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post #1 of 21 Old 02-08-2018 Thread Starter
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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?

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post #2 of 21 Old 02-09-2018 Thread Starter
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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?
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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.
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post #4 of 21 Old 02-09-2018 Thread Starter
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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.
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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.

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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.
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post #7 of 21 Old 02-09-2018
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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.

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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.

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post #9 of 21 Old 02-09-2018
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Re: What is a Taiwan Turkey?

I guess my Rafiki is a Taiwan Turkey (havenít 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 wonít 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.

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

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post #10 of 21 Old 02-09-2018
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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.


Respectfully,
Jeff


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