Home » Recreation and Sports » Boating

You've Got to be Kidding Me - What's Wrong with Yacht Manufacturers? - Part I

Aug 17, 2007
If you took delivery of a $25,000 car and found four or five manufacturing defects in the first couple of months, how would you feel? Suppose that vehicle was a $50,000 car. Now suppose it's a $125,000 boat. Wouldn't you expect it to work when you took delivery? And that you would supported by the manufacturer if it didn't? I know I did. This article is a summary of issues I've had with brand new boats I've purchased -- and the treatment I've received from the boat manufacturers. You will notice certain themes to the issues that seem to be endemic to the US yacht manufacturing industry. I just don't understand why. All stories related in this article are true.

My first experience was a new 35 footer purchased from a production yacht manufacturer based in Florida (I proudly purchase all my vessels from US manufacturers.) I had told the Dealer that my intention was to use the yacht for family cruises, "round the cans" racing and the occasional more serious race, and was assured that this was the right boat for me. With my excitement at getting my first new keelboat, I took delivery early in the season and began putting the boat through its paces. A number of small trim issues developed immediately and the Dealer did a great job of tweaking and tuning -- so far so good. But major issues occurred shortly thereafter. First, I noticed the autopilot (a very popular wheel drive mechanism) failed in any wave over 2 feet and in winds greater than 10-12 knots. The Dealer spent hours with me on the water, but all adjustments to the autopilot were futile. Something was wrong and it was time to call the Manufacturer. The call was shocking. The Manufacturer very calmly told us that "the configuration was not designed to handle those conditions." I asked what owners do when they sail in those conditions and was told "people who buy our boats don't sail in wind conditions greater than that." I thought he was joking, but it was all too obvious that he was serious and was ready to let the matter drop. After much cajoling, letters, and reminders about their advertising claims, they told me it was "a design issue and I should speak with their vendor because they couldn't do anything." I didn't find this suggestion satisfying. Now maybe my standards are too high, but if my new car doesn't go faster than 35 mph, I expect if fixed. I certainly don't expect to be told "it's a design issue" and referred to the drive-train supplier for a re-design. I guess the yacht industry works differently. Since the yacht manufacturer wasn't budging, I had no choice but to deal directly with the supplier tech rep in Michigan -- who apparently took his customer service cues from my yacht manufacture. After several efforts, it became clear that the manufacturer was right - the boat design did not allow an autopilot to be used in winds greater than about 12 knots. Sure wish that had been disclosed prior to the purchase.

The problems continued. Every time we put the cruising spinnaker up, the halyard broke near the top of the mast. The Dealer was quick to replace the halyard, but did nothing to address the root cause of the problem. A quick look at all three halyards seemed (at least to me) to indicate that it was being sliced by something (since it was a very clean cut) near the mast top. I was assured, however, that I was the problem. "It's the way you're trimming." Now, I'm not an America's Cup racer, but I was pretty sure that I wasn't trimming in such a way as to slice a halyard. The manufacturer disavowed any problem and the dealer would not even go up the mast to examine the issue (their rigger actually told me he was afraid of heights). The truth would come many months later when we found a defective metal lead at the mast head that had been slicing the halyard.

These issues highlighted several attitudes / problems that seem to be prevalent throughout the US yacht manufacturing industry:

1. Well known design defects are not disclosed until after the purchase is complete.
2. A belief that saying "we know about that" or "it didn't break, it's a design issue" makes things all right.
3. The customer is blamed for design of factory-caused problems
4. A complete lack of accountability for factory mistakes and warranty service
5. A shifting of effort to the new owner who must deal directly with the manufacturer's suppliers and act as a general contractor to get warranty work completed

The US auto manufacturers figured out long ago (although not until significant market share was lost) what happens when you continue to ship products with known defects and take your customer for granted. I hope the US yacht manufacturers learn soon.
About the Author
Capt Dave Bello is President of Fair Wind Sailing School, an ASA affiliate sailing school. This article is continued on the Fair Wind Sailing School site.
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 272
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories
    • Artists
    • Gambling
    • Humanities
    • Humor
    • Movies
    • Music
    • Photography
    • Tattoos
    • Television
    • Classic Cars
    • Motorcycles
    • Recreational Vehicles
    • SUVs
    • Trucks
    • Vans
    • Branding
    • Business Opportunities
    • Careers and Jobs
    • Corporate
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Mail
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Ethics
    • Financing
    • Franchising
    • Home-Based Business
    • Human Resources
    • Import and Export
    • Leadership
    • Management
    • Market Research
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Negotiation
    • Network Marketing
    • Networking
    • Organizational
    • Presentation
    • Project Management
    • Public Relations
    • Small Business
    • Strategic Planning
    • Team Building
    • Telemarketing
    • Training
    • Data Recovery
    • Databases
    • Games
    • Hardware
    • Networks
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Software
    • Spyware and Viruses
    • Ask an Expert
    • College and University
    • Home Schooling
    • K-12
    • Languages
    • Online Education
    • Psychology
    • Accounting
    • Credit
    • Currency Trading
    • Debt Consolidation
    • Insurance
    • Investing
    • Leasing
    • Loans
    • Mortgage
    • Mutual Funds
    • Personal Finance
    • Stock Market
    • Structured Settlements
    • Taxes
    • Wealth Building
    • Coffee
    • Cooking
    • Gourmet
    • Recipes
    • Wine and Spirits
    • Acne
    • Aerobics
    • Alternative Medicine
    • Beauty
    • Cancer
    • Cosmetics
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Diseases and Conditions
    • Fitness Equipment
    • Fitness
    • Hair Loss
    • Heart Disease
    • Medicine
    • Men's Health
    • Muscle Building
    • Nutrition
    • Skin Care
    • Supplements and Vitamins
    • Weight Loss
    • Women's Health
    • Yoga
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Babies
    • Collecting
    • Elderly Care
    • Genealogy
    • Hobbies
    • Parenting
    • Pets
    • Pregnancy
    • Woodworking
    • Feng Shui
    • Gardening
    • Home Appliances
    • Home Security
    • Interior Design
    • Landscaping
    • Affiliate Programs
    • Article Marketing
    • Auctions
    • Audio
    • Banner Advertising
    • Blogging
    • Broadband
    • Domain Names
    • E-Books
    • E-Commerce
    • Email Marketing
    • Ezines and Newsletters
    • Forums
    • Internet Marketing
    • Link Popularity
    • Pay-Per-Click
    • Podcasting
    • RSS
    • Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Security
    • Social Media
    • Spam
    • Video
    • Viral Marketing
    • Web Design
    • Web Development
    • Web Hosting
    • Copyright
    • Cyber Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • National, State, Local
    • Patents
    • Regulatory Compliance
    • Trademarks
    • Buying
    • Selling
    • Dating
    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Weddings
    • Astrology
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
    • Faith
    • Hinduism
    • Islam
    • Judaism
    • Meditation
    • Metaphysical
    • New Age
    • Cable and Satellite TV
    • Cell Phones
    • Communication
    • Gadgets and Gizmos
    • GPS
    • Satellite Radio
    • Video Conferencing
    • VoIP
    • Addictions
    • Coaching
    • Goal Setting
    • Motivational
    • Stress Management
    • Time Management
    • Clothing
    • Electronics
    • Fashion
    • Gifts
    • Jewelry
    • Causes and Organizations
    • Environment
    • History
    • Holidays
    • Men's Issues
    • Nature
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Women's Issues
    • World Affairs
    • Air Travel
    • Camping
    • Cruises
    • Destinations
    • Outdoors
    • Article Writing
    • Book Reviews
    • Copywriting
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Quotes
    • Screenplay
    • Tools and Resources