Wednesday, October 31, 2007

South African Boat Review Trip

Lesley and I will be leaving for South Africa in the middle of January for 3 weeks to meet with at least 2 yacht manufacturers. We plan on spending time in each of the factories, interviewing the owner and taking photos of the manufacturing process where we can.

The first meeting we have scheduled is with David Bird of Admiral Yachts in Capetown and we will be going through his factory and sailing the bay on the new 40ft Admiral. I saw the first of the new 40 footers at the boat show in Annapolis at the beginning of October and the yacht is really nice. Unfortunately Admiral has a waiting list on the 40 footers until 2009. Besides we want to buy used and I doubt very much there will be many used for sale by the end of 2008 when we plan to start our cruise.

After that we are going to travel up the Garden Route and stop over in Knysna and see Dries van Rooyen of Knysna yachts. They bought the molds for the 44 St. Francis which has been a very good boat. I have not seen what the Knysna looks like but Dries tells me that they have made modifications to the saloon, deck and cabin layout. The Knysna is not well known and the pricing reflects that.

I am going to attempt to go to Leopard and look at the 40 and 43 footers. Robertson Caine yachts are well known and the Charter fleets are full of Leopards and there primary market seems to be to "The Moorings" so I do not know how accessible they will be, but they have a great reputation, so I would be remiss if I did not at least make an effort to talk to the guys over there.

After the fiasco with Wildcat and Jaguar yachts, and their lack of support and finally their closure or bankrupcy, and the closure of Island Spirit, I was very wary of South African product, but the surviving companies appear to be more than reputable with the long term in mind, so I am going to go down there with an open mind.

On a side note, about the Island Spirit, David Bird of Admiral Yachts has bought the molds and the last I heard was that he had no plans to start manufacturing them. Why buy the molds?

I have always believed that if I could get a yacht designed by the South Africans and built by the French it would be just about the best of 2 worlds. South Africa has huge seas most all the time so they are designed 2 work in those conditions, and the French, well they have perfected the manufacturing process.

In our spare time we are going to do the South African winelands and I will be posting photos about that as well.

If any of you would like me to visit any other manufacturers let me know who they are are I will see if I can arrange a factory tour and an interview. Look forward to my reports while I am in South Africa.

Enjoy ...

Gavin
Blue Water Cruising
(Sail the seven Seas)

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