Join Date: Jul 2002
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 15
Bumfuzzle - who''''s right?
Probably the best approach when reading the entire Bumfuzzle website is to maintain some perspective on their (Pat & Ali''s) overall enterprise. One of the best things about their site is the almost total naivte'' with which they share their experiences: twenty-somethings with no sailing experience, an obviously hefty wad of cash, cutting ties and hurling themselves into a circumnaviation, choosing a small Cat to do so, and valuing one island nation after another based on how good the fast food is.
In one sense, this is a great way for bystanders to appreciate - if they have the experience to do so - the challenges of cruising when the crew (and, in some respects as a result, the boat) is unprepared...but they are young and hardy enough to carry on, anyway. E.g. I very much appreciate Pat & Ali''s diligence in reporting their monthly expenses, even if it illustrates along with their logs that their experience is truly being wasted on the young (or at least, the relatively ''clueless'' WRT culture, history and seamanship). We benefit by their ignorance and openness at the same time that we shake our heads at their incompetence.
In reading the ''chapter & verse'' email exchanges with the builder about Bumfuzzle''s structural problems, here are my conclusions FWIW:
1. You get what you pay for. (Note all the praise, in the URL''s referenced as well as Pat''s own comments) about how the Wildcat is a ''do everything'' boat but lightly built and sold at an attractive (aka: cheap) price. Whatever one''s personal view on the multi vs. monohull choice, a cautious & knowledgeable buyer would appreciate that a boat''s engineering and build quality must be especially well considered on a multi given the importance of lighter but stronger structures. Yet this boat is considered to be capable AND cheap. Right...
2. Smaller builders are going to have more variability in their manufacturing processes and are less likely to have quality processes in place to catch their build errors. For all the grousing from some folks (including me, on occasion) about the ''assembly line'' boats being churned out by Hunter, Beneteau et al, there are some substantial benefits that are derived from such standarization. Literally, there is a price to be paid when choosing a small builder of a low-priced boat.
3. Boats are built poorly, in whole or in part, far more often than we would like to believe...and the brand rep of a given boat is not necessarily going to insure better quality. When a Hunter''s rudder shaft (composite structure assembled at the factory, not metal stock cast by another party) shears off on an ocean crossing, or a Catalina''s steering fails because the undersized laminate allows the hull to deflect so much that the hull binds on the steering quadrant (this was in Charleston Harbor), we tend to shrug and chalk it up to mass production. OTOH when a 60''+ Hinkley, 3 years old and with a single Caribbean trip to her credit, has 40% of her hull fail due to core adhesion problems similar to what Bumfuzzle reports, we are aghast because the vessel cost so much. IMO boat construction is generally a more highly variable activity than most of us appreciate, which is why a good N.A. will build in some additional strength, and why boats that tout themselves as light yet strong (typically, using high cost/high strength composite structures which bring their own construction challenges) deserve some careful thought from the potential buyer.
4. None of Pat and Ali''s discoveries of their boat''s problems has been aided by their own ignorance and lack of experience; quite the opposite. They lacked the ability to sail their boat to windward, the whined about Pacific Is. natives not knowing how to splice a double-braided line (rather than seeing that skill as one of their responsibilities), and in the same vein they slowly peel away the reality of their boat''s problems and try to address them, incrementally, solely by email. After a thousand dollars spent on burgers over the past year, surely they could afford a few phone calls to supplement the necessary written corresponsdence. My guess is that, by getting a comprehensive outline of the deficiencies and then approaching the builders fully prepared, they would have got the same end result (no real satisfaction) but more quickly & with a lot less frustration.
In the end, I think they should be applauded for posting the lengthy email correspondence with the builder. First because I think it gives a fair representation of what it''s like to be a relatively ignorant buyer, trying to get satisfaction from a distant, small builder. Second, because it was likely to be their only source of satisfaction. And another reason I applaud it is that it probably gives any reader pause to consider whether buying a boat fresh from a factory, or a boat less than a year old for that matter, is as good an idea as it might at first seem. This just serves a healthy wake-up call for any prospective buyer.