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Old 21-02-2007, 16:05   #1
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Miami Boat Show - Floating Condominums

Last weekend I went to the boat show">Miami Boat Show, and I was more than a little surprised at what I heard when I was trooping the docks.

I spent a lot of time listening to what the sales people had to say about their respective catamarans. The general message of 99% of the sales people was that their catamaran was one of the best floating condominiums in Water World. They offered washers, dryers, air-conditioning, electric propulsion, and nearly every amenity found in the high rise condominiums of paradise.

What I didn't hear was discussions of the quality of their construction, and how their particular design made their catamaran a particulary desirable vessel for sailing around the world. I didn't hear any talk about sailing qualities offshore or storm managment in their particular cat.

Of course, they did mention that their cats were speed demons. But other than that, I felt like I had fallen into a black hole of meaningless hype.

When I purchased my Privilege 39 catamaran in1993, the first thing I wanted to know about was the quality of construction and whether it could stand up to the rigors of sailing offshore. I was betting my life on my cat when I did my circumnavigation.

I suspect that most of the sales people were clueless. Most of them have never crossed an ocean or taken a catamaran offshore, and that's why they mostly talked about layouts and amenities.

Don't get me wrong. It was a good show. But buyer beware. If you are going to purchase a new cat for offshore work, it might be a good idea to get a seasoned cruiser to look at the prospective cat before you take the plunge.

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Old 21-02-2007, 17:13   #2
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Condos

Good Day,

Can you be more specific in your warning. On what evidence do you base this warning? Are you concerned these new cats will simply fall apart during a circumnavigation? Most of these manufacturers are marketing third generation cat designs based on a couple of decades in the business.

The Mooring’s cats are sailed from SA on their own bottoms. These charter cats are built to sail daily, under abusive conditions, for years, while minimizing maintenance. Lagoon, FP, Privilege (your usual condo cats) have been sailed extensively around the world.

Please educated me on your specific knowledge. Why do you believe a Privilege 39 is a better sea going vessel than any of the other condos?

-John
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Old 21-02-2007, 18:00   #3
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John ... I don't believe that was his point. I read his point being that the current group of sales people at the boat show didn't seem to be promoting boats AS BOATS, but more as condos. Yes, there was a mention of checking with someone familiar with cats before buying; but, as an aside to the sales folk promoting the 'condo' aspects of a boat, rather than the sailing and construction characteristics - meaning he didn't believe that the sales folks were boating people and wouldn't know that much about what a sailor would be looking for (as opposed to someone looking for a condo on the water).

Try and remember that type is an imperfect method of communications and that remarks made can often be misinterpreted. It is always advisable to give the benefit of the doubt when considering how you reply to someone. As an example, I took your post to be abrupt and confrontational - I'm sure that it wasn't meant that way.
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Old 21-02-2007, 18:02   #4
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I"m not talking about the catamarans. I'm talking about the marketing of the catamarans. I didn't hear anything from the sales people that really addressed my concerns as a person who takes a catamaran offshore.

I personally don't think a catamaran makes a good ocean going condominium. Our own cat is very basic and I wouldn't consider it a floating condominium.

I went to the boatshow as an observer. I wanted to find out how they were marketing cats. After talking to my friends, we felt that they were marketing them as floating condos. I don't have a problem with having amenities on board. That's a matter of personal preference.

There were plenty of good cats at the boat show, but the sales people didn't do a very good job of telling me why I should sail one of their cats around the world. Most of what I heard was fluff, rather than the facts of how their yacht was constructed. In my circumnavigation I have seen three cats with bridgedeck damage, two cats with rudder failure, and other cats that had cracks in the bridgedeck to hull joint, and delamination in the hull. I purchased my cat because I felt that it was up to the job. I looked at the rudders, quadrants, autopilot installation, size of rigging, how the mast was set up, size of the roller furling, the type of engine installation,collision bulkheads, water tight compartments, nylon or broze thru hulls, quality of electrical wiring, quality of electrical box and circuit breakers - the list is endless. Those are the things that I wanted to hear about from the sales people.

After doing a circumnavigation, I know the weak points in my catamaran, and I know exactly what I would be checking when I was considering the purchase of a cat for offshore work. That's why I said, if you are thinking about buying a catamaran, have someone check it over before you take the plunge. There might be more than a few things to consider that the sales person never mentioned beside the layout and amenities on board.

There's no doubt about the fact that there are plenty of great cats at the show. I found several that I would be happy to sail offshore. But my opinion wasn't based on what sales people said. It was based upon living on board since 1995 and sailing 33,000 miles offshore.

I hope you weren't offended by my comments. I wasn't talking about the cats. I was talking about how they were marketing them.

Cheers,
Dave

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Old 21-02-2007, 19:51   #5
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Sorry

Sorry Max,

I hope my response was not too abrupt and confrontational. I only had a minute before I had to run out the door and pick-up the kids. If it was, please accept my apology. This is all just for fun-is it not? I fully understood your point about marketing and the general lack of broker knowledge. It seemed to me you also had some knowledgeable opinion, yet to be expressed, about cats being built as condos rather than sea going vessels. This is a common topic here.

The comfort of the new catamarans is the major selling point. It in no way surprises me that the sales people push that angle. My wife never liked “living in a cave.” Our wives have a great deal of control over our cruising potential. The sales people know this. If you are trying to sail off into the sunset with the wife, the broker may actually be helping you out. Most wives want to hear about how comfortable they will be. Some women get turned off (initially) by technical jargon.

With Google and such available, I think few would make a buying decision based on the advice of a broker. Usually, we read all about the boats, their construction, history, reputation, sail what we can, and then go to the boat show to see what it is really like and finally sea-trial.

Sorry again,

John
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Old 21-02-2007, 20:20   #6
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Max, how many people actually sail their boats (multi or mono) around the world? I would say a very small percentage. The manufacturers know their market - most production boats are aimed at charterers,, because most new boats are bought by charterers, where space, comfort and amenities are important selling points.

The few production boats aimed specifically at bluewater cruising are generally much more expensive per foot of length.
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Old 21-02-2007, 21:02   #7
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Dave,

I have to agree - the reps on board many of the boats seemed to know very little about the construction of their boats. Geez, some of these companies only build one or two different models; how hard would it be for them to read up on that stuff anyway?

Kevin
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Old 21-02-2007, 21:43   #8
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I am always intrigued by these discussions and the seeming distinction between charter/production boats and "bluewater" boats.

Is the suggestion that an FP Athena or FP Mahe 36 could or should not cruise offshore, for example Sydney to Lord Howe and then to Noumea.
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Old 21-02-2007, 23:43   #9
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Dave & John - I think you guys are spot on ... excellent points ... and, unfortunately too true. If anyone wants to check in with a knowledgeable boat sales person, try a USED boat sales person. They HAVE to know something about boats ... because the potential buyers do!

Not that we are any smarter ... LOL .. noooo... after all, we buy an OLDER hole in the water (in this case, older = bigger!)
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Old 22-02-2007, 07:11   #10
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I've said my thought's before, and that is, it is all a weight, waterline length, beam and sail area thing.

Heavy , fat , undercanvassed, overloaded multi's are pig's on the wobbly stuff, but great tied up to a berth entertaining your mates.

So is a coal barge, and cheaper.

Check out the notes from the Guru's, Crowther, Grainger, Chamberlain, Tennant, Shuttleworth, Iren's etc etc.

Not the hype from the marketting department of the flash harry boat's , that the number's will say aren't a good thing, if looked at .

All the bell's and whistles are great...............on 60 foot, but not on 40 ft.

My 00.02c worth

Dave
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Old 22-02-2007, 07:23   #11
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Maybe the point is that the salesmen know what sells boats to the majority of the buying public. And the majority do not sail around the world. Those who do had better heed the warning. Worst of all is that the builders are most likely more concerned with the aspects of condo style amenities rather than handling a big blow off shore. Why build all that strength with it's added cost when so few will ever need it?
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Old 22-02-2007, 07:29   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat
Max, how many people actually sail their boats (multi or mono) around the world? I would say a very small percentage. The manufacturers know their market - most production boats are aimed at charterers,, because most new boats are bought by charterers, where space, comfort and amenities are important selling points.

The few production boats aimed specifically at bluewater cruising are generally much more expensive per foot of length.
You are right that most catamarans are built for the charter market. On my catamaran, 70% of them went straight into charter. Nevertheless, eventually those boats come on to the cruising market when they come out of charter.

When we started our circumnavigation in 1995, there were hardly any cruising cats doing trips around the world. It was a bit lonely out there, and it's not surprising to some extent. Back then, I was told at the Miamia Boat Show by a sailing magazine editor that a catamaran smaller than 40 feet was unseaworthy, and I was told more than once by others that I was taking a serious risk sailing offshore in such a small catamaran.

By the time we completed our circumnavigation 11 years later, there were cats sailing offshore everywhere. I was surprised when I was anchored at a remote island in the Maldives, and a couple of small cats came sailing in to the anchorage.

Boats that are built for the charter market are going to be sailed around the world many times in the next twenty years. That's when we're going to discover what the cats are made of. For example, the northern half of the Red Sea is one of the best testing grounds for vessels. The last 700 miles to the north is a windward slog, and it will find every weakness in your vessel. We were very lucky to not be dismasted because we had failure in a headstay toggle.

I'll tell you the test I would like to run. I would take all of the cats at the boat show, and put them at the Bab Al Mandeb at the southern end of the Red Sea, and then sail them all the way up through the Red Sea, through the Suez Canal, and out into the Med. Once in the Med, we would have our boat show and find out who the best world cruisers were. I confess that I don't have a clue as to who the winner of such a sailing challenge would be. But I can tell you for sure, you would find the weak link in every catamaran chain in such a voyage.

I believe that catamarans are extremely seaworthy vessels, and if you don't push them too hard when conditions are deteriorating, you won't create a demolition derby. The trick is to know when it's time to stop. When I did eye surgery, we had a saying that went like this. "When you're doing an operation, you want to stop just before something bad happens rather than just after." Knowing when to stop just before something bad happens is the tricky part, and you have to know your vessel and work within it's limitations.

A catamaran is a complex sailing machine and each vessel has different weak links. Once you know what you are going to do with your cat, you can evaluate each of the links and make a good choice. If you keep your boat in a marina and sail in sheltered waters, then it probably doesn't matter which catamaran you sail. If you are going to sail offshore a great deal, then there are a lot of links to check in these sailing machines.

Boat shows are in the business of selling dreams. When I took the plunge and brought my dream, I was inexperienced and very lucky. My dream turned out better than I feared.

Long live boat shows and long live dreams!

Cheers,
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Old 22-02-2007, 07:47   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxingout
The general message of 99% of the sales people was that their catamaran was one of the best floating condominiums in Water World. They offered washers, dryers, air-conditioning, electric propulsion, and nearly every amenity found in the high rise condominiums of paradise.
I used to be one of "those salesmen" that worked the boat show circuit - Annapolis, Seattle, Newport Beach, etc., but never Miami. I worked for a company that built long range cruising powerboats, not catamarans.

I was representing a quality product that was efficient and well built with top of the line materials and equipment and a price tag to match. It was frustrating for me because 99% of the people who stepped aboard wanted to know if there was a washer/dryer aboard, was there room for a dishwasher and trash compactor in the galley, and how many people she would sleep. I wanted to show them the engine room, and coring from the hull laminates, and engineering of the fuel and electrical systems. Very, very few people were interested.

I could be wrong, but I came to the determination that the vast majority of people who are shopping for a boat of any kind are very unsophisticated. I did know many of my colleagues in the marine sales business, some of them were competitors, and 99% of them had way more cruising experience than typical boat show visitors.

So the conversation at boat shows turns to washers, dryers, air-conditioning, electric propulsion, and nearly every amenity found in the high rise condominiums of paradise. This was not the strong suit of the company I represented, but it is what people wanted to talk about at boat shows. Perhaps it was a bad attitude on my part, but I would get frustrated and just tell people what they wanted to know.
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Old 22-02-2007, 08:05   #14
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Originally Posted by maxingout
I'll tell you the test I would like to run. I would take all of the cats at the boat show, and put them at the Bab Al Mandeb at the southern end of the Red Sea, and then sail them all the way up through the Red Sea, through the Suez Canal, and out into the Med.
Interestingly enough, Bumfuzzles did just that in supposedly one of the worst catamarans on the market and seemed to enjoy it
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Old 22-02-2007, 08:32   #15
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Alohaboat - good point about unsophisticated buyers - case in point - my best friend. 5 years ago he wanted a boat - power. I encouraged him to start small and work up over time as experience levels increased. So we looked at a few boats in the 25 to 30 ft range - new - and did not find one to his liking/price. Found a Seaeay 30 which he bought and moored near Toronto on Lake Ontario. That was September so only a couple of outings were had with me helming. He, his wife and 2 adult sons enrolled in then Power Squadron Courses and passed basic seamanship and rules of the road over the winter. We all went to the January Toronto boat show where he bought a 39 ft Silverton for $475,000. They did some boating through the summer but only when I would tahe it out for them as he was afraid to operate it especially docking. I encouraged him to get the experience and I would help but it didn't happen. Next January boat show - he bought a 43 ft Silverton for $675,000 and traded the 39 in for it.

Same story the following summers boating. Next january boat show he traded the 43 for a 48 ft Silverton for 1.2 million and proclaimed it was now the boat he always wanted with the size, amenities etc. etc. I asked him why he would do this when he wouldn't even take the boat off the dock by himself - to which he replied that I could always help him or his sons could operate the boat. I told him that I have my own boat to use in our short season and although i would help him become self sufficient as a boater, I would not be his surrogate captain and his sons have their own lives too. So the boat does'nt go out much except he has another friend who skippers for him but doesn't help him become a good seaman.

This situation is typical of what alot of boat buyers in that the boat is a status symbol and or cottage and only see an occasional sailing. It's alot of money tied to a dock but he can afford it as many others can.

However, during the next economic downturn, I figure there will be alot of little used boats on the market for good prices and that's good for serious boaters wanting to upgrade.
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