Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Thanked 193 Times in 158 Posts
Rep Power: 10
Most of Bruce Roberts boats are owner built or at least owner finished. Because of that build and finish quality can vary between extremely high quality to dangerously inadequate depending on who did the building and finishing work. Beyond that amatuer builders will often have varying degrees of skill in the diverse areas of skill needed to finish a boat, so for example you might see beautiful woodwork on a boat in which the electrical and plumbing work does not meet any established standards.
As with most home built boats there is also more of a chance that the owner ''adlibbed'' with the specifications. For example, my stepfather considered building a Seamaster 45, which was a Bruce Roberts designed 45 footer. He planned to use lead bricks held with reinforced resin for ballast. Seamaster used steel punchings held with resin, and we met a fellow who had used simply concrete with a little bit of reinforcing rod. Obviously there would be big differences in the lifespans, stability and sailing ability of these three boats.
Bruce Roberts is popular with owner builders but I am not a fan of his work. It is not so much that I do not like his work per se. I think that for the most part Roberts designs conservative simple boats, but to me they are very dated. His Spray series have less than no appeal to me. Having read about the original Spray and the sailing ability of some of the so- called copies of her, I have come to believe that Josh Slocum made it around the world despite the short comings of Spray rather than because of her sterling virtues. Josh Slocum was the consummate seaman. Spray was a coastal oyster boat. Why anyone in this day and age would want to use her as a model for a whole line of boats is completely beyond me. But I emphasize this is only my opinion and Roberts has sold a bunch of these things so my opinion is not shared by everyone on this.
Roberts more modern designs were probably good designs in the 1970''s but a lot has happened since then. To me his design ideas have not advanced as well. That said, Roberts has a boat he calls a 434 that someone built as a long range single-hander that looks like a nice boat though still dated to my eye. All of his designs are very heavy boats and I strongly believe that weight, in and of itself, has no inherent virtue and is a very serious liability.