Just got back from the Seattle
boat show and saw quite a few boats. Heading to the Miami
show in Feb (and then chartering an Island Packet
in the VI because the IP445 is on our B list). Hope to make a decision after the Oakland show in April. My wife and I are fine with fixing stuff but I want to avoid fixing a lot of things all at once, or constantly, so we've decided to stay with new construction or something used less than 5 years.
It's tough picking a voyaging yacht. Other than the Island Packet (which isn't easy to charter) it is almost impossible to charter
a sound long distance cruiser. Most of the owners tend to be out enjoying the boats on the bounding main and the factories and dealers don't have them laying around the lot. Very hard to get a test sail. The marinas
are filled with French and American production boats. Would love to get suggestions here (how to get a day sail in on a modern voyager). Most factories will try to get you on a boat but you need to be ready to buy. I would prefer to sail on as many as possible to help form my opinions.
About Hallberg Rassy, I am a little torn with this make. Many things I really like and it has a great rep. Unfortunately they will do little or no customization. I will be staying between 30 degrees and 30 degrees. Teak
gets hot and it's work to care for (all the die hard teak guys will deny this, I think they do it in their sleep). I want a non skid glass deck
and stainless outside of the shaded cockpit
. I also want the benefit of eliminating the weight up high. From what I can tell HR will not delete the teak. Also I was very surprised to find the cabin sole panels
don't lock down. They also do not use tinned wire. HR is making about 160 boats a year and you will probably be in 2008 for delivery
if you order now.
Still looking forward to seeing a Hylas 46 and 49 first hand. Kyle showed me around the new 70 and I was impressed. They have had some issues with their rudders being a little fragile, one or two came apart in the Caribbean 1500
(Frers erring a little too far on the performance side for a fast cruiser). They have offered to replace them free of charge with a beefier setup. This is what you want to see from a company.
Tayana will do custom stuff and the price
is right but I know they have had a range of quality in the past (from very good to ok). Haven't reconciled how to manage QA on new construction happening in Taiwan
I've been to the Pacific Seacraft factory twice now and they seem to be doing fine. They make the standard sailboats culminating in the 44 as well as a Trawler
(they made the first batch of Nordhaven 40s until Nordhaven relocated to Asia) and they're making the Saga 409 now as well. They have no less than 8 boats in the pipe that I know of. I can't see behind the scenes though and would love to know if there are current
problems. The Crealock 44 seems like a great voyager.
My factory visits have been really valuable and I would recommend this kind of tour to anyone looking to buy new construction. I plan to visit the Island Packet factory while at the Miami
show and Ifm working toward a Valiant tour as well. From my experience any factory worth its salt
will welcome you.
I would get insurance
or a bank guarantee on any large deposits no matter who the vender is. It is well worth the money
and the rate you are quoted tells a tale of its own. For instance, of the big three Orst makers (Hallberg Rassy, Naiad and Malo), the smallest, Malo, has the best credit rating and is the cheapest to get a delivery
guarantee bond on.
Last I checked Amel only made a 53' ketch
. My wife and I really love some of the 50'+ boats we've looked at (like the Hylas 54) but for double handing it just seems like we'll have more fun and things will be more manageable on a 45 - 48'er. Anchoring
, fending off, managing big wind and seas all gets a little more exerting and tricky with the step up in size. You can go push button but for me you lose some of the fun. More important you come to depend on things that may not function when you need them. We also are happy to trade
lower power requirements and maintenance
overhead for staying in shape using our own muscles (where sensible). Another problem with breaking 50' is the rig height. We want to stay ICW
friendly and most things 50'+ will go over the magic 65' air draft
number. Large slips can be harder to come by as well.
From my research
the Shannons are great boats. I have decided to stay away from centerboards (although I know many folks love them) and I think that's all they make these days.
I have been impressed by Passport yachts recently. Passport, Tayana, Valiant, Malo and Cabo Rico will all do customization on the interior
for you. Most of the others use a pan insert and can't deviate much. Still others just make too many boats to fool around with special orders.
The one thing that I have found to be universally true is that there is a huge range of knowledge (from totally ignorant, to "why isn't this guy a navel architect?") out there in the yacht sales arena. You really have to do you own homework to sort it out.