Trolling for sailboats the other week lead to an interesting find; an Allmand 35 listed for $7500. In the last Sailboat Sunday post we discussed an arbitrary and invisible line called “thirty feet”. Every once in a while, something will pop up for less than $10K (our fictional budget) that is over 30 feet in length. In this case, a sailboat that fits nicely in the middle.
I tend to agree, based on personal experience and observing several other liveaboards, that a well designed sailboat between 33 and 38 feet in length is a sweet spot. Small enough to comfortably single hand, not too hard on length-derived service costs (slips, haul-outs), large enough to provide unique spaces for life activities, reasonable chance of finding something with headroom (at six feet tall, I have a personal desire for this), and plenty of storage for reasonable needs.
Why do I say this?
- My personal experience living aboard our Tartan 37, Persephone, led me to find it the perfect size. Safe and comfortable at sea too.
- In Charleston, I had one neighbor on a Catalina 34; similar experience, in that he had everything he needed and incentive to leave it that way!
- In Fernandina Beach I had a Westsail 32 as a neighbor. Again, great sailboat layout and one happy guy.
- Search across the web for those who are out there: Webb Chiles (Ericson 37, She 36) and Bob Wise (Cal 34).
So let’s see what’s for sale this week. In the Annapolis Craigslist, I found the following:
Features from the listing:
- Yanmar 27 that needs replaced
- Oven/stove unit needs replacing
- Last surveyed in 2011.
From the reference data, the Allmand 35 tri-cabin model has the following stats:
- Length: 34′ 9″
- Beam: 11′ 8″
- Draft: 4′ 8″
- Displacement: 15,100 lbs
- Ballast: 4300 lbs
- Fuel tank (stock): 40 gals
- Water tankage (stock): 95 gals
What makes this a good potential liveaboard?
Bottom line: size. When approaching a decision like purchasing a home, especially a sailboat as a home, one needs to consider many factors. One factor I use is the “what can I change and what can’t be changed?” factor. Example: there’s no point in imagining a townhouse will ever become a stand-alone house. Without significant financial investment (i.e., buying the townhouses around you, knocking them down,e tc.) you will always have a townhouse. With sailboats, what are those factors you can’t easily change? Dimensions are certainly one of them. At this price point, and knowing what I do now, I’d consider this a reasonable trade-off. Plenty of space to enjoy now, and a targeted plan of how to restore systems over time if I was tight on funds. This is based on previous experience as well; our Tartan 37 sold for $6500 without a working engine.
The five foot draft means this vessel is capable of doing most all of the regular cruising grounds found in the East coast of America. Caribbean jaunts are definitely possible. And ocean-crossing capability is available with some additional planning and assessment. Rather than a “starter” boat, this could conceivably be a long-term home investment.
At first glance, much of the vessel appears in good condition. Stainless rails topside mean less maintenance. A nice enclosed cockpit area means additional living space (and a buffer against the snow if you lived aboard in northern climes). Some water damage below that needs looked to, but nothing impossible to overcome.
One feature I enjoy is the tri-cabin layout. V-berths are fine for sleeping in port, but not much good at sea. I much prefer to convert them into purposeful storage (sails, Rubbermaid totes, etc.). A quarterberth (a berth in the aft quarters of a sailboat) provides good motion when at sea, and quick access to the cockpit should something be going on. In this case, the aft cabin would also be fine for in port use, meaning no changes to sleeping arrangements while going to sea.
And the midship placement of the sink means a great galley layout for cooking both in port and at sea.
Factors to consider:
Price: Based on our fictional $10K budget, this vessel does push us right up to the edge without much margin. That said, this particular listing tells me that much of the sailboat is probably in good condition (relatively speaking) so that I only need to focus on a few significant items to be live aboard ready.
Engine: As mentioned, the seller assumes the engine needs full replacement. A qualified diesel mechanic would be a worthy investment to better make that call. If possible, we’d like to salvage and reuse what’s available, and as long as repair of the Yanmar is budgeted appropriately, it may be a worthwhile investment in time (not getting out there) versus money (using up our budget and saving for any additional needs). If this truly is a case for total replacement, then several options open up. This vessel is likely too big to effectively do an outboard-in-well setup, but one option could be a drop-down outboard such as Yves uses on his Alberg 30. Alternately, this could be a candidate for electric conversion, assuming the prop and drive shaft are in good condition. Or be ready to jump on a good engine replacement. As mentioned though, I’d consider this a reasonable purchase with a plan to sit in port for a year while steadily saving up for that engine replacement.
Floor: The cabin sole is listed as water damaged, and we’d need to see the extent of that. If the stringers (cross-members that support the floor) are in good condition, then replacing what’s there with a good solid plywood (marine grade or some of the well-bonded signage stock) and a non-skid floor covering is an option. I’ve successfully used an adhesive-backed vinyl with a tough tread pattern before; easy to install and maintain.
As mentioned, the engine story needs told first. I’m 100% a fan of those who sail purposefully without engines. They can become a crutch. That said, for many they are also a worthwhile aid for convenience and an alternate propulsion.
Secondly, this boat isn’t that old (1984), and so many systems are probably in reasonable condition. I’d take the time to conduct a good solid hand-over-hand walk-down of the major systems (electrical, freshwater, engine) and create working diagrams of the components to see what needs replacing, what needs cleaning, and what works just fine.
Sometimes a sailboat in this size range falls on the market, priced at a few thousand dollars, and it’s a turd. Lots of work necessary to get it into reasonable condition, definitely not sailaway ready. Truly where the term “Boat – bring out another thousand” comes from. That said, this particular vessel is one of the few that, for various reasons, comes in under $10K and is likely a good deal. Well appointed models may go for as much as $20K. So this could be considered a good invest. The potential downside being, if you make the purchase and start the work necessary to rehabilitate her, you are running down a clock called “interest in sailing”. If you know you have the long view, you can push through that period of time. But if you’re unsure, you may run the risk of loosing interest and then being the next person listing on Craigslist. And we wouldn’t want that!
Video of a similar model that was for sale.