Advice for first time laser buyer looking to get out on water for least combined expense/effort

tramp

New Member
Due to budget constraints (under $1000), my selection of boats is somewhat limited. There are some that are quite a bit cheaper (around $500), but are in need of some hull repair. One from 1977 has a crack in the cockpit that the seller "believes is just aesthetic", is rough, but the sails are in pretty good shape and comes with trailer:

77laser.jpg

Poor photo of crack on listing:
77lasercrack.jpg


Another boat for sale has a hole right in front of the dagger board slot:

daggerhole2.jpg


From my research it seems like perhaps the cockpit crack could be ok if it's just aesthetic as the post says (aka doesn't go through the fiberglass and leak), and that it would perhaps be an easier repair if it does, but a boat in such condition is likely to have soft spots as well. Are the initial savings of such a boat worth the potential work, etc that they come along with? Are these boats even worth what they are asking, $500?

I'm not too worried about class compliance. The local club has off-season racing were this isn't much of a concern. If I eventually want to race in the season, I would most likely resell the boat and just get something else at that point. By then I would have more experience and be more invested, and I'll be traveling next racing season anyhow so am in no rush. At the moment, it seems a lot to spend nearly as much as my car is worth (yes, I know my car is cheap ha) to get into a new hobby, but I also don't want to cheap out to the point that it drastically effects my experience.

At the moment, this is the only other boat within reasonable proximity listed on FB/Craigs within my price range. It's from 1979, asking $1200, and is in good condition according to listing:

1200laser.jpg


All of these boats come with everything needed to sail. I'm sure that for any of them I'm am going to need to personally inspect the hull, feel for soft spots, check the rigging and sails, etc to determine if they're worthwhile. I guess my overall goal would be to get something that will get me out on the water with the least expense/effort combined. As this will be my first sailboat purchase, I am pretty out of my depth, and appreciate any and all advice that you are able to share!
 
These are tough choices! Can’t say anything conclusive without actually getting one’s hands on the boats, but here are some thoughts:

The ”overgrown” boat: the area inside that C-shaped crack has definitely been pushed in a few mm, which means the core underneath has been crushed, and there may be water between the skins that is hard to get out. It’s NOT (purely) an ”aesthetic” issue. Hard to repair, needs really a professional to do it, and the end result may still not look very pretty.

The blue boat: looks nasty, but that’s actually a lot easier to repair. Can be done by an amateur. Need to install an inspection port on the deck, to be able to add fibreglass from the inside, too.

The yellow boat: looks nice & clean (at least from a distance), but I still think no 1970s boat should cost more than a thousand dollars/euros, even if there are extras included (a nice trolley and a fairly clean deck cover are a minimum), and it’s all legal, unlike the sail in the picture. It looks like there are some updates, and the seller probably expects that that should increase the resale price by a similar amount. That’s not how it works.

Do you have more pictures of these that you could post?

_
 
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It's hard to judge the blue boat from just that one photo but if that's it's only fault, the repair isn't too hard as LaLi says. It's been painted and the paint may have been applied to hide other problems. The paint will continue to get scraped off and being a different color than the gelcoat will show the scratches but maybe that's not important.

For any older boat be sure to check for mast step leaks and if not already done, I'd put in an inspection port and reinforce the mast tube. Doing that is WAY easier than fixing a deck that was damaged by a failed mast tube. There are lots of posts on this forum about that.
 
Thank you for your insight on those repairs! That gives me a lot more to go on. Here are some more photos of the boat(s) with holes right in front of the dagger board slot. That seller is actually selling two lasers, both with the same issue:
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369592987_23931795446434279_5229458679964415179_n.jpg
368906809_9828348713904337_5486127122977373500_n.jpg
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372255826_10086698288067612_5249520207894907622_n.jpg
365503876_6588018701245570_7307459141552149403_n.jpg

It looks like the one with the original white gel coat may already have an inspection port installed. Seller also has 4 mast/boom combos, and 3 sails in good condition with sail bags and spare battens. Asking $500 obo for each boat...

The $1200 boat from my original post only has the one photo on the listing.

There is another boat for sale nearby that I had overlooked because it doesn't come with a sail, but maybe I could buy the extra sail (and a mast/boom combo if needed) from the seller with the dagger board holes to use with the other boat... This would mean I wouldn't have to dive right in to fiberglass repair, but would cost me an extra couple hundred or so up front.

The boat without sail looks to be in good condition and is asking $600. Here are some photos from the listing (it doesn't come with the trailer):
372652348_1513543419384045_342447010239731306_n.jpg
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371973579_1513541766050877_5770784481485167813_n.jpg
373303582_1513541742717546_8266967023316060866_n.jpg


Neither of these listings mentions the year/age of the boat(s). The one without sail just says "older". Probably worth while to try and figure out age based on hull/sail number. If I'm able to figure that out, how much should I let age play into my decision?

I'm pretty handy and into DIY, so if the seller with dagger board holes will take a lowish offer for one of the boats that might be a better route for me, given that the repair isn't too difficult as you've said... But it also sounds nice to get something that I don't have to futz around with right off the bat...

Anyway, let me know what you think after a little more info/photos and thanks again!
 

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:D I was going to write a long detailed evaluation of each alternative, but I guess it’s really only the conclusion that matters: take the ”sailless” boat. Looks decent in the pictures, has no obvious flaws, and seems to include both Standard and Radial masts (so you don’t need to worry about your size one way or the other). The colour isn’t bad either - in the seventies and early eighties few boats had originally white bottoms. (All decks were ”ivory” like that.)

Reasonably good/reasonably priced used sails should be easy to come by; ask the top sailors in your area.

About the ages of the boats: North American -built hulls of that time period (1975 - 79) have an embossed HIN (Hull Identification Number) on the transom. It tells the builder (either ”ZFS” in Montreal or ”PSL” in California), the sail number, and the building month and year. In ’79 the format changed a bit, but it still contains the sail number, which is the hull’s ”identity”, and tells its approximate vintage. That said, I wouldn’t worry about the exact age - it’s a late 1970s boat at 600 $, and doesn’t look like a bad deal :)

_
 
Since yesterday that listing has been updated. They are now including the sails and asking $1500 :/. From listing:

"This is an updated post for the laser that I posted last week.
Laser sailboat Includes:
blades and sails (main sheet and recreational vang)
radial and full rig with sails
Blades and blade bag
Easy to car top on racks
Hull is in good shape with some rubs in the gel coat."

That's outside of my price range and I'm not sure that the additions warrant more than doubling the price... I wont be able to see any of the boats until this weekend at earliest, maybe even next because of life. Am I right in feeling that now is a good time to buy, as summer is coming to a close? I don't wanna be in a rush, but don't want to miss good buying opportunity either.
 
The boat with the inspection port near the mast has some delamination of the deck in that area around the mast. Maybe that was addressed when the port was installed, maybe not. Also, one of the gudgeons is bent, but no big deal.

As far as boat age goes, the Laser I have now is among the earliest (#555) and has been well used. While it does have its faults it is certainly suitable for the uses you intend, at least initially.
 
Since yesterday that listing has been updated. They are now including the sails and asking $1500 :/.
I'm not sure that the additions warrant more than doubling the price...
+900 dollars for two used sails? Damn, even for two per rig those would have to be pretty new ones :confused:

Ok, so now it’s to the next white boat... which has its issues. The hole in front of the centreboard case can probably be satisfactorily repaired from the outside. (What has caused similar damage in both of this seller’s boats beats me. But I guess anything’s possible if you think it’s fine to have boats sitting on gravel...)

There may be something weird going on at and near the mast hole. The deck looks ”wavy”, but you need to take a closer look.

The lower rudder fitting is badly bent (I see Rob just noticed the same :rolleyes: ), and should be replaced with a new plastic one. (That’s why the stainless ones were discontinued at the time, around 1976.)

Of the blades, choose (if you can) those with the least of those tiny rust spots. Of the spars, take the newest boom, any lower mast, and two newest topmasts. Two of the latter seem to have blue plugs which mean they’re decades newer than the hull. And sails... just take the least ugly one.

Will give more detailed what-to-look-for hints when you need them :)

_
 
What are your intentions with the boat? Do you want something you can sail leisurely in light wind? Something you can drag up on the beach? Something the kids can use without you worrying about them destroying it? Do you care if the rigging is good quality and up-to-date, or does it need to just be functional.

Or, are you most interested in learning how to sail a Laser (ILCA), making it go fast, and racing it? Your answers will dictate which path will be the overall most economical in the short and long run.
 
What are your intentions with the boat? Do you want something you can sail leisurely in light wind? Something you can drag up on the beach? Something the kids can use without you worrying about them destroying it? Do you care if the rigging is good quality and up-to-date, or does it need to just be functional.

Or, are you most interested in learning how to sail a Laser (ILCA), making it go fast, and racing it? Your answers will dictate which path will be the overall most economical in the short and long run.
At the moment my intentions are to continue to learn to sail by getting out on the water frequently. No kids, but I tend to use things kinda hard. Of course though, I'll do my very best to take care of the boat.

A laser fits my current needs being light, car-topable, and not taking up too much storage space. Besides them being one of the most popular small sailboats ever... And who doesn't like going fast? I like the idea of racing, but that's not a main priority at the moment. I guess racing would really aid my overall learning curve in sailing though, and the local club has off-season races where class compliance isn't a big issue, so that sounds like a good place to start.

My housing/storage situation hasn't historically been super consistent, though I guess I could leave the boat at my folks place during extended travel if needed. My thoughts were to get something affordable for the time being and then sell it and upgrade if/when needed, whether that's for racing or other reasons. Who knows what life may bring... [:

I don't think I'm gonna get a boat super close to race-ready in the $1000 range, but I guess the difference in price of updating a boat on the low end of my budget for competition might end up being more than something on the higher end in an overall cost comparison. I'm not sure how substantial the difference would be though, as I know that 1000 is on the low end for lasers in general.

Anyway, that's where I'm coming from. Let me know if that influences your recommendations in any way. Cheers!
 
It sounds like you are starting out in Laser sailing much the same way I did. I started with the same intentions and strategies that you have expressed. Knowing what I know now, I would have done it differently. I wasted a lot of money and time buying and trying to fix up old boats, trying to get into it on the cheap. Instead, I would have saved my money and bought a 2005 or newer, solid, completely outfitted boat with dolly and trailer that is ready to race. If you are patient, do your research, you can find them for good prices. Why would I do it this way?
- It will be easier to learn with a good boat. You will learn faster.
- It will be more enjoyable to learn with
- It will be equipped with upgraded vang, cunningham, outhaul, reinforced boom, etc. that will make it up-to-date and easier to sail and easier to sell if you need to. Boats before 2003? have the old, outdated, inefficient controls and rigging. The older boats can be upgraded, but it costs.
- In the long run, it will cost you less than trying to renovate and upgrade old boats. Replacing lines, blocks, cleats, sails, etc. adds up very quickly, even just to get the old boat running.
- If you are going to take care of the boat, then if you pay more to get a solid boat that is ready to sail and race, you will be able to get all of your money out of it (and maybe a small profit) when you decide to sell it - hopefully, to upgrade to a new boat.
You can probably tell that I learned a lot of lessons trying to do it the way you are proposing. I am hoping you can avoid those mistakes and save yourself some money.
 
It sounds like you are starting out in Laser sailing much the same way I did. I started with the same intentions and strategies that you have expressed. Knowing what I know now, I would have done it differently. I wasted a lot of money and time buying and trying to fix up old boats, trying to get into it on the cheap. Instead, I would have saved my money and bought a 2005 or newer, solid, completely outfitted boat with dolly and trailer that is ready to race. If you are patient, do your research, you can find them for good prices. Why would I do it this way?
- It will be easier to learn with a good boat. You will learn faster.
- It will be more enjoyable to learn with
- It will be equipped with upgraded vang, cunningham, outhaul, reinforced boom, etc. that will make it up-to-date and easier to sail and easier to sell if you need to. Boats before 2003? have the old, outdated, inefficient controls and rigging. The older boats can be upgraded, but it costs.
- In the long run, it will cost you less than trying to renovate and upgrade old boats. Replacing lines, blocks, cleats, sails, etc. adds up very quickly, even just to get the old boat running.
- If you are going to take care of the boat, then if you pay more to get a solid boat that is ready to sail and race, you will be able to get all of your money out of it (and maybe a small profit) when you decide to sell it - hopefully, to upgrade to a new boat.
You can probably tell that I learned a lot of lessons trying to do it the way you are proposing. I am hoping you can avoid those mistakes and save yourself some money.
What price range are we talking as far as waiting around for a "good price" on a 2005 or newer fully outfitted boat? I spent just over 2k on my current car; It's old yet reliable and I do all of my own maintenance. Anything nearing that in expense is definitely gonna feel like a big stretch for me to get into a new hobby.
 
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I think you could find something for around $3000 with a little patience. Maybe even something for closer to $2000. I've been able to find them and buy them for friends at those prices. Remember, though, you are looking for a complete ready-to-race boat that includes dolly, trailer, good sail, nice controls, and possibly carbon fiber tiller and extension - and maybe even both radial and full rig top sections. If any of those components are missing, you eventually will be paying more to get them.
 
Let's not loose sight of the title of this thread and the clear statement from the original poster that her/his budget for this boat was $1000. Racing was a maybe. I would hate to see this person get the idea that the only boat worth considering is race ready and give up on getting a Laser. There is a lot of fun to be had with this boat whether racing or not!
 
Some excellent advice by the commenters before me. Personally, i would only consider the yellow boat. The others are going to cost you more in time and money than they are worth. I love the guys who left a severely beat up boat out in mother nature for 3 decades and then want to "sell" it to someone. A 70's boat in good condition is fine for casual sailing or even club racing. You mentioned a local club. Perhaps one of the club members (Laser sailor) can inspect a boat with you before you buy it? They can look at the mast step (very important) and lift the boat (dry hull is important). You might buy them lunch for their time. If you are in need of a legal sail, i have one that i would give you. I have one the came with the boat that is in good shape. No stains, no fading, no tears. I have 2 newer race sails so i won't ever use that 3rd one again. I would charge you $15 or whatever UPS charges me
 

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