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Home / About / More Information for Prospective Owners

More Information for Prospective Owners

Some thoughts for potential purchasers 

If you’ve delved this far into the Sigma 38 website the chances are you may be considering buying one, so here are some thoughts to help you make the right choice.

The boats are all coming up to the 20 year mark, and even the better ones will require some work, so its important to know what to look for, and this article will help you get started.  Far more importantly there is a huge body of knowledge amongst the present owners that new and potential owners can tap into by phoning or e-mailing us, or even looking around our boats for a comparison.

In that 20 years no huge problems have come to light despite many thousands of miles sailed. Such problems as have occurred are readily solved, and essentially you will be buying a wonderfully robust and seaworthy vessel that will hold its value, and always maintain a demand on the second hand market should you wish to sell it on.

But how much do you pay? Some boats are immaculate, others are frankly cosmetically wrecked. Equipment varies and as do sails and instruments. A cosmetically tatty boat with brilliant sails and instruments will appeal more to a potential owner who is happy to work on the boat himself, but a yard would charge a fortune to get the varnish work up to scratch.

A good starting point would be that a boat in good cosmetic condition, with instruments less than 4 years old and all sails less than 2 years old, with no structural problems, should fetch £70 K.  If the instruments and sails are older – reduce the price pro rata. Go through the checklist below and get quotes for replacing /repairing / renovating where necessary and come up with a realistic price.

Rig  – Check boom – especially where vang strut attaches and fore and aft castings have worked loose. Spi pole ditto. Mast is usually OK but look at gooseneck casting and its rivets, if rig is 10 years old it all needs replacing – at 5 years you probably need to replace some. Check running rigging where it goes thro clutches – and the clutches themselves ( tho the cams are replaceable). Spi gear should be hi-tech rope.

Steering pedestal – needs bearings changed every 2-5 years – look for slop in the steering. See article re rudder shaft supporting plate in the technical section. (Minimal cost if you do it yourself)

Keel – a well-maintained boat will have no rust on the keel itself – though some rust around the root is inevitable. Small cost for a do it you job – significant if done professionally.

If the floor matrix has been glassed to the hull and the keel bolts rest on a large plate along the length of the keel – the boat will be enormously strong. If this mod has not been done I would recommend it – shouldn’t break the bank but get a quote.

Instruments - Assume they die after 4 years outside and 8 inside. Almost certainly the biggest pain and money drain on any boat. 

Stanchions – if they haven’t been re-bolted / masticked /replaced in last few years they WILL be a site of leaking as generations of sailors have fended off with them – Its fiddly and if holes haven’t been cut in the headlining – they haven’t been done. Cheap and time consuming to DIY – get quotes for it otherwise.

Main cabin windows – the original designs leak! If the cabin woodwork isn’t stained – there is not a problem. Some folk manage to get them watertight – I failed and had a better design made up.

Engine – If it starts immediately from cold – has no rust /oil leaks and looks well cared for it should be OK.   If none of the above think “expense”!


Dacron sails last for ages for cruising – though are only fast when new. Film sails are faster longer – then just fall to bits. Many boats will have a selection of sails – most of which are past their best but will deliver you a win if you sail immaculately, and whilst take into account the new cost when working out what to offer for your boat – don’t buy new till you are nearly winning or the sails are falling apart.

A good surveyor will add to this list, but Buy wisely and you will be getting twice as much boat for your dosh than any other on the market.

Last updated 17:15 on 2 November 2015

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