Is Buying and Refitting a Project Boat Worthwhile?

Words by Erin Carey with Chris and Kelly McCall

Found in the 2024 Spring Issue

This is the age-old question – Are you better off buying a cheaper boat and re-fitting it, or finding one that’s ‘turn-key’? What if all you can afford is a doer-upper? Will it save you money in the long run, and how long is that run likely to be? Weeks, months or years? Do you need to be a jack of all trades and have experience in marine restoration projects, or can any Tom, Dick or Harry do it? I spoke to Chris and Kelly McCall to answer these all-important questions. You might be surprised by some of the answers. 

So, is Buying and Refitting a Project Boat Worthwhile? 

That is a valid question. My wife and I have spent the last three years doing just that. We found and bought our ’72 Nauticat 38, then gutted it down to the helm, bulkheads, and engine. Over the last three years, we’ve brought it back to bluewater glory and christened it Drifter. The process took us just over 4,000 hours of active work (that’s a full-time job for two years) with all the missteps and successes documented along the way on our YouTube Channel: Sailing Adrift. Wrapping up our refit puts us in a unique situation to be able to answer the question while the good and the bad is still fresh in our minds, and unsurprisingly our answer is YES! But that ‘yes’ is not for the obvious reasons and comes with plenty of caveats and qualifiers. I’m about to take you through the mindset and skills required to succeed, help you realistically estimate timeline and costs, answer the titular question in detail, and give you pitfalls to avoid and tips to remember should you choose to tackle this mountain. And hey, if you make it to the end of the article, still chomping at the bit to tackle your own refit; I say start shopping!……

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Read the Full Story and see more great photos – Click Here!

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