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  #1  
Old 02-11-2005
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bigbeam is on a distinguished road
Bumfuzzle - who''''s right?

So I''ve just read the Feb log on bumfuzzle.com re: the fiasco with their Wildcat. This whole thing looks like a mess - anybody have any comments?
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Old 02-12-2005
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Bumfuzzle - who''''s right?

Don''t like the builder''s attitude. Dodge ball at its finest. I am in the market for a cruising cat and would not give them any consideration.
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Old 02-12-2005
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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.

Jack
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Old 02-12-2005
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bigbeam is on a distinguished road
Bumfuzzle - who''''s right?

Gosh, the 2 year old boat thing may have even taken their surveyor for a spin. I think the surveyor didn''t do his job and he should be carrying the burden of this problem. I think Whoosh is being a little hard on Pat and Ali - kudos to them for doing what they are. Its easy to sit and say coulda, shoulda wouda ... at the end fo the day these guys are doing what they planned and that should be commended. I like the fact that they are a little against the grain - how refreshing.

That being said, the manufacturer does raise an interesting issue that the fellow who did the repairs acted as both surveyor and builder. Pat and Ali''s position would probably been much stronger had gotten an independant survey when the problem started.
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Old 02-12-2005
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bigbeam is on a distinguished road
Bumfuzzle - who''''s right?

One other thing, if Pat and Ali subscribed to the gospel preached on this web board, they would still be sitting at home reading web pages....I have read a lot from people like Jeff_H and really respect his opinions but nothing sucks the life out of me more than him saying to forget buying the 35 footer - go buy a dingy until you get more experience.
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Old 02-12-2005
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Bumfuzzle - who''''s right?

bigbeam,

I think you expect too much from a surveyor. A "typical" surveyor won''t see much beyond that which is apparent to anyone''s eye, expect if he/she is capable with their mosture meter, in which case they may find wet spots that you can''t see. Beyond that, most buyers are out of luck with most surveyors - the survey is fundamentally superficial. Only the best of surveyors are likely to get under the skin, or know where to get under the skin - and they cost 2 or 3 times the "typical" surveyor, and few of us typical boat buyers know to hire them, or are smart enough to pay the price.
As to a surveyor "carrying the burden.." - not a chance! Take a look at the small print in a survey document, the surveyor greatly restricts any accountability for error.

My last used boat survey, unfortunately by a "typical" surveyor (my fault, I knew better...), missed so many things which I subsequently repaired/replaced, that if the surveyor had to "carry the burden" for them, the costs could have consumed his entire year''s income.
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Old 02-12-2005
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Bumfuzzle - who''''s right?

Sailingfool,
I agree that you can''t find everything, but with Bumfuzzle, what about the hull delamination? Did the surveyor even sound the hull? Sure doesn''t sound like it to me. As for them saying that lightening caused the delam and blistering, I doubt it.
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Old 02-13-2005
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PA28235Pilot is on a distinguished road
Bumfuzzle - who''''s right?

Please let me introduce myself. I''m a wanna-be sailor but I have a little backround in fiberglass construction methods.

It''s obvious to me that Bumfuzzle was a poorly built vessel.

I have a couple of questions.

Why attack the boat owners and their cruising style? Does it somehow change the poor build quality or make it somehow acceptable?

From my perspective, these folks bought a two year old boat after having a qualified surveyor give them a green light (after a few minor repairs).

I have to ask how an "experienced" sailor would be better equiped to judge the boat than a professional surveyor?

I''ve also been around aviation for a number of years and have seen all kinds of attitudes from the "veterans" of the sky. Most are welcoming and understanding of beginners. Some tend to drive people off before they even get to ground school. The rest just tolerate the "stupid" newbies, forgeting where they themselves came from.

Al
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Old 02-14-2005
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Bumfuzzle - who''''s right?

Whoosh, that''s pretty harsh. Just what is it you dislike so much about this couple? Although I am personally way out of their age demographic I have enjoyed reading their adventures and their courage to go for it. In reading their logs and I certainly did not come away with the same impressions that you got. In fact, quite the opposite. I don''t find them to be a whining "burger eating, youth wasting" couple at all. I can appreciate their honesty in not having a huge amount of experience in starting out but I do think that where they are now probably exceeds the experience many of the "old salts" that often post on this site. It is in the doing where "true knowledge" happens. We need balance in all things and while an appreciation for experience is certainly appropriate, if vision is stiffled we would never move forward. Life is precious no matter what the age, perhaps if we had the wisedom to look at the world with youthful eyes a little more often we just might learn something. As far as their boat issues are concerned, although unfortunate, anyone that owns a boat is fair game for system failure. Quite frankly, I think Pat and Ali are handling things with a lot more maturity than many people I know. So give them a break and enjoy the adventure!
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Old 02-14-2005
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Bumfuzzle - who''''s right?

Al, let me try to answer your question. First, let me clarify something: I don''t think I''m attacking Pat & Ali but rather criticizing their unreasonable expectations, immaturity and lack of effort to learn. If others take away a different flavor from the logs, that''s fine by me.

"I have to ask how an "experienced" sailor would be better equiped to judge the boat than a professional surveyor?"

Here''s what I posted on another BB that gets to that issue. Sorry for the length...

"Let’s step away from our blame of the builder, surveyor, broker and/or owners for just a moment, and see what we can conclude about how to buy a boat for which we have extensive cruising plans. Learning from BUMFUZZLE’s mistakes and misfortunes is one of the few true benefits of their story.

1. As you begin shopping, you will know what you are about. This means you have a good understanding of what your plans will demand of the boat and you also understand the issues you will face for the kind of boat you will be selecting. Information of this kind is abundantly available these days.
2. You will expect little of brokers beyond them doing the legwork to find you a boat that meets your needs as you (not they) understand them. ''Expecting little'' goes double if the broker has minimal experience doing what you intend to do. You will note that the broker offers no warranty on the boat s/he brokers.
3. As you narrow the field, you will do appropriate due diligence, just as when buying a business, a house or a car. You will identify the issues you must face for the type of boat you seek (e.g. small/light/less expensive Cat, to be used for a circumnavigation), and you will research the builder(s) who’s boats are of interest.
4. Especially if a boat of interest is almost new, you will seek clarity from the builder on what warranty remains under your ownership and what you must do to cement that. (Ex: a warranty against hull blistering is often transferable). You will also inquire of the boat’s suitability, in the builder’s opinion, for your voyaging plans. Again, you’ll do this not only because you may get additional information (e.g. certain modifications may be recommended), but also because you may incur some additional felt obligation from the builder if the answer is positive. When the boat is not designed in-house, you will definitely talk with the designer (at some small expense for his/her time). His/her interests are not the same as the builder’s, and the information you gain may be especially useful.
5. You will present several specific questions on any boat of interest to the broker, requesting s/he obtain the answer(s) directly from the seller. (Ex: “What repairs has the boat needed to its structures, engines and rig while under your ownership?” “What known defects currently exist?”) Brokers are in touch with sellers because money has to eventually change hands. If the answers are not provided in a written form, you will summarize them and share a copy with the broker. You will ask these questions for three reasons: 1) You may learn more than the broker knows; 2) You could incur some subsequent legal benefit if relevant info is withheld; and 3) Even absent legal benefit, you may gain some psychological sense of obligation on the part of the broker and/or seller for how the boat was represented.
6. Once an offer is made, you will use a knowledgeable surveyor to put the odds as much in your favor as possible, but you will understand s/he will not necessarily find all of the boat’s problems (which is just what the language on every written survey says). You will regrettably remember that this especially applies to new and almost-new boats.
7. Finally, as your ownership period begins you will accept that your knowledge of the boat, and how to handle her, remains limited. After commissioning and while outfitting, you will perform a thorough, thoughtful shakedown that builds your own skills and knowledge of the boat while looking for undiscovered issues. While doing so, you will stay near an area where emerging issues can be addressed (legally & logistically, not just mechanically).

Most of these are pretty obvious; some spring to mind given the unique BUMFUZZLE circumstances. None of these are ‘peripheral’ or unimportant IMO and, regrettably, none of them guarantee a problem free boat after purchase, most especially so when the boat is then taken across an ocean or two by owners who didn''t buy from the builder."

Al, I''m not sure how you''d label me from an aviation standpoint, as I came to flying and aircraft ownership later in my life. (Am I ''old'' because I''m...err, old? Or young because of my fresh perspective?) Frankly, I don''t think my comments have anything to do with age. And I''ll just bet that if you came across a couple at your local field who owned a nifty GA plane but who didn''t concern themselves with how to care for it or how to fly it, you would stay at arm''s length, no matter what your age. I wouldn''t label you ''stuffy'' or your opinion unreasonable.

Jack
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