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Old 14-10-2008, 07:29   #1
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Finish Work on Cats

I am a newbie to Cats, having learned to sail on an O'day years ago. With two in their tweens, and a different feel, we have been looking at Cats. So we headed to the boat show in Annapolis to see as many Cats up close as possible.

We went on just about every Cat and I admit some disappointment. Perhaps it is misplaced expectations from the monohulls, but I saw million dollar Cats with bare fiberglass, unfinished edges and seams either sharp as knives or waiting to be trap or worse run water into the interior. My wife commented that the Gemini 105mc (a less expensive Cat) had a better interior finish than most of the bigger (size and $$$) boats.

Is the expectation of finished fiberglass and surfaces different in Cats? I was expecting the boat show to provide some of the best examples of workmanship. What am I missing here?
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Old 14-10-2008, 07:54   #2
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Sad to say, you are generally correct. One of the reasons we bought our 2004 Manta was the finish and attention to detail. I can't speak to what is being made now, since ownership of the company has changed. But see if you can get aboard a pre-owned Manta, and I think you'll see the difference.
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Old 14-10-2008, 10:03   #3
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It was rather amazing. There was a period were the finish work in cats was getting MUCH better. That was not in evidence at this show. Some of the better finished boats Broadblue, and Privilege, were not there. Even the Catana and the PDQ were not as well finished as I remembered. You'd think for the $$$$ they want, you'd have something far more.... refined! Ah well, I guess it was all those comments about floating condos. They wanted to show Cats can be just as raw as any other... million dollar boat?
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Old 14-10-2008, 10:40   #4
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We just got back from the boat show">Annapolis Boat show also. I found the finish on the Gemini to be really cheap and seemed like things like the locker latches would not hold up. However, the Gemini was one of the most popular boats there, and really presents a nice value.

Which cats didn't you like?
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Old 14-10-2008, 11:49   #5
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It's a somewhat difficult conundrum for the Catamaran industry. When shoppers look at boats they generally make comparisons based on size (ie: a 40 footer to another 40 footer) When folks make the transition from mono to cat, they often have it set in their mind to look at the various cats in comparison to their mindset with mono's they are familiar with (ie: a 40 ft mono to a 40 ft cat) when a better comparison would be a 48 ft mono to a 42 ft cat) This is where the real conundrum come in. In an effort to make the value comparison, a manufacturer has to strike a balance between 'finish level' and 'keeping the cost as low as possible'. When one is shopping for a 42 foot cat and the price is up to 20% more than a comparable 48 ft mono, that's probably represents the high end of the premium he's willing to pay. Much more than 20% and he's not likely to purchase the cat - so in an effort to keep the costs within that range - something is going to suffer and the level of 'finish' is one likely place it'll turn up. If the manufacturer ‘finishes’ at a highe level, then both the costs and weights are going to creep up to the point of the vessel becoming priced out of the range of it’s targeted market.

Example: A well appointed 5 year old Oyster 485 2003 Oyster 485 Oyster 485 Voile Bateau ŕ Vendre - www.yachtworld.fr will price out in the $700-$800,000 range. A well appointed 5 year old Alliaura Privilege 485 2003 Alliaura Privilège 485 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com will price out in the $1.5-1.6 million dollar range - about double the price. So if one looks at the two based on a simple size comparison then the Privilege would be outrageously over priced in comparison to the Oyster. But when one does a comparison of the Oyster 485 with a more appropriate Privilege 435 2003 Privilege 435 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com then the comparisons become a bit more linnear.



The bottom line is Multi’s cost more. About 30% more on the low end of the finish spectrum, and about 20% more on the high end of the finish spectrum (ie better value as you scale up). A $750,000 48 foot mono is going to feel quite posh. A $750,000 48 ft cat is going to feel rather sparten in comparison, but a $750,00 43 footer will (on average) approach the level of ‘posh’ of the 48 foot mono. Just as it took time to learn the difference between the Hallberg Rassy’s & Oysters of the mono world vs the Beneteau’s & Jeanneau’s; one also has to learn the different levels of boat in the cat world, as they aren’t all created equal and their histories are comparatively shorter.
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Old 14-10-2008, 12:27   #6
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I hate to pick on brands because I am new to Cats, however one I was particularly surprised with were the Fountaine Pajot. At such high prices, untrimmed, and welded edges were sharp as knives. Opening cabinets showed unfinished wood, fiberglass fibers, etc. I am going to generalize and say that most were that way.
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Old 14-10-2008, 14:01   #7
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I also went to the boatshow yesterday, and am currently now anchored in Spa Creek on my 34ft Romany catamaran.

I was also very disappointed with finish on the Mahe 36. Especially since when I last went to the show 10 years ago I thought the FP Belize 43 was the "Boat of the Show"

I also said then, and still do, that the Gemini offers the best value for money for those looking for a US coastal cruiser

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Old 14-10-2008, 14:18   #8
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High praise indeed Richard. Two things of note: 1. the interior of the Gemini has improved dramatically over the orignal versions with their glued on (and rapidly saggy) vinyl headliners, etc. 2. You refer to it as a coastal cruiser (as I have always seen them). Although off topic, I do note that Performance Cruising is now advertising them as blue water boats despite the still rather flimsy construction, narrow beam and low bridgedeck clearance.

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Old 14-10-2008, 14:33   #9
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I imagine there is a large effort to contain costs right now because there are fewer buyers, the euro is very overvalued and many of their factories are in Europe. Europe is showing the signs of a deeper recession than the United States. Catamaran manufacturers are probably looking at their buyers and realizing that even those who "own" a boat are putting it in charter first so they can reduce the price. Hence the fit and finish aren't really the selling points, it's accomodation space. With the exception of PDQ and Dolphin, I really didn't see too many boats aimed primarily at an owner.

Second, it would probably depend on your definition of fit and finish. In a monohull that would typically mean bronze and teak, chromed stainless, heavily polished mahagony. Frankly I don't think that multi's should try to look like a mono, they should be free to use more durable, lighter finishes and should aim for a far more modern look. When modern boats do choose wood veneers these veneers are paper thin and prone to moisture penetration from the ends and if scratched they cannot be repaired easily.
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Old 14-10-2008, 18:29   #10
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I though the Mahe 36 was a pretty nice, well layed out cat for its size. I thought it had lots of storage compartments, etc, and seemed suited to go offshore. However, I did not look that closely at the finish, interior compartments etc. My wife liked the Salina the best (I probably never should have showed it to her!) and, of course, the Lagoon 50. I still like the Leopard 47 over all of them. If money were no object, it would be St. Francis 50. But since it is , a Leopard 47 and a cruising kitty seems to be the best way to invest.
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Old 15-10-2008, 05:19   #11
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it would probably depend on your definition of fit and finish... I don't think that multi's should try to look like a mono, they should be free to use more durable, lighter finishes and should aim for a far more modern look...
I think this is a good thing to keep in mind; however, to the uninformed (vis multihull) the contrast was stark compared to many monos of similar pricing… One of my goals was to have my Bride look at a few multis just to see if there was any interest… she made the “slip” of muttering that one of the more utilitarian ones looked less well appointed than a houseboat she’d once had… needless to say that drew a bark from the sales rep; but without a conscious effort to education the viewer, it is difficult to “see” the more exotic composites that go into many multis, and the oft more rigorous fabrication isn’t obvious to the eye either… admittedly; many $350K and up buyers would likely be far better informed than we were, but excepting a few multis with nicely appointed, but still airy wood (grained?) cabins, the contrast to monos of roughly equivalent price was disappointedly glaring – especially when docked side by side…
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Old 15-10-2008, 06:20   #12
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With the exception of PDQ and Dolphin, I really didn't see too many boats aimed primarily at an owner.

I admit we did not go on many cats, but the Voyage 580 was an owners version. If we had the money to spend now that would be our choice, it looked like our current boat on steroids and in an owners version. That is my 2 cents and that all we have left these days after these market changes....
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Old 15-10-2008, 08:23   #13
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Seaking, you have a Voyage 470! It's huge! I agree that there are many companies which can make owners version boats of boats that are typically used in charter, but there are very few that make boats whose sole target is for the individual owner and those few seem to becoming fewer.
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Old 16-10-2008, 18:55   #14
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I could not believe the french boats! They all boast high quality European Finishes. To me this is just an excuse to use simulated wood everywhere with plastic banding on the edges. This banding fails with any significant stress and separates leaving the free egdes to splinter and peel when exposed to moisture. Where does simulated would come from? The simulated wood forest?
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Old 17-10-2008, 00:30   #15
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Production boats often don't have that higher quality finish be they multi or mono. All built to a price and usually by people who have no interest in the job until pay day. I'm often gob smacked at how low the finish levels are in some big dollar boats.

I'm on and off boats all day and many are brand new. As a general rule I'd call the average finish just pretty damn average to be honest.

Not to sure I'd go as far as to say European boats have any better or worse finish than US boats. If pushed I think I would have to say the Europeans do have a slight edge, certianly when talking fixings. Stuff on a Benny is usually a lot harder to get off than a Bayliner, which often falls off just when you look at it and even just for no reason at all.

We get lots of imports here from all over and it usually takes more to get a US boat up to speed for our conditions than the EU boats, at least they turn up with the ability to actually anchor them

But I would agree that for the money expected most Multis do leave me wondering why when it comes to finish levels amongst other things, as do more than a few monos. Mind you a 40ft multi seems to need 4 toilets where a mono gets away with 2 so double the cost on dunnys alone
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