What is a Taiwan Turkey? - SailNet Community
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 21 Old 02-08-2018 Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 4
Thanks: 3
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
What is a Taiwan Turkey?

Ahoy All ,

In his newest book, Cap'n Fatty Goodlander refers to a boat as a "Taiwan Turkey" and is a strong negative on buying one (whatever it is). What make is he referring to? Or is he referring to all boats made in Taiwan?

I've always loved the lines and layout of the Vagabond 47 since one was a couple of slips down from mine when I owned a Pearson. They seem very well built, and set up for long range cruising and live-aboard, if not very performance oriented. I'm heating up my search for a solid ocean going boat I can handle short-handed, am I going the wrong direction?


Captain Jim
Captain Jim is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 21 Old 02-09-2018 Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 4
Thanks: 3
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Re: What is a Taiwan Turkey?

Found a fairly good thread under "taiwan-boats-any-good" (unable to link due to my newbie status)

A a few smaller threads about Vagabonds but without much more than speculation and not much on the Vagabond 47 line. Anyone know of specific issues about this line in particular?
Captain Jim is offline  
post #3 of 21 Old 02-09-2018
Senior Member
amwbox's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 632
Thanks: 23
Thanked 34 Times in 34 Posts
Rep Power: 5
Re: What is a Taiwan Turkey?

Likely referring to a subset of boats built in Taiwan that are known for heavy construction and a focus on design features most useful for passage making as opposed to performance. Think Tayana, Baba, Hans Christian, Formosa, etc etc. Heavy displacement, full keels, NOT racers. Often called "leaky teakies".

A lot of people have a really intense hatred for them, I've noticed.
zeehag and Captain Jim like this.

"Freedom is the increased knowledge of what you can do without." —Thoreau
amwbox is offline  
post #4 of 21 Old 02-09-2018 Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 4
Thanks: 3
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Re: What is a Taiwan Turkey?

Thanks. I was wondering if it was a build line specific rep or damning of most if not all Taiwan built boats. A post on the other thread I found does say there were a lot of inconsistencies in the various yards there and a tendency to cut corners for cost in ugly ways like keel lay up (faking lead with various substances), poor decking with non-marine plywood, bad metal , and hull issues due to the way the glass was put together. Some of the names do stand out from various posts as particularly shady and suspect, but still wonder if they all get painted with that brush, or there were some stand out makes and models that had good reputations for build and character. I am wondering where the Vagabond fleet shakes out historically in there.
doggerel likes this.
Captain Jim is offline  
post #5 of 21 Old 02-09-2018
Senior Member
amwbox's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 632
Thanks: 23
Thanked 34 Times in 34 Posts
Rep Power: 5
Re: What is a Taiwan Turkey?

It's really not all that bad. The biggest issues were more about lousy wiring and wooden masts and teak decks that eventually caused core problems. I've spent time on a couple of nice Tayanas and Hans Christians...truly wonderful boats. Most of the stuff Bob Perry is best known for was built in yards like Ta Yang and Ta Shing. Some of the most beautiful interiors ever made...couldn't have happened with the labor rate differences in the US. I'd say the boats built in Taiwan are on the average better than most. The problem people have with them is more about not liking heavy displacement, full keel designs, or classic styles. They like fast boats. I guess? Different strokes, as they say.

"Freedom is the increased knowledge of what you can do without." —Thoreau
amwbox is offline  
post #6 of 21 Old 02-09-2018
Picnic Sailor
chall03's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Sydney
Posts: 2,117
Thanks: 26
Thanked 37 Times in 33 Posts
Rep Power: 18
Re: What is a Taiwan Turkey?

I would add the following......

There was an initial generation of very reasonable boats built in Taiwan to designs from the like of our own Robert Perry. These were known as well built boats with great interiors built under close supervision by very capable yards in Taiwan. They did have some of the attributes listed above but included some very well built boats such as the Peterson 46 and indeed several Perry designs.

What (If I recall correctly) then followed was a second wave of less well built boats in ummm second rate Taiwanese yards built to a price in and attempt to cash in on the success and popularity at the time of the 'good' taiwanese boats.

I can't say what he mean't in his book but I guess that is what springs to mind when I hear the expression.
Faster likes this.

'Life is either a daring adventure or nothing' - Helen Keller

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
chall03 is offline  
post #7 of 21 Old 02-09-2018
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Northern Lake Huron
Posts: 60
Thanks: 8
Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Rep Power: 7
Re: What is a Taiwan Turkey?

Some names/brands of these subpars would be helpfull. FWIW I also heard mention of less than ideal and questionable ballasting materials.

"And furthermore I do not care for the way you are running this ship".
Northeric is offline  
post #8 of 21 Old 02-09-2018
Dirt Free
boatpoker's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Toronto
Posts: 2,642
Thanks: 22
Thanked 148 Times in 143 Posts
Rep Power: 12
Re: What is a Taiwan Turkey?

Taiwan boats have become known derogatively as TT's due to the very consistent flaws regardless of builder. I really don't like to generalize and not all have these issues but after 4,586 surveys I've found that things become cliche for a reason.

Common issues
- Steel fuel tanks of low quality and very poor installation. Prone to severe corrosion.
- Leaky windows. What do you expect from wood frames and questionable sealant.
- Leaky decks from hundreds of screws through the teak (if they have a teak deck) , through the glass into very poor quality plywood scraps.
- Ridiculous propane installations.
- Many AC connections made without junction boxes.
- Heavy hulls but made up mostly of chopped mat, the cheapest form (next to chopper gun) of glass and most susceptible to moisture penetration and hydrolysis.

The hysterical laughter you hear as you drive a way in your"new" boat ..... is the seller.

Last edited by boatpoker; 02-09-2018 at 11:40 AM.
boatpoker is offline  
post #9 of 21 Old 02-09-2018
Old soul
MikeOReilly's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Wherever I am
Posts: 4,433
Thanks: 268
Thanked 205 Times in 192 Posts
Rep Power: 11
Re: What is a Taiwan Turkey?

I guess my Rafiki is a Taiwan Turkey (haven’t heard that one before). All the ones mentioned here so far are all excellent boats. Yes, they have their issues, but most of these boats are now 30+ years old, so is that really any wonder? Any boat that is four+ decades old is going to exhibit problems. Just imagine what the current crop of tupperware boats are going to be like when they hit 40 years old (the age of my boat). I bet most won’t even make it.

The boats mentioned are well designed and well built, but like I say, they are all old now. They were designed in a different age for a different way of cruising. If they have been well looked after, the issues mentioned will be dealt with as part of the on going maintenance and upgrades. Again, no different than any older boat.

I’m sure there are more questionable boat lines built in Taiwan, but I would not include the ones named here so far in that list.

Why go fast, when you can go slow.
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
MikeOReilly is online now  
post #10 of 21 Old 02-09-2018
Jeff_H's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Posts: 8,950
Thanks: 47
Thanked 447 Times in 377 Posts
Rep Power: 10
Re: What is a Taiwan Turkey?

I apologize that I had written this for an earlier discussion on Asian boats but I think it applies to your question.

All too often pejorative nick-names get painted with way too broad a brush and the term 'Taiwan Turkey' is one of those terms. But like many stereotypes, there was a kernel of truth that created that term (and worse nick names) for boats from Taiwan. Over the years I have spent a lot of time around these boats, including working with Charlie Wittholz on the design for a boat that built by Cheoy Lee (technically from Hong Kong and not Taiwan, but one of those companies that also got stamped with the 'Leaki-teaky' appellation). But also my mother and stepfather had a business that had boats built in Taiwan and imported to the States so they were in and out of the yards, contracting for boats. Working with them, I learned a lot about the Asian yards.

To begin with, many of the Asian yards were capable of doing extremely fine woodworking and pretty fair glass work. But many of the boats built in Asia were targeted at the bargain basement price range. Often those boats contained items that would never be considered acceptable as good boat building practice. This included counterfeiting knock off hardware which lacked interchangeable parts, using questionable metallurgy, using locally produced inferior grades of plywood throughout the boats including sub-decking, decks and cabins that were essentially built as a wooden boat deck and cabin structure, but without the same structural details that would be considered critical proper practices in wooden boat construction, installing black iron tanks and so on. Often the designs were pirated, with molds being splashed from a finished hull and constructed by a yard that was not authorized to use the original designers design. Interior, rig and equipment layouts were often altered without the benefit of a proper yacht designer resulting in boats that did not behave as designed.

Often the glass-work was crudely done and while excessively thick, was not especially strong due to poor resin to glass ratios, poor fabric handling, and excessive use of non-directional fabrics. Yard workers sometimes added solvents and accelerators to the resin to bring down cost and make the layup faster and easier. This resulted in boats that were especially prone to blisters and unexpected structural problems.

On many of these boats corners were cut in a thousand hidden places, both large and small. Sometimes it was use a cheap copy of the proper below the waterline hose type. Sometimes it was knock off brass through-hulls and seacocks. Wiring was often untinned, and improperly installed. Light fixtures might be a cheap knock off with ferrous components and so on.

And it is very hard to know which corners were cut on any particular boat by any particular yard. For example, on one boat an owner might hire a representative to inspect their boat while it was being built and may specify ballast weight and materials and so on. That boat might have lead shot in a polyester resin ballast, with the ballast weighed out as it was being prepared and installed. The same exact model from the same exact yard may not have those stipulations and so may have ballast consisting of steel boiler-punchings in concrete with the result being a much lower density ballast and a lower overall ballast weight. The first boat might feel pretty normal for a traditional boat, while the second boat may roll you to death and need to be reefed much sooner.

Another ubiquitous part of the bad reputation is that a large percentage of these boats came with teak decks and wooden spars. Often the decks were laid over non-marine plywood and fastened with thousands of locally made brass (rather than bronze) or worse yet galvanized iron fastenings. Often the decks were caulked with locally made caulking that did not have the life span of higher quality products. Often the teak was not properly bedded to the sub-deck. At some point these decks would leak and water would get into the cabin, and into the sub-deck and rot it out. In the worse cases, the water rotted out deck beams and cabin structures.

The Asian yards had a practice of relabeling wood species with some grand sounding name, like Asian mahogany, or Thai Fir. Sometimes these were actually decent species of wood, but more often than not these were species of wood that were not all that well suited for their purpose having mediocre rot resistance or strength. Because of the largely wooden construction and poor choice of materials these boats were very labor and material intensive to maintain.

Lastly, many of these boats were built to outdated designs; designs which were closer what might have been done in the 1930's than in the second half of the 20th century. While many people simply just do not care above about performance and are perfectly comfortable motoring or making really really poor passage times, by any relative standard, many, if not most of these boats are slow on all points of sail, including reaching, even as compared to more modern dedicated cruisers from that same era. Because of their high drag and displacement many of these more traditional designs carry a huge amount of sail area making them physically hard to sail. They do not sail to weather well and many of the more lightly ballasted boats are not all that great in really heavy going either.

And so cumulatively, that is where the nickname ‘Taiwan Turkey’ originates. But in reality there were also a lot of Taiwanese built boats for which the above descriptions would be totally inaccurate. Skilled designers like Gary Mull, German Frers, Bob Perry, Ray Richards, Charlie Wittholz and Doug Peterson penned some wonderful boats that were built in the Asian yards. Some of these were updated variations on traditional design principals that produced boats that sailed very well and which were also good cruising boat designs. Others were a more modern take on a cruising boat (Kelly Peterson 44/46 for example) and were also good cruising designs.

In the mix were boat importers that set high standards for their boats and enforced them. These were importers who contracted with individual designers, individual yards and selected high quality materials and methods. These Companies like Kalik (who also built in Europe and Korea) and Jack Kelly imported pretty much all of the boat building materials including the basics like resin, deck hardware, engines, wiring, spars, and even imported pallets of marine plywood. They personally might be at the yard or hire a personal representative to supervise the work and make sure that tabbing was done right and that the materials that they bought for the boats were actually used on their boats.

There were also builders who understood proper construction and worked hard to produce properly built boats. My sense is that Tayana falls in that category.

In conclusion, as I see it, when someone asks me about some particular boat or make and model that originates from Asia, I can only answer, there is no way to know whether that specific boat is well built or not. I can often look at a design and say, by any objective standard that boat will slow, and cranky to sail. What I can’t say is whether those sailing characteristics are acceptable to any specific potential buyer.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay

Last edited by Jeff_H; 02-09-2018 at 03:01 PM.
Jeff_H is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Jeff_H For This Useful Post:
Captain Jim (02-11-2018)

Quick Reply

By choosing to post the reply above you agree to the rules you agreed to when joining Sailnet.
Click Here to view those rules.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Ancient-style sailboat fails in bid to cross Taiwan Strait - Focus Taiwan News Channe NewsReader News Feeds 0 05-22-2017 07:40 PM
Dutch sailboat rescued by Taiwan's coast guard - Focus Taiwan News Channel NewsReader News Feeds 0 10-05-2016 10:40 PM
''75 Taiwan-Roughwater 33 me262 Boat Review and Purchase Forum 0 03-26-2005 04:04 PM
Taiwan boats, any good? Douggie Boat Review and Purchase Forum 9 03-25-2005 02:55 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome