Premium Boat Values-A Lifestyle Accessory Or Expensive Landfill
Boat values are plainly matters of keen interest to Buyers in ‘used boat land’. Production yachts manufactured in factories, seem to hold their value better than most. But one would have to question how come. People who know boats and have worked in repair yards have had opinions for years, that some of the big brands are sailing ‘accessories’ all marketing hype and little substance.
As proof of the point, the set of pictures presently in the public domain, of a modern production yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean, with it’s rig collapsed and a gaping hole in the bow where the fore-stay fitting was… throws a filthy great spanner into the works of production yacht values.
This production yacht didn’t hit anything but rather the bow sheared off as a result of ‘rig tension’ exposing an extraordinarily flimsy, paper thin layup.
Is the name production yacht you’re about to buy, as good as… and possibly about to become…landfill?
This gaping hole & cardboard thin layup is essentially the outcome of forces set in train by economics and marketing perceptions, mandating what boats are supposed to be all about in today’s World. To this unfortunate mix, is added a large dose of ‘designer influence’.
All of this complicates the issue of boat values and the buying process. The market might value production boats highly, but this isn’t going to help if the boat you acquire is prone to structural failure that might put it on the rocks if not on the bottom.
Moreover ‘designer influence’ has driven all kinds of anomalies in design and construction. As a boat Buyer you might well find this shocking. If it isn’t shocking, it should be.
Having been involved in boat repairs for some years however, I am neither shocked nor surprised! I have worked on production boats similar to the vessel depicted with hull sections so thin and flexible at deck level that the laminate could be flexed with the fingers of one hand.
The ‘hull to deck’ joint is a notable stress point on a GRP hull. Weakness and flexing at this point is one reason why so many GRP yachts eventually leak at the hull deck joint. Leaks here can be destructive to interior furniture and difficult to remediate down the track.
But to return to our expensive European brand name yacht, these boats have delivered their owners more than their fair share of keel problems. These problems which are apt to have serious consequences; essentially derive from the same root source; namely light construction, the striving for interior volume and the push for speed. Pre GFC, this European manufacturer, was pumping out 8000 units a year on a production line reminiscent of Henry Ford’s famous 1903 Model T facility whereby you could have any color Model T you liked, so long as it was black.
Old time Shipwrights familiar with the way boats were once built, gasp with incredulity at structural deficiencies typified by these photographs. Where are the scantlings? Where is the reinforced lay-up?
The answer is that it ain’t there… cause it don’t exist!
Structural integrity has been subsumed by ‘designer influence’. Maybe this is what Nathanael Herreshoff was thinking, when he famously said way back, that: “frozen snot and bandages is no way to build a boat”.
It’s kinda looking like old Nat had a certain prescient insight that escaped most everyone else at that time. Premium Boat Values-A Lifestyle Accessory Or Expensive Landfill
From the viewpoint of production economics, if you can dispense with those tedious and expensive craftsmen/tradesmen/artists who used to be called ‘boat builders’ and all you need is a kid with his hat on backwards and able to point a chopper gun, then you’ll cut your costs to the bone. But will the product be one that the Owner can rely upon when push comes to shove in a seaway?
Something profoundly disturbing has occurred in boat building and design. It’s an unhappy collision between the ‘go fast’ mentality and demands of a luxury lifestyle afloat. The outcome is light construction taken to apparent extremes and small keel root footprints, combined with inadequate floor structures; floors being the transverse structural members that distribute keel loads to the hull.
Substantial floors not only cost to produce, but they impinge upon the lifestyle critical requirements of head room and interior volume. The market deems lifestyle features to be critical whereas strength and seaworthy design are apparently secondary. In all of this ‘normal usage’ apparently isn’t meant to include grounding mishaps.
Trouble is; ‘normal usage’ does include grounding mishaps and lots of them in the course of the life of a sail-boat. Premium Boat Values-A Lifestyle Accessory Or Expensive Landfill
Your author during a recent sailing trip from north Queensland to Tasmania, entered Great Sandy Strait one night just before dawn. Feeling a bit frazzled after a trying night, I was somewhat less than fully attentive. My Partner was asleep below and we were headed to an anchorage just a few miles further into the Strait. Premium Boat Values-A Lifestyle Accessory Or Expensive Landfill
All in all it wasn’t a wonderful time to have my ‘eye off the ball’, because with the current running at 4kts and sailing wing and wing with a poled out Genny driving the boat at 8kts, we were doing nigh on 12 kts over the ground. Premium Boat Values-A Lifestyle Accessory Or Expensive Landfill
Altogether not ideal circumstances to make a navigation mistake; but make it I did, with the result that 8.5 tons of sail-boat hit a sand bank at full tilt.
Getting off that bank was anything but an entertainment during the following hours, but at least there was no damage to the boat. Had the boat however, not possessed a long keel shape and heavy floors, but rather a narrow section foil with a bulb, this grounding would have torn the bottom out of the hull.
Of course you may say that you would never be so careless as to hit the ground at full speed. But the inconvenient truth is that if you go cruising, you will run aground! I have run aground more times than I can count over the years and I consider myself to be more cautious than most. It will happen; you can bet on it! Premium Boat Values-A Lifestyle Accessory Or Expensive Landfill
In fact many racing yachts with serious keel problems; have not even experienced a grounding. These structures have failed, as a consequence of mere sailing stresses.
As Buyer, you need to be aware that a boat that cannot take the treatment will end up as land-fill, sooner if not later. Premium Boat Values-A Lifestyle Accessory Or Expensive Landfill
Once upon a time boats and yachts in particular were designed either by Naval Architects or Boat Builders who were often even more savvy than the former. The focus of their attention in those days was upon sailing ability and seaworthiness. Among the many novel (in modern terms) attributes of boats built by such people is that when knocked down, they actually popped back up. Moreover the idea that a keel might fall off… was utterly unheard of in those days. Boats were built to last 100 years or more.
Keels falling off are almost routine events. Racing yachts knocked down, or heaven forbid knocked right over, have a nasty tendency to stay upside-down, long enough to drown crew members tethered to the deck and/or to sink before those trapped inside can execute their escape.
Occasionally boat Builders are prosecuted when lives are lost, but are these individuals simply a handy scapegoat? Well might you wonder. Premium Boat Values-A Lifestyle Accessory Or Expensive Landfill
If you are an intending sail-boat Owner, hopefully catastrophic failure will not eventuate during your ownership. And hopefully the boat will not drown you or anyone crewing for you during your period of ownership. But these are real risks associated with modern designs. As a Buyer you need to be cognizant of the issues before you sign on the dotted line. Premium Boat Values-A Lifestyle Accessory Or Expensive Landfill
The point is: what are you really buying and for what intended purpose”? Will the boat you have in mind really do the job? As a prospective boat Buyer this is the shape of at least one discussion, that could literally if not figuratively; save your bacon. Premium Boat Values-A Lifestyle Accessory Or Expensive Landfill