner who has been OCD on maintanance.

Be patient though because there is a lot of boats that have been neglected and will require more dollars and elbow grease than they are worth.

Some insurance companies want out of water surveys and some are happy with pics. (Mine was happy with pics) Don't be scared to haul a boat.. its not a big deal and I have found it an easy and simple task and you can learn a lot from the boat yard crew.

Summer cruise to Barrier for beers, bush walks and snapper 👍


Thanks, really appreciate the advice 🙂

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14 hours ago, NoMaker said:

Following that, do insurers generally require that a boat be recently surveyed to insure it? Does anyone know the general cost of a survey, and does it have to be hauled out to be surveyed?


following up on this point, GET A DAMN SURVEY!!!

If you know nothing about boats, the survey is your own assurance that there are no foreseeable problems lurking.  Yes, it will help with getting insurance, but more to the point it may save you two costs:  The purchase price of a vessel with hidden problems and hte disposal cost of the same.  

I would expect somewhere between 600 and 1k depending on who does it and the survey scope.  In your situation (group buy), I'd get afull structure, rigging and mechancial (engine and drive) survey.  Spread the cost and no finger-pointing afterward.

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My random advise, in no particular order:

Don't bother with one down south. Even with experience, sailing a boat of the age, size and condition you are talking about from South to North is a big undertaking. With no experience, it is a high chance of disaster, as in life threatening, and at the very least, cost in stuff you wouldn't necessarily need if just cruising the Gulf and Northland coast.

If you are going to live on it, get a really good anchor and loads of chain. I'd budget for a new one. Go for a sarca excel anchor for Chains ropes and anchors, it wont drag. Then you can sleep soundly when its blowing...

Get, or budget to install a descent sixed holding tank. Or get a composting toilet... The need for this should be fairly obvious with 4 living on board... Then you can go for your morning swim without worrying about one of your mates going for a good morning bowel movement at the same time. You will never guess why I know this.

Suss the insurance requirements now. Not being able to get insurance could sink your entire plan. Paradoxically, you need insurance to haul out anywhere (for a survey), and you need it to go into marina's etc. If you are out cruising all the time, you could get away without insurance (your risk), but it will be hard to sell your boat afterwards, or maintain it, cause you can't haul it out or park it in a marina. I'd imagine third party and public liability would cover it for you. It is easier to get insurance when you get the boat I think.

Give Mariner Insurance a phone call, explain your situation and ask them about requirements. I am with Marina, and they are the most pragmatic outfit. Many insurance co's wont touch you, due to age of boat, no permanent mooring and you lack of experience. Be aware of that, and get across the issues / requirements now. I.e., if they need an out of water survey, plan for that as part of your pre-purchase inspection and kill 2 birds with one stone. I'm not sure how your live aboard / no permanent mooring thing will sit with them. Ask them. The specific boat shouldn't matter much. You are looking at a bracket where they are all old and have minimal residual value (i.e. you aren't looking at modern 50 foot luxury cruiser...)

That said, there are a lot of people having a lot of fun and good times doing what you are talking about. Plenty of people living on boats that size. There is always a solution.

The only other question, do you get seasick?

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PS, back in the day, I had mates that co-owned a 20 something footer. 5 of us went to the Barrier on it. It was so cosy you had to ask someone to move so you could fart, but we had a lot of fun.

Their first trip to the Barrier, they ended up in Coromandel Town. Anchored in the bay and went to the pub for a feed. Came back and the tide had gone out. Had to wade 100's meters through stinking mud to get back on board. They were using a road atlas for a map, instead of an actual chart. Just headed for the big hills on the horizon. Turns out Coromandel looks bigger than Barrier from Auckland.

One of those guys went on to be a field safety officer in Antartica for a couple of winters....

Embrace it, have fun, and try not to kill yourself along the way ;-)

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