Olson value question


Sustaining Partner
Hopefully you Olson 34 folks can help me out with this. I am looking at a 1989 Olson 34 that appears to have all original equipment(original rigging, sails, electronics, even a Loran but no GPS or Radar). Seems to have normal wear and tear and could use some cosmetic work. It has been on the market at least from last May when it was listed for 57,500 but has been lowered to 52,900. The Bucvalue says it is worth between 47,600 and 52,400. Because it does need some cosmetic work, I have rated it as fair with would drop the price another 10-20% according to BUC. Using a median value of $50,000 and a median fair rating of minus 15% I come up with $42,500.

What do you think? Am I dreaming? Should I offer 42,500? The owners are very well off and have purchased a much larger boat. I have a feeling that they are ready to get rid of this boat.

Any input is greatly appreciated.

Tim R.

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Staff member
Senior Moderator
Ruminations on value and "values"

Well, you might be dreaming, but someone once said that reality starts with a dream...
It has been 10 years since we bought ours, and we paid about 48K total, but that was for a project boat, and boy, was it ever. At that time a "turn key" Olson 34 would have cost me about 70K, and we were stretching the limits of our budget as it was.
Your offer seems logical, as long as you say it nicely, and should be considered in light of the need to do deferred maintenance on the rig, standing and running (does it still have 4 wire-to-rope halyards?). :(
Engine survey will tell more of the story, too. For us the expenditures came quick -- $1400. for the ST60 instrtument package alone, and then I had to install it, and another $900. for the AP, new BStay adjuster a bit later, new fore hatch, repair a cracked sliding hatch, new fixed ports, and etc, etc. And some more "etc" over the first five years.

One also has to consider desireability/marketability. Since there are not many of these on the market at any given time, and their basic construction is stronger than most contemporary boats, you are paying for that basic construction and, of course, the great design. Going forward on the calendar, the aft cabin-and-head interior seems to be the trend for the forseeable future. Boats that combine that level of interior liveability AND on-deck performance are almost non-existent in the current sailing world.
[Sidebar: IMHO, the present market has devolved into about 90% RV/daysailors and the other 10% racing boats. For instance, we looked hard at a new Ben. 367 last fall, and found that while the deck layout was really nice, the forward head had room for a single person and a roll of tp, but not at the same time... Oh, My.
Also, even the dealer told me that their quality was below their more-IOR-ish cruiser/racers in the 80's. After sitting in the cockpit and walking around the deck, we both really wanted to like that boat. Oh well.]

What I can do is forward this thread to some other O-34 owners I know of.
No one wants to spend "too much"; however, buying a boat of any kind involves a lot of factors besides money. Best to avoid cliches like comparing it to choosing a spouse, but nonetheless there are soul-satisfying components that do seem to resemble the way you pair-bond -- and your spouse, or cat, or dog... chooses you! ;)

We both had visited aboard a pristine O-34 several years before we made the decision to sell our beloved Niagara 26 (owned 10 years) and look around for a "last boat." I was kind of holding out for another big ol' fractional rig but the Admiral fell in love with the Olson. When we found one we could barely afford, the Captain was influenced considerably by the Admiral (or the CNO, Chief of Naval Operations, as she is sometimes called).

So, save money if you can, but remember that if the boat still makes you happy to be on the water in 2016, that's what is really important. So is driving to weather at 6.5 kts, with a feathery touch on the helm, while sitting on the low side watching the perfect sine curve of the bow wave moving down the side past you... Mmmmmm.

Philosophy dispensed daily, and worth about what you are paying...

1988 Olson 34 #8 , 1994 to present...
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Russell Tibbles

New Member
I bought a 1998 O34 in Annapolis about a year ago. It had been raced hard and needed some work. I paid US$35k to purchase, spent US$8k to ship to the west coast and then spent an additional $10-12k fixing it up. At a total cost base of US$53k, I think I've gotten a better boat (for my purposes) at a lower price to what is available in say Seattle (I live on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada).


Member III
BUC Vs Reality

I took a quick glance at the BUC guide at one of the brokers offices regarding the 38-200. The book value as I remember was about 6~8K lower than the price we paid. The broker we purchased from was really cool and ran a report for boatsold.com or something like that. You have to be member, but it lists the actual selling price. Even the lowest priced boat in the report was higher than the BUC value and the majority were 10~20% higher . I would ask a broker to run the report and base the value on that information opposed to the BUC value. At the end, it is really a question of personal value and enjoyment since no matter what, it is an expensive hobby. The only nice thing as Loren points out is a nice used boat will probably appreciate given the price of a similiar new boat.

As Loren also says occassionally, this opinion is worth what you paid for it or something like that.



Sustaining Partner
Boatus value

I hope I do not seem cheap(I am a sailor though:rolleyes: ) but I really like this boat and want to get the best deal I can. I have no problem paying the asking price but I feel it is like giving money away if I do not go for the best deal. And I certainly do not want to lower the overall value of these boats but I think they are a lot more valuable to enthusiasts. I have owned 3 Audis and 2 of them I considered very valuable but the average person would not. These were also rare and quality built vehicles but someone could get a nice Toyota for what I paid used at the time.

I just received the value from Boatus. They value the boat at $45,404.00.

I appreciate the opinions more than what Loren charges for them!

If you guys lived around here, I would offer to buy you some nice microbrew or good scotch and pick your brains that way.

Tim R.


Member III
What is the Moorage/Slip situation ?
We can expect to pay $5000-10,000 above BUC or Comps here in
Oceanside-SoCal just for the slip that comes with the boat !
Cause there ain't no slips !

Good Luck with your DreamBoat !


Sustaining Partner

Not included.

I have a mooring in Maine which is where I will keep her if I decide to buy.

I just read in a Practical Sailor review that Ericson only produced 37 of these boats. Is that true? Has anyone ever tried to document these boats? I looked in the owner section of this website and I thought I saw that someone had hull #100???

Tim R.


Inactive Member

I bought my E27 & E30+ for offers that were so low the brokers were reluctant to make them to the owners! Worst that can happen is they say no or counter offer. Don't cost nothing to try to low ball them. Can always offer more, never less. Good luck!
Have fun & sail fast
Bud E34 "Escapade":cheers:

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Staff member
Senior Moderator
value and numbers

I like Bud's common-sense approach to offers. We started at 37K and considering all the parts and labor I have invested in it that was probably more appropriate! :) In our case, the seller was upside down in their loan and this made them cranky about the diminished value of their boat.
However, when I think of the many other boats we looked at, even for less money, there were were few(maybe zero) that we would have "grown into" and still enjoy a decade later. We never did suffer from two-foot-itis...
We had the prior 26 footer for 10 years, and the 20 footer before that for 5 years. Financially, I believe that a person loses the most money by turning over boats too often.
Interesting to hear the Boat US value. They took ours on at 65K agreed value -- maybe they were impressed by the options?!
One thing about Ericsons and Olsons, as they all age beyond 20 or 25 (or 30!) years, the design and basic construction is the main determiner of base value -- all the rigging and internal systems need regular replacing on any older boat anyway. It is interesting to consider that a restored "classic" E-35-2 like Capt Dan's (now in Seattle, picture elsewhere on this site) is probably worth *double* a neglected one, and the disparity widens as the years add up.
You might want to keep your insurer up to date on major upgrades and then don't be shy about asking for a better insured value.

Speaking of O-34 hull numbers, the very first one was also the only one built by Pacific Boats before going under and selling the tooling to Ericson. Ericson started their run at #100 or 101, if I understand it right. I know I have #108. There is a rumor that 39 hulls may have been molded out and the last one was finished up by an owner, FWIW.
Trivia: the Pacifc Boats #1 is the only one with a cored hull. All the Ericson-built ones are solid layup hull, AFAIK.
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Sustaining Partner
Cored hull and brochure

I read that somewhere about the cored hull. It also had an ash interior instead of teak.

The brochure that is listed on this website looks more like an Express 34 than an Olson 34. Loren, I received the copy of the correct brochure from you in my email.

Hopefully what the broker has told me is correct and this boat is very sound structurally. The engine looks new from the photos. Hopefully the rest of the boat is as good. I will find out on Saturday.

Tim R.

Charlie B.

Member II

I bought my Olson 34 last year after about a year of looking. Based on what I saw advertised during that time I would value your boat at around $50K. As mentioned above it never hurts to make a low ball offer unless there is someone else waiting in the wings. Winter time is a great time to buy a boat on the East Coast because it makes the sellers anxious!

Things to check out are the engine and instruments. If a diesel is properly maintained it lasts forever, if not??? Instruments become quickly outdated and frequently are no longer manufactured, they are costly to replace if you need them. Check out the standing rigging, hopefully it has been replaced within the last 5 years. Also, check for cabin leaks from deck fittings (survey will cover this).

I have been very pleased with the Olson 34 and concur with what Loren says about the construction of the boat. The sailing performance is solid in the windy conditions we enjoy on San Francisco Bay. We have raced it successfully under PHRF and cruised it down the coast for over a week very comfortably. It is a great boat:) , good luck!

Ericson Hull #101 (maybe hull#1!)
I own an Olson 34 that I bought in San Diego in about 1992. It is a 1989 boat, well equipt with autopilot, KVH Quadro instruments, loads of racing sails, hydraulic backstay, rod rigging, diesel in good shape, solid vang, tiller steering, Loran (who uses Loran anymore), AM/FM/CD/Cassette player, speakers in cockpit as well as down below,propane two burner stove and oven, and a good race record especially in earlier years. I may offer it for sale soon, and I hope to get 55-60k here in the Seattle market. I don't remember which hull number we have. I love the boat and I may not sell it..but if I can provide any more information about it to aid in comparison shopping, let me know.
James Jones

Steve J

Member I
Looking for Mystery Olson 34

Greetings Russell

Looking for the owner of an Olson 34 another
Olson owner found in guest moorage in Victoria BC.

Someone did a grand job of modifying the stern with
a step out with teak pad. Wondering if they built a mold and perhaps still have it, or where it was done.

I have hull No 100 and it has a short rig.

My Actual Std rig
I 43.55 44.50
J 12.96 13.30
P 38.48 38.80
E 12.82 13.50

I still have KVH instruments and looking for spare parts. If you hear of anyone with any KVH stuff to get rid of please contact me at email: stevepjzander@aol.com

Steve Jones


Sustaining Partner

Loren et al have the right idea. My only contribution is that you might as well start at the number you came up with and 'feels' right to you-what do you have to lose? You can always go up, right? Nobody will get upset with you for making that offer, and @#^&# 'em if they do-it's your money!!
Go get 'em!


Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Staff member
Senior Moderator
Thanks to a helpful secretary at their YC, I was able to contact the owner, Jim Allan. When we get our act together we plan on driving up for a tour!
I do not know if he now monitors this site, but could put you in touch with him if you wish to contact me directly.

As to the transom mod, a local yard looked at some photos of it and tells me that the cost would be about the same with or without making a one-off mold...
Since the estimate to LPU our hull is about 6K, this would certainly add several more boat bucs to that...

The Admiral took one look and sez we gotta do this, too, if/when we repaint.
Loren in Portland, OR
Olson 34 #8

Steve J

Member I
Found another picture of the transom modification.
They really did a nice job. Wondering why they molded
in a couple of channels and split the teak into different

Anyone able to provide current estimates of modification costs?

Steve Jones
Edgewalker Hull No 1


Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Staff member
Senior Moderator
The molded channels are for the fold down SS swimming ladder.
FWIW, this exact mod could be done on any of the later reverse-transom Ericsons, much like PSC did when they changed the transom mold for the later 32-200, 34, and 38-800.
Cool idea... and it's just a few more B.U.C.'s...

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