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deckhanddave 01-10-2007 01:49 AM

quality, where have you gone?
I very recently looked at an unnamed 36' cruiser in a show room and what bothered me the most of anything was the exposed fiber board! How is this even remotely possible on a boat??? If they drilled a hole through it, the hole was left raw, no sealent, insert, nothing. I was a bit taken back and thought maybe it was one of those engineered wood/plastic composite boards (trex and plasti-wood) but this was not that at all. What do you get when you combine fiber board with water? Simple, mushy pulp. As I went around to other boats, both motor and sail, I noticed that this was very common in boats up to about 100 grand! That is no small amount of money. Once again, HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE. This is not marine ply, this is compressed fiber board which is laminated on two sides and left raw where it is cut. When wet it has no strength (I once built a stand for a fishtand out of the stuff, one day the filter overflowed and soaked the top. Over the course of a week, it slowely sagged until I had to replace it) On one Sting Ray motor coach, all the back faces were left raw!!! They couldn't dress the cuts with a brusing of penetrating epoxy? Put in a plug? Melamine iron on edging? Boats get wet, heck, washing dishes gets them wet! Am I missing something here?

sailingdog 01-10-2007 08:14 AM

It is very simple.... they have to keep their costs low...having to paint/coat/protect the boards would add a step and considerable time to the process...and greatly increase their costs. Laminated edging or a plug would really do nothing to protect the fiberboard from water destroying it...just make it look better cosmetically—and both add cost and time as well.

SailorMitch 01-10-2007 08:20 AM

Bottom line is -- they don't make them like they used to. And that's both good and bad of course.

Giulietta 01-10-2007 10:58 AM

Today, with the ever increasing number of models being released by ALL manufactureres, just to keep afloat, they have to cut corners!! Either that or bankrupcy.

That is why its not like in the old days!!

In the end, you get what you pay for, simple as that. It became a commercial race rather than a hobby motivated industry. To win, sell cheap, advertise heavy. (just open a sailing magazine and see what "they" call "good boats" and what they recommend !!!)

It started 10 to 15 years ago, look at all the Beneteau that were called back in 1990's due to osmosis!! Why??? cutting corners!!! They needed the money to buy other boat yards, and stay alive....who paid the bill??? The customer....

That is why I went and had my boat built for me, rather than buying something made God knows how.

And you think bad unfinished wood is bad?? How about keels falling off, Water getting in thru windows, unglued deck hull joints, joints instead of glassed, being sealed with Sikaflex!! The list goes on and on.... things you rarely heard ten fifteen years ago with the frequency we hear them now.

No one is safe anymore, the industry safety standards are going down the drain, now matter how "safe" they claim the boats are now...

Giulietta 01-10-2007 11:31 AM

I think it started here!!! (well North of here). Look at some of the French boats!!! And their esquisite finishing!!!!

TrueBlue 01-10-2007 11:41 AM

I can understand why lighter and stronger composite materials are specified for today's hulls and decks, over the heavier, solid laid glass used on "quality" traditionally built boats. It is also obvious why more and more plastics, "faux" woods and plated pot metals are used below decks on some production boats - replacing "quality", traditional boat materials like solid teak, mahogany & bronze. Melamine laminated panels are typically substituted for hardwood veneered marine plywood at bulkheads and casework.

Although associated with interiors reminiscent of cheap RVs, these substitute materials have been used for decades, because they cost less, are more forgiving during fabrication and of course, have a direct effect on the builder's bottom line profits. The reasons for all of this are no mystery to the average cost-conscious boat consumer.

However, the level of design intelligence is very suspect when non impervious materials such MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) are selected for use anywhere on a boat. It is a sad state when greed and stupidity begin to control boat design, longevity and pride of ownership.

Giulietta 01-10-2007 12:05 PM


Originally Posted by TrueBlue
I can understand why lighter and stronger composite materials are specified for today's hulls and decks, over the heavier, solid laid glass used on "quality" traditionally built boats.

TB, Hi!!

Be carefull, in fact those lighter, composite materials are actually a lot more expensive than the "traditional" products. Know by experience.

Cheap boats DO NOT use these. They use normal GF, its inside they get cheap, and in the finish!!

TrueBlue 01-10-2007 12:19 PM

Yeah Giu, you're right about the hi-tech composites being pricier, as well as stronger than solid glass. They're used extensively at my marina - New England Boatworks, builders of some of the fastest sailboats in the world, including several America's Cup yachts.

I was referring to the cheaper, cored FRP stuff - used on Beneteaus, Hunters & Catalinas - lighter and in actuality not as strong as solid glass. I remember you stating how expensive your composite hull was - that's state-of-the-art and far from economizing.

sailaway21 01-11-2007 01:44 AM

While not exactly liking the trend cited I suppose I do understand it. (understand, not like) It is a business decision and not really a boat decision. Successful boat builders are not in business to build boats-they are in business to make money. If they can make a decent return on investment and build a good boat all the better. But it's a slippery field and what was competetive yesterday is an untenable cost today.

Approaching boat building from a business standpoint these people know that 98% of their boats will spend 98% of their life tied up to a dock somewhere or on the hard. They also know that most of their boats won't get wet inside soon enough, or often enough, to be a problem to the builder. They have a very good idea of the life span, I mean economic life span, of their boats. Nobody complains about pressboard on a 15 year old boat-it's just one more thing to address on a usually long list. Coincidently, my 33 year old boat has some peg board in it for a sternsheets shelf. I don't think it was original, but it's been there quite a while and it's holding up fine. I've had it for five years and it's not been wet, not for lack of trying. It's on the list of things to be dealt with, but has never ascended anywhere near the top of the list. Heck, it may get sold with it still there!

There's a reason there are more Chevy's on the road than Mercedes and it's not just price alone. If the average car lifespan is ten years, how much do you want to spend on something that is going to be razorblades in ten years. Even though the Benz is demonstrably superior. From the manufacturers standpoint, it is more profitable to build something that he can sell 1000 times more of than the alternative quality product.

Think of all those great old boat builders who are no longer around. The luxury tax of the eighties certainly hastened their demise, but it is very difficult to stay in business 'over-building' your product and getting the money your product deserves. The current crop represents what boat buyers are willing to pay for. The rest of us are buying our "Mercedes" used.<G> Case in point: From conversation on this site I've learned that most sailors are not willing to part with the money that a new Plath or Tamaya sextant costs. They buy one of Davis' products and I expect it meets their needs. No one is going to debate which is the better instrument. It is also no surprise that Tamaya and Plath are the only survivors left in the high end sextant market. Would anybody be surprised if one or both folded up production in the near future? And Davis continued merrily along?

You gets what you pays fors. That being said, it is rather much to cast one's eye upon genuine simulated wood and keep the digestive cycle flowing in the right direction.<G> But let's face it, the average boat buyer notices those cockpit stereo speakers a lot more than how the bulkheads are tabbed to the hull. And, if the builder adds enough "sizzle" most buyers aren't going to notice that the "steak" is tough. I'll bet that Jeff could name a bunch of guys who believed that if they built a really good quality boat that performed well the sailing world would beat a path to their door-and they're not in business anymore.

sailingdog 01-11-2007 08:56 AM

Because a lot of the more recent boats aren't all that seaworthy and are bloody expensive to boot... and their construction is not as well done as the older boats. Many companies were experimenting with cored hulls, before the problems and techniques for properly constructing a cored hull were really well known.

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