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post #1 of 11 Old 10-14-2012 Thread Starter
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Newb Question

I want to buy a sailboat. I know how to sail but I don't know much about the boats themselves. I'm beginning the process of researching and purchasing a boat (which I will probably buy around 3-4 years from now).

My question is this: what is the difference between a boat like a Hinckley or a Swan versus a boat like a Tartan or Island Packet? I can't really figure out what justifies paying for a Hinckley (or equivalent boat - like a Swan) over a boat from a less pricey, but apparently solid boat builder.

Is the difference mainly aesthetic?

Are Hinckley boats safer than the cheaper boats? Do they last longer? Are they faster? Or, is it the same as with fine shotguns - where after you pass a certain price point you're basically just paying for looks, the name, and labor (I.e., hand etched receiver versus machine etched, for example)?

(Edit: I should mention that I would love to ultimately own a Hinckley. I've never been in one, but have seen them sailing and have seen pictures of their interiors on the web, and they look incredible. Whatever I end up with, I plan on purchasing a smaller, older yacht first so I can get a feel for what features and options I prefer. But in the end, when I buy my big boat, I don't think I can justify the Hinckley price tag if I'm just paying for aesthetics more so than longevity, safety, etc. I've never been able to bring myself to buy the Lexus or the BMW when I can get the camry for half the price.)
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post #2 of 11 Old 10-14-2012
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Re: Newb Question

Basically its the manhours for the details in construction and fit and finish that set them apart. The car comparison is good, but the Camry would more like a Catalina or Hunter, the BMW like the Tartan or Island packet, and the Hinckley more like an exotic such as an Aston Martin or Ferrari.
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Re: Newb Question

Of course, a lot depends on how and where you plan on using your boat. Depending on your answers, maybe, the high end boats are what you need or maybe, all you need is the basic production Catalina/Hunter, unless you just want the prestiege of the high end boat.
Speaking only for myself, I'm a Honda Accord kind of guy and I think my Catalina is the Accord of boats...reasonably priced to buy, fairly well made, dependable and when it's time to sell, it will sell quickly for a decent price.

Catalina 34
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Re: Newb Question

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Of course, a lot depends on how and where you plan on using your boat. Depending on your answers, maybe, the high end boats are what you need or maybe, all you need is the basic production Catalina/Hunter, unless you just want the prestiege of the high end boat.
Speaking only for myself, I'm a Honda Accord kind of guy and I think my Catalina is the Accord of boats...reasonably priced to buy, fairly well made, dependable and when it's time to sell, it will sell quickly for a decent price.
I will primarily be in the caribbean and the southern half of the eastern coast. My dream is to one day be able to sail to the Mediterranean, but I plan on working my way up to that point over a considerable period of time.

I don't care about prestige, per se, but I really care about quality, details, and blending form and function well - basically, all of the things that I assumed separated the Hinckleys and the Oysters from the tier below.
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post #5 of 11 Old 10-14-2012
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Re: Newb Question

If you want to sail transatlantic to the Mediterranean, you're going to need a good boat, especially if you're looking at used ones. Hinckleys would be a decent starting point from the quality perspective. Studying them will give you an idea of what to look for in others that might not be as expensive, but might also be suitable. Take your time. The right boat for you may or may not be a Hinckley, but it's out there somewhere.
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post #6 of 11 Old 10-14-2012
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Re: Newb Question

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Basically its the manhours for the details in construction and fit and finish that set them apart. The car comparison is good, but the Camry would more like a Catalina or Hunter, the BMW like the Tartan or Island packet, and the Hinckley more like an exotic such as an Aston Martin or Ferrari.
With all due respect, the analogy misses the mark pretty badly. A Hinckley may look elegant, and have lovely woods and varnish, but Astons and Ferraris are not exactly noted for their long distance reliability.

Hinckleys are elegant tanks, built to a strength standard that has to be experienced offshore in crappy weather to be appreciated. The M&R designed Sou'westers have no bad habits. Granted, the SW42 is a wet ride due to the low freeboard, but she retains driveability in strong winds and seas to a degree that few boats can offer, while the off-watch can relax below in relative quiet and comfort, free of scary creaks and groans.

And BMW=Island Packet? Really?

If you're interested in handsome, strong, quality boats that sail well, the Lyman-Morse Seguins, Aldens, Cambrias and Morris's are also good choices.
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post #7 of 11 Old 10-15-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Newb Question

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With all due respect, the analogy misses the mark pretty badly. A Hinckley may look elegant, and have lovely woods and varnish, but Astons and Ferraris are not exactly noted for their long distance reliability.

Hinckleys are elegant tanks, built to a strength standard that has to be experienced offshore in crappy weather to be appreciated. The M&R designed Sou'westers have no bad habits. Granted, the SW42 is a wet ride due to the low freeboard, but she retains driveability in strong winds and seas to a degree that few boats can offer, while the off-watch can relax below in relative quiet and comfort, free of scary creaks and groans.

And BMW=Island Packet? Really?

If you're interested in handsome, strong, quality boats that sail well, the Lyman-Morse Seguins, Aldens, Cambrias and Morris's are also good choices.
So I did some research on Alden yachts and I am confused. Alden designs them but does not build them, yes? That being the case, wouldn't the quality of yacht vary heavily from builder to builder? If Hinckley builds one, and then Tartan builds one, will the differences be purely aesthetic (nicer woods, more varnish, etc.)?
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Re: Newb Question

Just to interject a smidge; price difference is not aesthetic alone in most cases. If that were the case, the more expensive model boats would've long been out of business. Material quality, and build processes, however, can separate two manufacturers in a seemingly 'great divide'. The differences in inches can be quite large when one is talking hull thickness, as an example. You can take two 40' masts that are night and day different when one builder attaches it to the keel and the other deck-steps it. Those are just a few examples, but more in the realm you need to be concentrating.
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Re: Newb Question

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Just to interject a smidge; price difference is not aesthetic alone in most cases. If that were the case, the more expensive model boats would've long been out of business. Material quality, and build processes, however, can separate two manufacturers in a seemingly 'great divide'. The differences in inches can be quite large when one is talking hull thickness, as an example. You can take two 40' masts that are night and day different when one builder attaches it to the keel and the other deck-steps it. Those are just a few examples, but more in the realm you need to be concentrating.
Awesome information - thanks for the help. I am just hoping that I can find a boat which sacrifices the fancy metal "trim" and teak, but maintains the fundamentals - solid hull, good sailing characteristics, etc., and still looks good, even if not lavish.
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Re: Newb Question

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So I did some research on Alden yachts and I am confused. Alden designs them but does not build them, yes? That being the case, wouldn't the quality of yacht vary heavily from builder to builder? If Hinckley builds one, and then Tartan builds one, will the differences be purely aesthetic (nicer woods, more varnish, etc.)?
I was referring to the fiberglass/composite Alden Yachts built in Rhode Island, initially by TPI, then by Alden Yachts. Very nice semicustom boats, they would include the Alden 44, 50, 54. Their assets were bought a few years ago by Hinckley. You can differentiate between the design house, John G. Alden Naval Architects, which is now Neils Helleberg Yacht Designs, and Alden Yachts, which built boats to Alden designs.

But I wouldn't shy away from the several well made alloy boats built by Palmer Johnson. It depends on the size you're looking for, these are usually in the 50+ foot range, a little big for a beginner.
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