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  #1  
Old 12-24-2003
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For those of us stranded on land on the Mid-Atlantic Coast, this discussion has come as a welcomed relief. I am impressed with the level of knowledge and reflection you all express.

I''m not sufficiently acquainted with how this message board works but I would like to continue this discussion. For those of you who wish to jump in, the following comments are based on the previous discussion (Toyota Sailboats?), so you might wish to read it before commenting.

Jack, your comments have been particularly insightful in terms of the Japanese manufacturing industry, especially with reference to precision engineering. I''m not approaching this from any particular bias, just the experience of (3)extremely reliable cars. Part of my motive for asking the question was not due to a belief that one could buy an "Island Packet for a Hunter price". I have been scouring Yachtworld for years and anything like that would make me wary at this point.

However, I remember in the 1960''s when people speculated about a reliable car that could be expected go 200,000 miles without a lot of maintenance that could be reasonably priced for the middle class family. The conventional wisdom at the time was that would be next to impossible. Enter the Japanese automakers. Toyota and Honda have proved that wisdom false. I''m wondering if there is a manufacturer out there willing to tackle this issue to produce an affordable "Island Packet" (not to be considered a blanket endorsement of I.P.).

I also have a follow-up question for Jeff. If you believe that the Beneteau First series comes closest to meeting the criteria that I have proposed, then why do you not recommend the "oceanis" series? Do they not employ the same quality control standards in the manufacture of Oceanis that they do with the First?
Have a great Holiday. Would love to hear further from you all.
John
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  #2  
Old 12-24-2003
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quality is how well it does it''s job, how little it breaks, and how long it lasts.

Catalinas are nobodys idea of a good blue water boat, but for cruising along the coast, and learning to sail on, they''re decent. While I''m sure maintenance issues have come up, I''ve not known of any too much more severe than other mfg''s and a look at yacht world will no doubt show you quite a few of the early early 27''s still sailing around waiting to be picked up by their next owner for a year or 5 before they too decide to move on to a "real" boat.

As for suitability for a purpouse, the older Catalinas sail better than aLOT of modern cruisers (and worse than a lot too)

now, if you want a benz at ford prices, I think your still SOL, however, I think there are quite a few boats out there that have reliably systems, hulls that will deal well with their intended environment, and still sail fairly well. I simply used Catalina as an example because I belive more than almost any other, they are the epitimy of the mass-market boat.

-- James
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Old 12-24-2003
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Hello John,
I have a hard time comparing my boat to a Toyota. At out house we buy a car and plan to keep around five years or so and when we go to sell it we''ll get somewere around 1/4 to 1/3 of what we paid for it.
I agree with Jeff that for the buck Beneteau is a good buy, so is Catalina. They both hold there resale reasonably well and the fact is that if you trade them in every five to seven years you will make few repairs. I like to think of my boat more like a house, when new I didn''t have to do much for the first five years or so. At that point regular maintainance is required if I want to keep it up.
I have the good fortune to crew on a Catalina Capri 22 and for the buck that is a tuff boat to beat. My friend had a question about the keel on his boat so he called Catalina and in very short order he had the CEO, Frank Butler, on the phone with him. Mr Butler took time to discuss the problem with him and they worked up a solution. I would be interested to see you do that with Toyota. I doubt you could get the CEO on the phone, much less discuss a problem with him.
For what it''s worth, we just won our third season in our club on the Capri against competition that had been winning for 16 years straight. I am very impressed with Catalina.
Good luck
Dirt
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Old 12-28-2003
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Thank you for those of you who endorse Catalinas. I for one was a proud and happy owner of a Catalina 30. I am saving my money to buy a newer one, if possible.

I don''t know if Jeff and Jack are gone or are just done talking about this subject. I would be curious to hear their further comments, however. From what I can see of this message board, unless there is an up to date response, the discussion gets buried in other topics.
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Old 12-28-2003
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John & the Group:

Several of these threads, woven together, are starting to get at the breadth of thinking needed when picking a ‘next boat’. Some of the key criteria seem to me to be:
1. Availability of a given model & brand, which will make selling prices more competitive and choices in fitout more diverse
2. Suitability of the boat for its intended use and location, across the time frame planned and with consideration for how the intended use might change during that period
3. Level of class and owner group support (and perhaps even builder support) which can be especially helpful early in one’s sailing life, when significant upgrading or refurbishment is planned, and/or when the socializing benefits of this are important
4. Value - obtaining the most product reliability and suitability for the use intended at the least cost
5. Ease of resale with the ability to recover the maximum amount of investment possible

John, WRT the Catalina 30 I have little knowledge of that model….but I think it’s an interesting boat choice to discuss when you look at the above list. The boat has been built for 30 years straight at this point, and with few changes in the basic hull dimensions, rig, and ballast. In the reference below, a surveyor notes that in the first 25 years of the C30’s production, the ten next most popular 30 footers – combined – don’t come close to the C30’s production level. That does some amazing things for any C30 owner, it would seem to me, and can have a significant impact on 4 of the criteria I listed above. (For samples of numerous Catalina reviews by a Chesapeake-based surveyor, see www.spinsheet.com/Articles/articles.php?ArticleSubCatID=1&ArticleCatID=1. Spinsheet is one of the Latitude 38 clones and freely distributed thru-out the Chesapeake. The C30 review appears to be written early in 1998. These reviews can be somewhat superificial IMO but they''ll get a prospective buyer to mull some useful points).

A fair question is to ask whether one wants to buy a newer, more expensive hull that is now dated when older, used hulls are available at almost every price point. I think the answer to this is fairly complex, as Catalina has tried to keep the model refreshed even while probably knowing that performance is perhaps the quality most in need of improvement. A good exercise might be to compare the C320 to the C30 with the goal of seeing what Catalina thought was in need of improvement - after 20 years of hindsight with the C30, after tons of customer feedback, and with their own view of the future marketplace for their kind of product.

However, the critical issue for you is whether a C30 at a price you wish to pay would still meet your needs. You’re fortunate: you have direct ownership experience with the brand and the model, and so you’re in a far better position than others, certainly me, in determining that.

Jack
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Old 12-29-2003
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Jack, the criteria you set forth demonstrates a very cogent understanding of the varied decisions needing to be made by a prospective sailboat buyer. I''ve read all of the Sailnet articles in the "buying a boat" magazine section and in one short paragraph you''ve outlined their findings. I think an article including those five points would help most boat buyers in their decision-making process. I "loved" my Catalina 30. I can''t imagine a better boat to learn to sail on. I may well posit the question you suggest to the Catalina factory with regard to the difference btwn the 30 and the 320. I may also suggest to them the gist of my thoughts about Toyota Sailboats. Thanks for your input.
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Old 12-29-2003
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I appologize for not responding earlier. I was away from my home computer and so had limited internet access. I just got back and saw your question.

Yes, there is a difference between the First series and Oceanis series, especially depending on the particular year and model in question. The current crop of Firsts were engineered by Farr & Associates and have tabbed in bulkheads and flats, as well as glassed in longtudinals and a molded grid. The Oceanis and Idylle series had their stuctures designed in house and depended on a molded grid/pan system for its structure. The current ''number series'' counts on a number of structural techniques and at least some of their bulkheads like Catalina and Hunter are glued in. In discussing the glued deck joints, and bulkheads with Frank Butler president of Catalina, and glued bulkheads with Warren Luhrs president of Hunter, both asserted that the modern glues are stronger than the materials that they adhere so that it is the materials that fail rather than glue itself under extreme duress. To me this means that there needs to be larger contact areas where the gluing is taking place rather than smaller contact areas that these companies have gone to. BTW, it should not be assumed that glued bulkheads only show up on Beneteaus, Hunters, and Catalinas. You see them in pretty widespread useage throughout the industry including some companies considered to produce better quality boats.

As to my gripe with the Oceanis Series and to a considerably lesser extent with the ''number series'' is that while all boats are a compromise, the smaller Oceanis series (like most Catalinas or Hunters of that period) seemed to push the bias towards maximizing interior volume in a small sailing length at the expense of sailing ability, seworthiness and motion comfort.

The First series has always seemed to press the bias the other way favoring sailing ability, seworthiness and motion comfort at the expense of a little less room down below.

Jeff
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Old 01-01-2004
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Jeff H, thank you for your thoughtful and thorough response to my question about the difference btwn the First and Oceanis series.
Could I trouble you to explain what "tabbed in bulkheads and flats, as well as glassed in longtudinals and a molded grid" are?

In searching for available Firsts on the used boat market, they seem rare. Is it also safe to assume that those that are available have been raced, perhaps extensively? Do folks buy these boats to cruise around in? I also noticed that the vintage from 1990-1995 are mostly equipped with Volvo Penta engines. My experience with this type of engine is that they are wonderful if well maintained. However, parts are hard to come by and expensive. Are the newer Firsts equipped with Yanmar engines? I will only assume you have an opinion on those two engines as well. You are one of the reasons that I review this MB. I don''t know what you do for a living but your knowledge seems quite comprehensive. Thanks again.
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Old 01-01-2004
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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.

Regards
Jeff
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Old 01-01-2004
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Jeff''s points about the Firsts and their care are good ones. Note too that these continue to be sturdy boats, as a First 40.7 just won Sydney Hobart, a 600+ mile race that can be kind of tough on a boat.

http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/news.asp?key=1420

Michael
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