Join Date: Jul 2002
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 15
C&C or Catalina
TJR and the group:
I fear some of us are beating a dead horse at this point because a simplistic definition of a CE ''A'' rating has been put into print and, consequently, it''s very inviting to hang one''s hat on it without looking at either the history of the rating''s development or the standards with which ''A'' rated boats must comply. Don''t confuse me with facts, my mind''s made up.
To step away from the the deep end of the issue (What ARE the standards with which a builder must comply?), I think the post above about IP yachts is quite telling: let''s look at it.
"Island Packet Yachts underwent inspection and were given Category A ratings (for unlimited offshore use) by the International Marine Certification Institute (IMCI) and were the first US sailboat builder to be so certified."
There are some learnings to be had here. First, it was IPY that underwent the inspection; no boats are inspected nor is there a guarantee that each boat of a given model will be built the same, nor that the methods used in a model''s construction won''t change over time. Second, the IMCI is the Notified Body I mentioned earlier. They are hired by and paid by IPY to conduct this inspection, mostly of design info and product-related paper flow. NB''s walk a difficult line, as they are in competition with other NB firms and, if they earn a ''too tough'' rep, they will not be hired by other manufacturers. Yet OTOH they must seek to verify compliance. And of course, while they may visit the factory floor their focus is going to be on paper, processes, QA systems and design specs. This is not a bad thing but it isn''t what we''re led to believe they are certifying. (To those who think there''s a *guaranteed* correlation between a design and the factory''s end result, I offer the analogies of the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas). Third, the statement about the builder being certified is overly general and misleading. IPY is not now blessed to put a CE Rating on anything that ships from the factory floor. Instead, they''ve vetted specific designs as specifically built, equipped and sold within the EU. Even if we put great stock in the CE rating, we need to understand the builder is free to do anything - that''s ANYTHING - in the way of equipment changes, structural changes, etc. he wishes for his North American product.
But IMO all of this is secondary to the critical issue: the ''A'' rating enjoys a lot of attention NOT because of what it actually means, NOR because potential buyers and boat nuts like us understand what it means, but simply because there is an absence of any other standard which must be uniformly followed by builders and which ties - however obliquely - to the boat''s actual use on the water. Into this vacuum the EU has inserted a generic, mostly meaningless standard which the major builders have highly influenced from its inception, and which their marketing groups now enjoy leveraging. And generally, we just suck it up.
It is not by accident that not a single boat broker with whom I''ve spoken here in the UK about their ''A'' rated boats can answer questions about the ''A'' rating standards. The entire market - factory reps, brokers, vendors & equipment suppliers, and most of all customers - lack an appreciation for what the ratings truly mean, but we''d rather be lazy and accept comfortable assurances rather than pushing for the detail, doing our own homework and challenging the builders'' claims.
The only good news in all this is that, in general, it seems most of these ''A'' rated boats are not used in ''A'' rated fashion. Put another way - since the tread started WRT a Catalina 350 - perhaps it''s the perfect boat for the typical buyer. Lots of room at a great price just about sums it up. Let''s just not think we''d actually be able to use that chart table offshore in F8+ winds and 4M+ seas, let alone move about the cabin to get to it.