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Old 11-08-2008, 18:46   #31
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A sailor and very close friend of mine with over 50 years of sailing and currently living aboard has been my sailing tutor for over a year and this is what I have learned so far about production boats, not only Beneteaus: He owned a Beneteau 50 and he went to the USA factory with his fiancee. The boats come over in packages from France all precut with assembly instructions. Kinda like the old balsa wood gliders we assembled as kids. Its worth visiting the factory- if one bulkhead doesn't quite fit..they just bang it in with a sledge hammer! Nice. And for a company that has been around for over 100 years ( allegedly) like CHEOY LEE how come you do not see the older Beneteaus in the marinas mentioned here ?? He used to manage a marina in San Diego in the 80's and there was not ONE Beneteau there! Nor was there even ONE Beneteau in the San Diego yacht club....why? The Beneteau 50 that He bought sailed very well and was an impressive design; but the construction He is sorry to say...was really French! It is a cheap boat built cheap as an entry level boat THAT IS WHY THE BAREBOAT COMPANIES BOUGHT SO MANY!! Cheap to build cheap to maintain. They do not hold there price/value......why? There is a big difference between a Taiwan boat and a Cheoy Lee. I hope this discusssion continues to be a rich one where the final purpose in enlightening the original poster's mind works out, I am not trying by any means to be controvertial. Best regards to all of you and thanks for reading,
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Old 11-08-2008, 20:51   #32
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Softair...Wow, what did Beneteau ever do to you? Must be that you keep losing them on the horizon...regardless you should really take a step back and try to look at your comments objectively...if possible. You may notice that you keep quoting people that are imaginary to this forum? Hope you find peace and tranquility on your boat. I can't imagine how loving ones boat so much that it makes one hate all others with such fervor. Keep slinging out Softair, you still will never catch us......
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Old 12-08-2008, 10:22   #33
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For the sake of edifying of “Softaire”—and as my final editorial on the matter—the Beneteau shipyard was formed by Benjamin Beneteau in Coix-de-Vie, France, in 1884, specializing in the construct of sailing trawlers and later commercial boats and ships until 1964, when Benjamin’s grand-daughter and grand-son, Annette Beneteau (Roux) and her brother, Andre, succeeded to control of the company and introduced the manufacture of fiberglass sailboats with the little “Fletan” and “Guppy” at the Paris boat show of 1965. The “First 30” (“First” because it was the first) was designed in 1975 and in 1976 was chosen “Boat of the Year” at the Paris Boat Show, then considered the “Non Plus Ultra” of the yachting industry. (On its first outing that boat won the first leg of the Figaro single-handed race.) The subsequent design of the “First 42”, developed for the German Admiral’s cup team, was one of the few “small” boats to finish the disastrous 1979 Fastnet without damage or injuries (which race gave rise to Tony Marchaj’s commentary on the deleterious effect of rating rules—and particularly the IOR—on yacht design, later published as “Seaworthiness—the Forgotten Factor” previously referred to, and provided Ted Turner a public forum in which to prove what a serial rectum he was/is).

FYI, one does not see many pre- late-80’s Beneteau’s in US marina’s—particularly on the west coast of the US—simply because they were not imported to the US in any numbers due to the facts that the Company was easily selling most of its production in Europe and that the cost of shipping to the west coast made the yachts costly by comparison to the boats coming out of Woodland Hills, Costa Mesa and, for that matter, Hong Kong. That did change somewhat in 1986 when Ma’am Beneteau-Roux opened Beneteau’s US plant in Marion, South Carolina, which plant continues to be one of the US’s best boat builders, measured on the basis of quality.

For the sake of equal time, in a parallel universe the Choy Lee Company opened its doors as a commercial boat repair yard in Shanghai in late 1870 and later relocated to Hong Kong—in 1936—specializing in the production of teak “blockade runners”—to defeat the Japanese—and later, motor and sailing yachts, the majority of which were imported to the west coast of the US through the late 1950’s. Choy Lee also switched to fiberglass production, exclusively, in the mid-1960’s and no one can dispute the beauty of the Choy Lee Lion, Frisco Flyer or, for that matter, the Offshore 41, nor can one ignore the fact that many of Choy Lee’s yachts met Lloyd’s 100A1 specifications tho’ as a group—and speaking as a former sailor of one of the same design—they were slower than a “herd of turtles” for want of water-line.

As for the rest, having been at the San Diego YC on more occasions than I care to count since the mid 1960’s—by land and by sea—I can assure you that in the mid and late-80’s there were, in fact, a few Bene-Toe’s (just for you Fatty) “luxury yachts” there as there were at the Los Angeles, Saint Francis and the Richmond YC (we remain members at Richmond). Frankly, however, care for it tho’ I do, I would hardly use the San Diego YC as a yardstick for the measure of modernity in yacht design—chubby old Dennis—the Menis—Connor not withstanding!

Lastly, as for manufacturing with a sledge hammer—in fact, Beneteau’s bulkheads and woodwork are pre-cut by computer controlled milling machines to ensure perfect fits and consistent quality. The process eliminates waste of very costly materials and reduces labor costs as somewhat fewer workman can be employed, one of the reasons why the boats can be sold so inexpensively. The parts are (or were) shipped to the US plant because of the efficiency of centralized manufacturing—and more recently, because of prohibitions on teak imports to the US in other than finished form. The edges of the bulkheads are beveled and are fitted into slots in the hull and deck liners which insure perfect alignment. The fit is tight and the slots are filled with a most tenacious two-part adhesive beforehand, hence the panels may occasionally be banged into place with a mallet (applied to a block of wood—no one bangs on the beveled edge of a 12 or 16 mm panel). Once in place, the shoulders of the “slots” perform the same function as the tabbing in more hand-built production boats but more efficiently and consistently.

While I am certainly not a Francophile—perish the thought—to belittle French engineering and manufacturing capabilities simply reveals provincialism and sophomoric ignorance. The yachts are largely—if not all but exclusively—used in mono-hull charter fleets because they are sturdy enough to remain in service for 40 to 50 weeks a year in the hands of, frequently, less than expert operators and yet remain attractive and reliable—even after 3 to 5 years of such abuse (far more than a privately owned yacht might experience in a lifetime). Other manufactures might do as well but few could meet the delivery requirements simply for lack of capacity.

In closing I must say I am rather tired of reading derisive commentary on various yacht builders that is rarely supported by other than a few exceptional cases. Some demean Catalina Yachts, for example, but Frank Butler is/was nothing if not devoted to the idea of building quality yachts well suited for their intended uses. The same applies to Hunter. The only issue the consumer needs deal with is accurately defining his/her intended use and selecting accordingly. If one chooses to go off-roading in a family sedan one should not complain when one ends up stuck in a ditch that a Hummer doesn't even notice, No?

s/v HyLyte
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Old 12-08-2008, 10:32   #34
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Well said, HyLyte. Now, Softair, let's get off bashing "production" boats and move on to bashing "leaky teakies".
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Old 12-08-2008, 15:40   #35
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Thanks for your comments, I don't hate Beneteau's I have all of their current written publicity on my boat, their lines are very gracious and they have performed as expected.

For the sake of the original poster I am trying to share my experience with a production boat I almost owned, I am not trying to judge the company or the boat. The person who has been helping me as my boat's Captain for over a year since the project got started runs a boating company in Fort Lauderdale, Cap. Alan Stowell is well known within that area's sailing community, as the forum is a collaborative knowledge tool, I try my best to gather and share as much information as possible.

I went to the latest Miami Boat Show and I was excited to see all of the Benetau's and Juneau's there, I must also admit that when a query one of the Benetau's sellers from the dealer in Palm Beach about a bulkhead being in very bad shape for a new boat and even more for a Boat Show sailing vessel, he just did not respond...

I have a friend in Cartagena who has owned a B37 for 6 years and for the purpose she serves to him he is very happy with he, he recognizes the same limitations I have identified.

From my airline pilot transport point of view I think that production boats of nowadays are like Corporate Cessna Jets and classic boats are like Gulfstreams, both proudly manufactured in Kansas and Georgia, US.

I'm surely hoping my posts don't become personnal and for the oppossed but of course respected posters and sailors, please if you ever run into sv Softair, let me personnally welcome you on board.

Best,
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Old 12-08-2008, 16:25   #36
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Check out the details of the boat. How are bulkheads/chainplates attached etc. The older Beneteau's (like the 37 mentioned above) were built like tanks. Then they became built more for the charter trade and got cheap. Now they seem to have the manufacturing part down to a science... I guess the question is: are they doing it right? There were a lot of older boats poorly built also (Like the Cheoy Lee!) they are full of rot today and mostly chopper gun hulls although sweet designs. I've had a lot of heavy boats and lean toward light any more...
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Old 13-08-2008, 21:21   #37
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I am not going to bash Bennies or Hunters or Catalinas etc. and I believe that all their boats in the 50' size range are well enough built to be capable of extended ocean passages.
I don't however think all boats in that size range are equally suited to comfortable and safe passagmaking and I do think that the heavier build qualities of some other boats means that they will stand up to continuous cruising with fewer repairs.
Without picking on any particular brand I would suggest that the hull form of a Valiant for example is much different than today's production boats and the scantlings are much more heavy duty and the rudder is well protected. The cabin is designed for passagmaking with well placed handholds and curved surfaces, the berths are sea berths...not harbor berths or curved sofas. There is plenty of water and fuel tankage and room for big battery banks and cargo carrying capacity so the waterline designed is the waterline you sail on. There are lots of other boats like the Valiant...it is just an example. The point is...there is more to a bluewater boat other than the ability not to fall apart on passage.
On the other hand....I'd rather have the wonderful space and cockpit designs of modern production boats when the 80% of time that most cruisers spend in harbors rolls around. All in all...each sailor should really assess any boat for what they want it to do for them and buy the boat best suited to that purpose.

Given the original posters intent to coastal cruise and do an occasional blue water passage, the Bene is probably a fine choice.
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Old 16-08-2008, 16:10   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soft Air View Post
A sailor and very close friend of mine with over 50 years of sailing and currently living aboard has been my sailing tutor for over a year and this is what I have learned so far about production boats, not only Beneteaus: He owned a Beneteau 50 and he went to the USA factory with his fiancee. The boats come over in packages from France all precut with assembly instructions. Kinda like the old balsa wood gliders we assembled as kids. Its worth visiting the factory- if one bulkhead doesn't quite fit..they just bang it in with a sledge hammer! Nice. And for a company that has been around for over 100 years ( allegedly) like CHEOY LEE how come you do not see the older Beneteaus in the marinas mentioned here ?? He used to manage a marina in San Diego in the 80's and there was not ONE Beneteau there! Nor was there even ONE Beneteau in the San Diego yacht club....why? The Beneteau 50 that He bought sailed very well and was an impressive design; but the construction He is sorry to say...was really French! It is a cheap boat built cheap as an entry level boat THAT IS WHY THE BAREBOAT COMPANIES BOUGHT SO MANY!! Cheap to build cheap to maintain. They do not hold there price/value......why? There is a big difference between a Taiwan boat and a Cheoy Lee. I hope this discusssion continues to be a rich one where the final purpose in enlightening the original poster's mind works out, I am not trying by any means to be controvertial. Best regards to all of you and thanks for reading,
Beneteaus were not actively marketed on the West Coast in the 80's. There was a dealer in SF in 1985 but not San Diego until the early 90's. Since then they have sold many boats and you will find them in all marinas AND San Diego Yacht Club. They made a major enroad to the San Diego market when Beneteau donated boats for use by the America's Cup Challenge that were later sold as demos. Prior to the early 90's the only ones you saw on the West Coast were usually ex charter boats from the Carribean. The charter trade has hurt the resale on Beneteau in my estimation.

Cheoy Lee has a checkered past. They have been up and down the scale on quality. In the late 60's they were really nice. Some of the 70's boats had poor quality stainless, chinese winches that ate up lines, dry rot at the mast bases was common as was dry rot in the deck. Plumbing, wiring and fittings were a problem.

Nothing is perfect!
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Old 16-08-2008, 16:17   #39
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Don't know if it means anything to this discussion, but the Jeanneau I was on last week mentioned it was CE certified for "offshore" safety in some serious winds seas (forget the exact figures).
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Old 17-08-2008, 10:53   #40
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Quote:
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: He owned a Beneteau 50 and he went to the USA factory with his fiancee. The boats come over in packages from France all precut with assembly instructions.
Softair,

I may be wrong but I don't think the 50 was built or assembled in SC. It was French built.
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Old 20-08-2008, 04:32   #41
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Yes, the thing is to treat the boat well and it will look after you. You may sail it differently to a heavy old boat but it's as safe as you want to make it. Be gentle with any boat and it will survive a surprising amount of rough weather.
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Old 20-08-2008, 05:04   #42
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I dont know but......

I've seen this type of discussion over and over again in this site and it's simply useless. I own a nice 1984 Beneteau First 456 and consider it to be very well built when compared to other boats in the marina, including C&C, Tartans etc. How many ocean crossings does the average sailor perform?

Anyway I am very happy with my old Beneteau and will be very happy to share experiences like this one:

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Old 21-08-2008, 12:02   #43
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Calling production boats low class is kind of like saying a production car is lower quality than one build in a garage by someone hammering out the various body panels. What really are those high end builders doing in their boats to make then "worth" $1.5M compared to a production boat for say $300k besides being inefficient?

Of course a Bennie is a safe boat. The question is does it have a safe sailor!
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Old 21-08-2008, 12:17   #44
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couldnt have said it better....

"Of course a Bennie is a safe boat. The question is does it have a safe sailor!"

It beg's the question: How many people spend more time outfitting their boat than sailing it before they go cruising?
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Old 22-08-2008, 00:24   #45
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not this person

Bought old Bav (1991) had 10 days ashore surveyed and then fitted all the safety extras for ocean cruisung, had it coded for charter work and then left for a 10,000nm cruise.

Why do people spend so much time fitting out for live aboard? Mine involved extra bilge pump, new through hulls, mew rudder bearing, new standing rigging and thorough mast check, more and bigger clipping on points and we were ready to leave!
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