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Old 14-09-2008, 16:38   #31
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Chris White and Alwoplast

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Originally Posted by Keegan View Post
Chris does actively take part in the building process of his Atlantic Cats. I never said he lived in Chile. He works closely with yards and the customer to create the Atlantic Cats
Well, I don't think a fallen wind indicator and a chafing halyard are especially significant failures, and since he isn't the builder I don't think that they reflect on Mr. White in any event.

As for the computer problem, the last think I personally want is a complex interdependent electronic system that includes my autopilot, as it lends itself to just the kind of problem that arose. I am not surprised that the answer was to reboot, because I have found that to be the answer in analogous systems in industry. I don't mind my GPS talking to my VHF, but that is as far as I want to go in that direction.
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Old 14-09-2008, 16:51   #32
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Well, I don't think a fallen wind indicator and a chafing halyard are especially significant failures, and since he isn't the builder I don't think that they reflect on Mr. White in any event.
.
My post was in no way trying to cause a poor reflection on anyone and that was clear if you read it carefully. I am actually thinking about building an Atlantic 57 with Chris.
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Old 14-09-2008, 17:38   #33
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My post was in no way trying to cause a poor reflection on anyone and that was clear if you read it carefully. I am actually thinking about building an Atlantic 57 with Chris.
Please give me your Dolphin when you do.

Thanks.
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Old 14-09-2008, 18:57   #34
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I think Dick and Karen are doing a wonderful job enlightening many first timers to the trials and tribulations of building a custom or semi custom boat, especially lightweight and an early hull number.

Their inexperience in managing this is self evident and they are open enough to freely admit their limitations.

The QC problems that are listed are not unusual in even the best yards in Europe and what is encouraging with Fastcat….. is Gideon’s “Can-Do” attitude in trying to remedy them. That shows me that this builder is very committed.

The amount of rework needed costs any builder in his profit margin so I am sure there is no one more vested with putting in place preventative measures for damages or shoddy workmanship, than Gideon. Fastcat are growing and expanding into new facilities, this staff training will take a great deal of time and effort until the standards are “set” on the floor and ingrained by the workers.

For those who criticize Fastcat or expect near perfection based on price, I can tell you from personal experience that expensive problems happen in any custom build process including the renowned Feadship yards, with many generations of experience.

The way to improve on this is to invest time and money by a knowledgeable ‘hands-on” Owner or his Representative to remove any vagueness in the contract Specifications, BEFORE, the Contract is signed and to follow-up during the build with regular inspections to satisfy yourself that the execution is to your agreed standard. (That actually helps the Builder to enforce standards)


My philosophy as an owner’s Rep and project manger is very simple:

1/…The 2 people with the largest stake in a custom new build is the owner of the shipyard and the client. Those 2 will be in a pseudo-marriage during the process, once the contract is signed, so their primary job is to find out if they are mutually compatible and trust each other.

2/…For the rest of us, as employees, our job is to provide BOTH with as much detailed information as possible via detailed specifications and feasibility studies, so that they can make an informed decision before the contract is signed!

3/…To that end, I recommend that a client should be prepared to spend at least 10% of the anticipated contract price in doing his homework on detailed build specifications, Maker’s list, Engineering Feasibility study and ergonomically detailed Interior, before submitting to bid tender. The more qualified detail, the better so as to reduce or completely omit that dreaded contractual word..."allowances" !

If you think that is crazy, then just consider this:

4/…The “average” change order of a custom built Feadship is about 30% of the contract price….(some much more)

5/…The primary reason for change orders is design deficiencies, whereby engineering requirements which are not fully identified during pre-contract work, is discovered during the build. As it often impacts severely on the user’s interior, causing expensive changes in fixed interior furniture and rework. The client is actually forced into paying much more, to get less.

6/…If by doing your homework you reduce the design deficiency change orders from 30% down to 0% , then you actually have 20% available for real improvements but more importantly, you get the boat you want.


These numbers are not theoretical but from actual experience and those who invest in surveyors “after the fact” have missed the point that a custom new build is a partnership between the Builder and the Owner.

Invest in both the Builder’s and your own success, before you sign the contract.
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Old 14-09-2008, 19:16   #35
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I totally agree with Pelagic's comments. The best way to manage ANY project is to get the expectations well defined upfront and to team up with people that you can trust to get the job done well.
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Old 14-09-2008, 19:28   #36
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I totally agree with Pelagic's comments. The best way to manage ANY project is to get the expectations well defined upfront and to team up with people that you can trust to get the job done well.
Sounds nice but getting expectations well defined is no easy matter. Even if you do, many/most of the problems are not addressable upfront.

They key for me is to pick a builder you can trust and don't make too many changes to a sound design. In the end it's a crap shoot. Production boat, semi-custom boat, one off boat, they all have problems. They are boats...
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Old 14-09-2008, 19:44   #37
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They key for me is to pick a builder you can trust and don't make too many changes to a sound design. In the end it's a crap shoot. ..
\

Yes, picking the right builder is huge. I agree there is risk in building a boat but it does not have to be the same risk as a "crap shoot".
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Old 14-09-2008, 19:59   #38
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Despite the bleatings of the trade representatives on this thread, boat builders do have a duty of care to their clients. Most of whom are neither knowledgeable of the design nor build process. There is no justification for shafting the people who contribute to your livelihoods.

This duty of care extends to ensuring the design and build conforms to a level of quality proportional to the relative cost of the boat. It also extends to ensuring that their clients don't experience the tribulations similar to the owners of Butterfly.

Indeed things do go wrong, mistakes happen but a a proper QC system would have captured these far earlier in the process (especially with the experience of 3 prior boats under their belts)

Hats off to Gideon for agreeing to fix the shortcomings without argument. One presumes that he was not in SA to oversee the minutae of the build. Its good to see a builder with the intergrity to make good the faults.

Equally, Big Cat and Nordic Cat have valid observations - Gideon has, under the guise of submitting posts disguised as technical content been unashamedly advertising his product on this forum. As a vendor he has been given a surprising amount of leeway by the moderators. In short, if a vendor keeps beating his chest about the superiority of his product on this forum, it had better be good; any failure will be greeted with derision... Nordic and Big Cats are merely enforcing accountability. This is no bad thing.
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Old 14-09-2008, 19:59   #39
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\

Yes, picking the right builder is huge. I agree there is risk in building a boat but it does not have to be the same risk as a "crap shoot".
Crap shoot may be too harsh a characterization, but what if the owner get's hit but a bus. What if the yard starts on fire. What if they go bankrupt. You still might be able to get your work in process but if it's halfway around the world and you wanted to go sailing in this decade it might be highly unlikely.

For that matter, buying a boat from a company like Catana could be just as risky now given their parent companies finical troubles. My Dad bought a boat from boat broker that went bankrupt even though the yard was still in business. I think every customer after him lost their entire downpayment(s).
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Old 14-09-2008, 20:54   #40
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Sounds nice but getting expectations well defined is no easy matter. Even if you do, many/most of the problems are not addressable upfront.
I think BlueRap that is a common fallacy especially promoted by less than honest builder’s and lazy designers to get you committed early on to accept a specification with lots of “intent” and what seems like generous allowances.

If you are expecting real detail to be provided for free in a “sales bid package”, then you are deluding yourself. You will get what you pay for and it will have enough ambiguity in the contract specs to drive the boat thru.

A good builder would like construction level details provided, before bidding on a job, but few clients are far-sighted enough to bankroll that ahead of time.

If you are on a low, self build budget, spend 2 to 3 years researching design and equipment solutions. Don’t talk to the Sales people until later but interview the Service managers of equipment asking them to explain the chronic “install” problems they encounter and write that prevention into the specs.

Invite them out for lunch or dinner and you will be surprised what comes out after a few drinks. These guys are generally great and really do want to solve problems rather than just make a sale!

Designers and Architects are idea people, pay them for their ideas but don’t allow them to control the build process as they are not builders and soon you can get into a finger pointing exercise with you caught in the middle.

Instead, use that production part of their budget ahead of time to hire reliable sub-contractors, independent of the building yard to help you write up detailed engineering, fabrication and coating criteria, to be part of the specification and feasibility study.

If you wait and do that during contract negotiations that sub-contractor is more controlled by the Builder, who is his primary customer and he will acquiesce even if he disagree with him on the solution.

Do pay the Architect/Designer ahead of time to provide construction level drawings (1:20 rather that 1:100 or 50) based on your feasibility study. Negotiate so they provide as many as needed to prove to the Builder and yourself complete feasibility of their design with installation of specified equipment and ergonomics. This gives you “Fixed interior Bulkheads” that will allow your expensive interior to be fabricated with a high level of certainty that no re-work is needed.

Once all that is done, simply call them; “Contract Guidance Drawings” and it becomes part of the owner’s brief and detailed specifications, with the Builder to confirm feasibility and accept complete responsibility to execute to that level of ergonomic detail. (re-drawing them to "As Built" drawings)


Sounds like a great deal of work? It is! ....... But much easier and less expensive to change on paper or via CAD , than rework on the factory floor with all it’s attending delays and contractual frustrations.

The actual build should be somewhat anticlimactic, if you have done your homework and gives the Builder all the info he needs to focus on quality and execution.

As an owner’s rep, working on projects done this way while watching other builds go thru the standard design as you go crisis management, it is a real confirmation of my process and a pleasure for everyone involved in the project…especially the yacht workers on the floor who have all this information ahead of time to add their bit of craftsman magic to 3rd and 4th tier solutions, instead of being stuck on #1 of conflicting re-work issues.

Great for everyone’s morale and the client is the real beneficiary.
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Old 14-09-2008, 21:07   #41
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I think BlueRap that is a common fallacy especially promoted by less than honest builder’s and lazy designers to get you committed early on to accept a specification with lots of “intent” and what seems like generous allowances.
You make a lot of good point which I don't dispute. I'm not arguing against rigor in the process. Let me just share my one experience. I started negotiating a contract with a builder and designer October of last year. My lawyer wanted to nail down all sorts of stuff, mostly legal. We didn't get a contract signed until March. The delay cost the builder and me a fair amount of money. It wasn't materially different than the original contract. Others who have signed the standard contract have been happy with the experience of the yard and designer.
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Old 14-09-2008, 21:11   #42
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Neelie - your post makes a of sense.

Nor can one compare the building of a cat costing $700k withy a Feadship costing $20 to $40 million dollars.

I have been in the position that this boat on this blog has been in and in my case, I am not saying this case, I was promised fix after fix but even the fixes went onto to cause major problems to the point I had to abandon the boat.

I wanted to believe that the fixes were going to work but the fix instructions themselves were not even followed because in the end the people did not care enough.

I would therefore only judge the fixing offer from anyone after it is fixed not before. Promises mean nothing action does.

As regards those from the trade trying to argue that we should accept the standard explained on this blog then that would be OK if the customer understood beforehand that this was the standard to expect. IMHO customers would never sign up if this was the case.

The attitude of the trade reps on this thread do not surprise me - if they could really listen to themselves preaching what lack of care and duty is owed to the customer then they should be ashamed of themselves. I would never want to use their services.

In general and without commenting on this case, I expect my new boat build to have problems - I expect snags and things to sort out but IMHO not to this level. In my case there are almost 80 owners out there and I have yet to find one that regrets buying the boat. That was a critical aspect for me but I do not blame anyone for making the mistake of trusting someone who fails that trust - I fail those that breach the trust not the victim.
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Old 14-09-2008, 21:26   #43
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BlueRap, You are absolutely right, there are a lot of reasons to move quickly and timing of executing a contract often is impacted by exchange rates and building slots available.

My advice is more to those who are new to beginning the process and have time to consider the methodology.

There are many ways to judge the success of a project and measure the level of happiness with the design and execution by the builder in meeting the owners’ brief.

I had one client who successfully cruised the world for 10 years on a project done our way, then was privately offered 50% more than what he paid for it.

He turned it down! ….which to me is the real measure of success and what I believe in !
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Old 14-09-2008, 22:18   #44
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Reading all of this is pretty frightening.

It makes me want to consider purchasing a boat only by looking at boats that already exist. This way I can walk away if I see too many problems. No money committed....no money lost.

Overall it seems like a much more secure way of purchasing a boat.

If a builder needs my money up front then they are probably too close to bankruptcy anyway if they don't have the capital reserves to build the boat before it is purchased.

So what if I never find a boat that is exactly what I want...that's better than putting hundreds of thousands of dollars and perhaps even over a million dollars at potential unnecessary risk.

At least one boat builder is clearly off my list of boats to consider because of this up front commitment of cash and the resultant potential nightmarish problems....Catana, Privilege and a couple other builders are still on my list though....but only for boats that are currently displacing water.
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Old 14-09-2008, 22:21   #45
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Reading all of this this is pretty frightening. It makes me want to consider purchasing a boat by only looking at boats that already exist. This way I can walk away if I see too many problems. No money committed....no money lost.
The real cost and risk starts after you buy a boat....
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