1. The Marketplace Forums can be useful for members who know one another well from forum discussions and offline communications and wish to post boatbuilding tools, drafting tools, molds and tooling, and other professional equipment for sale or trade. However, caution and good judgement should always be used. Especially when considering any business with anyone not already well known to you and trusted, due diligence must be used to confirm details and identity and be sure the transaction is safe before any money or property changes hands. Always use good judgement and perform due dilligence and follow these guidelines.

China build, trawlercat

Discussion in 'Marketplace' started by trawlercatbuild, Jul 1, 2005.

  1. trawlercatbuild
    Joined: Jun 2005
    Posts: 5
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Ft Lauderdale,Fl

    trawlercatbuild Junior Member

    I am a USCG licensed marine engineer and a USCG licensed Captain. I work as an independent consultant, supervising construction, taking delivery and sailing aboard large yachts. I have worked at boatyards around the world taking delivery of new vessels and representing owners during build, refits and repairs. I have had the memorable experience of working in Mainland China for an American company taking delivery of the first of a new line of Trawler Catamarans built in Mainland China for an American Company

    As attractive as it sounds, making money in China is not easy. Last I heard, the four owners of yachts valued at up to over a million dollars each, were simply out of their money, and their yachts. Quality problems prevented the “American” builder from accepting the vessels, (although the American Company oversaw construction in China for many years!) Although the yachts have been 100% paid for by the future owners, and 95% paid for by the “American” builder, these boats still sit in a Chinese yard. Lower level workers, like myself, were not paid. I think the last concern was whether the proper jurisdiction for the case would be Mainland China, the US, Canada, or Hong Kong.

    So I would like to share some photos of the problems and challenges one may encounter when traveling 12,000 miles hoping to get a good deal on labor. I hope our bad experience will educate others. What is even more interesting than the problems, was the
    resolution, or lack of it. My last full afternoon in China was spent in a police station trying to get my digital camera back. The boatyard suddenly decided photography was
    not allowed, and they physically wrestled it away from me.

    link to photos

    Attached Files:

  2. Eric Sponberg
    Joined: Dec 2001
    Posts: 2,002
    Likes: 205, Points: 73, Legacy Rep: 2917
    Location: On board Corroboree

    Eric Sponberg Senior Member


    Very interesting experience, indeed, and I sympathize with your predicament. I hope you are not permanently scarred by your ordeal.

    I always recommend my clients build close to either themselves or their naval architect so that issues as you describe to not turn into nightmares. Unfortunately, the perceived savings of cheap labor and favorable exchange rate are usually gobbled up by the logistics of trying to build far away.

    Whether they admit it or not, all owners do require quality, and they THINK they are going to get quality in addition to low cost and on-time delivery. It is true with many professions, but particularly true in yacht building: You can have price, quality, and/or on-time construction--pick any two. You cannot have all three.

  3. mastcolin
    Joined: Jun 2005
    Posts: 146
    Likes: 13, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 150
    Location: The Netherlands

    mastcolin Senior Member


    Interesting...especially since I am now in mainland china helping the locals on a 35m steel/alloy explorer type yacht.

    To be fair to the chinese, your story could have actually come out of anywhere...maybe not the camera bit. With your experience i'm sure you could name American and European builders/owner with similar horror stories.

    There is no inherent lack of ability. We are talking about a country that can launch men into space, make nuclear subs etc and can build european cars, computers etc. All things built to tight specifications and in case of cars and computers on tight time frame. Corruption and incompetence are likely in the west also - I'm scottish. We have no shipbuilding industry now due to rubbish management. I've also just finished working at Amels in NL who despite having full order book for last 10 years or so have managed to lose money every year. The last boat there is currently 9 months late and still hasn't gone.

    Just remember they said the japanese wouldn't be able to build cars or watches in the 50's. It'll will take them years of mistakes etc but they will do it.

    My limited experience so far would be to say that there is a long way to go before China challenges any major builder. That said the cost savings here could make them competitive against builders such as at low end in US, in Turkey and S. Americ in superyacht market at least.

    The issues at my yard is just lack of project management experience. They are trying to do too much with too little management. When issues do arise they just say, 'we have people', we can fix it". That way lies disaster. If not now, when they do have to get competitive.

    It's obviously easy to sit here and comment but how come things got so bad over so long a period? Didn't you see it coming?

    Eric, great final comment. I glad someone has balls to say it. In superyacht market the yards are getting screwed by the owner/lawyers trying to build custom. As you say it is impossible. However the days of blank cheque and/or open time scales are over.

    That said, the business is still "cottage". They know modern kit but don't know management in many cases. Not really surprising seeing the massive growth in new builds (number and size) over last 10 years

    We have loads of work in europe but have taken decision to come here and try it out as it would be stupid to ignore fact that china is rapidly growing. It won't be easy for us but it will be interesting if nothingelse! I get to see china as opposed to Holland every day!

    Best of luck Trawlerbuild. Life is always ups and downs
  4. normbaker
    Joined: Jul 2005
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Oregon USA

    normbaker Junior Member

    Hi Mastcolin,

    I agree with your comment that the Chinese people do not lack ability, but then neither do people from any civilization, what they lack is training and to receive training they have to have teachers with the knowledge. You can’t learn all the aspects of building a superyacht to European standards at a university. The only way you can learn this is by schooling in a particular discipline to understand the fundamentals and principles, but then you learn by applying this and gathering experience that can only be gained by working in this industry and there are no Chinese, that I know of, who have worked outside of China in the superyacht or trawler or catamaran building industries.

    So what to do? The Chinese must bring in project managers (teachers) to cover every area of modern boat construction as it relates to the market the boats are being delivered into, whether it is the European or US market they must build a boat to the same standard of quality that someone could have built in their home country. So the Chinese must listen and they must learn if they wish to succeed, but this takes time (and ruined materials OOppssss…sorry, I start again and again and again). Someone has to pay for this learning curve and only large companies with lots of money to invest in the short term learning curve to gain something in the long term are able to do this. Small companies, entrepreneurs and individuals will run out of money before the process is completed.

    A major problem arises when small companies bring in project managers to train the workers, but bad yard management doesn’t allow this to happen as it slows down production. If this happens to you, at the boatyard you choose to work with then cut your losses and get out quick. These are what I call soaker yards, they soak up all your money and leave you with a useless product that it the yard hasn’t sent you bankrupt, the warranty issues will.

    In the long run many of the large companies may lose too as the Chinese yards, once they have learnt all they think they have to learn, will want to take over and do it all, sell, build and deliver the finished product and they wont renew their contracts with the original investor.

    The only way any large company moving into China to build boats can overcome this scenario is for them to start their own boatyard in China, employ their own workers, train them and establish their loyalty and not sub-contract their construction to an existing yard, who in essence is only using them.

    If a Chinese boatyard is 12 months late on delivery it doesn’t hurt them too much as their overheads are so low, but any western boatyard that runs 12 months late on delivery has just lost every penny of profit due to their high overheads and that’s a matter of bad management. Building boats is not like manufacturing shoes or clothing or electronic products, it’s a conglomerate of many things, handled by many people, that all have to go together in an exact way and in a timely manner that will culminate in a quality product built on time and on budget. If European yards like Amels can’t do this what chance does a Chinese yard have of doing it?

    Sorry about the lengthy reply, just couldn't stop myself.
    Joined: Oct 2002
    Posts: 4,519
    Likes: 109, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1009
    Location: Conn in summers , Ortona FL in winter , with big d

    FAST FRED Senior Member

    Interesting thread,

    I would like to have a 65ft mototr Tri built of aluminum and am open for recomendations for a yard that can build to Work Boat level of finish.

    See "long skinney boats" thread of some months ago.

    Painted ply interior (think 1930's) , and tripple chine construction would be as complex as I need.

    Am in USA but can (ex airline pilot) get most anywhere inexpensivly.

    Wonder if all the "complex to mfg" such as opening ports would need to be imported ?

    Would prefer a country with some experience with laws (Russia would be a big worry) and of course experienced aluminum fabricators.

    Brazil? Poland ?or ????

  6. normbaker
    Joined: Jul 2005
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Oregon USA

    normbaker Junior Member

    Hi Fred,

    Aluminum is right on the border of being a too difficult to weld material and heavy for a 65’ boat and being a trimaran, not a cat or a mono, will probably produce more material area producing an unfavorable weight:length ratio that will affect the performance. Building in composite/foam sandwich for a boat of this length and beam would keep down the weight and give you better performance.

    Do you have plans and other information for your power-tri?

    I may have a West coats yard that could help you in either material. Let me know how advanced the design is for the builder(s) to be able to quote you.

    It will finish up costing you more building offshore, even China with their low labor cost, shoddy work and materials, than finding the right builder back here and you have no idea what they are hiding when you’re not there every minute watching over them. This is not paranoia it’s based on experience.

    Joined: Oct 2002
    Posts: 4,519
    Likes: 109, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1009
    Location: Conn in summers , Ortona FL in winter , with big d

    FAST FRED Senior Member

    I understand , I was involved in Tiawan built boats at he start in the early 70's and know well of the many abominations they produced for the next 20 years.

    I have myself built boats of Airex , but worry more about getting materials thru custom$ in low labor rate countrys .
    /low wage After all most are low cost because the local gov is corrupt .

    A US or CN yard is out of the question as my budget is too tiny.US $100,000
    I am envisioning a boat that is tiny , but long.
    Beam on deck (sans amas) of 12ft and BWL of only 8ft with only a single deck ect so the air hight will be under 10ft. Really 3, 25 ft boats stuck end to end , rather than the usual huge monster trawlers seen in the US.

    The "goal" is a vessel that can cruise at 12 to 14k and still get 5NM/G .

    I understand light weight is helpfull , but the computer model on resistance (AYRS) does not show that extreme light weiight is necessary for this performance level.

  8. boatgm
    Joined: Mar 2005
    Posts: 24
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 16
    Location: Guam

    boatgm Junior Member

    working in Asian yards

    I have worked in Asia for 18 years owning a marine engineering firm. We occasionally become involved in pleasure boat projects. The biggest problems we encountered were related to incomplete designs. If a total design package is given to a good Asian yard the outcome can be outstanding value. But that is not often the case. To build in Asia you should be spending more on design not less. We are working on a 46.3m motor yacht project, the design came from Vripack the package includes 800 drawings and diagrams and a great specs. Take this to a yard like Kingship (china) and you can get good value. Take a yard an incomplete design and you are looking for trouble. If you don’t have every glue joint specified, every wire sized, and every utility run defined you are looking for trouble. You should know the cost of all the materials required to build your boat, an idea of the man hours, and the yards labor rates if it’s too good to be true run
  9. normbaker
    Joined: Jul 2005
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Oregon USA

    normbaker Junior Member

    Boatgm is right on the money here. We found a worker had pushed a bolt through from the inside of a bulkhead to the bow as it was quicker for him to put the nut on the outside and as they get paid by the job and then move on to the next job, he took the easy way out, not his fault.

    He was not aware that a nut with 1/2" of bolt thread protruding through it at the bow of a boat was not the right way to do a quality job.

    We had to provide detail drawings showing which way bolts and nuts should be fitted and they did it.

    You cannot leave one single decision up to them. They will run cheaper hoses, lighter wires, you name it. They can find a cheaper way of doing any job, it just may not work properly and be below standard. We finished up with 8 volts at our nav lights because they didn't use the specified wire. Point being, you not only have to specify everything you have to see that they follow the specifications and our PM missed this. If they use a local product you should ask fot the specification sheet, get it translated and make sure they have given you the specification sheet for the item they fitted and not the sheet for anothe ritem that know meets spec. In a word......DEVIOUS.

    Please be aware that I am only referring to smallish boatyards here as some of the big shipyards that build to survey do a very good job.
  10. cyclops
    Joined: Feb 2005
    Posts: 1,059
    Likes: 5, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 38
    Location: usa

    cyclops Senior Member

    Are we overlooking the biggest problem to any large custom boat? The owner is often changing the equipment with every boat show he attends or has to upstage someone else with a newer gadget. Many are just like the Mayor in the " Dukes of Hazard ". "Handle it, handle it. "
  11. cyclops
    Joined: Feb 2005
    Posts: 1,059
    Likes: 5, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 38
    Location: usa

    cyclops Senior Member

    I looked at the pictures of post #1. They are so bad as to be used as instructional photos in a boat building class of 101 or 102 at most. And we blame Pirates or Rouge Waves for all sinkings?
  12. boatgm
    Joined: Mar 2005
    Posts: 24
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 16
    Location: Guam

    boatgm Junior Member

    In dealing with changes, before we start the change the redesign has to be paided for then the owner is presented with the cost in money and time. The redesign can some times cost more then the gear to be changed.
  13. seadragon
    Joined: Aug 2004
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: usa

    seadragon Junior Member

    trawlercatbuild, Is this the company you are referening to. trawlercatmarine.com
  14. genuineyachts
    Joined: Jul 2004
    Posts: 23
    Likes: 3, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 28
    Location: China

    genuineyachts Junior Member

    Email received from trawlercatbuild

    I agree on the fact that there are some Chinese yards which are not qualified in building boats.

    However I am confused and puzzled by what Trawlercatbuild said here and it seems to me that Trawlercatbuild changes his mind quite often.

    The following is an email I received from Trawlercatbuild after his work in China and maybe he could explain to us a little bit about his two totally different views within such a short time:

    " December 13, 2004
    > Genuine Marine
    > Sales@genuinemarine.com
    > Dear Sir,
    > I enjoy your discussion of boat building in China on the Boat Design forum.
    > I have
    > experience building yachts in China and I believe that properly supervised
    > Chinese yards are capable of building high quality yachts
    > The great interest in this project has convinced us to consider production
    > overseas.
    > We offer the opportunity to produce a first class product from a proven,
    > tested design. We are also capable builders who will be involved in the
    > production process to insure these boats are built to the highest possible
    > quality standards.
    > I look forward to discussing this project with you.
    > Sincerely,
    > Paul "


    For the salary you were not paid, maybe you should tell us who did not pay you, Chinese or your American boss?

    You should also say something about the design of those boats such as the engineering, lamination schedule and so on.

    For the payment of the boats, could you please let us know who told you that 95% has been paid to the Chinese yard?

    I believe everybody need a full story instead of part of them!

  15. trawlercatbuild
    Joined: Jun 2005
    Posts: 5
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Ft Lauderdale,Fl

    trawlercatbuild Junior Member

    Things starting to get alittle weird. Feels like I’m in China again.

    Posting an excerpt of private correspondence.
    Let’s explain. That was a letter I wrote on behalf of SeaMaster Yachts of Ft Lauderdale. It was in response to your solicitation of 3/16/04 on the Boat Design Forum “Looking for boat designs to build boats in China.” We have a great new 54’ power Catamaran design.

    We soon realized that you are not looking for designs but instead build contracts, good design or bad.

    I do realize, and did acknowledge, that there are some Chinese craftsmen capable of building a good boat. You should now admit that these yards are few and far between.

    As you are using this “free and open” Boat Design Forum for the ongoing marketing of Chinese Boat builders, you should expect to be confronted with some of the shortcomings. You should attempt to explain these serious issues of quality and unethical business practices.

    I was so excited to be traveling to China to pick up a new trawler and deliver it to Florida.
    But the boat, I really just couldn’t believe it. It seemed like children built it. Lights flickered on and off, the steering didn’t work, the toilet didn’t work,
    the bilge pumps and alarms didn’t work. And of course the air conditioner didn’t work.
    Hard to imagine anyone suggesting that boat was ready for delivery.

    I can remember when your managers hid our own construction plans from us, insisting I should not be reading the plans. Or being scolded by your managers for removing overhead panels to inspect wiring and construction, as this involved extra labor and something could break. Photos of what was behind those overhead panels are included.
    Or the final meeting, when the Chinese management explained that plans are only general

    Included are some photos of Chinese origin butt connectors. These connectors have room for only one crimp. To join two wires together both wires are inserted at the same time and a single crimp joins them together. It appears to be a butt connector but it’s really not, according to any Western Electrical standards. Very deceptive.

    Anyone hoping to build a boat in China better be ready to offer on site minute by minute
    supervision. More realistically complete training on how we build boats. All successful examples have trained their own work forces. The net effect is the transfer of information and talent from established builders to Chinese yards. If you are not an established capable builder, don’t try to get Chinese labor to build your boat.

    On more thing James. Please stop insisting that members of this forum identify themselves. It is the nature of Western Society to allow an open exchange of information and ideas in all forms, like this forum. What is Genuine Marine anyways? I’ve repeatedly
    tried your “virtual” website. Which yards do you represent? Do you still work for
    Jianghua Marine and Engineering, aka Integrity Yachts? Isn’t it true that even your
    name, James Georgechen, is an assumed name you have chosen to deal with Western

    I do appreciate this candid exchange. So what is the true story of the TrawlerCat build?

    Paul Krier
    SeaMaster Yachts, Ft Lauderdale Fl
    Professional Boat builders and build Consultants for 25 years

    (I was going to approach this on a purely intellectual basis, but as you obviously want to “out” me, I think a little advertising is appropriate.)
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.