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Thread: Grand Banks Alaskan

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Anacortes, WA
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    We are relatively new boaters, (3 1/2 years) and having grown up on the high plains of Colorado do not have the background and experience many of you
    enjoy

    We have a 1991 36" Grand Banks (fiberglass) that is kept in the PNW. It is a great boat, in excellent condition and has given us no problems. Recently we started thinking of moving up to something larger and looked at a beautiful 53’Alaskan, hull #1 “Sparrow Hawk”. It is in near perfect condition, boathouse kept and shows like new even though it is a 1974 wooden model. The previous owners lavished money and attention on it to the extent that nothing was too good; they wanted only the finest of upgrades and repairs.

    My questions are:

    Are we taking a huge step backwards to consider a wooden boat, even though
    we would keep it under cover?

    What is the probability of being able to sell it at some point in the future? Will it depreciate faster than a newer fiberglass boat or is the depreciation all out of a boat at that age? It is priced at $349,000.

    I realize that repairs and maintenance will be higher than on a newer boat, but rather than pay $700,000 for a comparable newer trawler (Fleming) wouldn't it cost less to "pay as you go" and make repairs and upgrades as necessary?

    Would those of you with wooden boats do it again or is fiberglass the way to go?

    Our GB would probably sell for more than we paid nearly 4 years ago. I'm sure that won't continue indefinitely, at what point do boats really begin to lose value?

    There seems to be an intrinsic “quality” about this boat that is really appealing, I think some of has to do with the fact that it is wood. Am I being emotional rather than logical in my interest in this boat?

    Thanks in advance for any help or insight.

    By the way, you can take a virtual tour of this boat at http://www.customyachtsales.com/gran...randbanks.html

    Steve Wyatt
    1991 36’ GB Magic Carpet

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Salem, CT
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    311

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    Steve,

    Can't say I've got any advice for you, but welcome to the forum. I suspect this is going to be an interesting thread, mostly because of the two questions you asked, repeated below:

    Originally posted by Steve Wyatt:

    Are we taking a huge step backwards to consider a wooden boat...

    Would those of you with wooden boats do it again or is fiberglass the way to go?

    This might be kind of like going to a UAW convention and asking if you'd be better off buying a Japanese car.

    Or maybe going to a Hell's Angels rally and asking if a Harley would be a big step back from your rice burner

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
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    Couple of thoughts, the Alaskans were/are very formidable cruising yachts, and from what you've said, this one is in great condition.

    C'mon, man- Wood is always better than fiberglass!

    Seriously, you have a nice one now, and the older ones ride even BETTER and handle better; BUT, and there's always a but, they are wood. Thus, they come with the inherent differences in maintenance schedules, etc.

    Will she be in fresh water? I believe you mentioned covered. AWESOME. I would not keep my wooden boat if it wasn't under cover.

    $349,000 for that boat is PREMIUM price, and I doubt, without being for sale for a long time, if you ever would get it back out. ... and that doesn't include the maintenance on top of the price.

    You've got to look at what the market will bear- most Alaskans are going for $200,000 range or less. I know, I know, they are not in as nice of shape, but perception is reality.

    She'll outlast your fiberglass GB if you keep a decent annual maintenance schedule.

    You either love wood, or you don't ... emotion and wood go together, we are a dieing breed, no?

    A 1974 boat has typically bottomed-out with regard to depreciation, as long as you pay a reasonable price, and, if anything, it will only go up as it gets older.

    VERY IMPORTANT- forget what they tell you about "no expense spared" "finest of everything" la-la-la-la.

    Get a very thorough survey, in and OUT of the water with that kind of investment.

    If everything checks out as they say, offer them $275,000! They will probably take it, as it's been for sale for a while (probably) and there are not a whole lot of buyers for a 53' Alaskan.

    Even if you paid full price, and spared no expense on maintenance, it would be a long time before you'd reach the $700,000 plateau.

    Is she checks out, go for it.

    Brad
    Nothing else matters but how I raise my children ... and their opinion of me, as a father.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Location
    San Francisco Bay
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    11,910

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    To answer one of your questions, any boat, and wooden boats in particular, start to lose value just as soon as you stop pouring money into them and lavishing attention on them. It's all about maintenance. That said, are you man enough for Granny Goose? (A line from a potato chip ad of some years back, for those who have never eaten them.) The cost of maintaining any boat, wood or fibreglass, expands proportional to the CUBE of its length, if you want a rough estimate. Your maintenance cost and workload on the 51' will probably be more than THREE TIMES what it is on the 36' and if you don't keep up with it, you will see your investment go down the tubes. As for overall cost comparisons between wood and fibreglass, while you can let fibreglass go longer without as devastating deterioration as might occur with a wood boat, the maintenance costs are generally the same between the two materials. Painting the bottom of a glass boat is no cheaper than a wooden one. While you may have to paint the topsides more often with plain old oil based paint, have you ever priced a good LPU job on a glass hull? LOL

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Pleasant Valley NS Canada
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    Steve, be forewarned that you are asking a collection of wood boat fanatics whether wood is better than FRP, and you will undoubtedly get a fairly one-sided reply. Be that as it may be, recent studies have shown that the average cost of maintaining a moderate-sized wooden boat vs an FRP one to similar standards is about equal. Usually, the initial cost of wood vs FRP is higher due to increased skilled labour required to build the product. The cost of major overhauls and repairs for wooden boats is usually on par with, or slightly less expensive than, an FRP boat. Resale value varies wildly, depending on location, make, model, and features of both types of boats, but Grand Banks boats hold their value VERY well and a well-maintained wooden GB will usually fetch a better price than an FRP one. It is not unusual for them to appreciate above their purchase price.

    You may wish to look up an article in Passagemaker magazine a few issues back in which they featured GB "woodies".

    My usual reply to clients who are vacillating on this question is to ask them to define their source of enjoyment while on board a boat - do they merely want to have a floating motorhome that they turn the key, go on vacation, and take it to the shop when it is broken or needs maintenance, or are they the type who like to immerse themselves in the ephemera of "being at sea" and would rather be doing "boaty" chores rather than watching TV? If the former, go for 'glass - the woodie will suffer from your stewardship or lack thereof; if the latter, get a woodie and explain very carefully to your wife & kids that if they want to see you, they'll have to come to the marina. Not because the boat needs your constant attention, but because you want to and like it. If you go for the woodie, you will gain insight into the quote from "The Wind in the Willows": "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - quite so worth doing as simply messing about in boats!"

    All things being equal (including my predjudices on wood & FRP), if you can afford the covered mooring and accept the discipline of regular low-key maintenance, the GB would be a better investment, IMHO. There are also intangibles inherant in wooden boats that cause their owners to become rabid proponents of the type, such as better thermal and acoustic insulation inherent in the hull material, a more comfortable sea motion due to the difference in weight distribution of the hull structure, and the vicarious "feel" of wood to the touch. Get a comprehensive survey by a qualified surveyor experienced in wooden boats before you buy.

    Good luck, and remember to keep her well, because in thirty years when someone is setting about to restore her to her former glory, you don't want to overhear from above that "it would have been easier if the bastard Wyatt hadn't butchered it!"
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Jax Bch FL
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    14

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    There's a 46 Alaskan at the marina where I live. Got hit by the sportfish in the next slip about 2 weeks ago. Not a lot of damage but just made my stomach turn.

    Check out www.gbwoodies.com if you haven't already.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    my fishing hole
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    Very familiar with those boats. The older 49 footers were great boats. Price is too high. Even with the condition being a top 10, that only makes it able to be sold in a shorter periond of time. Find a Buc book and check prices of asking for the 49. I don't remember how many 53s were sold in the U.S. but there is an outfit in Ft. Fla. that has been a Grand Banks Dealer for more time than any other dealer I think that will give you some info on them.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
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    Alexandria, VA
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    mmd,....thats good, sound advice.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
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    Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
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    Steve, I think mmd's assessment is accurate and his advice is sound. A pretty vessel, by the way.

    I would only add that I know lots of people who have retired with both kinds of boats, and the ones with the beer and TV daily schedule die off way ahead of the ones who always have some daily chores to do, that they enjoy doing.

    If you love a boat, then taking care of her is a pleasure (unless dealing with a faulty head, and a few other exceptions). There is always something new to learn, and that keeps you mentally fit. And puttering around is good for the soul.

    A wooden boat guarantees they'll be some opportunities for those things.

    And then there's the matter of beauty...

    Alan

    [ 08-21-2002, 05:16 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

  10. #10
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    Jun 2001
    Location
    Memphis TN.
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    Not to mention the smell. [img]smile.gif[/img]

  11. #11
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    Oct 2001
    Location
    Coldwater, Ontario, Canada
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    906

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    On the subject of fibre v. wood - I recently saw a 35'er fibre sailboat (C&C?) for sale in a marina at Penetang harbour. It isn't very old, maybe 20 years, but the survey found rot in the deck (balsa core) from hardware fittings. Knocked the value of the boat way back, and it will be a major job to rebuild. (There's an example in the latest Gougeon newsletter.)

    This is an example of the maintenance problems that are being found in fibreglass.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Dana Point, CA, USA
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    Wyatt,

    No matter how premium, that's a $175K boat your looking at. GB woodies of that size sell slow, and there are a couple others on the market right now.

    53' Grand Banks Alaskan 1974 US$ 225,000 P U TD W Holden Beach, NC
    53' Grand Banks ALASKAN 1974 US$ 179,000 P U TD W POINT PLEASANT, NJ


    If you're in the boat about $170K, you have a chance of getting out of it. I personally would never, ever pay more than $100K for any wood boat, cause I'd never get it out again. Fife and boats like that might be an exception. While the GB woodies are good investments, especially the GB36 and GB42, the lesser know (to the market) Alaskans sell a bit slower.

    Maintenance issues aside, expensive wood boats (over $100K) are generally a bad investment, and are difficult to resell. By contrast, your GB36 in FRP could be resold in less than 60 days.

    I am perenially in love with would boats, though. They just don't make a whole lot of financial sense.

    Adam C (yacht broker, California)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
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    I suspect that what Adam says may be true in the California market.

    I am told that things are different in other markets, for instance, in the Port Townsend area.

    But I don't have enough personal knowledge or experience to draw firm conclusions as to reasonable fair market values of these vessels.

    Perhaps RGM or some others from the PNW may offer some helpful information...

    Alan

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Anacortes, WA
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    Thanks to everyone who has offered advice and comments rgarding this boat. The big issue as I see it seems to be the price being asked, $349,000 for a 1974 Alaskan. I have a copy of the survey done for the current owner 2 years ago indicating a value of $375,000 and $400,000 for insurance purposes. The boat sold at that time for $400,000 according to the broker!

    A 55' Alaskan sold recently in La Conner, WA for $325,000. There must be some real differnces of opinion around the country on what these boats are worth. Do they really have that much more value in the PNW?

    Thanks again for all the help, will keep you posted on our decision.

    Steve Wyatt

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2000
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    Do some research- you will find the old(er), largeer motoryachts tend to have a higher value in the PNW vs. let's say Florida.

    There's a very strong wooden boat appreciation and following in the PNW.

    Brad
    Nothing else matters but how I raise my children ... and their opinion of me, as a father.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
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    At Sea Aboard Royaliste
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    The boat market is very soft everywhere right now. Softer here in California than Washington, but none the less, soft. Offer half the price and work up, if necessary. There is a large pilothouse motorsailor 53' on deck, made by American Marine{Grand Banks} listed at 90K. The market is r e a l l y soft.
    At Sea Aboard Royaliste

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