I love Craigslist. Some people go on Facebook and scroll down their news feed when they are bored, but I got to Craigslist and search for deals. A recent jaunt through those minimally formatted pages got me thinking about the opportunity that the current used sailboat market presents.
But first a little history. In the late 50s a man by the name of Everett Pearson began building a 28ft fiberglass sailboat designed by Carl Alberg in his garage in Bristol, Rhode Island. In 1959 it was exhibited at the New York boat show and from there the fiberglass sailboat went on to capture the minds and imaginations of an entire generation. Finally the world of sailing was accessible to the middle class. The heyday of fiberglass sailboats lasted from the early sixties all the way up to the mid eighties.
Then the market crashed. The cost of materials and labor went up so much that boats could no longer be produced and generate a profit. Manufactures went bankrupt and closed their doors. Even the mighty Tillotson-Pearson yacht company filed for chapter 11 in 1991. But the same attribute that contributed to the rise of the fiberglass sailboat also would be its demise. As the years past and the fleets of once proud boats fell into disrepair, the hulls for the large part remained just as sound as the day they were removed from the mold. The end result is boatyards all through the country stacked with the tailings of another generations dream.
So fast forward to today and you can still see the effect of the backlog of used boats out there. That brings me right back around to another little boat deigned by Carl Alberg, the Alberg 30. I'll use this design for my case study for a few reasons. First, this is a proven blue water boat, a number have circumnavigated including Yves Gélinas, who did a solo circumnavigation and went on to found Cape Horn Marine Products, which markets a self steering wind vane of his own design. The Alberg 30 was built when large overhangs, narrow beams and full keels were the order of the day. Over 700 were built and most importantly, many are located in the Chesapeake bay.
The Alberg 30 represents a tremendous value in market. Just typing in Alberg 30 into Craigslist show several projects that are extremely affordable.
Case: Here is an Alberg 30 that is listed by a 501c for $ 1500.
Here is the important details from the listing:
"Classic Carl Alberg design, built by the Whitby Boat Works in Ontario, Canada in 1965."
"There are no sails and the engine is in need of some carburetor work. To my knowledge, it has not been overhauled since launch."
So lets assume the rigging could be used as long as it is inspected. The major things needed to be taken care of are sails and the engine. Lets assume the engine is not running and needs to be replaced. We also will assume all the work will be done by the owner. (you)
Sails from Bacons (used sail depot): I see a main on there for $ 250 and a Jib for around $ 400.
A newly rebuilt Atomic 4 would be $ 4900. You can get the short block option for $ 3100
Also lets put in another $ 1,000 for through hulls, bottom paint and Cetol to brighten her up. And lets add a $ 1,000 for hauling the boat and storing it for 6 months to complete all the work.
So we're at $ 7,250 with a new engine or $ 4,150 if we are able to get it running and luck out with the condition. For a little over $ 4,000 we have a boat that could have lived aboard in relative comfort, or sailed to the ends of the earth with more upgrading.
This is another listing that I believe represents a better value than the one above, including an almost new diesel for $ 8,000. New Diesel engines run between $ 6,000 – 10,000.
My purpose here is to list out the realistic cost of buying an old boat and getting it back into shape. But more importantly, its to inspire you to get out and take the plunge into sailboat ownership. "The satisfaction and exhilaration sailing can offer is defined not by the price of the boat, but by the measure of a sailor's spirit." – LC