Cruiser/Lats and Atts TV
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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Jeff H and Sailing Dog are right on. I owned a custom built Gulf 40, a Wm. Garden design, contructed by the original owner/builder (who worked at a boat yard). I felt more confident and secure on that boat due to it's design and construction than I did on a lot of production 40 footers. It was in fact "over built" in many respects. Which I'd rather have halfway across the Pacific than "underbuilt"... I paid about half of what I would have paid for a comparable 40 foot boat built by a "known" name-brand manufacturer. In my case, I got a LOT of boat for the money. Conversely, when I sold her, I had to price her accordingly. Plus, you may have to wait longer to find a buyer, since fewer people are in the market for custom boats. It took me a year to sell the Gulf 40 for the same price I bought her.
I looked at other custom boats, and yes, the term "back yard build" was quite apt on some of them. Poor construction, combined with short cuts, plus some real bad aesthetics, are what a lot of people think of. But I also saw some of the best built boats. What I learned is, if you know exactly what you want, you can get a lot more boat for your money with a custom build. Just be very, very careful! One thing I stayed away from is custom designs by the home builder. I found Garden, Perry, Buehler, and Tripp designs, some from reputable yards. At least I knew the designs had enough pedigree to be sound.
My advice on looking at custom boats is this: have it surveyed like any other boat. Sure, a surveyor might know what to look for in a certain manufacturer's boats from a particular time frame. But it doesn't matter whether it's custom or not - a sailboat is a sailboat. Just be sure to have it suerveyed as a boat for your intended purpose. Meaning, if you plan on circumnavigating, tell the surveyor.
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"Always approach the dock at the speed you wish to hit it."
1978 North Sea 33 Pilothouse Cutter (Ta Chiao)