Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Toyota Sailboats continue
Thank you for your kind words. To answer some of your questions;
There are a number of ways of attaching bulkheads and flats (shelves, bunk bottoms, etc.) to the hull. Historically, the bulkheads and flats were glassed into the hull with strips of fiberglass. That method is called ''Tabbing''. Tabbing can be continuous or it can be ''skip tabbed'' meaning that the tabbing is not continuous around the edge of the bulkhead. From a structural stand point, continuous tabbing is still the best way to attach a bulkhead or flat to the hull. It provides a wide gluing surface and properly done it distributes the loads over a wider hull area. Tabbing is substantially more labor intensive than other ways of building a boat and it makes for a more complex assembly sequence.
There are other methods of attaching bulkheads. The most popular these days is to glue the bulkhead into the boat. In this case a very high quality glue, often chosen from the aerospace industry, is used to glue the edge of the bulkhead to the hull. As any of the builders who use this technique will tell you, the glue is so strong that if tested to failure, the plywood of the bulkhead or the fiberglass of the hull will fail long before the glue lets go. My nitpick with that is that the contact area of the glue is so much smaller than that of tabbing that a failure is more likely to occur and unlike tabbing the average person or boat yard cannot repair that bulkhead joint. Another way of joining bulkheads and flats is to mechanically fasten them to a molded pan or grid (a grid can be a type of molded pan but with the spaces between the structural components cut out or it can be a hand laid up series of fiberglass framing members). Often in that case the pan or grid is designed to provide all of the structural needs of the boat, and the bulkheads and flats are only there for accomodations purposes.
Glassed in longitudinals are the framing that run the length of the boat. Instead of molding them and then gluing them in, as you would expect in a boat with a fully molded pan, they can be hand glassed into the boat. This is the prefered method from a structural standpoint but it requires more labor to do well.
Because the First series is intended to be raceable and so in order to keep up with advances in design thinking, Beneteau tools up and changes thier First models more frequently than most other builders. While there are some Catalina models that have remained in production literally for decades at a time, Beneteau''s First Series boats seem to have a production run of maybe 6 years. That means that any one of the First series designs may only have seen a production run of somewhere between 150 to 500 boats. (For what it is worth, it should be noted that the last time that I saw the statistics, numerically Beneteaus build more boats in a year than Hunter, Catalina/Capri/Morgan/, and Bavaria combined.)
It would be a major mistake to assume that a First Series boat has been raced. Most are bought for thier performance rather than as a race boat. But even if raced, racer cruisers that are raced are often much better cared for and in better condition than a sister only used as a cruiser. A racing program is expensive and usually a person who is willing to take their boat out racing is also willing to spend the money to maintain and upgrade their boat.
I am not sure if Beneteau did switch over to Yanmars. Personally I prefer Yanmars for the reasons that you mentioned, cheap parts readily available locally. That said, the proponents point out that more recent Volvos (mid 1990''s on) are quieter and a bit more robust than a Yanmar and that world wide Volvo parts are equally available to those for Yanmars. I also understand that Volvos parts distribution in the US has greatly improved in recent years from the bad old days when I had some less than perfect experiences with Volvo parts.
You seem curious about who I am. I am an architect (custom houses, historic preservation and larger commercial projects) with my own practice based in Annapolis. At various times in my life, I have worked as a yacht designer. As a kid I worked in boat yards. My mother was a boat importer with two lines of power boats that she had developed and had built in Taiwan and I was involved in that process as well. I have been sailing for 42 years now. I am out on the water a lot, both sailing my own boat and racing with or coaching others. My involvement on the internet has lead to a lot of calls from people who ask me to help them with issues on thier boats and that gets me aboard (and into the guts of) a lot of boats in a year. None of my marine activities are done for compensation. It is solely a hobby, and I do what I do to be helpful, perhaps returning the favor to all of those people who have kindly helped me along the way. Nothing more.