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RP1

Opinions on Wooden Superstructure

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Hi lovely boat people!

 

I’m new to boating (I’ve been to only a handful of boats), and I could really use some advice:
 

https://m.apolloduck.com/boat/simolda-36-cruiser-stern/638492
 

Is this a reasonable price for this boat? Could I replace the wooden superstructure myself, or how much would it cost to replace?

 

Thank you in advance!

 

Riana

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Its very old, ex hire from Simolda so its probably been up and down the shallow Llangollen  canal most of its life. thin hull @5mm, any parts under 4mm would mean no comprehensive insurance.

Rather than replace the cabin, consider having a steel skin put over the top and retain all the interior. May be more cost effective. Timber top boats are now hard to sell.  They tend to be money pits. The back end looks to be a complete mess.

Engine condition? 2 cylinder water cooled Listers are not common.

 

I would think £6500 would be the maximum subject to a good survey result. London prices are way over what the rest of the country pay.

TD'

Edited by Tracy D'arth

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25 minutes ago, RP1 said:

Hi lovely boat people!

 

I’m new to boating (I’ve been to only a handful of boats), and I could really use some advice:
 

https://m.apolloduck.com/boat/simolda-36-cruiser-stern/638492
 

Is this a reasonable price for this boat? Could I replace the wooden superstructure myself, or how much would it cost to replace?

 

Thank you in advance!

 

Riana

IMHO DON'T buy in London you will pay a premium and you won't get a boat that's been boating which is what you want - what is your max budget - then we can give you better advice - again IMHO this one is a walk away

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24 minutes ago, RP1 said:

Thank you both for the great advice! £15k is my maximum budget.

 

 

It may not be what you want to hear, but with a £15k budget for a Steel narrowboat you will be buying something that probably needs as much again spending in the first couple of years.

For that sort of price you will get a 'good' Fibreglass boat.

 

What are your intentions

Is it for a liveaboard, or just weekend use ?

Do you plan to buy a mooring or just Continuously cruise ?

 

You really need different things depending on planned usage.

 

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I think I would avoid this. Hard to tell the condition from pictures but it was a pretty basic boat back in the 1970's. Advertiser says the hull is in good condition but that is unlikely to be true. The top seems to be not very good and if you took the top off there really would not be much left.  I would not pay more than a few thousand for it. In fact I really would not want it at all. I can usually see some potential in most boats but I can't see much in this. Sorry.

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The actual cabin is very short - maybe 20 ft or so? Quite a small space even for one person. It's not clear what's under the tarp at the stern. The centre steering is perhaps a bit unconventional (but not unheard of), I'd want someone experienced to check the arrangement as problems could be expensive. MIght be OK but the price asked seems a bit generous.

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At that age,the steel remaining on the hull may be rather thin.

Wood tops either leak now or are going to leak shortly making the inside damp and musty.Its unpleasant getting into a damp bed.A wood top needs constant attention to keep it almost watertight,that's why wood top boats are cheap.

Don't think this one is cheap though.

For 15K I think you could get a very good GRP boat.Have a look at Highbridge Crusader,Norman 24,Viking,and Atlanta.

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The vendor admits that the cabin at the back needs replacing. Can you do it yourself? That depends on your DIY skills and having the time available. Should you do it? In my opinion, no. On this boat, I don't think it is worth the effort involved.

 

The outside of front cabin doesn't look to be in great condition either, although it will probably last for a year or two yet. The fitout which seems to be mainly built from old pallets and wine boxes has a certain rustic charm, but would have some buyers running a mile. Only you can decide if you like it.

 

The vendor says the hull is in excellent condition, but on boats of this age they rarely are. It is common for such boats to need overplating to cover worn and pitted areas, and there is no mention of whether this has been done.

 

As others have said, I think it is overpriced. The vendor is trying to attract buyers who want to liveaboard, and think that £11.5 K is a heck of a lot less to pay for somewhere to live than the flats in the background of his pictures. It is, but that doesn't make it good value. If you want a boat in London, try looking at places further north.

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Interesting thread on Facebook about buying a boat to "Improve" https://www.facebook.com/groups/NarrowboatOwnersGroup/permalink/2698843023727302/

 

After buying my 60 ft narrowboat ( with a lift shaft) last year as a wreck, spending over £8000 plus (including £4000) on the hull new kitchen, new floor coverings in all rooms, painted throughout( apart from the bathroom), new curtains etc I've been told it's only worth £5000 more than I paid for it. Gutted is not the word, anyone else had a similar experience?

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2 hours ago, Tracy D'arth said:

 

Rather than replace the cabin, consider having a steel skin put over the top and retain all the interior. May be more cost effective. 

 

If I was doing that I'd skin it over in aluminium rather than steel. Lighter and less likely to affect the boat's stability, plus it won't rust even if you don't paint it.

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27 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

Interesting thread on Facebook about buying a boat to "Improve" https://www.facebook.com/groups/NarrowboatOwnersGroup/permalink/2698843023727302/

 

After buying my 60 ft narrowboat ( with a lift shaft) last year as a wreck, spending over £8000 plus (including £4000) on the hull new kitchen, new floor coverings in all rooms, painted throughout( apart from the bathroom), new curtains etc I've been told it's only worth £5000 more than I paid for it. Gutted is not the word, anyone else had a similar experience?

 

I guess the questions I'd ask that person would be "Were you really buying a wreck with the idea of making money on it by doing it up? If so what do you know about boats?"

 

It might be possible to flip a boat and make a little bit of money if you do all the work yourself, but in general it's probably not worth the effort.

 

On the other hand if she bought the boat to use or to live on I'd tell her to stop worrying about the money and enjoy the boat. There's no place for the property price mentality when it comes to boats.

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2 hours ago, Mad Harold said:

At that age,the steel remaining on the hull may be rather thin.

Wood tops either leak now or are going to leak shortly making the inside damp and musty.Its unpleasant getting into a damp bed.A wood top needs constant attention to keep it almost watertight,that's why wood top boats are cheap.

Don't think this one is cheap though.

For 15K I think you could get a very good GRP boat.Have a look at Highbridge Crusader,Norman 24,Viking,and Atlanta.

Thanks Harold!

 

I have been reading the forums and have seen mixed things about GRP boats. Would you recommend living on them?

 

 

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7 minutes ago, RP1 said:

Thanks Harold!

 

I have been reading the forums and have seen mixed things about GRP boats. Would you recommend living on them?

 

 

We need to know more about what you are going to do with it - is it just to be a cheap flat or are you going to go boating - will it be your only place to sleep if the winters turn nasty?

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3 minutes ago, Halsey said:

We need to know more about what you are going to do with it - is it just to be a cheap flat or are you going to go boating - will it be your only place to sleep if the winters turn nasty?

Ideally it would be a full time liveaboard with the goal to live there and get a feel for the CC lifestyle as a starter boat.
 

I’ve booked a narrowboat holiday from July 5th to get a better feel for the lifestyle also, but at some point, I’d just like to go for it! Living on it, I would want some amenities to make it inhabitable - heating, shower/toilet, cooker, but I totally get it isn’t a flat.

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welcome to the forum.

25k seems to be the minimum price for a narrowboat that one can live aboard without big upfront expenditure (or effort if you are diy type). GRP living is a bit rough.

I think if it is not urgent you should wait out this season, and try buying after november/december.

 

Edited by restlessnomad

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There are a lot of people on this forum who like plastic boats, but in general plastic boats are not for living on. There are quite a few with a wooden cabin built on the back and lived on, often known a "shed boats", a few have a bit of charm but many are just squats. Quite a few are lived on by homeless people who are trying to use them as a stepping stone to a proper narrowboat, and quite a few succeed in this.

 

At your end of the market a bit more money and a careful choice can be critical. If you can go to £20,000 you are more likely to get something that will be ok.

Up here in the North there are steel narrowboats for sale for less than £20,000 but they are still project boats and getting one down to London might be an adventure. You would likely need a toolbox and some skills.

 

................Dave

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I have no first hand experience of either, so probably not my place to say at all, but personally I would not buy a GRP boat for living aboard [Edit to add: Please see @Alan de Enfield and @TheBiscuits replies on this point - they know a lot more than I do!). Personally I would certainly not consider a wooden boat or boat with a wooden/GRP superstructure. These kinds of hulls may be fragile, high-maintenance, leak-prone, a fire hazard, fast-depreciating, and (I imagine) not that pleasant to live on in winter.

 

That said, a budget of 15K is unlikely to net you an all steel narrowboat, and if it does I'd be very concerned about its condition. Buying cheap is usually expensive - I'd personally not consider entering the market below 25K, myself. If you are dead set on a boat at 15K you may not be able to take my advice on this.

 

Have you considered a very small boat? A quick look on the Duck shows a number of narrowboats ~40' length in your price range. I haven't looked at any of the details, but that could be an option for you, particularly if you are living alone. If I was alone I'd certainly consider a short narrowboat - many costs are proportional to length, so you're likely to save a lot of money post-purchase as well. Not to mention that they will be a lot easier to handle in some ways, such as when finding moorings (particularly in urban areas).

Edited by ivan&alice
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36 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

Nor would I buy a GRP boat for living aboard. These kinds of hulls may be fragile, high-maintenance, leak-prone, a fire hazard, fast-depreciating, and (I imagine) not that pleasant to live on in winter.

GRP boats can be insulated to at least the same standards as steel boats and with central heating (ours has 8Kw blown air with 7 outlets in the 3 cabins) it can be 'toasty' within minutes.

 

The hulls are not as strong as steel, but 'fragile they are not', GRP boaters rely on skills when manoeuvering rather than hitting things and banking on the steel being able to take the damage, and of course maintenance is less than for a steel boat (nothing to rust !)

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1 hour ago, ivan&alice said:

probably not my place to say at all, but personally I would not consider a wooden boat or boat with a wooden/GRP superstructure.

 

That would have been a good point to end the post! ;)

 

1 hour ago, ivan&alice said:

Nor would I buy a GRP boat for living aboard. These kinds of hulls may be

fragile,

high-maintenance,

leak-prone,

a fire hazard,

fast-depreciating,

and (I imagine) not that pleasant to live on in winter.

 

And it's

no,

nay,

never,

no,

nay,

sometimes ... depends on the heating & insulation, but so does a steel boat ...

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52 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

GRP boats can be insulated to at least the same standards as steel boats and with central heating (ours has 8Kw blown air with 7 outlets in the 3 cabins) it can be 'toasty' within minutes.

 

The hulls are not as strong as steel, but 'fragile they are not', GRP boaters rely on skills when manoeuvering rather than hitting things and banking on the steel being able to take the damage, and of course maintenance is less than for a steel boat (nothing to rust !)

Alan I certainly defer to your opinion on this matter, so OP please do regard my comment on GRP as a layman's POV.

But, you cut the other bit of my comment out :)I was referring more to steel boats with wooden superstructures like the one to which OP linked. I concede I know very little about GRP boats; I'm basing my unfair assessment on the narrowboats I've been on that have had GRP and wooden superstructures which always seemed to be leaking, mouldy, cracked or otherwise damaged.
 

But I also don't think a fully GRP boat is the right choice for OP - they are a newbie (unlikely to have the "skills" you refer to) moreover your skills can't really avoid damage caused by collisions with other boats - which happen rather frequently in jam-packed London full of novice boaters.

 

In my first month of owning my (thankfully steel) narrowboat I was rammed at full speed amidships while moored in Kings Cross. The rammer was attempting to breast up to the boat ahead of me, and clearly had no idea what he was doing (I think he was a hirer). When I came outside to cheerfully offer assistance his panicking wife said "oh, Harold (or whatever), this man is going to help us!!!" with genuine relief in her voice.

End of that story is that there was no damage whatsoever, had I been in a GRP boat I have little doubt that my boat would have been in pieces at the bottom of the Regent's.

Edited by ivan&alice

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18 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

That would have been a good point to end the post! ;)

 

 

And it's

no,

nay,

never,

no,

nay,

sometimes ... depends on the heating & insulation, but so does a steel boat ...

Fair enough, I did say I don't know what I'm talking about, and I did say "may be"!

The boats I've seen with a different material for the superstructure have invariably been in appalling condition, but that could be a coincidence. I've seen enough that for myself, I'm put off for life, though!

I retract my comment fully and made an edit to my original post to make it clearer that I'm ignorant :)

Edited by ivan&alice

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1 minute ago, ivan&alice said:

Alan I certainly defer to your opinion on this matter, so OP please do regard my comment on GRP as a layman's POV.

But, you cut the first bit of my comment out :)I was referring more to steel boats with wooden superstructures like the one to which OP linked. I concede I know very little about GRP boats; I'm basing my unfair assessment on the narrowboats I've been on that have had GRP and wooden superstructures which always seemed to be leaking, mouldy, cracked or otherwise damaged.
 

But I also don't think a fully GRP boat is the right choice for OP - they are a newbie (unlikely to have the "skills" you refer to) moreover your skills can't really avoid damage caused by collisions with other boats - which is frequent in jam packed London full of novice boaters.

 

In my first month of owning my (thankfully steel) narrowboat I was rammed at full speed amidships while moored in Kings Cross. The rammer was attempting to breast up to the boat ahead of me, and clearly had no idea what he was doing (I think he was a hirer). When I came outside to cheerfully offer assistance his panicking wife said "oh, Harold (or whatever), this man is going to help us!!!" with genuine relief in her voice.

End of that story is that there was no damage whatsoever, had I been in a GRP boat I have little doubt that my boat would have been in pieces at the bottom of the Regent's.

Indeed - wooden-tops will never ne able to achieve non leaking status due to the differential expansion rates between wood and metal - the only way to mitigate this is to :

1) Remove completely, weld an upstand onto the gunwale and rebuild the wooden top, loosely attached to the upstand.

2) Over-cover the wooden-top with a steel 'skin, welded to the gunwale.

3) Remove the wooden-top and totally replace with a steel-top and then re-fit out internally.

 

GRP is surprisingly strong, we were on the River Trent with a couple of other boats, there was quite a flow going and as a Steel NB approached the lock landing he tried to turn, the flow 'got him' and he ploughed in (almost T-Boned) a GRP cruiser behind us as he had insufficient power or steerage to control the boat. The GRP made a few 'strange noises' but no cracks or breakage could be found. I'm not suggesting GRP is totally 'steel proof' but it is stronger than many think. If another boat hits you, then that is what insurance of for.

 

I don't think that London should be used as examples of either good or bad boat handling - it is a place to itself and unlike anywhere else - not typical of 90% of the inland waterways.

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1 minute ago, ivan&alice said:

I was referring more to steel boats with wooden superstructures like the one to which OP linked.

 

That's a fair point, but it's the join between the steel and the wood/GRP that causes the problem.  A boat fully built of either is fine, but a wooden boat needs staggering amounts of maintenance.

 

There are a lot more GRP boats from the 60s and 70s still afloat than steel ones, and many/most of the steel ones will have been overplated by now..  Admittedly less of the wooden ones survive, but see the previous paragraph.

 

1 minute ago, ivan&alice said:

End of that story is that there was no damage whatsoever, had I been in a GRP boat I have little doubt that my boat would have been in pieces at the bottom of the Regent's.

 

A Springer rammed my Nauticus and nearly sank itself!  I'm nice so I helped them after they sprang a leak ... :D

 

GRP (especially thick layups like they did in the early 70's) is a far more resilient material than most people think, and it can flex a frightening amount without cracking.  Some of the modern ones (90s onwards) desverve the nickname of splitters ...

 

5 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

I retract my comment fully :)

 

Nah, you were half right, and you did all your original boat research on a forum full of grumpy old men who have usually only owned one (steel, narrow) boat in their lives ... :D

 

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3 hours ago, blackrose said:

 

If I was doing that I'd skin it over in aluminium rather than steel. Lighter and less likely to affect the boat's stability, plus it won't rust even if you don't paint it.

But make sure the aluminium doesn't come into contact with the steel. Ask any Landrover owner ;)

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