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Old 14-08-2009, 07:18   #1
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Question About Amateur-Built Cats

Searching for my boat, i often find cats that have been built by their owners instead of professional/company built.
Fusion....Easy....Kelsall......
What your opinion about an "amateur" built boat? Is it safe? I guess much depends of builder skills, however i imagine that some construction processes just can't get to be done by a non professional (i might be wrong).
A few days ago i found a Kelsall 38 for nearly 200k: would you spend that money for that kind of boat? Or you consider much safer a boat builded by who can give more in terms of experience, guarantees etc....
Thanx for infos.
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Old 14-08-2009, 07:53   #2
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The answer is, 'it depends.'

There are very talented amateur, and then there are production models which are haphazard.

The caveat is to carefully inspect any boat you are interested in, regardless of who built it.
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Old 14-08-2009, 07:54   #3
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My opinion

Plenty of so called amateur built boats are built better than production.

We can spend the extra time on detail
We can spend the extra time making them lighter and from better materials.
We get no kickbacks from suppliers, so use product that we want to use or believe to be better suited for the job, even if it costs more.
We have a vested interest in making sure the build quality is there, after all it's our lives and our families at stake.

Having worked for "professional" companies before I can tell you that a lot of the workers couldn't give a rats about the boats and only cared about the pay cheque.
I can also tell you that the majority of workers (in the places I worked at) had no formal qualifications either.

They could count to 5, so they could mix resin and that was about it.

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Old 14-08-2009, 07:56   #4
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Amateur build from decent plans - no problem, just need a good survey some will be poor some will be better than professional boat builders.

Amateur completion - again no problem, but still need that good survey

Amateur build from Amateur plans - personally I would not touch with a bargepole.
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Old 14-08-2009, 10:05   #5
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When I had my Wharram surveyed the surveyor was quite impressed and said it was alot stronger than the tupperwear cats that he had looked at. I think he used the word Tank.
It has been a strong boat and easier to work on, since there are no hidden spaces. Its for sale but much different than a deck saloon cat.
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Old 14-08-2009, 11:02   #6
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Amateur can be good of course, but how do you really know if you are not an expert and you were not there to watch the construction process?

Even classification societies like ABS, Lloyd's and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NK) have an expert on site when a commercial vessel is being built...because there are negative things that can be hidden after the construction is completed. Its the same reason why building inspectors want to see new construction before the drywall is screwed on.

Is the amateur that built the boat going to give you a warranty that is worth anything? No way, he probably does not have the money in case something major does go wrong.
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Old 14-08-2009, 12:38   #7
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Amateur can be good of course, but how do you really know if you are not an expert and you were not there to watch the construction process?

The same holds true for "professional" boat builders - I know of one boat purchaser who spent well over the average lifetime earnings on a big powerboat . twin 800hp engines. - The thrust bracket was held in place by small coach screws - the rest of the boat was not much better.
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Old 14-08-2009, 13:03   #8
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Professional boat builders have a reputation to keep. If they start building crap the word gets around and they go out of business. They also have the money to back warranties. Neither of these facts are true with amateurs.

We can debate this all day but the fact remains that with most everything, professionals do a better job than amateurs. Yes, there are occasional exceptions to this fact. I just think the best way to play the odds is to stick with the professional builds.
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Old 14-08-2009, 17:52   #9
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Tell me the price...

Surely the desirability of an amateur built boat also depends on the price.

My general observation is that amateur built runs between one third and one half the price of similar professional built or production boats. That can translate to a lot of boat for the money. For a buyer with more time than money it's an important consideration.

Other factors to consider include the hull material (amateur built steel and fibreglass boats look to acquit themselves well) and the custom adaptions the builder may have made (davits, dodger, bimini, sail management, windlass and storage may all be superior on an amateur build).

Ferro cement boats also look to have a high level of buyer satisfaction.

I went for an amateur built steelie ahead of aging plastic. I still believe that for me it was the right decision.
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Old 14-08-2009, 19:52   #10
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Well guys first of all, thanx for all your usefull replys!
As i was thinking much depends about who built the boat and maybe also WHY: if the main reason was real passion or just a way to save money. Of course if the 2nd choice i don't think it's a good idea to get that boat even if it's almost impossible to know if that was the reason and sometimes i ask myself if a survey can always put the right light on things.
I was looking as i said for a Kelsall 38' and comparing to cats same price/size range and, even if difficult to say just looking at pictures, i noticed that there is a quite evident difference when looking at finishing.
Just to give you an idea: 2005 Kelsall 38 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

What's your opinion based on just what you see; know is not easy......
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Old 15-08-2009, 05:22   #11
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CortoMaltese,

This is exactly why amateur builders need to well document their projects.
Possibly facilitate insurance etc. and if there is a subsequent buyer, they will know exactly what they are getting.
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Old 15-08-2009, 08:15   #12
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. I just think the best way to play the odds is to stick with the professional builds.
So by professional builders do you mean trade qualified boat builders and shipwrights?

Or do you mean the monkey boy who used to lay up fiberglass swimming pools and spas with a choppergun who thought he'd have a go at boats .
Maybe you mean the guy that used to work at the wrecking yard that thought he'd like to try his hand at composites, or the bloke that was a bank teller then worked at a coffee shop then stumbled into a workshop managers position and tried to tell real trade qualified bodybuilders how to do their jobs and made a pigs breakfast of someones 50ft composite craft.
How about the guy who owned a caravan manufacturing company, went broke and then tried his hand at boatbuilding?

Are these the sort of professional guys you speak of?

I have worked with them all, they are real life people who were working at and running "respectable" boat building firms.




A business name and card does not a professional boatbuilder make.
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Old 15-08-2009, 08:56   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cat man do View Post
So by professional builders do you mean trade qualified boat builders and shipwrights?

Or do you mean the monkey boy who used to lay up fiberglass swimming pools and spas with a choppergun who thought he'd have a go at boats .
Maybe you mean the guy that used to work at the wrecking yard that thought he'd like to try his hand at composites, or the bloke that was a bank teller then worked at a coffee shop then stumbled into a workshop managers position and tried to tell real trade qualified bodybuilders how to do their jobs and made a pigs breakfast of someones 50ft composite craft.
How about the guy who owned a caravan manufacturing company, went broke and then tried his hand at boatbuilding?

Are these the sort of professional guys you speak of?

I have worked with them all, they are real life people who were working at and running "respectable" boat building firms.




A business name and card does not a professional boatbuilder make.
What I mean is a company that has already built a number of quality boats that has experience and qualified trades people who do this for a living, all of whom want to stay in business by creating a quality product....whoever that might be.
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Old 15-08-2009, 09:59   #14
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What I mean is a company that has already built a number of quality boats that has experience and qualified trades people who do this for a living, all of whom want to stay in business by creating a quality product....whoever that might be.

Originally Posted by cat man do
So by professional builders do you mean trade qualified boat builders and shipwrights?

Or do you mean the monkey boy who used to lay up fiberglass swimming pools and spas with a choppergun.....
I believe we have very different expectations according to our trade; upbringing; country we live in. Its impossible to generalise. Judging professional builders, somebody has to know what areas they are good at and what work should be taken to another specialist. The architect, surveyor and yacht clubs would know between them. In our part of the world the multihull society has a very good handle on it all, having built more than half their boats themselves: originally anyway.

But Northern Europeans and Americans very often don't like to give anything but 'The Best, Truest Answer', not realizing that there is no such thing in the real world.
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Old 15-08-2009, 16:54   #15
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How many boats have you looked at?

Maybe the answer to your question lies in how many boats you have looked at and tracked through to final sale.

The asking price on your example might buy a production cat in very good condition. What makes this boat so special?
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