Fitting out a new boat can be difficult and very very expensive.I have known people to buy $20,000 boats and then drop another $50,000 to $60,000 on refits before they even touch water.Well my boat will cost around $3500 for the completed bare hull and cabin. See my post "Spira International 27 Foot Boat Plans Build Costs".I'm looking at another $2,000 for paint,finish,and interior,and roughly $2,000 for powering the boat.So what about electronics.This is a difficult one to put a price on.The one system that you want to be all new is the waste,water, and plumbing system.This could give you tainted water,flood your boat, and/or make it stink like a sewer,if old equipment is used.Pumps maybe ok with a good cleaning,but tanks and piping need to be all new.
Understanding Boat Plumbing and Water Systems
First,how will the boat be used?For the first two or three years,the boat will be trailered to lakes and coastal areas.Eventually,it will be used to do "The Great Loop Cruise". Knowing how I will use the boat and when I may need to make upgrades helps a lot.I can resell my old equipment, when I upgrade, to recoup some cost.To do this, I will have to buy decent quality reliable products and maintain them in as new condition as possible.I've rarely ever had problems taking care of things.
The Great Circle Route
Second thing,the power plant.Jeff Spira,the designer of my boat, recommends an outboard for power.I have some issues that make outboards a bit of a challenge to use as a means of propulsion.My area has a strict ban on two stroke outboards.That leaves me trying to find a four stroke with controls and gauges.Four strokes are a relatively new thing and used set ups are still fetching top dollar.I can't afford to pay around $10,000 for a 90 horsepower four stroke outboard set up.After consulting with Jeff Spira,he has approved the use of a sterndrive.These are plentiful in my area and cheap,relatively speaking.A good complete four cylinder 140 horsepower 3.0L Mercruise set up goes for between $1500 and $3000.
Third thing,I have a plan to cut costs,get most of the stuff I need,and possibly make a little money back.I will buy a donor boat that is complete and running good.I can find sterndrive boats in good operating condition between $1000 and $6000.Some even have twin sterndrives.That would give me a few options.1)Sell the extra sterndrive set up. 2)Keep the extra sterndrive set up as a back up. 3)Clean up both sterndrive set ups,sell them,and buy a completely new set up.My choice would be the 140 horsepower diesel Volvo Penta D3-140 sterndrive set up.These are hard to find on the used market and most are damaged.New they start out around $12,000.A new 3.0L Mercruise sterndrive set up runs $6000 to $8000.On rare occasions,they can be had for around $5000 to $5500,but come with a catch.They must be set up by a factory Mercruise service center.
Stern Drive Manuals
The donor boat.This is tricky depending on location or region.Most boats here are bow riders or water sport boats.All tho,it's not unusual to find cuddy or cabin cruisers for really good prices.Beware that a lot of boats are not properly maintained, and that's the reason they are for sell.Of course, one can get lucky at times and buy a boat that barely needs anything to be back on the water.Look for soft spots in the transom and floor.If they are soft then the stringers and flotation foam have been compromised,and the boat's structure has been compromised.This is a good negotiating point.It is really expensive and labor intensive prospect to gut a hull for transom and stringer replacement.
What can be used from the donor boat?This depends on what boat is decided on to be the donor.When building a boat you need everything.
Here's what I look for in a donor.
Power Plant-must be running with all controls and gauges.
Electronics-VHF,depth sounder,radar,gps,etc... in operating conditon.
Pumps-Wash down,bilge,fresh water,black water,and grey water.
Electrical-Batteries,inverter,charger,genset,breaker panel,fuse panel,switches.
Windows-I plan to build my own to fit my boats design.
Bimini Top and canvas-It won't fit the boat,but it can be modified and save some money.Resell is an option.
Interior-It's hard to reuse interiors but they can be modified to work.
Thru Hulls-Pure preference,but I want bronze if they're under water,and stainless steel above water.Plastic ones crack and fail.
Anchor,Rode,Bow Pulpit,and Windlass-These can usually be modified to work.
Heads(Toilet)-These things are a pain,save yourself the headache,buy new.
Sinks,Faucets,Showers-If these are in good condition,I will use them.I prefer stainless steel.
Tanks and Plumbing-All new.This was discussed earlier in this post.
Cabinets-These can be modified to work.
Hatches and Vents-These can usually be reused as is.
Swim Platforms and Ladders-Modified they can work.New they are outrageously priced.
Air condition unit(s)-These can be reused without much change.Good insulation can help keep the cool in.
Heaters-These can be reused without much change.
There is other items that can be reused but this is the most common expensive items.Anything that isn't used can fetch good money on Ebay or Craig's list.
RV's,motor homes,travel trailers can provide some good stuff also.I wouldn't use parts from them on a full time cruiser.A weekend cruiser should be fine.However,nothing will be USCG or AYBC approved.
Boat Systems Handbook