T30 MAKEOVER
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THE ACCOUNTING

So what did all this cost? The short answer: $34,000*, plus labor.

The purchase price was $9,500, after it had been reduced from $10,000 once it was learned that the fuel tank had a hole in it and the bulkhead next to it had split in half. All this had been hidden by the galley counter. What we got for that price was a boat with a sound hull whose bottom had just undergone a major grinding/fairing and epoxy barrier job, an Atomic 4 gas engine with about 10 hours on it since being completely rebuilt, some good sails including fairly new 150% genoa and main, 2 spinnakers, something like 10 or 11 older sails including a reacher, a drifter, a tallboy, a blooper, a working jib, and a storm jib. It also came with an 8 or 9-year-old Mylar deck-sweeping 150% genoa that is in really good shape. It had an old but working autopilot, radar, VHF, and most equipment typically found on a used boat. The dodger and sail cover were both recent vintage. The rig was in generally good shape and the main cabin sported spiffy and expensive new stainless opening ports.

What it also had was a deck with a few areas where the core was water-soaked and rotted. Some of the pulpit mounting bolts, for example, could be yanked out of the deck by hand, washers and all. An area about 1 1/2 square feet around the starboard chainplate was not only core-soaked but bulged from the upward pressure of the top of the bulkhead, which had not been attached to anything for probably a few years.

Cosmetically the boat was pretty tired looking with heavily oxidized gel coat, 20-year old but not so bad looking Awlgripped topsides, and a lot of filled holes where hardware had been mounted and removed over the years. The interior was clean but dingy and yellow from age. Since this boat was in the family Joyce and I had sailed on it quite a bit since 1982, both racing and cruising. So we knew the boat fairly well and I had already had a mental list of what I would do to improve it if I owned it. Number one was to level the winches – from having suffered my share of bruises and muscle aches as the main grinder in tacking duals.

Now for the renovations: I paid for most of the stuff by credit card and check and lumped the transactions in Quicken under the category “Boat”. For purchases of less than $20 I usually paid cash, roughly estimating about $1,000 over four years. Purchases that small, however, were fairly rare, so that may be a bit high. So by printing out a report for the category “Boat” and striking out the year-to-year maintenance stuff like bottom paint, hauling and launching fees etc. I came up with about $23,000 in check and credit card purchases, which with the cash purchases and the initial price now adds to $33,500. In that are the costs of a GPS chart plotter, all new sailing and engine instruments, a lot of teak, 8 jack stands, about $1,400 worth of engine upgrade equipment, new radios, a new compass, the new ports, new fuel and holding tanks, a new genoa jib, and all new interior cushions. Add my labor at minimum wage and it comes to about $85,000. I have no idea really how many hours I spent – just a lot. My labor aside, I was aiming at something around $20,000, but like any good Government project it came in late and way over budget.

Suffice it to say, the investment, even if I held to the budget, is well above the market value of a gas-powered Tartan 30. My feeling, however, at the risk of guffaws for someone about to justify the economics of owning a boat, is that in so many ways this is a new boat. I now know it in intimate detail in a way few people can know their own boat. It’s classy looking, a joy to sail, and I plan to be sailing it for years to come. So, for 34 boat units and a wealth of newly gained knowledge along with the satisfaction of having accomplished all this stuff myself, it wasn’t so bad. Besides, how much boat can one get for that kind of money these days and know it is likely to be problem free? Now that’s rationalizing.

If I had it to do over again would I have, now knowing the cost and scope of work? - Probably not. There comes a point when an old boat becomes, well, too far down the path of deterioration to be brought back this far within reasonable effort and expense. There were times when I felt I was in over my head. I mean, just look at the length of the project list! Yes, I had to be nuts. I am thrilled with the outcome, but I feel that the time spent could have been used in better ways. I could have just fixed the deck, the bulkhead and the fuel tank, and gone sailing. But it is my nature to take things apart and “make them better”. As long as there are things that need improving, I will improve them. It’s a disease, I guess. I just think it would have been better to acquire a boat that was less of a challenge.

* As of June 2005