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Old 27-09-2013, 09:26   #1
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Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

Professional Boat Reviews.

We are seriously looking to buy a cat in the next year or so. Naturally you look at reviews of boats to see what is good and what is not.

Now on my starting assumption that not all boats are perfect (and reading this forum does bear this out). Why are they not objective? Are they not allowed to say anything controversial, question the layout, compare to a better competitor? Will the boat manufacturers not allow their boats to be reviewed by anyone who might not be uber nice?

In short all these reviews are just mush, they add absolutely no value at all. Where do we go for proper reviews from experts that actually have an opinion and will actually say what they really think? I am not an expert, but as a potential buyer I do have an opinion.

Is it possible to start a theme maybe. Anyone brave enough out there to give the real warts and all review of your boat? Are there any 'expert' reviews that do it properly.

I am new here, so I am sure there are a few tucked away, so do please feel free to educate me if I am simply looking on the wrong place.

Thanks in advance for any and all constructive help.

Andy
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Old 27-09-2013, 09:36   #2
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

Most of the reviews are in sailing magazines. Sailing magazines depend heavily on advertisers for revenue. The biggest advertisers are boat manufacturers. You figure it out.
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Old 27-09-2013, 09:37   #3
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

I think it's hard for any one group to objectively and authoritatively review a vessel. You can look at the specs and take it out for a week, but that doesn't really tell very much. Blistering, rig problems, keel problems, poor installation ideas, and various types of shoddy workmanship can take a while to manifest.

You'd have to have the same group of people abuse the boat in relatively the same conditions for weeks, then repeat it again a couple of years later, in my opinion, for it to be worth much. This doesn't stop the various magazines (which are really just brochures for manufacturers) from talking up the greatness of various new production boats.

Some guy with topsiders who calls himself Captain Jim walking through a new boat saying what's good and bad really doesn't mean anything to me.
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Old 27-09-2013, 09:44   #4
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

This is nothing new and has been going on since they started sailing rags.
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Old 27-09-2013, 09:45   #5
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

To get good information on a specific model, join an owners group. While very few owners will say that their boat is a dog you will get a good idea of whether the boat is to your liking by the information exchanged by the owners. All the problems come out and fixes are discussed.
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Old 27-09-2013, 10:13   #6
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
To get good information on a specific model, join an owners group. While very few owners will say that their boat is a dog you will get a good idea of whether the boat is to your liking by the information exchanged by the owners. All the problems come out and fixes are discussed.
I've noticed at least one that will not let you read their msgs or join unless you give them your hull number. Trying to hide their defects so buyers can't see!
If you find this type of owners group, run away from that boat!
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Old 27-09-2013, 10:17   #7
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

Vasco makes a good point. Another clue as to a boat's objective worth..although it's certainly not foolproof...is its current resale value. This tends to tip you off on the models where crappy design or poorly finished construction is catching up with the age.

On the other hand, some boats just fall out of style or favour, despite being strong and well-finished examples of "get you home" boats. It depends very much on what you intend to do with it, crew size, etc. I've seen beat-up, miserable production boats from the '90s, complete travesties at boat shows between a quarter and a half-million, and absolutely minty and fully rigged for bluewater Alberg 30s you could score for $12K, freshly repowered and dining-quality bilges. Much depends on the previous owner or your willingness to do rehab.

While it's smart to acknowledge the role of advertising in new boat reviews, they are also a decent start point in your purchasing odyssey.
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Old 27-09-2013, 10:23   #8
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

The reveiws in most magazines are basically ad's to return the favor for the boat companies paying for ad's in the magazine. They most often will point out a couple things about the boat that are mildly negative, but you are right, they are pretty low on real facts and analysis.
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Old 27-09-2013, 10:32   #9
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

I'll second (or third, or fourth...) that sailing magazines generally love the boats they review. I've pretty much stopped putting any stock in the reviewer's opinions. Not only do the magazines want to keep that advertising revenue coming in but the guys who get to sail on these new boats want those invitations to keep coming in.

Andy, try BoatUS and see if they have any reviews on the boats you're looking at. They are usually pretty good about making a fair review.
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Old 27-09-2013, 10:36   #10
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

So who should be doing a realistic review on a boat? Unqualified owners? Other sailors who are very bias towards certain designs? Maybe a real well qualified surveyor or naval architect but certainly not some source that depends on your ad revenue.
Look at the last list of "best boats" in a recent mag. Valiant 40 takes all, a good design for sure but also a boat with a terrible history of blistering problems so large that in some cases the hull was worthless. Was that mentioned in the review, of course not but for someone that didn't know the history of the Valiant you could get really screwed.
I think your best bet is to talk to local surveyors that know the boat your looking at. After that google is a friend for known problems on a design.
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Old 27-09-2013, 10:38   #11
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

Another good indicator of whether a boat is good or not is if when people sell theirs do they buy a bigger one of the same manufacturer.

I think all boats have some issues or problems with them.... It helps to find out on the owners forums what those are and then if it is something you can afford to fix or live with.....or not.

I don't put a lot of weight into magazine or manufacturers brochures on new boats because often only time will tell. On used boats, how well the boat was maintained has a very great deal to do with its value but may not be a huge influence on its price. You can look at two same model boat, asking a similar price and one can be way superior to another, sometimes even if one is older than another.
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Old 27-09-2013, 10:54   #12
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

I've read the BoatUS reviews and thought they were pretty well written. Actually the wirintg style of Jack Horner, who does many of them, is superb.

Then I came across one of his reviews of a boat I am very familiar with, but not our boat. It included some very incorrect "complaints" that had been resolved by owners of that boat and was only a minor issue. It affected my thoughts about those reviews in quite a dramatic way.

Owners groups are the way to go.
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Old 27-09-2013, 11:04   #13
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

Thanks for all the feedback. It seems there would be demand for a warts and all review by possibly a great sailor and a great surveyor from us the owners (and potential owners). From the feedback it also seems we are not going to get one soon.

We spend a lot of money on these boats, it seems strange (and disappointing)that there is not an honest impartial source of information that we can go to.

I understand the argument about vested interests, but how many people never make the leap into cruising because they come across this issue of lack of transparency (and personal experience shows this issue comes up really quickly) and decide the risk is too large.

Shame.
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Old 27-09-2013, 11:19   #14
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

In the final analysis you'll find that the vast majority of new boats are good seaworthy craft. When buying a new boat I think a major factor is how the manufacturer/dealer treats the customer after they have bought the boat. In new boat buying, service should be right up there near the top the list. This is easily ascertained via internet searches.

Having said that most new boats are seaworthy, individual likes and dislikes will determine which boat one buys. This seldom comes to the fore in a magazine review.

Now used boats are a completely different matter - condition, condition, condition.
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Old 27-09-2013, 11:40   #15
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Re: Professional Boat Reviews- Is it me?

You can get fair boat reviews from owners, but only when they are not at the point of selling theirs.

BTW I think most reviews in most magazines are great. Sort of like you get a look at the fairs, then you can read a review after a daysail and the rest is silence. And that's where you step in and write yours. Sure you must sail the boat some (say 10 years).

Otherwise, since some 90% of today's boats are virtually identical, and since so few boat are used for actual sailing, it is all in the layout and options. So here again, their reviews are a very good thing to look at in your pre-selection stage.

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