Join Date: Jul 2002
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 14
wave sounds on stern
Duane, I think your last two points are very valid and contradict your notion of being a neophyte. And while it destroys the thread continuity, I suppose, exploring both of them might be useful.
"I guess my point is that while the current big-selling production boats may not represent a better overall design...I find it hard to believe that there is no room left for improvement."
Where is it logical that we look for those improvements? Conceptually, the next new boat we find in the marketplace is going to be a product of naval architecture, marketing considerations, production capabilities, boat systems and ''style''. Style will always ebb & flow and, relative to true improvement, I think can be considered irrelevant. Designing a significantly better hull & rig, with all the related elements, doesn''t strike me as the place to expect huge advances. (Or if there are advances, they are pretty easily identified). Computers, very talented designers, and many decades of experience at sea have pretty much clarified the consequences of the design choices made. Instead, it''s a marketing decision (by a large corp or perhaps a small builder like Tom Morris or Caliber Yachts) of what they think is marketable, with the design choices made accordingly. Again, not much of a source for true innovation & improvement. That leaves us with the manufacturing process itself and new/improved/integrated systems, which is where I think I''ve seen the most real improvement in how a sailboat functions at sea over the last few decades. Yet that''s not where we look as boat buyers - we presume the advanced systems can be tacked onto our boat of choice (so one boat is as good as another re: systems) and most of us don''t even consider inspecting the manufacturing facility and evaluating the boat choice with that in mind; we think we''re addressing that when we look at the end product.
I''m reminded of that PBO assessment I mentioned in another thread recently: Bavaria Yachts makes a very conscious choice - they decide the size boat they next want to build, benchmark the pricing of the competition, determine the price their boat must be sold at, and then build it to that price. One way they do that is thru production innovation, including improvement in production efficiencies, just as Beneteau became a price leader in the same way some years back. The problem for we consumers is that innovation that might be trumpeted as ''improvement'' in the boat itself is, in reality, production innovation. When I see a saildrive installation on a boat touted as cruising-capable, that''s what I think is happening. The designer is able to do more with the interior, the engine mfgr. can produce a less expensive powertrain (all components considered), and the builder can offer a less costly boat that''s easier to build. There''s nothing wrong with that per se and each of these can be claimed an ''improvement...except that it happens to be contrary to the needs of a cruising sailor. (I wonder about returning to So California sailing or doing another ICW up/back trip with a saildrive that needs servicing every 100 hrs, perhaps with a lift being necessary to replace the gear oil).
"Of course, the biggest caveat in all of this is the "intended use." What one might consider inappropriate for one type of usage, might be an acceptable compromise for another."
Exactly so. Which is why a huge, systems-to-the-max Bubble Boat may be an entirely reasonable choice for someone who entertains at the dock, wants a ''getaway cabin'' to escape to, and who sails locally and with a known forecast. It''s also why folks posting queries on this BB and others about "cruising"-related topics need to be clearer about what kind of cruising is intended. Some actually think "cruising" means the two-week summer vacation. Others see this as a chance to step out of one region (the Chesapeake perhaps) for another (down the ICW or up to New England), a ''coastal cruising'' plan. Usually, it seems, folks start out with an open-ended notion (''down to the Caribbean and then we''ll see; perhaps the Canal...'') and don''t realize relative to boat choice and many other related issues, how extreme the demands are with such a potential plan...nor how the plan should shape the fundamental choices of hull shape, how the rig is worked, what the layout must provide and of course how the boat is built.
Perhaps we need our own BB classification system?
''W'' - weekend/week-long cruises
''C'' - coastal cruising (limited offshore, primarily day-hops)
''R'' - regional cruising; 2-3 day non-stop runs possible occasionally & in season
''O'' - offshore; time extends well beyond reliable weather forecasts at departure; availability of diverting to seek assistance sometimes not possible