Discussion of market for small sailboats referencing Talman Menemsha 24 and Katama 25

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Stephen Ditmore, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. salglesser
    Joined: Apr 2012
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    salglesser Junior Member

    We spoke with Dick about China the last time we had this urge to build a boat. We were looking at the molds for the his 23' trimaran. As it turned out, the molds were sold to someone else. But at the time, we were discussing shipping the molds to China and produce there. Building in the US would need $40 retail to work. We thought the market for a $40K, 23' trimaran was too small. At $15K, the market grows.

    Now we're working with Jerry Montgomery on the Sage 17, and a Sage 15 to follow, so now we're not in a position to do more than that.

  2. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    I am a new Zealander and as far as i am concerned the nz boating thing is a non-event its why im here in China . if you building a one off on a patch of land ok but looking at setting up to produce unless you have a pocket full of orders and deposit money in both hands forget it . oh yes theres a lot of boat builders out of work but they just growning old in the sun !!I will be back home in January for a month but i will be back here straight after . Every company i have known and worked in in the last 10 years no longer exists they all close long time ago ,one after the other . Im not trying to paint a gloomy picture but its gloomsville , its my home and i love the place but i cant live there . Since 2007 when i came to Soth Korea its been closing down one after the other !!. I have a friend hes a boat designer, boat builder all his life , hes been doing odd jobs and mowing lawns etc for more than a year and there plenty more like him !!.
    :(good luck with what ever you doing !!:(
  3. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member


    Every politician who tries to talk about job creation should have to read this thread. Enthusiastic people involved in a former boat building culture are completely discounting the option of building their own boats and conceding the jobs to the far east without a fight. Designers and entrepreneurs now base their business plans on offshoring the build and labour - with complete knowledge of the transportation costs, lead times, pre-build financing costs and volume requirements.

    This sets the buy-in ante so high that most efforts never get started as most people do not even bother trying to sit at the table. Talk about a recipe for killing an industry. And perhaps countries.

    Funny thing is that a lot of the people who used to work in the factories here are now saying "Welcome to Walmart!" or "Would you like fries with that?". I'm not sold on the accepted "truth" that labour outside the far east isn't willing to work competitively. Just cutting Maersk out of the equation should buy enough room for local jobs - if people are tired of working service jobs and would rather build things. It almost seems that we are being consciously programmed to think of offshoring as the only viable path.

    The aforementioned politicians should have to respond to this thread after reading.

    Am I crazy?

  4. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    Yip can point the finger straight at the govenment and all the bloody imports they allowed in and completely wiped out the nz boating industry over a long period of time . Then we got into big boats and refits etc and then the asian thing happened and yet again wipped the mega boat thing out as well . so you want to find ex nz boats and boating people and companies you wont find any in nz any more ,most are in and around or near China or South Korea .
    its a wonder the earth dosent get a wobble on with the weightshift and imballance of all the boat moulds that have come to this part of the world from other countries and the migration of boat builders that came with them .still it made room for more asians and indians and poms to fill the empty houses left behind . last time i was in nz i thought the plane had stopped off at the wrong country . I had to get out of the city to find a genuine 100% kiwi bloke and say gidday ! . Same in england i never knew the english had dark brown skins ?? all the ones i ever seen were so pale to almost see through !!
    A while later China will have to find a way of grinding them up into road fill or fish farming and growing fish in them or make them into yuppie houses maybe !!!:confused::eek::mad:
  5. Stephen Ditmore
    Joined: Jun 2001
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    I can name another mutihull designer who migrated to NZ (Derek Kelsall), one who returned to NZ (Richard Roake), one, German I think, who was living in New Caledonia last I heard (Martin Fischer), and a Monohull designer/builder who returned to NZ (Grant I. Robinson). If Newick goes too, the trend I see is younger men leaving New Zealand and older men migrating there. What's with that (and does it apply equally to women)?
  6. salglesser
    Joined: Apr 2012
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    salglesser Junior Member

    No you're not crazy. But the situation is very complicated. As Bruceb mentioned earlier in the thread; "cheap sells".

    The market drives the makers. The American market has become accustomed to inexpensive products, from toys to washing machines. Given a 7 -1 Yuan/dollar exchange rate and a market hungry for low price, decisions become challenging.

    In my day job, we have a mfg plant in the US, we also build in Japan, Italy. Taiwan and China. Most of our product is higher line, which works for us, but we still need a percentage of low cost products because our customers request them.

    We're continually expanding our US factory, but machinery is very expensive and margins must be lower to compete in our industry. Which is because much of the induistry has switched to China mfg.

    In some markets, like tennis shoes, US mfr is very difficult. With a retail price at least 3X- 5X higher (with lower margins) than Asian import, the market becomes smaller.

    Sorry to get off topic.

    It looks like Stephen would be best to do more homework before pulling any triggers?

  7. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    Its the peace and quiet and isolation coupled with distance and a small population of just 4,2 million people !! we used to have 3 times more sheep than people once but times changed .Its used to be a great counrty and a great place to raise kids and live . with the internet and faster planes the world has become a much smaller place . Its takes just 2 1/2 hours to get to australia but takes the same time to get from AUCKLAND to TAURANGA less tha 200 kms away ,12 hours by plane to china !!and 12 hours Auckland to Wellington by car. The air is clean ,the weather is completely unpredictable and we can have 4 seasons in just one day ! when you go to the beach take you tee shirt and shorts and sun cream but dont forget long pants and a jersy and scarf and a raincoat and boots because the weather can change that quick !! not joking !!
    We are surrounded by the sea on all sides ! The west coast and prevailing winds blow from Australia and there always big seas 366 days of the year !!,a quick trip and you have the east coast and beautiful beachs calm seas and fishing spots the length of the country .NZ had the most boats per head of population in the world once way back in the 1970,80s everyone had a boat of some sort small ,big mostly sail then that changed to power and there were boat building companies almost in every suberb in every city ,Then GST came along and over night the screws came on and prices went up , a while later imports and they arrived by the ship load , we had compatition and cheap prices and local manufactures couldnt match so slowly companies folded and kept on folding . Because of the isolation from the rest of the world and having come from a situation of if you wanted something new we made it ourselves and an inventiveness and make you own mentality we also had some of the top designers and ran the Americas cup and scared the pants off a few people . its why kiwi sailers became some of the best and still are !! theres hardly a top sailing crew any where that dosent have a kiwi on board , they almost like good luck charms to have one or two. same with boats builders most have asain wives and girlfriend .
    Older people just need to get away from the rat race and a place to sit and wonder and nz is just that kind of place . theres still places were no one has ever set foot , beachs and coves where the farm land goes to the waters edge and white sandy beachs with not a house ,road or tyre track to be seen . You can build a mansion on the top of a hill or the cliffs and have sea veiws that go on forever and a day ,where your only neightbours are white and wooly or or big and hairy and greet you with a mooo!!. its good to get away and see the world but one day soon i will return to my place ,the place that is first in the world to see the brand new day .
    Thats the place i call home !!
  8. michael pierzga
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Thats all very good for consumer items.

    Boats can be both consumer items or luxury items. Big difference and different markets. The builder must choose.

    What type of boat does a young , 30 something, American Hedge fund manager want for summer fun ?

    research this market.
  9. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    I live by the phososphy that it is cheaper to make a quality iam and a not quality item . it take athe same time maybe less and the same materials to make quality !! boats are the same !! the same materials can be used in a crappy boat as in a good boat the onlything that changes is the workmanship and a little care and attention to detail . in recent times if some one is into rip **** and bust i get up and leave i will not touch of do crappy work for anyone !! .
    you need to find out before hand what people are looking for not make and hope for the best !! peoples wants and needs are all differant but much the same . quality cost less !!
    and when you finished with it you can sell it not dump it . its a typical not thinking mind set people are in !! Just think about this !! the rubbish dumps of today will be the nations resources of tomorrow
  10. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    Going to bed at 4:00 AM - been doing homework!

  11. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Crazy as a fox.

    They would need three SS to get me off former president Clinton, if he ever got within my eyesight. Him and A Gore, the patron saint of 'Globalism'.

    I can see this all winding up in a ditch, as the armies of semi employed, unemployed, and unemployable finally rebel.

    They won't even have to do that. Once the consumer market crashes, with too many products chasing too few buyers, it will be all over. Why do you think there was such a consistent bipartisan government policy to keep house prices so high? So people could borrow off the inflated 'value' of their homes to keep the consumer economy going, of course.

    Now that's gone. What's next?

    I can imagine a future global nanny state where super computers govern, robots do most of the work, and humans are only used to do for the computers and robots what they can't do for themselves.

    Imagine longing for the days when unemployment was a mere 8, 10, or even 30%. If economists were NA's, the bottoms of the oceans would be filled with drowned sailors, without hardly a workable boat out there.

    I hope I someday see a whole lot of unemployed economists. They deserve it.

    A good sign of the times is a homeless person with a high tech smart phone.
  12. Watercolor
    Joined: Feb 2013
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    Location: Vermont

    Watercolor New Member


    My wife and I had a Katama up here on Lake Champlain back in the 1990's. It was a beautiful little boat, built like a tank, sailed well, especially in heavy air. It's shallow draft made it quite trailerable.

    It was tight if you were going overnight or a weekend, however, we spent several weeks on it during the summers. I see it every so often on the lake, it's a beautiful classic. We spent about 6 years cruising the East Coast and the Bahamas i a Shannon 28 and Denford 39. We're now on the hard.

    I keep looking to see if the Katama is on the market again. It would be perfect for what we would want.

    Know very little about the current boat market.
  13. Andy
    Joined: Aug 2003
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    Andy Senior Member

    Over here there seems to be a reasonable market for small daysailers of a niche market kind. The Piper OD class was reborn by Rustler Yachts as the 24 and has been selling I think, and there are a few offerings like the French Tofinou which continue to do well. Don't know enough about the US market, but it probably partly boils down to how you pitch it. The Katama is a stunner - ideal for the 'Get back to the basics of being on the water' crowd who are trading down with the recession. The marketing would need to focus on that, IMHO - the romance of secluded shallow coves, the ease of a summer evenings sail, the ability to go in shallow places denied to the bigger boats. The sensation of being close to the water rushing by with a beautiful ash tiller for company and finger light steering etc. etc. It's a 'character boat' and should be sold as such.

    Build it to a budget and without expensive doo-das, but make some mods to bring it a bit more up to date and set it apart from earlier Katamas. Perhaps with a torqeedo outboard in a well and the batteries in a sealed bilge box for ballast, and a with a modified rig to help performance a little if there are any weak spots. Sell it with a cockpit tent and cockpit seat cushions, plus a dual use table for cockpit and cabin. The extra space, headroom and views these tents give is well worth the additional money (it's like having an extra cabin). Don't know enough about the design to make any other suggestions, but lots of small improvements which are easy to implement would be the goal. Obviously I'm a dreamer about these things, but this is exactly the kinds of work I like doing. But then not many boating businesses succeed, so do it for the love, not the money, and be ready to take what happens. Are the molds still for sale?
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  14. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    Last I spoke with them, yes. In fact they're giving them away if you'll handle the logistics of coming and getting them. It looks like I'm too cash poor at the moment to embark on this myself, but if you're in a position to be an investor-partner, or know someone who is, I'm into it. If such a person wanted to come to the US and had $500,000 to invest they could probably get an EB-5 visa.

  15. Skyak
    Joined: Jul 2012
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    Skyak Senior Member

    So, in conclusion, nobody here thinks that making a small but heavy classic sailboat from a 'free for the taking' mold is worthwhile. A growing number of designers have abandoned their countries to produce boats in China, and everyone blames China, free trade and politicians for this sad state of affairs with no solutions other than finding someone with too much money to invest.

    Oh, and then there is Salglesser who is producing a small (but light) trailersailer from the low cost sailing center of.... Colorado! GOOOOO SAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!

    Regarding trade, competitive markets, and policy -I have been retired 4 years, but in the 4 years prior I worked day and night producing international manufacturing plans. Products and jobs were moved for economic reasons, political, and logistical reasons and I can tell you on straight economics Mexico is the place to manufacture for the north american market (with the exception of high density electronics). Chinese wages and currency have continued to rise since then so Mexico should be an even greater advantage now. The biggest problems with production in the US are healthcare and regulation (Doctors and Lawyers). Consider many high school grads can not even get a job making minimum wage. Say they do work for minimum wage, if they get sick, three days in intensive care cost so much that they will NEVER be able to pay the bill! But, if a lawyer can find any way to blame any fraction of that illness on a company or individual then the kids misfortune is worth MILLIONS in a lawsuit. There is no legal recourse to collect from China, so lawyers only sue Americans! So the only things that can be produced profitably in the US are PAIN AND SUFFERING!
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