Prospective Buccaneer owners are constantly asking questions about what to look for in a used Bucc, here’s a rough guide put together by a recent Bucc buyer, Doug King. Doug is an experienced sailor who has bought & sold many boats over the years, and his perspective as a newer Bucc buyer is worth reading.

Thanks Doug for putting this together.

Buying The Right Buccaneer For You
Now that you’ve decided to buy a Buccaneer, we don’t need to discuss all the good reasons to do so.
Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of bringing your new, or new-to-you, Buccaneer; and then getting out
on the water and really sailing!
FINDING A BUCCANEER FOR SALE- Everybody knows about Craigslist, right? This on-line ad website has
everything, everywhere. Make sure you’re going to craigslist.ORG because there are some bad things
associated with the faker websites using dot-com addies. There are also some other resources, the class
website links to a Bucc-for-sale listing page on Facebook; you may find one at a local sailing club or
marina. A good step is to decide how far you are willing to drive to get one.
FINDING- Don’t get too enthusiastic. It’s easy to say to yourself “Yes, I will drive for 6 hours across 3 or 4
states to get a Buccaneer” but it is unlikely that you’ll complete the quest. Or worse, you may put in a
long day of driving for a boat that is not really what you want. So keep it realistic! How far would you
drive to see a boat that you’d better turn down?
FINDING- Another important step is to decide how much you are willing to spend. Remember that even
if you are buying new (Nickels Boat Works 888-609-2827 they do beautiful work) you will have some
stuff to buy afterward, so don’t shoot your wallet in the foot.
Rough Price Guide- as always, the market makes it’s own rules. However here is what I have seen (we
will have a section on evaluating condition, see below). Thru 2015, I was actively hunting for Buccaneers
in the eastern US, and found they average about $1,250 in asking price. About 1/3 had galvanized
trailers (more below).
Under $1,000… you can find lots of boats in this price range, but they will need new gear, rigging, or
repairs.
$1,500… In this range you should be able to pick up a boat that is truly ready to sail. Maybe the sails and
ropes are tired, and it needs some minor work.
$3,000+… In this range you should be able to pick up a boat that is in good shape and close to
competitive. It should have good blocks & cleats, good lines, sails less than 6 years old.
$7,000+… Second-hand Nickels boats, 2006 and newer. There are fewer of these than any other
make/builder.
Sails are a HUGE part of the value of the boat. Many of us have spent more on sails than on the boat
itself.
Spinnaker- you don’t need the bow launcher to fly a spinnaker, but you do need the pole ($200), sail
($600+), sheets & halyards ($100+ for the good stuff), blocks & cleats ($225+ for the good stuff). That
means a –good- racing spinnaker rig adds at least $1,000 to the value of the boat. Obviously the
contributed value will be less if no ratchet blocks, 2nd-hand Flying Scot spinnaker (which is what one of
my boats has; hey it works and it cost $110) etc etc.
Note- you don’t really need a spinnaker to race. The Buccaneer genoa is large that winging it out can
provide a LOT of drive downwind, and I’ve personally seen Buccs sailing wing-n-wing keep up with
spinnaker-flying Buccs. Spinnakers are a lot of fun though!
Main & Jib- It is difficult to find 2nd-hand sails for the Bucc. It’s possible, but assume that if the object of
your Craigslist desire has no sails, or 40+ year old rags, then part of enjoying your Bucc will be to fit her
with some sails to make her GO properly.
Kit sails- Yes you can get a pre-cut kit and sew up your own sails. Still gonna cost about $500 or more.
“Bargain” or “sweatshop” off-brand new sails- Some only cost a little more than a kit and look very
good. Pay attention to sailcloth weight, and details like whether you’re getting battens, etc etc.
Big-Name Sails- Don’t kid yourself, even the big names have their sails cut & assembled in 3rd-world
sweatshops. However the big names have the best airfoil designs, for gaining best performance in close
races. And the finishing of the new sails I’ve seen the last few years range from beautiful to fantastic.
Mainsails range from $850 to $1,250, genoas from $495 to $795 (prices as of 2015)
Also remember that you may have a local sailmaker. Give them a call. Don’t expect them match the
cheapest sweat-shop price, be ready to pay something for better and more personal service.
TRAILER- Also a big big part of the value. You see Buccs on yard trailers or those Home Depot kit trailers;
yes, this can work but it’s not good long-term gear. Condition of the trailer is important, but the way it
has been fitted to the boat is also important. Are the bunks in good contact with the hull? Are the rollers
mounted and adjusted so that the hull can launch & retrieve smoothly? How about the winch and the
mast prop? A well-cared for boat may be run down but all these details will have been attended.
TRAILER- Tires? Make sure they are inflated to within 10% of their rated pressure, even if they look a bit
cracked. If they are badly cracked or sun-rotted, plan to stop by the closest tire shop (call first!). If you
know how to grease bearings, it would be a good idea bring some tools (don’t forget the clean-up rags)
and make sure the bearings are good before hitting the road. I don’t worry about trailer lights & wiring,
because I always use a “light bar” that goes on the stern of the boat.
HULL- No cracks, duh. Actually, with older boats, spidery cracks in the gelcoat are very common and not
necessarily bad. Obvious structural cracks, well if you want to fix them then go ahead. Sight along the
bottom of the hull to see if it is ‘mushed in’ around the trailer supports.
Note- I consider a damaged hull to have zero monetary value. In fact, the owner should to have it hauled
out of his yard. A damaged boat –might- be worth considering, if everything else about the boat is
premium.
HULL- Gunwhale (should be smoothly curved & uniform); Mast Step (low or high); Hatches; Access; CB
trunk & gasket (look underneath!); Centerboard; Rudder
Note- when inspecting a hull, look out for critters. Wasps, ants, spiders & snakes… they like the boat too
RIG- First sight along the mast & boom, make sure they are not hooked or bent. Look for dimples in the
metal, and corrosion around fasteners. Look at the chainplates, especially inside the gunwhale where
they’re attached.
RIG (furler)- A major component is the roller-furling. Obviously you want a modern Harken roller, but
there are older/simpler versions that work well enough. The oldest system is a pipe in the jib luff, this
can work but is not optimal for many reasons. Unless the seller demonstrates it working perfectly,
assume one of these old pipe-luff rollers is non-functional and budget to replace it with a wire luff &
modern furler.
RIG (lines & blocks & cleats)- Inventory the rigging to see how much of the rigging is present &
functional. If my experience is any guide, any boat short of brand-new will have –something- missing or
broken. Main halyard & cleat; Mainsheet, blocks (ideally, the ones on the boom should be spread out),
and swivel cam-cleat; Main Outhaul, shackle & cleat (ideally internal to boom with pulley set close to
gooseneck); Main Downhaul; Boom vang (ideally 6:1 or more with swivel cam-cleat); Cunningham; Jib
Halyard and tensioner; Jib Sheets, blocks (ratchets on track at seat) & cleats; Jib Barber Haulers (few
Buccaneers are equipped with these, no worry); Jib Furling Line & cleat; Spinnaker Halyard and dousing
line, blocks & cleats; Spinnaker Sheets blocks (turning & ratchet) & cleats; Spinnaker Pole topping lift &
cleat; Spinnaker Pole hold-down & cleat; Twings/guy hooks; Rudder hold-down & cleat on tiller;
Rudder Uphaul & cleat (often the same as the hold-down, on tiller); CB hold-up & cleat (very important
for trailering, see if it really pulls and holds the centerboard –ALL- the way up); CB hold-down
Now, the Buccaneer is a simple boat. You could sail it with just the halyards & sheets, outhaul, and the
jib sheet blocks on the gunwhale. But it would a pain to have to constantly force the centerboard back
down as the speed of the boat brings it up, ditto the rudder. In fact, if the rudder tends to kick up, that
makes the boat much more difficult to steer! And you will want a vang the first time you start going
really hard on a broad reach or run. Then the ratchet blocks on those sheets, the first time you ever sail
with some, you will want some too because they are really nice and they make the boat a lot easier to
handle. They also cost $65 apiece.
One thing leads to another, and you could easily spend over $800 on line & blocks & cleats for rigging up
a Bucc for “just for fun” sailing. So it will pay dividends to double-check the running rigging and all
hardware –BEFORE- you buy.
Builder/Year Models: There is not really a direct correlation between age or builder and price. Some of
the older boats are real gems!
1968 ~1977 Chrysler, the “classic” Buccaneer. These have a reputation of being heavy, with clunky gear
like the standpipe bailers and pipe-luff furlers, which don’t work very well.
1978 ~1981 improved Chrysler, these are also heavy but have rigid hulls and several improvements. The
mast step is above the crown of the centerboard, making it much easier to raise & lower the mast. The
jib sheets are on the seat, improving the boats’ performance close-hauled. The spinnaker tube was an
option. Chrysler built thousands of Buccaneers and these are the majority of the ones on the market.
1981~1983 TMI basically an improved Chrysler, but after the gov’t bail-out forced Chrysler out of the
sailboat business.
1983 ~ 1989 the Bucc transformed into the Starwind 18 (manufactured by motorboat builder Wellcraft).
These boats are also heavy but not as well-built, and may not be recognized for class racing.
1989~ 2005 Gloucester and then Cardinal, same company renamed. Much better boats, lighter but
some are flexy; generally better rigged than any previous models.
2006 ~ present Nickels Boat Works, a high-quality one-design boatbuilder. The best Buccs ever built,
also the most expensive, for obvious reasons.

Bucc Buying guide