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Old 08-11-2004
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15 years from now: Cat costs?

Why, exactly, does a typical cat cost so much more than a monohull? Is the extra cost purely a function of extra construction costs, or is it also a matter of reduced supply and excessive demand? Is it a matter of economies of scale, with not enough cats being produced to allow manufacturers to really trim construction costs?
Obviously, a 35 foot cat has about twice the space of a 35 foot monohull. But does that mean it uses twice the fiberglass? Twice the man hours to mold? Twice the equipment? Sure it has two rudders and two engines, but it still has the same number of helm stations, the same number of electrical systems, the same number of masts, the same number of sails, one galley, one windlass, one set of ground tackle, etc.

And yet cats can be four or five times the cost of a monohull.

If the cost is being skewed by the supply/demand ratio, what do you see happening in the next 15 years? Seems to me a lot of new catamaran builders are emerging, and they are capturing more and more of the cruising and chartering markets. As all of the cats built in the 90''s start coming out of charter, will prices begin to dip? Or will demand continue to rise so quickly that prices of cats compared to monohulls actually continues to rise?
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Old 08-11-2004
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15 years from now: Cat costs?

You are obviously pricing the boat by length. Cats cost roughly the same as a monohull with the same amount of space.

But to get more specific, Cats have a lot more fiberglass than a similar length monohull, and that fiberglass work needs to be of a higher quality because the stresses in a cat are much higher and you can''t afford to through a lot of material at the problem as you can on a monohull keel joint for example. Rigging loads are huge on a cat and so rigging size is very large compared to a monohull. As you note there are twice as many rudders and engines (albeit smaller in size) and while there is a single helm station the equipment needs to be more complex to control both rudders.

In a conversation with someone who had recently sold a Catamarran building company, he was crying the blues that it was very hard to make a profit on cats as the market has so many similar models that they are all being forced to sell at a very low margin.

The other issue is what happens to older cats. The surveyors are telling me that the cats from the 1990''s are not holding up all that well. The stresses are huge and they are lightly built and so over time take a real beating. That could either chase people away from cats, or make newer cats more desireable and even more expensive.

Unfortunately my crystal ball is in the shop for repairs.

Jeff
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Old 08-12-2004
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15 years from now: Cat costs?

Jeff - Thanks for your thoughts. I guess that leads to the question - What do you think about the relative depreciation of cats versus monohulls? Are they similar from a percentage standpoint? I imagine a higher percentage of cats start their lives in charter, which depreciates them faster than private boats. Even so, a five or six year old used cat in good shape looks to me like it can command at least 50-60% of its original cost, whereas a mono seems to depreciate the same or more, even if owner-sailed its whole life. That trend seems to me to indicate increasing demand versus supply for used cats.

Your friend who owned a cat manufacturing company may have felt squeezed, but is that the exception or the trend?
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Old 08-12-2004
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15 years from now: Cat costs?

The rule of thumb on reasonably well built monohulls is that after a reasonably high initial depreciation, 10 to 15%, one in good shape will typically sell for what it cost new less the cost of commissioning.

From what I am hearing out of marine surveyors is that the do not expect the multihull fleet to do as well because the boats are typically proportionately engineered to a lesser safey margin in comparison to their significantly higher loadings. I suspect like old 1980''s era IOR race boats, that at 15 to 20 years old the structure of these boats will be pretty well used up.

Jeff
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Old 08-13-2004
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15 years from now: Cat costs?

While I respect Jeff''s opinion I would caution that as with most issues a general statement may not apply across the board. I think you will find that as is the case with monohulls well engineered, quality built boats will hold their values well over time and will benefit from the supply and demand factor. While the catamaran industry is comparatively young relative to the monohull world there are nevertheless numerous "old" cats holding their seaworthiness and value quite nicely.
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Old 08-13-2004
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15 years from now: Cat costs?

I don''t disagree with that at all and I must say that this came out of a conversation with a couple surveyors and a broker.

Jeff
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