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Old 16-06-2012, 16:59   #1
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Buying a self-built cat

I am thinking of it cause it's much cheaper then a production cat and I first want to try if live-aboard and working on a boat is possible at all - kind of a beta test run. I am expecting to be at around 20k for an open bridge deck cat which looks pretty much raw but ready to go. I am intending to use it for coastal cruising for may be 1-2 years. After that time period I will know if I want to go a step further.

My main concern is - how can I make sure the structure is ok ? Or do you guys think it's a bad idea ?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.
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Old 16-06-2012, 17:14   #2
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

Personally, I think it's a bad idea. If you want to make sure it is structurally sound, hire a surveyor.
Generally, self built boats are built amateurish at best. That is not to say that some self built boats are not of high quality. Some very often are exceedingly well built, but that is a relatively rare thing.
Be aware that home built boats are difficult to insure for the hull value and contents.
This is your home and this is almost everything you own all in one package when you life aboard. Without proper insurance, it's a gamble at best.
Home building a boat is not rocket science yet, there is much to know. You should be a very good fiberglasser before you attempt to build and you should be a very good furniture maker mainly because you will understand joinery.
This is just me. I'm sure others will totally disagree.
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Old 16-06-2012, 17:26   #3
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

Nothing wrong with home built boats, I have seen many examples with a better build quality and finish than production boats.

But, in Australia at least, any cat let alone home built under $20k capable of coastal cruising is going to have some issues except for perhaps a seawind 24.
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Old 16-06-2012, 20:10   #4
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

Agree - nothing wrong with owner built boats, so long as they are done right. There are many designers who will give you guidance on what to look for e.g. Peter Snell and his Easy designs is always happy to talk to buyers and tell them what he knows of a particular boat.

Cat MAn Do built a Simpson that was the envy of many a sailor in my part of the world, great boat. He is also correct about pricing.

To reject owner built out of hand is not sensible. But Buyer Beware and all that.
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Old 17-06-2012, 01:35   #5
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

I bought an owner built airplane once, and did not realize that this also translate to owner-maintained, which I was not prepared to do.

I don't know how well you will be accepted when you need major service. This has been a problem with my plane, but perhaps is not an issue with a boat.
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Old 17-06-2012, 01:50   #6
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

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Originally Posted by ArtM View Post
I bought an owner built airplane once, and did not realize that this also translate to owner-maintained, which I was not prepared to do.

I don't know how well you will be accepted when you need major service. This has been a problem with my plane, but perhaps is not an issue with a boat.
The two are not comparable as aircraft repair requires certification and standards along with licensing. Boat repairs are totally done by anybody from an experienced craftsmen to a novice and there are virtually no guarantee or standards are involved. There is no licensing or certification for anybody doing boat repairs. And since you will be "sailing off into the sunset" the folks doing the repairs know they will probably never see you again.
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Old 17-06-2012, 04:50   #7
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

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Originally Posted by Zonker View Post
I am thinking of it cause it's much cheaper then a production cat and I first want to try if live-aboard and working on a boat is possible at all - kind of a beta test run. I am expecting to be at around 20k for an open bridge deck cat which looks pretty much raw but ready to go. I am intending to use it for coastal cruising for may be 1-2 years. After that time period I will know if I want to go a step further.

My main concern is - how can I make sure the structure is ok ? Or do you guys think it's a bad idea ?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.
If this is just to find out if you like living aboard I suggest investing in a used monohull. Plenty of production ones in fiberglass out there and lots less risk for the $20K you have. As others have already said, nothing wrong with a self-built cat but you'd going to have a hard time finding a good one at that price I suspect. Even if you do it will most liking be very small and have a lot less living space than a comparably priced monohull.
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Old 17-06-2012, 04:53   #8
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Theres a older gemini 30 on fleabay and a few other sites for 18k.sure its rough a.d needs work but Not sure any home built for same price woupd have the same "bones". If u wa.tv a coastal cruiser open bridge deck sounds like you would be more like camping.
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Old 17-06-2012, 05:08   #9
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

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The two are not comparable as aircraft repair requires certification and standards along with licensing
Not these days in the US and Aus etc. If you build it you can maintain it with no qualifications necessary!

Moreso the issues with onwer builds would present themselves with "scratch built" versus "kit built." These can vary significantly in quality and build practices.

My preference would be Factory built followed by Kit built with Scratch built as a last resort.
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Old 17-06-2012, 06:47   #10
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

Since we are dealing with things that float and discussing homebuilt versus production boats - I would agree with other posters that going with a production boat is much wiser.

Especially if you are wishing to learn about living aboard and also how to maintain, repair and improve the boat. Since production boats (as the term implies) are produced in the hundreds if not thousands, there are a lot of people who own them out there. These folks usually end up forming "associations" or discussion groups in order to exchange information and experience with others who own the same brand of production boat.

These "groups" or specific boat forums have a wealth of good information on how to maintain, repair and improve their brand of boat. And are willing to share and answer questions specific to that boat.

Home-builts, unless they are "kit boats", usually do not have such "networks" and you are really "on your own." So for learning how to take care of the boat I would strongly suggest going with a "production" boat.
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Old 17-06-2012, 08:59   #11
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

Consider the circumstances you will be facing when you try to sell your boat. The market is difficult as it is -- so if you don't intend to keep your boat for decades, consider the difficulties involved with selling a non-production boat that has not been built by a reputable boat yard.
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Old 18-06-2012, 17:47   #12
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

Thanks a lot ... I guess I'll have a look at it after all ... :-) ... looks like there is a huge discount because the hulls are not polished.
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Old 19-06-2012, 14:35   #13
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

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The two are not comparable as aircraft repair requires certification and standards along with licensing.
This is technically true, but in practice it is difficult to find a qualified aircraft mechanic who will work on the plane, forcing the owner to either store an unmaintained aircraft (as I have), work on it themselves (possibly illegally), or go to exceptional lengths to find someone who is willing to do the work, usually at excessive cost and inconvenience to the owner.

The boat does not require certified repairs, that's true, but I'm saying that it MAY be true that regular boatyards may be unwilling to do maintenance for you. I'm not sure if this is an issue or not, just mentioning it as a possible point for someone considering a custom homebuilt craft with little or no construction standards applied.
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Old 19-06-2012, 14:38   #14
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Re: Buying a self-built cat

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If you build it you can maintain it with no qualifications necessary!
That is true, and would be expected of a boat homebuilder as well.

However in our case (my airplane and his boat), we did not build it. It's not legal for me to maintain my home-built plane (because I didn't build it), and I would not want to even if I could. I did expect that I would be able to get maintenance and repairs at standard facilities. I've found that is not true.

In his case, it would certainly be legal to maintain and repair his own boat, but he may not wish to. If that's the case, he may find it difficult to get maintenance from standard boatyards.
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