Low price Catamarans

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by SteveW, Mar 8, 2008.

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  1. siam sailor
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: asia

    siam sailor New Member

    Boat building in Thailand

    Hello All,

    I have had a nightmare exprience building a boat in Thailand.

    There are good boat yards in Thailand with good honest people....

    A good boat yard will provide happy customers as references and real boats in the water.

    and a proper legal warranty.

    remember to pratice due dilligence...

    you get what you pay for.

    Regards
    Siam Sailor
     
  2. mikereed100
    Joined: Jan 2007
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    Location: Borneo/California

    mikereed100 Junior Member

    On my last trip to Thailand I spoke with a surveyor who had had some experience with this yard. He described the owner as "crazy" and the factory as a "disaster" with some of the worst builds he had ever seen. He also mentioned that there were many (11) lawsuits involving unhappy customers and this builder. I hope L'eau.Life is not one of them. I would approach with extreme caution.

    Mike
     
  3. david@boatsmith
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: Jupiter Fl USA

    david@boatsmith Senior Member

    Hi, We build affordable custom boats in south Fl .Just completed Wharram Tiki30. Photos and blog at boatsmithfl.com. Happy to provide price on your build. David
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2008
  4. Been-Robbed
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: Thailand

    Been-Robbed Junior Member

    Hi Guys,

    <removed namecalling from anonymous poster>Well, that 42' cat on his website is mine, and it's a piece of garbage, plain and simple.

    He's the most charming guy you ever met until you make that final stage payment. Absolutely ZERO customer service after that.

    He gave me a 3 year warranty in our contract, but won't touch my boat with a 39 foot pole. The blisters that popped up all over the sole? My fault not his.

    The blisters that popped up all on he outside of the left hull? My fault, not his.

    The non-marine grade hardware he used all over the boat? "Not his problem" he says.

    The leaking windshield? Nope, not his problem.

    The impossible engine lift for the outboards that takes a 300lb gorilla to operate? He could care less.

    The leaking rudder posts that were merely siliconed (not glassed) into place?
    His solution was to put a bilge pump in there.

    I could go on for ages.....

    The boat was put in the water Octber 2006. I had it hauled in September 2007 and have been slowly working on it ever since.

    I've considered taking him to court, but that would cost at least $20-30,000 USD, for an uncertain outcome.

    As it stands now, I know I can put another $50K or so into it and be sure of what I'll wind up with.
     
  5. robert self
    Joined: Dec 2006
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    Location: seattle

    robert self Junior Member

    Hi Been robbed,

    How much $/pound-of-displacement did you pay for the cat in 2006?

    cheers
     
  6. Been-Robbed
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: Thailand

    Been-Robbed Junior Member

    Hello Robert,

    I guess it came out to about $11.33 per pound, though I've never actually weighed it.

    Something else to be aware of is that the baht/dollar rate was about 40 to 1 back when I had this thing built in 2005/2006.

    It is currently 33.43 to 1, so $170,000 is currently 5,683,100 baht, as compared to 6,800,000 baht back then, meaning ***** will have to scrimp 1,116,900 baht on material & labor.

    You can bet you'd wind up with something worse than what I have because there is NO WAY he would absorb that cost.

    I was naive back then so I got taken to the cleaners.

    I know of several other people who did business with this crook and they all are unhappy. I've never met nor ever even heard of a satisfied customer from RB.
     
  7. robert self
    Joined: Dec 2006
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    Location: seattle

    robert self Junior Member

    at least 2 happy with *****

    Hi Been-Robbed,

    I see that the 42 weighs 17,472 pounds according to the RBC website. If you paid $170K then that works out to about $10/pound. This is a slightly above average
    cost for SE Asia in 2006 according to a paper by A. Nazarov of Pattaya (see his site).

    I know of two persons happy with ***** **********'s yard. Chris O'Hanlon who publishs the blog http://www.tiki38.blogspot.com/ about the building of his Tiki 38 at
    RBC. And, kjell lindberg http://www.ladysampan.dk/about.html I recieved a positive recommendation for ***** by email last week. RBC built his RB34 catamarran.

    I don't know why these clients are happy with ***** **********. Maybe they ended up paying more than the nominal cost per pound.

    I hope you get a good survey after putting $50K into your cat. Note that even 8 yr old 42 ft cats on Yachtworld are going for $350K. *****'s 2008 price for your
    cat are $250K deluxe and $190K base. So he won't absorb any extra cost. But keep in mind that buyers in the US are looking at $500K for the same size cat.

    cheers

    rself
     
  8. robert self
    Joined: Dec 2006
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    Location: seattle

    robert self Junior Member

    management change at RBC

    Hi All,

    An unfortunate development at ***** **********'s RBCorp boatyard in Pattaya, Thailand. The plant manager, Chris Harrell, who was also the supervisor of the buildng
    of my boat, has either resigned
    or been fired. He had only been there one year and supervised my project from its beginning. He did right by me. I was sent many
    digital pictures of progress. These pictures replaced the online cameras promised by *****'s website. For me communication in english was very important. ***** is italian and his
    "pidgeon english" emails can be a challenge to understand. Thus mis-understandings can escalate very rapidly resulting in work that has to be abandoned or done over.
    Mis-communication can even happened between chris and I, though we are native english speakers.

    I wonder about the turnover of the European management which now and again leaves ***** to manage all projects. Impossible for one man to do and work can slow to a crawl, maybe on
    your project. What's an owner to do? Pay more? Entice ***** to preferentially assign laborers to your project? It is the business equivalent of the wild, wild west. As a foreigner you have very little, if any, standing.
    As client what is your wedge? The contract, Rule of Law, maybe? Or, more likely, "you pay more, you get more". An obvious, long-range solution to the labor issue
    is to train Thais for management positions. All Thais I met on a visit in Feb/07 worked on the shop floor.
    ***** has been in Pattaya over 10 years and has had plenty of time to partner with a Thai. Not happened yet.

    On a random search at the YachtWorld brokerage site I found for sale the 80ft ketch seen on *****'s website. I wonder what happened? The owner ?????? is selling the partially complete
    hull for $400,000. I remember seeing the abandoned hull on my visit. There must be a dismal story of crushed dreams and depleted wallets behind that hull. The reality of boatbuilding in a
    foreign land can be quite different from the myth. If the owner is a subscriber of this site, I hope he will enlighten us.

    On a brighter note for those holding $USD the baht has depreciated 10% in the last few months. The Thai Stock market is down 20% like everywhere else. Will world wide slow-down effect
    Pattaya tourism? Will *****'s cash flow over the next year slow? Will the Thai baht revisit 1998 and collapse because of meddling by the Thai central bank?

    This thread gets about 100 hits per day. Seems to be interest in ***** ********** and his low cost catamarrans built in the SE Asian, tourist destination of Pattaya, Thailand.

    cheers

    rself
     
  9. kengrome
    Joined: Jul 2006
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    Location: Gulf Coast USA

    kengrome Senior Member

    Hi Robert,

    It sounds like ***** is a pretty smart guy in terms of convincing wealthy people to give up their money ...

    He advertises prices that even he knows he cannot build for. But foreign buyers don't know this because they really don't have a clue what it costs to build high quality boats overseas in a third-world country. Maybe all they are thinking is that "It's such a great price I just have to go for it!"

    So they get suckered into sending ***** their money for a "really low cost yacht" -- and only after they have invested lots of money do they begin to hear about 'problems' or needing 'more money'. I guess you're beginning to anticipate or experience problems now that Chris has been fired, so don't be surprised if you start getting requests for more money one of these days ... :(

    This is Standard Operating Procedure in Asia. It's hard for Americans to understand 'how things work' over here until they have been exposed to it for a while. Most never 'get it' until they have actually lived over here and tried doing business in these countries for a while -- but the bottom line here is that some folks in third-world Asian countries are very opportunistic and will 'put the screws to you' when they see you in a weak or helpless situation -- and there's little or nothing you can do about it sometimes except to just back away, and take whatever you can salvage with you.

    I've lived in the Philippines for almost eight years so I can understand why ***** may not want to partner with a Thai, especially if they are anywhere as dishonest, unethical or just plain criminal as some of the Filipino 'businessmen' I have had the displeasure of dealing with. I'm guessing he simply does not want to be 'taken advantage of' by the locals who are generally FAR more skilled at this kind of thing than he may be himself.

    Unless ***** hires someone else who can speak and understand English reasonably well, I think you may be in for some serious problems from here on out. One reason I chose the Philippines rather than Thailand is because although Filipinos are not great at it, at least most of them speak and understand English ... but comparatively speaking, almost no one speaks or understands English in Thailand.

    If worse comes to worse and you need to get your boat finished elsewhere you can ship it here and I'll finish it for you. I hope this is not the solution you need to pursue however, because shipping alone will cost you an arm and a leg -- but at least it's an option to consider if nothing else works out for you. You'll have to email me privately if it comes to this though, because I think this forum discourages public business discussions.

    Good luck! :)
     
  10. robert self
    Joined: Dec 2006
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    Location: seattle

    robert self Junior Member

    still positive on ***** **********

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the information on your yard.

    Don't mis-interpret my posts. As of 8/12/2008 my boat is progressing as well as could be expected for a custom monohull, 1980s design, beamy Vertue wannabe, junkrig, flushdeck, offset table described unfair hull, computer lofted by builder, diesel engine added.

    Complicated, but not insurmoutable issues that can test even the best builder. However, SiamSailor and Been.Robbed might benefit from your offer though.
     
  11. kengrome
    Joined: Jul 2006
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    Location: Gulf Coast USA

    kengrome Senior Member

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for the reply. I'm glad your build is progressing well, that's important when you hire someone halfway around the world to build for you -- because then you're not all stressed out worrying about how your money may be being 'misappropriated' and used for the pleasure of the builder rather than to build your boat properly.

    If SiamSailor or Been.Robbed want to contact me I'm easy to get in touch with privately, and I'm sure they will see my posts here if they are following this issue with any interest. I'm not prospecting for this type of work anyways, I just want to help another westerner to avoid or get out of a problem in Asia if I can, because God knows I could have used some help from more experienced and/or helpful westerners in this country when I first moved here. By now I have experienced enough of this kind of crap to know how to avoid the scams the local population tries to pull on me -- but it takes time (it took several years for me living here) to make this type of mental adjustment, and those who make first-time deals over here are usually the ones who fall into the traps ... :(

    Earlier this week I uncovered yet another scam that was set up to cheat me. I asked for 100% advance payment but the Filipino organization I was trying to contract with agreed to pay only pay 50% in advance and 50% upon completion. Apparently their plan was to have an unauthorized person sign my contract, then after I had done all the work they would refuse to pay the remaining 50% balance on grounds that the contract was invalid. To their surprise I requested a 'special resolution' meeting which I would attend with witnesses and during which they would prove the authority of the signers via additional publicly registered legal documents, and also naming me as the contractor, and also stating the total contract price and payment terms and penalties for failure to make the final balance payment promptly, and everyone in attendance would sign the resolution we created right then and there. They were rather surprised to think that a foreigner might actually request such a special resolution meeting so they decided to pull the plug on the scam, and that's when I started hearing their excuses why they "cannot proceed with the proposed contract at this time" because of this or that lame excuse.

    This is typical behavior over here, there is basically little or no integrity in Asia as westerners have grown to understand it, especially in the business world -- and the bigger the deal the greater the chance of their trying to cheat you because to them the big scams are worth far more time and effort since the payoffs are so much bigger.

    Many words and promises simply cannot be trusted over here, and signed contracts will frequently not be honored -- even when they are signed by properly authorized persons -- because their court systems are so slow and sometimes so biased against foreigners (and so subject to bribery and corruption) that a foreigner can never rely on getting a fair resolution via the legal system. The locals know this of course so they exploit it to the max ... and I think there are a few foreigners over here who do the same thing. I'm not saying ***** is one of them, but from what I have read it does seem like a few people have a rather dim view of his performance and integrity. I don't know him myself so anything I've said so far is just theory and conjecture, and for all I know the ones who complain about him might be as bad as he is. How can any of us possibly know the truth here when we hear only one side?
     
  12. ccoh
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: Australia

    ccoh New Member

    In defence of ***** **********

    I have read through all the posts in this thread and I have been appalled by i) the amount of corrosive vitriol that is being poured on one boatyard – not to mention several unvarnished and almost hysterical attempts at character assasination – and ii) the degree to which others who know nothing about it appear ready to pitch in. My own blog – a comprehensive account of my experiences building a Tiki 38 at RB Power And Sailing – has even been referred to in one or two posts.

    First of all, I am neither 'wealthy' nor inexperienced as a sailor or builder. I have been qualified as an RYA/DTI Yachtmaster (the old version of the qualification) for 30 years during which time I have worked as a professional skipper aboard yachts ranging in size from 40 to 100 feet. I have also worked as a professional hand aboard much larger but less salubrious vessels such as trawlers, crabbers and oil services vessels. I have voyaged over 60,000 miles under sail in small yachts and have skippered entries in events as diverse as the Round Britain And Ireland Two-Handed Race, the Middle Sea Race and the Three Peaks Race. I have built three yachts and have supervised the builds of several more, at Beneteau in France and at Clare Lallow's, Bethons and Moody's in the UK.

    I commissioned ***** ********** to undertake the build of my Wharram -designed Tiki 38 in the early part of last year. I had already canvassed a large number of yards between South Africa and New Zealand, and India and the Philippines, before paying a visit to *****'s then quite small operation in Pattaya. *****'s an affable, voluble guy but to dismiss his knowledge of boat-building is to do him a great disservice. After several long conversations, I agreed to proceed.

    Contrary to one of the accounts in this thread, ***** submitted a very detailed, European-style contract, with appropriate long-term warranties, and fixed price that included a large number of additional items that I had specified (everything from ground tackle to electronics).

    It was not a particularly easy project: I wanted to 'redesign' Wharram's classic chined V-hulls so that they might be better adapted to red cedar strip-plank composite construction instead of the 'standard' epoxy ply. ***** agreed to underwrite the redrawing of the hulls and absorb the small additional costs of features such as cambered decks built from NidaCore closed cell honeycomb core.

    Other changes were made on my instruction during the build, some of the quite significant. ***** accepted and undertook these changes with good humour and a deal of cooperation – as well as good advice about how to undertake the work. The cost over-runs negotiated with ***** have amounted to just five percent of the overall budget of $US150,000 (not including my travel expenses) to date and we are now in the final stages of the build.

    Yes, there have been bumpy moments but hell, there are bumpy moments during every build – whether it's a vessel or a house. One or two blew into fiery, loud, expletive-laden exchanges between ***** and me – which, later, we put down to his Italian temper and my unruly Irish love of a good fight. In every case, the issues were resolved to my satisfaction and without any residiue of ill-will or ill-humour between us.

    Am I happy with the quality of the workmanship and finish on my vessel? Absolutely. Moreover, several other potential clients have clambered all over my hulls and declared themselves mightily impressed. At least one other, Warren Matthews from New Zealand, has ordered a sister ship.

    Do I think my vessel migh have been built better. I know it could be. But let me explain:

    When I first met *****, he worked out of one yard with a crew of about 30. By the time my hulls had been lofted he had a second much larger yard and a crew of 65, including both local and foreign managers and foremen. Eighteen months on, there are now three large yards and a workforce approaching 100. As the workforce has grown, so have the skill-sets and attention to craftsmanly details. The yards are better tooled and materials are much improved. ***** has been solely responsible for this, although he has been ably assisted by Flavio Gatti, who runs the RB production catamaran operation, and until recently Chris Harrell.

    Like Robert Self, in this thread, I had a deal of regard for Chris. However, unlike Robert, I had the opportunity to be able to compare the difference in supervision styles between Chris and ***** and I must be frank and say that my project moved better and the quality of workmanship was superior under *****'s supervision than Chris's. If I have one complaint it is that I have too little of *****'s direct attention now that he is running a mulit-millio dollar business.

    The references to *****'s 'pidgin English' are just plain rude. His spoken English is fluent, if grammatically eccentric, and his written English is certainly more than adequate to keep me updated on my build's progress. Yes, I do have to be a 'squeaky wheel' sometimes to get his attention, but once I have it, I am very satisfied with his responsiveness and care.

    Moreover, he is clearly paying attention to what is being learned on the shop floor from one build to the next. This is evidenced by the marked difference in sophisication and craftsmanship between my Tiki 38 (plan no. 109) and Warren Matthews' (plan no. 110). Both are built using identical materials and techniques, but the lamination on Warren's hulls is far superior and lighter than that on mine (yeah, I am bloody jealous!) and it is likely that such improvements will continue in the construction of the crossbeams and the fitting-out. Indeed, Warren's are by far the best-built Wharram-designed hulls I have ever seen and are a testament to the quality that *****'s yard can produce.

    Would I build another boat at *****'s? I have already contracted to do so. Would I recommend his yard to other's? I have done several times, without hesitation or qualification. Would I say his workmanship is comparable to, say, Walter Greene in Maine (for multhulls) or The Covey Island Boatyard (for timber monohulls)? No but I – and many others – simply can't afford them. ***** builds sound, seaworthy vessels at affordable prices and he claims no more or less than that.

    I cannot account for the depth of bitterness and anger that has been expressed in some of the posts here. I am familiar with at least a couple of the boats here – and what was paid for them! – and they are worth a great deal more than their build costs. Take a look at the RB42 on *****'s own blog, and decide for yourself whether that's a lot of boat for under $US175,000!

    As for the assertion there are 11 lawsuits under way against *****, this is sheer malicious bull. There are three – three out of sixty-odd vessels built during the past three years. This compares very well with the ratio of dissatisfied customers to happy ones at nearly every yard I know. Moreover, the individual to whom this data of 11 lawsuits is attributed is someone who has been retained as an 'expert witness' in one of the lawsuits and is in the boat-building business themselves – hardly a disinterested party.

    So how to account for all this crap flying about. Well, as we all would probably admit, a boat is often more than just a boat, it often also a deeply personal dream of some sort. And if that dream isn't quite as perfect as we'd hoped, the disappointment can become rather emotional, even bitter. However, perfection in a boat or ship – or in a life, for that matter – is very very rare.
     
  13. mikereed100
    Joined: Jan 2007
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    Location: Borneo/California

    mikereed100 Junior Member

    ccoh,

    I believe this is in reference to my post. Since the information I got is second hand and I cannot verify it (or trust my memory) I will gladly retract it if it is in error. I intend no maliciousness towards Mr ********** or his yard.

    On the other hand, I absolutely stand by my parting statement, "approach with extreme caution", and after reading other's posts here can only emphasize this.

    By the way, congratulations on the Tiki. To my eye they are about the prettiest cats afloat. I hop to see you on the water soon.

    Mike
     
  14. ccoh
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: Australia

    ccoh New Member

    An important correction..

    As if to emphasize that one needs to be very exact when it comes to matters relating to a man's personal and business reputation, I received a note from ***** ********** himself who asked me to note that he has only been involved in ONE lawsuit in his whole life as either an individual or a company director – not three as I stated (a result of my own mistranslation of an Italian phrase). That lawsuit, now before a Pattaya magistrate, is a litigation over a final payment being sought from a European client for a 45' catamaran and is the first and only dispute to find its way to court since *****'s company was founded in 1998. It is hoped, he says, to be resolved very soon. :!:
     

  15. robert self
    Joined: Dec 2006
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    Location: seattle

    robert self Junior Member

    $150K for a 7000 pound boat?

    Hi ccoh,

    The cost over-runs negotiated with ***** have amounted to just five percent of the overall budget of $US150,000 (not including my travel expenses) to date and we are now in the final stages of the build.

    You'll have to admit you are paying a much higher cost per pound of displacement than *****'s detractors have indicated. You are paying twice what been-robbed paid. You are also paying about 30% more per pound than the advertised price (Yachtworld) for a Hans Christian 48 delivered to California (built by Pantawee Marine about 6mi from *****'s Huay Yai yard). At about $21US/pound you are definitely a high-bidder for *****'s time and resources.

    This is extremely important to any prospective client. The serial catamarrans might cost less per pound, but for a custom build the client may want to get their calculator out and multiple the displacement by 10 and by 21 to get a range for the true cost of the project.

    Your assessment of the true cost of building your boat was correct. You came to the building process with knowledge of the true cost. I suspect that the two anti-***** posters feel they got a crooked deal because they were not told from the get-go that their budget did not match their expectations. Does an aggressive businessman in (perhaps) cash-flow negative conditions tell a prospective client that: 'hey you don't have enough money to complete this project". Maybe, maybe not. That $4K, $20K, whatever, wire transfer might look pretty tempting when all it will take is a few soothing words.

    As an aside, new build Hans Christian 48s are advertised in YachtWorld for about $15/pound complete, delivered to california, lots of teak, equip listed, etc. This boat is built within 6 miles of *****'s Huay Yai yard. Also too good to be true?

    The references to *****'s 'pidgin English' are just plain rude.His spoken English is fluent, if grammatically eccentric......

    "pidgeon English" vs "grammatically eccentric". garbage man vs sanitary engineer. secretary vs administrative assistant. I think readers will get my point.

    ccoh- Given your history with ***** (4 months overdue?) can you comment on employee turnovers at RBC and the impact that has had on the progress of your project?

    On the pro-***** side of the ledger I will say this. The guy needs to stay in business (at least until ccoh and I have completed our boats). Seriously, no matter what you pay today, in 5 years or maybe 10 you'll pay alot more due to inflation (mostly wage). The son of that Thai worker building your boat will command a higher wage in the future, which means you might be able to sell your boat for what you paid.

    cheers
    rself
     
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