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Discussion Starter #1
I understand that one of the factors that affect boat price is the level of build quailty/redundancy. A boat built for true blue water crusing vs a boat built for gunkholing.

What I don''t understand is the difference in price between boats that I thought were in the same category.

For example, the Benetaue First series which i see are regularly entered in the fastnet (a 40.7 goes for what about 250K?), then something like the aerodyne 47 450K, and a Hinckley Sou''wester 43 above $800K. The prices are probably a bit off and obviously electronics and sail package has to have something to do with it but still there seems to be a big difference in price beyond those factors.

I am planning to buy a boat about 4-5 years from now that will be used for blue water passages and entering things like the fastnet and am having a hard time setting a rough budget (ie will I need to save $300K, $600K etc for the boat).
 

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You are comparing apples to seagull droppings when you compare a Hinckley SW 43 to a Beneteau....one''s a very well thought out, well constructed down to each detail and the other is a mass-produced boat. You pay for the attention to detail and quality, with few, if any, surprises or problems. Elegance in consideration of each detail. Either boat will generally get you there....
 

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Discussion Starter #3
While I am sure that there are some quality issues to be considered.....there are also issues like "some people will pay any amount of $$ for what they think is prestigious".
And they don''t really have a clue......

For instance: logo''d clothing vs non-logo''d clothing....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I suppose that is what I was getting at.

One could pay $80K for a top of the line BMW or $300K for a Ferrari with the actual performance difference being negligible (or at least not worth the extra $220K for most people).

What I am looking for is the equivalent of the BMW, not the Ferrari. A rock solid boat(that will stand up to the seas as well as any other boat of its class) that is reasonably comfortable (i.e. not a stripped down racer) that I will be able to do a transatlantic crossings in with relative comfort (I am not expecting it to be like home but better than camping), lots of funs sailing rather than living in the thing, and that is capable of doing races like the fastnet (not looking to win just to finish). I am wondering what I have to budget for that type of boat?
 

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Ahoy mvicsail, Big Red here , answer three questions for me will you? One what do you sail now or what have you owned or chartered in your life. Two what car do you drive now? Three what makes you think you could save or not save the difference in prices 250k - 850k in the next five years? But I''ll take a guess that your a reasonably paid middle aged person with a lot of classy magazine subscriptions a computer and little piss ant life filled with grandious dreams? Close or what? Big Red 56
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Avast Matey, have sung lead tenor roles in notable opera houses around the world (specializing in Verdi) and am currently taking a prolonged vacation from professional singing to raise my young ''un myself. I''m in my early 30''s and drive a ''94 Volvo station wagon and I have the same grandiose plans that I have had for the last 10 years as far as sailing is concerned, ever since I grew up sailing Mirrors back in old blighty.

Since then I have bare boat chartered(mostly daily charters with a couple of weekend charters) as much as demand for my services allowed, which granted wasn''t much, mostly in the 30-40 ft range on Lake Michigan, St Lawrence, the Med, the channel(skippered), and the Chesapeake so as you can see I am still very much a novice and know it (and am dedicating a good deal of time over the next 4 years to remedying that with the two crew who will be doing the first transatlantic crossing and fastnet with me).

I will keep my own counsel as far as manging the pieces of eight if you don''t mind.

Now how about taking a guess at the answer to my question if you feel qualified to do so, if not I can do without your wild guesses as they don''t amount to much.

Have a great 2002 ya scurvy bilge rat :)
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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This is a pretty complex question requiring a longer answer than I have time for this morning, but I will see if I can take a stab at it.

First of all, I agree with the above posters that you are not comparing apples to apples, with a comparison of Beneteau First 40.7 Aerodyne 47, to a Hinckley Sou''wester 43. Perhaps a fairer comparaison would be a Beneteau First 40.7 at $225K to a J-120, Farr 395 at $325K or Aerodyne 38 which I understand is closer to 400K since these are more similar in size and type.

In the interest of time I will just talk about how boat prices are derived. The price of any boat includes a number of costs that are not in real materials. When my mother and stepfather had companies that developed boats and imported them from Taiwan, approximately 15 to 20 percent of each boat''s cost was designing, prototyping (building mock-ups and developing details) and tooling (building molds and patterns for every non- mass produced peice that went into the boat)the boat. This was a long process typically taking 6 months to a year of money going out but none coming in. A mass production company like Beneteau has the resources to use computer driven cutters and shapers, to reduce the labor involved in fitting every piece but developing a new boat is still an expensive process.

Mom tended to use ''Yard Designers'' who were paid the prevailing wage in Taiwan. Beneteau tends to use ''world class designers'' like Bruce Farr, and Groupe Finot. These big design houses would be far more expensive, but I think there is more value than simple ''name recognition''. Design firms like Farr and Finot have a lot invested in research and development of their work. While much of this ''experience and research'' is performed at a particular client''s expense, we live in a competitive world and so some of the cost of maintaining this up to date knowledge base, retaining the necessary top people and equipment, is a real cost that these top design houses have to incur and pass on to customers. I doubt that Mom paid as much as Beneteau for each design.

Mom might sell 15 to 25 of one of her models. Beneteau seems to sell something well over a 100 of most of their models. I would guess that the greater volume and their ability to afford better technology probably brings the cost per boat down to something well less than 10% of the cost of the boat.

Mom''s boats were built over seas, like Beneteau. Shipping and import duties were somewhere around 15% of the cost of the boats as well. A company like Beneteau who ships a lot of boats may get a break here as well.

Then there is marketing. In Mom''s case, this was nearly 5% of her costs of operation. I ahve no idea how that relates to bigger companies. I will avoid getting into thier profit amount except to say that it was doubled when they sold a boat directly vs having a dealer sell the boat and commission it.

By the time we get though all of that the hard costs of the boat represents only 60% to 70% of the sales price. Big companies like Beneteau have really great buying power. They can probably afford to use name brand hardware for the same price Mom was paying for oriental knockoffs.

But here is where our examples come in. If we look at the boats that I suggest are closer to apples to apples you can begin to see where the price differences occur. Lets look at the Farr 395 vs the Beneteau 40.7. These are both Farr designed and approximately the same length, but delivered and ready to go comparably equipped, they are close to $100K apart in price.

To begin with the 395 comes standard with a carbon fiber rig, and a retracting carbon fiber spin sprit. The Beneteau has neither. This is probably a $20-30K difference right there.

While both boats were engineered at Farr, the Beneteau depends on lower tech solutions. Like all production Beneteaus, the Beneteau 40.7 is a non-cored hull. The 395 is a vaccuum bagged, cored hull. A cored hull is more expensive to build but produces a lighter stiffer hull. The 395 uses higher tech resins and laminates allowing a further weight reduction for the same strength but at a higher cost. If I remember correctly the 395 is more or less 4000 lbs lighter than the 40.7.

The 40.7 uses a molded pan that includes molded in longitudinals and athwartship frames. I am not sure about the 40.7 but many of the recent Beneteaus use a high tech adhesive to glue in the bulkheads. (Allegedly, the bulkhead will fail before the adhessive.)This is construction technique represents a major cost savings over the hand glassed in longitudinals, bulkheads and internal framing of the 395. When you get into recesses of the 395 you see a nicely finished view of the interior of the hull molding. When you look at most of the recesses on the Beneteau, you see a molded pan. While the pan requires tooling up costs, it greatly reduces labor and so saves a lot on a mass produced boat.

The 395 has a lot of cored interior components reducing weight further but greatly adding to cost and assembly time.

The 395 is loaded with really neat racing details. The Beneteau has some really nice cruising details including the convertable cockpit which really works wonderfully.

I believe that the keel foil on the 395 is an alloy with a lead ballast bulb. The 40.7 uses a single cast iron casting for both.

And so it goes. The Farr 395 can probably get more money partially on exclusivity, but I doubt that there is a much bigger profit margin on the 395 than the 40.7.

It''s late and I need to get into the office.
Good luck with your long term plan.
Jeff

BTW, I was delighted to note that you were a tenor who specialized in Verdi. When I was growing up, Dad would tune into the Texico Opera of the Week while we worked on the boat. Old ''Joe Green'' (as we called Verdi)was our favorite.
 

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Ahoy , scurvy bildge rat here, the answer my friend is blowing in the wind or in Jeffs answer. Im not sure who mom is but his answer is a pretty good snapshot of the industry. Sailboat manfacture has little to do with reason. Does it matter to you how many third world humans it cost to build your dream boat ? Are you skilled enough to be able to work on your own boat or have enough money and lack of conscience to kill a few more peasants to not have to strain you voice by sniffing Styrene fumes to get the comfort and finish you desire? I mean really go by a reasonably priced boat and see if you and yours can hack it. See Jeffs list of 100,000 dollar boats and get wet. Let me ask you a question, who do you think owns Sailnet anyway? Lastly before anyone gets upset I admit to testing your skin thickness because in the real world your worth is deceided by the boat you own.

Big Red 56 cutlass at the ready, grappling hooks away, now if I could just get this GPS to work I''d be a real threat.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I''m not at all famiar with US boats but I know quite a bit about European rivals. For a quite a time Swedish boats like Najads, Hallberg-Rassys, Sweden Yachts and CR Yachts have been pretty competitive priced thanks to weak Swedish currency. And at least from my point of view the quality of them is simply great compared to the quality of mass production boats like Beneteau, Jeanneau, Bavaria etc. Personally I have just invested into a CR400DS and I''m simply happy with it and the service I got from the shipyard...
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for your thoughtful and interesting response Jeff. I have been a lurker and occasional poster on sailnet for the last two years and have to say that you are one class act. Doesn''t surprise me at all to learn that you enjoy Old Joe Green :)

I would be willing to pay up for safety but not really for speed. If something like the Beneteau is as safe, in terms of the failure point of its components and structure, as a more expensive and lighter boat then I would be very happy with the Beneteau as I am not looking to win anything, just for a rock solid boat that can make good time. For example, you mentioned something like a carbon fiber rig, is this just lighter or is it also less likley to come down than the rig that comes with the Beneteau in bad seas?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
For what it may be worth and duly acknowledging the possibility that I may be a bit of a partisan sailor, I would counsel you to not let cost deter you from looking into owning a Hinckley sailboat. Unless you must have new you do not have to pay the exorbitant prices that you mentioned. There are some very nice, well-equipped used Hinckley’s available for much less and I’m sure there still will be when you’re ready to purchase. While there may be many boats that you can buy that would serve your needs well, none will have better company support than the Hinckley. Hinckley even quips that all the boats that they build are still theirs even after they are sold and if you don’t take care of them properly they’ll come and get’em and take’em back home. This loyalty to product can be very comforting; Hinckley loves their boats and will go to virtually any extreme to see that your ownership is a happy and rewarding experience. Contrary to what some may think, I can, with all frankness, say that without exception, not one Hinckley sailboat owner that I’ve met since I’ve been sailing mine, purchased their Hinckley sailboat as a “showpiece,” rather they all seemed to be knowledgeable sailors who simply wished to own and sail a well constructed, safe and comfortable sailboat that would be supported without question by the builder. And it is certain the owners who live close by me seem to have no aversion to getting their fingernails dirty.

There is one other thing that I think is important in owning and caring for a sailboat – if she doesn’t warm your heart when you’re with her or when you’re just thinking about her, then perhaps she isn’t the boat for you. It doesn’t matter who built her or how big she may be or how much she may have cost. If you can’t walk away from her without turning to take just one last loving look and you feel your heart light-up and smile when you see her again, then she’s probably the boat for you and you''ll enjoy sailing her and caring for her as you should. Cost be damned!
 

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I don''t think people give enough consideration to the impact of sales numbers on price. I make my living designing and building products. When ever a new product is being developed the final pricing depends very much on the projected sales. Volume producers are able to deliver more value for your money however there are trade offs. Fortunately there are enough people around with money to burn to allow specialty producers and high end marketers to flourish as their standards often become the catalyst for improvements in production boats. Shop where your pocket book allows but don''t think for a moment that spending twice as much will get you twice as good a product. The value for money curve usually has greatly diminishing returns when you go higher up the chart.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
as a Hinckley owner (Boundless-49ft center cockpit), I totally agree. Hinckley service is not cheap, but it sure is good!!! I brought a Captain from London, England to sail her from Southwest Harbor, Maine, to Miami, Florida, and he was reluctant at first as Bondless is 28 years old and over there, the Hinckley name means nothing. Once he arrived in Maine and put eyes on her, he was very pleased and when he arrived in Miami, even more so.
 

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Thanks for your kind comments. As in so many things, boat design is a balancing act. You can have strong and light and cheap but you can''t have all three at once. When you look at production boats like the Beneteaus, they are biased toward thier target market, which in my opinion appears to be people who routinely sail in moderate conditions and occasionally get caught in a blow. Because these boats are also price sensitive, they are made no stronger than they have to be to meet that target market. There are very appropriate decision made that in normal service save consoiderable cost and produce an adequately strong boat. I can give you one example of this kind of trade off. At least on some models, Beneteau and Catalina have taken to gluing structural bulkheads into boats using very high tech adhesives. They also use these adhesives to glue the hull to the deck. Go to a boat show and they will rightly tell you that the plywood or fiberglass will fail long before the adhesion of these miracle glues. I believe them. Because of the amazing properties of these adhesives they can use very small contact areas to achieve the adhesive strength of traditional tabbing. In normal conditions, these glued joints should work fine. What they don''t tell you and, which in normal use probably does not matter, is that the small contact area of the adhesive does not distribute the loads over as large a contact area on the fiberglass or plywood in the same way that traditional tabbing would. By concentrating the loads it means that if there is a small void in the glued materials there is less of an opportunity for the loads to bridge across to a stronger spot. There is more likely to be a small release of bond that over time can and will spread if subjected to higher stresses.

So, in other words, in my humble opinion in normal use these production coastal cruisers will hold up just fine. BUT also in my opinion, most of these higher production cruisers are not really intended to spend weeks at a time being thrashed by 40 to 50 knot winds.

From sailing older production boats over a period of years, it is clear that over time boats loosen up. They just plain flex more as connections begin to work and small degrees of freedom of rotation become a little bit larger. Unless properly engineered for the abuses of heavy weather sailing, this process of becoming more flexible can be greatly accellerated by gettting nailed in a gale for a long period of time.

With increased flexure comes increased fatigue and a reduction in reserve strength that comes from the boat being able to distribute loads outward to larger areas.

It not a matter of whether or not these lighter production boats will sink or float. It more a matter that if abused, over time they are no longer as sturdy as one would prefer. For most of us who prefer coastal cruising, that never becomes an issue.

But if you plan to spend a lot of time offshore then you want a boat that has a little more reserve strength than you would find on one of these lighter production boats. There are maunufacturers who do seem to produce a better quality production boat at only a slightly higher price. Dehler has always struck me as being one of those companies. Halberg Rassey has that reputation (although I have not spent enough time on them to have a first hand opinion.) In this company Tartan, and Sabre come to mind as producing better quality boats for only a little more. While I have not been especially impressed with Calibers, they have tried to market themselves as producing good offshhore boats for a reasonable price.

I guess in the end this about your own sailing goals. I like coastal sailing. I like sailing into interesting and different locations and watching the coast go by. Offshore sailing did nothing for me. As a result I can get away with pretty light duty boats. (I happened to have chosen a boat with a good offshore record.) If you are planning to go offshore and really spend time out there, sooner rather than later you will be dealling with some big winds and seas, and in those kind of conditions, its nice to have a boat that is a little robust and perhaps a little more expensive under you.

Good luck
Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Snap and nbryce, thanks for your responses. The enthusiasm in your posts is evident and speaks very well of the company. Excuse my ignorance but I have always thought of the Hinckely SW series(and I really know nothing so I could be way off here) as true blue water cruisers rather than racer cruisers. The type of boat that I would buy when I had lots of time to do leisurely ocean passages interspersed with island hopping in the pacific or the Med. For the next 15-20 years or so I was thinking more along the lines of a boat that I would be able to do 1-2 week fast passages in, and use to sail in races that had allot of tradition to them so I could enjoy the whole race experience (like the Fastnet,the Sydney to Hobart, and the Newport Bermuda races) with a couple of like minded friends. While I would love to spend the kind of time and give the kind of personal attention to the boat that you describe it is not realistic for me for a number of reasons (at least not for the next 15-20 years) and I would have to rely on professional help for anything beyond routine maintenance.

The boat I am thinking about is not my dream boat but rather a means to an experience(experiencing the great races with great friends and making new ones and doing as many oceanic passages as we can fit in to our schedules). The dream boat will come later when I have time to fully enjoy it and give it the personal attention and care it deserves. Actually the Hinckley SW series would probably be along the right lines.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks again Jeff for your thoughtful response.

I can see that I am going to need the help of a good buyer''s agent in this process as there are allot of technical components to it and I would rather not be at the mercy of the marketing dept.s of the boat companies.
Do you do this type of work Jeff? If not could you recommend someone for me?

Also, any book recommendations on modern yatch construction methods would be much appreciated. (I have read desirable and undesirable characteristics of Offshore yatchs).

Thanks again and have a great 2002.
 

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I am an architect and I am not in the boating industry these days. I do help people find boats, as a hobby but not for fee. In most cases people email me and we start a dialogue in which I am providing a ''second opinion''. There are people on this BB who I have assisted in thier search for the right boat. When it comes to actually brokering boats I leave that to the professionals and I generally have used brokers when I have had to buy a boat. Feel free to email if you want to kick this around further.

I am not exactly sure how to advise you further except that I would suggest that you spend time doing exactly what you are doing; getting sailing experience on a wide range of boats through chartering and through sailing clubs, reading, asking questions on sailing bulletin boards.

I do have very mixed feelings about ''buyers brokers''. Some clearly seem reliable and dedicated to the buyers but others have struck me as con men who have found a new racket. Because Buyer Broker''s are supposedly working for the Buyer people endow them with greater trust but they are still working for a commission like any other broker and so in my book have no real advantage over any other legitimate broker.

Finding a good broker is not always easy. I worked with a really good broker here in Annapolis when I bought my boat and he has helped me on several occasions with people who have turned to me to help them find a boat. I really do not know any brokers up on the Great Lakes where you are currently sailing.

Regards
Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #19
You''ve been getting a lot of great advice, but let me add one thing that hasen''t been stressed here.

Don''t think of performance and light (but strong) construction as strictly an advantage in winning races. I did over 20,000 miles in a J40. The boat was heavily modified for long distance cruising and a good bit heavier than her deisgn weight, but still performed very well. It was great to make a passage in, say, 30 hours rather than 40 hours. If you''re getting pounded, saving even an hour at sea can seem like a lot at the time. Also, boats with light ends and carbon rigs often have better motions in a seaway.

I always felt that volume production boats required a lot of (expensive) modifications for me to feel comfortable in offshore. I felt it was better to start with a boat where the design priorities were more oriented towards passagemaking to begin with. Hugh volumes in cabins without adequate handholds look great at boat shows, but try walking through the cabin in a seaway.

I''m in the process of building a Sabre 452 now. I had narrowed my search down to that or a J46. I have been impressed with the quality of Sabre''s construction and selection of components. Also, they are very nice people to deal with. Still, I have "pages" of modifications and additions to make what I consider a true passagemaker out of her. This Spring, I''ll find out if I''ve succeded.

Good luck in your journey. I hope your sailing dreams are fulfilled with the same joy as mine have been.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks Jeff, I will have the time over the next two years to go and visit the boat yards of the manufacturers mentioned in this thread and hopefully have a sea trial of the various boats.

The next step will be to charter the ones that really pique my interest and read as much as I can about them. If you wouldn''t mind me contacting you by e-mail during this stage I would be very appreciative of your input.

Thanks again for all your help and my wife and I look forward to meeting you in person sometime during this whole process.

Best regards,
Marco
 
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