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Old 29-09-2009, 06:01   #1
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African Fastcat Owners

(I have started this new thread as a result of reading the latest comments from the moderators in the Alternative Propulsion Thread, including concerns about thread drift. This opening post is in response to Gideon (of African FastCats) who kindly responded to my request for information regarding FastCat owner's blogs, other than Butterfly & Barnacle, who Gideon stated were his only unhappy customers).

-----------------------

Gideon

Thank you for the two links that you posted in the original thread.

However, the African Innovation website, Sailing around the World doesn't give any information about the boat other that basic stats, as far as I can see, and there's nothing at all about their experience as one of your customers.

The Nieuwe pagina 1 blog is much more interesting but took some reading because most of the early entries aren't written in English so I had to get them translated. Firstly, in one of their more recent posts (28/08/09) they say, "
we had no problems at all w[h]ich could be related to African Cats during our 7 months in the Canaries. So no hard feelings towards AFC, on the contrary, the help is fabulous and we are sure you won't get this in other firms of boat builders."

However, prior to this it seems there were significant production delays with their boat, and other problems, causing them considerable stress and inconvenience:

In their entry for 05/04/07 they say their friend "saw that something was wrong with Gideons planning" and they say that progress was "not good" and talk of beginning to feel "frustrated and angry". They also talk of "a delay of 4 months" and say that because of the delays "the man [Gideon] knew that our dream trip [to the Caribbean] lay shattered".

Two quotes from the entry for 25/04/07 include "So we were back into crisis with African Cats. What's new" and "the relationship vs African Cats skipper was so sour that the collaboration was terminated. Whew, again a problem."

On 25/07/07 they write, "No Gideon on Skype and he reads all my emails, no response."

From 29/11/08 they write:

"
We still had to saw inspection holes at the front 'closed' bulkhead. This was forgotten by the African boys. But what we see doesn’t make us happy. On both sides the bulkheads have the function of being bins. I like to speak to the bastard who last closed the bulkhead without cleaning out. One does not do that."

And:

"
time to check the attachments of the cross beam... As you know, on the outside the blocks where the beam is attached were showing on the underside a gap of 6mm. After removing centimetres thick filler that was no longer attached to the hull we discover delaminating on the port hull. 30cm by 15cm a hardly filled glass layer is loose from the foam. Also a second glass layer was not attached any more on the first one. Then also we could see the RVS plate was 6mm deep into the foam. There goes the reassuring words of Gideon that all is OK with our crossbeam. There's nowhere any extra glass or carbon to be found to re-enforce that spot as we where told it should be. In fact, it's a very poor infusion at that critical point. There's much more flesh to be found in the other hull. Two different persons maybe? Anyhow, I'm going to put some extra layers of glass for sure and try to fix the delaminating."

On 15/01/09 the owners again talk about the ongoing saga with their fridge and say that after a year of problems they manage to get it working again.

On 22/06/09 they write:

"
The [life] raft needed to be inspected for the rally (and for our own safety of course). High time to have a look at that. But o,o,o, AFC did it again. The live raft blew up alright but the papers inside where blanco and this means the raft was never inspected. The raft was also from 2004 ???? and there fore 5 years old. It's a Zodiac and for guaranty they order an inspection every year and a full test every 5 years. Also we have only a 6 persons raft but on a 10 persons boat you need a 10 persons raft or 2X5. First Gideon stated the raft was inspected in 2006 but there was no prove of that and then he stated we don't even need a raft referring to Belgian and Dutch rules. But we are Portuguese hey and what if the boat burns?"

Although they now appear to be happy with their boat, it seems it has been a stressful and very arduous path for them, especially in the early stages. I will leave readers of this post to make up their own minds about your attitude towards your customers, whether they can trust what you say, and what they can expect in terms of build quality and problem resolution. However, after reading the blog and website you provided links for, the Butterfly & Barnacle blog (they still appear to have outstanding issues) and various other sources of information on the Internet about African Fastcats, it is difficult to see myself being willing to take the risk of becoming one of your customers at any point in the future. However, I wish you and African FastCats well and thank you for taking the time to answer my posts so far.

Regards

Keith

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Old 29-09-2009, 06:54   #2
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It would be nice to hear from the buyers first hand.

As far as delays and questionable planning goes....isn’t that the glass house thing?
Who among us are flawless?
Certainly not Boeing or Airbus.

I don’t have a dog in this race but sure don’t like seeing someone beat up especially if those doing the beating have no dog in the race.

Not sure why I'm even posting this except that I hate for this thread to turn into a personal attack platform from people who have no first hand experience with the company or its agent.

I hope we can keep our word to keep this informative and friendly.
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Old 29-09-2009, 07:16   #3
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I currently have "no dog in this race" but hopefully will have in the not too distant future [edit: talking about catamarans generally here, not FastCats specifically]. I try to keep my posts objective and certainly have no intention of being part of "seeing someone beat up". However, if a commercial vendor makes claims, such as only having one unhappy customer, and then posts links that apparently support that claim, then I feel there is nothing wrong in challenging that if I (or others) feel the content of the linked website shows evidence of a different customer also at times being unhappy.

I'm not sure if your comment was aimed directly at me or was just a general comment but if you read my posts I think you'll find I stop far short of anything resembling a "personal attack platform" and I'd be disappointed if any of my posts were seen as such. There are ways of saying things, but that doesn't mean that things can't be said.
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Old 29-09-2009, 08:06   #4
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Fast Cat has made many claims, and most have turned out not to be true. If the vendor here is allowed to sell something not worthy of the claims. I believe it should be brought out. You can find many post from owners themselves in their blogs telling their tales of woe, and not recieving any help from the manufacturer. It's not about beating anyone up. It's about what is the truth, and protecting future potential customers from throwing away hundreds of thousands of dollars, and possibly financially losing their dream. The same dream most of us have here.........i2f
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Old 29-09-2009, 12:20   #5
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Just looked throught their web site, oof! They seem like nice folks just out to have a good time, sorry to see so much misery come there way. Hope things get better for them.
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Old 29-09-2009, 15:05   #6
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There are only 2 actual Fastcat owners out there it seems. 4 built to date.

African Seawing with Franks blog about all his trials and tribulations.

African Innovation, an ex demo boat, that Gideon claims is owned by Andreas, yet as of early this month it was still officially registered to a company owned by Gideon Goudsmit. Andreas doesn't post much about the boat.

African Love which is owned by Gideon, has suffered rudder damage as it could not handle being gently put down on the hard.

Butterfly - the last fastcat launched about a year ago, major commissioning and warranty issues.

The only 2 boats bought directly as new are African Innovation and Butterfly. Both have active blogs.

Common experiences for both these owners have been:

Delayed deliveries of between 4 and 8 months.
Shoddy workmanship.
Poor, if not dangerous system design.
Leaking hulls and major corrosion issues.
Overweight boats compared to what the builder markets and claims.
Warranty issues not sorted out in a timely manner. No help unless you show a subservient attitude to the owner of African Cats.

But please do not take my word for this, read the owners blogs, and some of the posts that are linked in post nr. 1 on this thread.

You may ask why I bother posting this stuff. I was initially taken in by all the marketing, innovative features, performance claims etc. So much so that I went down to France to have a look at a Fastcat at the boat show in La Rochelle. In fact I was just about ready to order one of the "Fabulous" boats if I liked what I saw.

I am a marine engineer, and after 10 minutes looking around the boat, and some of the systems I walked away. Apalled at the poor level of workmanship, poor finish of both visible and especially inner areas.

I followed all the outrageous performance claims, like Gideons claim of averaging 10 knots across the Atlantic. His own blog showed an average of 6.85 knots. Suddenly his blog was no longer available??? He had not removed it from his site he claimed. Luckily some people found a cached version that proved that also this claim was incorrect.

Exaggerated claims of weights and lots of other claims that have been proven to be grossly inflated, the number of boats on order was claimed to be 19, now it 6 or 7..

All these issues, plus the fact that I nearly got taken in, made me annoyed, and got me thinking about those poor folks who haven't got my background and knowledge. They don't have a chance in the hands of this skilled marketer. That is why I consistently question claims by this company, as I personally have absolutely no trust in them. Luckily I backed off, so I didn't end in the terrible situation that the 2 present owners have.

Another small example of "false marketing", Fastcats avatar shows a "Green Motion Fastcat 445", this would lead one to think that such a boat exsists, as it states that is his boat, and has done for some time.
No such boat has been launched yet! The photo in the avatar is a photoshopped one of Butterfly. The green motion system for a cat has zero sea trials to date, yet it seems that 4 or 5 people have signed up as guinea pigs - impressive marketing!

My efforts in exposing the true facts are to ensure that possible buyers don't get taken in, and at least are forewarned to some extent, to show due diligence prior to signing on the dotted line.

My apologies to anyone who has been annoyed at some of my posts, but I think that the community here is wizening up to the true facts about these boats and the company behaviour.

Alan
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Old 30-09-2009, 08:54   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordic cat View Post
There are only 2 actual Fastcat owners out there it seems. 4 built to date.

African Seawing with Franks blog about all his trials and tribulations.

African Innovation, an ex demo boat, that Gideon claims is owned by Andreas, yet as of early this month it was still officially registered to a company owned by Gideon Goudsmit. Andreas doesn't post much about the boat.

African Love which is owned by Gideon, has suffered rudder damage as it could not handle being gently put down on the hard.

Butterfly - the last fastcat launched about a year ago, major commissioning and warranty issues.

The only 2 boats bought directly as new are African Innovation and Butterfly. Both have active blogs.
Alan

I assume you mean African Seawing and Butterfly?

Also, could I clarify what you stated about African Innovation... When I asked Gideon for details of other customers' blogs that he knew about (as per his post in the Alternative Propulsion Thread) he replied with two links - one of which was to African Innovation. Are you saying that this boat is actually owned by Gideon via one of his companies?
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Old 01-10-2009, 07:29   #8
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Misleading statements by African Cats on ownership of a Fastcat

Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdFusion View Post
Alan

Quote:
I assume you mean African Seawing and Butterfly?
Sorry, you are correct.

Quote:
Also, could I clarify what you stated about African Innovation... When I asked Gideon for details of other customers' blogs that he knew about (as per his post in the Alternative Propulsion Thread) he replied with two links - one of which was to African Innovation. Are you saying that this boat is actually owned by Gideon via one of his companies?

According to the official register in South Africa, where this boat is listed, the official owner is a company owned by Gideon Goudsmit.

So on here he blatantly states another fact that he knows is not true, for whatever weird reason. As far as I know, the new owner can not move the boat out of a boat register without the old owners approval. Pictures on the internet show the boat flying the South African flag earlier this year.

Funnily enough, this is the only boat with a blog that makes no comments on the technical issues on the boat - a "coincidence" maybe?

I have been reading Franks blog, and will be posting some of his comments, that give a bit more insight on the quality of the build, and the way problems are handled by African Cats, and the owner Gideon Goudsmit.

Alan
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Old 01-10-2009, 10:10   #9
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Alan,

I am starting to get the feeling that you are fighting a personal vendetta here. I read some of the blogs and as I am Dutch, I can read the "better" Dutch/Flemish version without the translation errors of the English version. Like that delamination mentioned, it's isn't delamination: it's a failure of a bond and/or a crush failure of a filler where the wrong type of filler was used. Delamination is a failure of a laminate, like the glass layers of the hull separating.

None of the problems I read about are really severe and should be counted on in small production series like this. Only when a yard starts pumping out big series, they get all the details right and even then, there can be undetected flaws that turn up later (just like with cars).

On the other hand, Gideon could just have stated that these details must be corrected for both existing hulls and still to be built hulls instead of almost denying that there is a problem. It isn't difficult to reinforce the crossbar attachments or clean out debris of the building process. It's just not so nice when the owners have to do it.

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Old 01-10-2009, 10:19   #10
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Old 01-10-2009, 14:02   #11
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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Alan,

I am starting to get the feeling that you are fighting a personal vendetta here. I read some of the blogs and as I am Dutch, I can read the "better" Dutch/Flemish version without the translation errors of the English version. Like that delamination mentioned, it's isn't delamination: it's a failure of a bond and/or a crush failure of a filler where the wrong type of filler was used. Delamination is a failure of a laminate, like the glass layers of the hull separating.

Hi Nick,

There is no personal vendetta, as I explained in my earlier post, just a search for facts. Sure there are issues with any boat, but when the builder claims that his customer is happy in a post here on CF, then it is only fair that the truth ( as percieved by his customer) is also introduced.

There are many claims by this builder, that have been proven to be highly exaggerated, and I'm being diplomatic yet he persists.

As the forum rules clearly state:
"Do not post unsubstantiated gossip, libelous remarks or directly misleading information!

I think that I have been able to substaniate all my remarks, and that they have been in an attempt to correct misleading information.

I understand that the Dutch/Flemish version is more accurate, as surely things get lost in translation.

But on the point of the delamination, I think the English version is pretty clear. To quote Frank:
After removing centimeters thick filler who was no longer attached to the hull we discover delaminating on the port hull. 30cm by 15cm a hardly filled glass layer is loos from the foam. Also a second glass layer was not attached any more on the first on. Then also we could see the RVS plate was 6mm deep into the foam. There goes the reassuring words of Gideon that all is OK with our crossbeam. There's nowhere some extra glass or carbon to be found there to enforce that spot as we where told it should be. In fact, it's a very poor infusion at that critical point

Unattached glass is delamination in my book. The enclosed picture seems to be pretty clear as well.

Then there is the comment on the corroded rudder shafts:

A bit later after the first shock we also discover that one of the rudder axes has lost some aluminium. From 60mm to now 46.6mm very near to the rudder. No problem, AFC has already started to build a new one for us. Guaranty. Our axes are not yet anodised. Also, after examination it's clear the carbon inside the blade is causing electrolyse. So now we are going to put anodes too at the rudder blades.
So the rudder shaft has corroded from 60 down to 46.6 mm because of electrolysis? Nick is that a correct translation?

Anyone got an explanation as to why this kind of corrosion happens? Seems that carbon reinforced daggerboards are sometimes used, but I haven't heard of this problem before. Surely carbon should not be in direct contact with the salt water, and carbon is a good conductor, but is galvanically inert AFAIK

And then this comment:

Next year, this time in September, the boat has to get out again for replacement of the rudders. By then they will be corroded to the point of replacement. Some fault in combination with carbon fibre, CC, not anodises, and no anodes or so. Replacement 1 rudder in garanty, 2th in 'coulence'. Tanks Gideon !?


So the yard rightly agrees to make up new ones. But then the last comment that I have highlighted in bold.
Instead of just covering both rudders as a warranty, no, only one is on warranty, and the other one, is a deed of good will (is my translation of "in coulense" correct?) The exclamation mark followed by the question mark are pretty expressive methinks.

This does not sound like a happy customer to me.

I have done my utmost to be factual, and this post is not meant as a personal attack, but an attempt to refute what can only be deemed misleading information. I apologise if my post is not clear, but then please consider that being a non native speaker of English does have its limitations.

Alan
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Old 01-10-2009, 15:03   #12
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Okay, not a vendetta, but you're onto him like a Vulcan blood-bat onto a wounded Klingon! ;-)
I think you should contact these owners directly, asking them about this, instead of speculating here. Speculation shouldn't be used against someone in public.

About the delamination: what they describe is lack of epoxy infusion in the lay-up. So, it was never properly laminated as opposed to delaminated. It's not clear what the photo shows, but it isn't delamination. Worst case, the forces of the crossbeam flexed the hull causing fairing/filler to come off the laminate.

About carbon electrolysis: yes, I have had that between the carbon of my spinnaker pole and the alloy fitting at the end of it. It actually destroyed the carbon laminate; it was swollen to twice the thickness with paint coming off and cured resin crumbling out. I was able to remove the fitting and re-laminate the carbon with epoxy. The new fitting had a plastic sleeve so I wasn't the first with the problem ;-)

The described rudder shaft corrosion sounds very strange to me because there would be frays of carbon fiber and other debris still wrapped around it. I'm not so sure the shaft was 60mm new where they now measured 46.6mm
Also, I have a fiberglass rudder+shaft and it's painted, as would a carbon rudder be. That would prevent trouble, so this issue is very vague and it's hard to tell what happened without more info.

About language and "coulense": your translation is correct. It means that it will be replaced free of charge even though it's out of warranty. Nice to offer that but there's also laws about hidden defects with periods extending normal warranty periods. Probably, the builder knows this too and decided to try to make their service look good while avoiding that legal path... leaving mixed feelings about it with the owners. But really, it's a free replacement and surely the original problem will be addressed so why you want to make a bad point out of that puzzles me. My spinnaker pole with the problem is from Forespar (big company) and I never even asked them for a free replacement and I am the actual owner with the problem, not a 3rd party who learned about the issue!

I am much more interrested to hear about how flaws in construction can be corrected and which method for correcting the builder chooses.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 01-10-2009, 15:42   #13
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As a forum member who is planning on purchasing a Cat in the near future I find discussions such as this very valuable. There have clearly been some discrepancies and confusion regarding FastCats and most of the information has come from the manufacturer himself. Gideon certainly has some interesting ideas regarding Cat design and if we need clarification concerning his designs and products, then what better way to discuss them than a forum thread with current owners, interested forum members and the owner of the company.

I would certainly like to hear more about these issues before I make a decision to spend a half a million dollars or more. In fact that is one of the Primary reasons I joined this forum. I can definitely understand the need to keep things civil and keep the threats out of this, but I think so far the majority of the questions have been based on information that Gideon posted.

I will never make a decision to purchase ANY boat without talking to an existing owner first, and the only owner of a FastCat that I know how to contact is the owner of Butterfly and Barnacle, whom I know of because Gideon gave me the link on this forum.

I would still like to hear directly from Gideon himself about the current issues with B&B and how they are being resolved.

Gideon?

I would certainly expect a few issues with the first few boats that ANY yard would produce, but I would also expect the builder to be honest and up-front about the issues and deal with them quickly and completely. Its the follow-thru and service that will ultimately allow me to pick a boat and a builder.

Discussions of products are very important, good or bad.
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Old 01-10-2009, 16:22   #14
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I agree 100% that this type of discuss is necessary and of value to all forum users. especially if it involves the investment of 100's of thousands of dollar. If the facts are accurate there should be no need for moderator involvement. Especially if the Vendor has continuosly miss represented his product in the past.
David M., I would hope that instead of stopping this type if exchange it would be more helpful to all forum members if you focus on vendors that post false or misleading info/claims.
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Old 01-10-2009, 16:27   #15
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...I would hope that instead of stopping this type if exchange it would be more helpful to all forum members if you focus on vendors that post false or misleading info/claims.
That this thread is open is, ipso facto, proof that we have not stopped "this type if [sic] exchange," Scott730. Nor will that be necessary, as long as those posting to this thread abide by the rules and discuss the debatable points, not the personalities.

David had provided a friendly suggestion to anyone who wishes to post to this thread. As long as the exchange is kept polite and on-topic, it can continue.

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