Here's one anecdotal answer to your Q (about buying charter
boats in Croatia):
Boat purchased: Beneteau
First 12+m sloop
; had been in charter in Croatia
Buyer: Danish chap who was keen to 'buy a good boat cheap' and sail it back to Denmark
(where boat prices in the entire region are breathtaking)
Initial Use: Surveyed locally and purchase
concluded, he sailed it with friends as far as Lisbon, where the windward work he was doing up the Iberian coast led him to call into a boatyard to examine the grid/mast step assembly
(One) Problem: The mast
step and adjacent metal structure to take the rigging
loads had significant corrosion
and needed to be replaced. (Not a terrible job for Tagus Marine
, which has a massive metal shop & works in all metals, but not fun or cheap). As the mast
step/grid structure is being removed, the workers are finding the area contaminated with diesel fuel
. The only fuel
source is 8m further aft, in the diesel
tank...so where was the fuel coming from?
Answer: The boat's structures had worked to the point where the cored hull
had failed in multiple places; also, the fuel tank
was also compromised and had begun to weep diesel fuel. The fuel was migrating from back aft, inside the cored hull
, and exiting where the hull had failed at the mast step.
Future: The mast step/grid structure was replaced but the yard advised the owner not to take the boat to sea, believing it was no longer safe. There were other issues. E.g. the ballast keel
- having been removed to be sand blasted and barrier coated - was found to not mate fairly with the keel
stub of the hull, leaving gaps of 2.5cm in places and preventing even loading on the keel stub. Beneteau
provided new keel bolts
but they were found, just like the ones removed, to only allow the nuts inside the hull to grab a few threads. The bolts' insufficient length also meant that large/thick washers could not be put on the bolts, to spread the load, before the nuts were tightened down.
This is only one story (tho' I know first-hand since I followed the whole multi-week episode) but it illustrates how charter boats can be abused and also how cheap boats may not be cheap. Someone earlier recommended spending time in boat yards, looking at what problems are found in the boats you are considering. I think this is excellent advice. In the same small Tagus Marine
yard I saw, among many other sad stories:
-- a Beneteau First 31 that had been sailed locally (coastal Portugal). It's rig tension was peeling the deck mold
away from the hull mold
along the joint back aft where it had been gelcoated over by the builder
. (Here we are, five years later, looking at a Hunter
DS41 in this yard that fouled its rudder
on a shoal, and its deck
mold was peeled away from its hull by a rudder that was hardly damaged - so different circumstances but similar results).
-- a Jeanneau
45, a beautiful almost-new boat, that had only been sailed out to the Azores
and back by its owner. When hauled to cure a number of other issues, the keel was found to be 'tearing' horizontally. The top of the keel had a 'step' in it, and it was tearing across the taller part of the step, fore to aft, towards the lower level of the aft section of the keel's top. Unbelievable to see. Metal specialists were called in to assess the problem and, before I left, it was determined that a) the keel was not built by Jeanneau
or parent Beneteau but by a contractor (no doubt to a price), b) the keel was not solid lead as advertised but some kind of sheathed structure with a lead core
and an outer layer of material no one had been able to identify, and predictably c) Jeanneau/Beneteau stopped answering the phone
and only lawyers were talking to one another.
This was all just from a stay in one modestly size yard over a period of a few weeks, while we had engine repairs
made to WHOOSH. These stories, in my view, do not disqualify any of these 'price boats' from being considered for ocean crossings.
And Mark's boat, for one, is a good example of how some owners on some of these boats are very satisfied (or even moreso) with their purchases.
What it does suggest is that high production-volume builders that build down to a price
a) miss things when building many boats each day (Bavaria was producing 2,000 boats each year as of five years ago...and they were expanding production), b) getting cost out of a boat inevitably forces compromises (which of course is true of every boat), but that c) the odds incrementally add up against you with these compromises because it becomes harder and harder for the builder
to properly test & evaluate these, and to adequately inspect every hull being finished. Hanse (another such builder) found its mid-sized sailboats were losing their rudders several years ago, including one life lost
, not just because they were being fabricated to inadequate standards but because the subsequent testing was insufficient. The stories go on and on...
So what to do? With research
, you'll find some models of these builders, for some periods of time, are simply better engineered and more easily/reliably built than others. I saw a Jeanneau 41 out in the Frisian Islands of Germany
that had been doing the offshore
run up the Jutland Peninsula to Norway
every year for 17 years. This can be a very tough run. I thought it was first rate and wouldn't hesitate to take it south of the Great Capes. But when built, the owner could ask for modifications such as additional high-tech (kevlar, as I recall) build-up in high-stress areas, and this owner had done that. The trick is to find out which of the many models being built over many years are less prone to major failures (since every boat will have its issues), and zero in on those for your shopping
. Of course, if "your" process is to a) start with 'it must be in Croatia', and b) it must be in the charter fleet, and c) it must be at the end of its charter period & ready for sale
(meaning well used), then you may not have the choices available to you that will - ultimately - meet your needs.
My favorite story is about the Beneteau a Dane was delivering from the Med (as its charter season ended) to the Caribbean
. He had the middle night watch and also the breakfast cooking
duty each morning, when he was still groggy and half asleep. It took him 4 days to figure out how, each day, the galley
was getting bigger and bigger. You would have to hear the story from him for its full effect...pretty funny
Jack (who sails
a "production boat")