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Mon, December 11 2023, 05:01Login ] [ Contact Forum Admin ] [ Main index ] [ Post a new message ] [ Search | Check update time | Archives: 12345678910 ]

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Date Posted: - Sunday - 01/ 4/15 - 1:54am
Author: Colby (Anxious)
Subject: Looking at a Mariner 31-- Do I go for it?

I've found what looks to be (on the yacht world ad) a very nice Mariner 31, built in '69. The current own I believe is even registered on here, but hasn't been active it seems. The boat is named the Sea Otter.

Also a link to the boat, and I'd love it if I could get some opinions on Sea Otter.


She is being sold for $8,900 which sounds very reasonable, however that is still outside my budget without some sort of financing, which is not an option through the owner. So I'd need some sort of personal loan of some sort, as I doubt I'd get approved for a boat loan given Sea Otter's age and low price, banks won't be interested.

I've spoken with the broker, and as it seems from reading this site that she has all the typical problems of the Mariner 31-- soft spots and moisture in the deck and cabin walls, among some other things. I've read over Randall's and others restoration projects and it looks like a lot of work, which I am more than willing to do, however the biggest factor for me is the expense. I've not been able to really find a dollar amount along with many of the projects done and posted on this site.

So my question is this: how much am I looking at in restoration if I did rebuild the deck and cabin walls much the same as Randall? I would try to do much of the work myself, but I am no expert, so I'd likely need professional help also.

A quick about me: I'm 23 and grew up along the Washington coast and have always loved the ocean; but have never gotten the opportunity to sail, or be on the water much at all having lived "below the poverty line". I would say that my passion for boats and sailing (rather than motor boats) developed rather suddenly, but somehow it made so much sense that it feels like it has been my dream for all my life. I'm eager, but obviously young and without means-- and I really don't want to jump into something that I can't afford.

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[> Labor is the big expense... -- Randall, - Monday - 01/ 5/15 - 11:36pm

Hey Colby,

Couple quick thoughts about your potential purchase:

1. You should probably assume that, if the boat has not already been rebuilt, it will need it. If you are just going to lake and bay sail, maybe patching the decks, etc., is fine. But if you really want to visit the ocean, I'd consider redoing the boat as I've done. At this point she's nearly twice your age. Sea Otter looks to be a lovely, solid boat...but if she's been in the PNW all these years... well, you get it.

2. That said, DON'T think you must do ALL these jobs all at once or before you go sailing. I rebuilt Murre over 8 years. I'd sail the summer weekends, anchoring, playing around, pushing her hard, and then I'd put her in a covered berth in the winter and work-away...one project per winter, or every other winter. I sailed my imperfect boat FAR MORE than the vast majority of Hunters and Catalinas and what not, even with her spongy decks and half rotten bow sprit. This has implications re cost: i.e. you don't need to be able to afford her entire rebuild right now. The work will take time, and so will the expense. BOTTOM LINE HERE from my perspective, work with the surveyor to establish that this boat is plenty usable now. You need to be able to sail her, to have fun now, in order to stay motivated--it will see you through the rebuilding.

3. Rebuild cost is mostly labor. If you do the work yourself you will a) save a ton; b) learn a ton. I doubt I will ever know a boat as well as I know Murre, and that's because I spent many a winter afternoon wondering...literally thinking through...how she'd go back together and how I could make her stronger.

I never tracked materials cost. Should have, but would have made me weep. One thing you might consider is to look at the end of my two big write-ups on the deck and then the cockpit rebuild. I list materials I used there. You could price those materials out yourself at today's costs...plywood, resin, paint, cloth, etc., and you'd have a good estimation of costs.

There is a well-worn adage about boat expenses, something like "make a budget, check the numbers, be very precise ... and when you are sure you have the right figures, *double them* ... and that will be about the right amount for your boat project."

This is a nice way of saying that no, you can't afford to buy this boat. It it will always be a major expense item in your life; it will take all your money and may cost you a girlfriend or two. It is the same with ALL of us.

BUT while she will always cost you, she doesn't need to be super-expensive. Buy Annie Hill's VOYAGING ON A SMALL INCOME and give it a read. Lots of tips there on boat building and cruising on a budget. Also, consider buying a smaller, all glass boat to start with. My first boat was a 24 foot raised cabin Columbia, 1967 vintage. Cost me $2500; had terribly old sails, old rig, old cushions below, but I didn't care...she was bomb proof and we sailed all over the place.

There's another adage appropriate to you should you choose this boat. It was made famous by Bill Kranidis, patron saint of Mariners. To wit: If you have a hammer and a saw, you can repair your Mariner and make her strong.

BTW, you are asking the right questions and clearly thinking it through. It's best to assume you must do all the work yourself. If that doesn't excite or intrigue you, give it a good long think...

Hope that helps a little.

Best of luck,


PS. Buying Murre was a terrible mistake. When I bought her, I entirely misjudged how much work she'd be. Murre changed my life. Murre was like a boat ownership university. Murre taught me everything I know, and then she took me safely and with great pleasure to Mexico, to Tahiti, Hawaii and Alaska. I'm not saying every sailor wants to tear his boat to pieces and build her back up again before sailing to paradise; I didn't. But it worked out just fine.

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[> hard yakka but worth it for me -- Caleb Bloxham Ardea #115, - Monday - 01/12/15 - 3:32am

Gday, we also bought our boat in need of a bit of repair and upon digging found that replacement was more the word.

It cost us about $15000 nzd and 3 months of full time labour, blood, sweat etc.

We replaced the decks, rebuilt the mast step, replaced the chainplates (3 were cracked right through and the rest weren't flash) repainted everything and a whole heap of little items, one day soon when I find some time I will post a write up. We got an excellent deal and I would have happily paid twice the price for the deal we got. We pulled the rig and went in to a shed and lived on her the whole time!

Would I do it again? Still on the fence on that one. I'm in a situation where I should probably sell the boat due to career comittments getting in the way of our plans to sail the pacific for a few year, but as yet I can't find the heart to put her up for sale even though it would probably be best.

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[> Anxious, Eh? -- Lawrence Hall, - Tuesday - 01/13/15 - 11:20am

Hello, Anxious Colby.

Appreciate RR's input and counsel re your consternation. A sailboat can be/is an expensive proposition in extrapolated costs...berthing fees, for example, not to mention essential restorations and improvements. It's also a consuming, noble life-passion (Cap "P"). Have and maintain the Passion and come to terms with the definition of "B-O-A-T" being "Bring-Out-Another-Thousand." Get used to it. Long live Passions!

I am steward to my fast-approaching "Bristol" M31 vessel, "Venture." Supporting the passion of Venture (#158), I live and work in Dubai...fly back and forth every few months working on the boat and/or coordinating work by others on same. The passion reached interesting proportions last year...to the extreme that I've taken a sabbatical for a year, live on Venture, sail her pants off, continue with updates and upgrades. Such a personal Passion! "Bring Out Another Thousand!"

The ubiquitous problem of soft decks on Mariners is simply a given. Will soon take an essential step backward (?) and tear 'em up, replace. FYI, I spent a huge amount of "Boat Units" on a full canvas body glove for Venture...keeps her fully protected and the water out when static...and lends to keeping the extensive bright-work bright!

G'luck. Happy to correspond with you. Maintain the passion!

Lawrence Hall

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[> get? -- Stephen (curious), - Friday - 10/23/15 - 3:13am

Did you find/ get your money pit?

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