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Reliability and simplicity in the 40-55ft range?

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by zen, Jun 26, 2017.

  1. zen

    zen New Member

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    I've cancelled 2 recent Bahamas trips due to last minute mechanical/electrical issues. Relatively minor problems at the worst times (welcome to boating!). My slip neighbor was complaining about the same thing after his trip was cut short. It got me thinking, what is the most reliable and 'simple' vessel in the 40-55ft range that can comfortably accommodate 1-2 couples for warm weather cruising? I'm currently in a 48ft express cruiser with twin diesels, less than 5 years old. I've been frustrated enough lately to consider something smaller with outboards or a single engine setup like a Back Cove in order to reduce the possibility of things going wrong. I know this is a loaded question, since every creature comfort increases the complexity of a boat. And I definitely want most of the standard amenities: cabin, AC, generator, head, galley, etc. But is there a manufacturer equivalent of a Honda/Toyota - mostly reliable with minimal problems? Perhaps it isn't a manufacturer so much as a style - e.g. lobster boat, single diesel engine, enclosed cockpit. Any input or advice appreciated.

    * I should add that an obvious answer is long range trawlers, but I need something with a cruising speed of at least 20kts.
  2. Iknownothing

    Iknownothing New Member

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    Check out Maritimo.

    Aussie built, huge fuel tanks for their size, systems are insanely simple. Not very "glitzy" interiors, just stuff that works. No boat is perfect by any means, but I will say that Maritimos are very easily maintained and serviceable. Engine rooms have a ton of room and are fully lined. I've always been a sportfish kind of guy, but the fully enclosed air-conditioned bridge is insanely nice.

    I'm an independent contractor that mostly specializes in Italian stuff, but I've worked on a few dozen Maritimos over the years. Haven't seen anything as reliable in 18yrs in the business.

    If you find one in South Florida or have any other questions, pm me and I'll be glad to help.
  3. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    Fly over and rent a boat there. The one time I ever did that, it was GREAT..

    Other than that, you want A/C?
    You want potable water?
    Maybe ice?
    gen-set required.
    These will be the same on any boat and always will always cause headaches.
    Ad two diesels and you will get what you already have; a high maintenance boat that you have to fix before each use.
    They all use mostly the same equipment, how to access it for service vs livable space is a large issue. Between 40 to 55 feet with answers, in our dreams..

    When you find it, let us know please.
    ,rc
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2017
  4. g collis

    g collis Member

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    Something with 2 stroke motors, no computers and none of the modern gee wiz technology. You may laugh but the older boats are the most reliable. No computers running the whole boat. If one system farts it can't shut down half the boat with it. I am laying myself wide open for attack here, but I like old school reliability
  5. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    I don't know if you can say that a brand or type of boat is more reliable than others as it also comes down to which components are installed.

    For instance. My list:

    Northern light or westebeke genset. Onan, ohno! Same with Koehler... I ll pass

    Mains: cats. Forget mans. MTU if I have no choice but no mans. In smaller hp, Luger or John deer are good

    Systems, electrical... no Italian

    Electronics : I don't care for networked stuff. I want my sounder stand alone.

    Redundancy. Have the spare parts and if possible the redundant systems. Twin generators are critical for Bahamas cruising.

    I ran a Johnson 70 (2003 vintage) for 8 years, twin cats 3412Es, twin northern lights 20... put over 3000 hours on the cats and 7000 on each genny. Never cancelled a trip, never had a trip to being problem

    I moved on to running an 84 lazzara. Fantastic boat but so far I ve had more shutdowns on the onan generators in a year that I ve had on th NL in 8. We have two and I carry a full set of sensors and parts so nobody on board even noticed but just says something about onans

    What kind of boats do you have and what kind of problem. Also in all fairness, boats are complex machines with more systems than a car. Part of owning a complex boat is being able to troubleshoot and fix on th fly
  6. Iknownothing

    Iknownothing New Member

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    The brand part comes from how the boat is put together and how the various parts are installed. You can put a $10k electrical panel in a crap Boat and it's still a crap boat. I had a large yacht that I needed to replace one fuse, took 2 carpenters a full day at a major yard to get me access for a 10 second fix. Didn't even ask them how long it took them to put it all back together.....

    In the size range op was talking about, you really wont find many with Cats, MTU, or MANs. Most likely Volvo or Cummins. Personally I prefer the M11s.

    I ran the second Bertram 51 (06 I think, norberto snaked my client and delayed his delivery) fitted with the new C18s, 6 hour run and both heat exchangers fell off (bolts fell out), one starter fell off (second one did later) and both oil filters fell off the port engine. Keep in mind this was a factory fresh boat with only sea trial hour's.

    Absolutely agree with steering clear of any Italian electrical systems on a boat this size. Zero need for any automation at this size range. I'd also steer clear of octoplex or any other touchscreen automation. Same reason I hate those membrane switch panels that searay and others started using. A rocker switch was too difficult to operate?

    Gensets are hit and miss, everyone has different experiences. Dual Gensets is obviously a great solution but a bit rare in this size boat.

    Networked electronics are great as long as a separate hub is installed to allow redundancy. A separate N2K depth transducer can be added to pretty much any system and won't even require a haul out to install.

    Good spares can easily save the day, especially if they are easy to swap out. Unfortunately I see hundreds of pounds of useless spares carried on most boats. 4 air filters and not a single impeller? 10 gallons of oil but no coolant?
  7. bayoubud

    bayoubud Member

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    Two stroke's, no computers, no stabilizers, sounds real good, I'm in. We have been looking for about year and simplicity is hard to find. Have been on a 48 Maritimo. Like it overall, is a fairly simple cruising convertible and nice EC. Thought it had some good features. By the time we put all the comforts of home on a boat= maintenance. An older boat with lots of updated equipment and not a dock queen would be good. Can't think of a brand that doesn't require work.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2017
  8. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Perhaps it's not the boat or equipment at all but a combination of both your routine maintenance and your other maintenance, basically who you have doing the work and if you're having them do all checks and maintenance as the manufacturers' schedules indicate. If I was finding myself having to cancel trips, I'd change this aspect immediately.

    I know several on this forum who provide boat maintenance programs, most take it to a certain point and the manage work being done by yards. I can speak of two who manage every type boat you can imagine, some old, some not preferred equipment, but I never know of any boat he manages not being able to make a trip. We only manage our own boats and a couple of associates and we've never had a boat not ready when we had a trip planned.

    What I see regularly is people go for the bargain mechanics, not the premium yards. They go by occasional maintenance and not a regular maintenance program. Another thing a yacht manager does for you is a final check a day or two before your trip. A lot of people think they're saving money but in the long run are not. Now selection of yards or management services is an additional challenge but by referrals, interviews and checking all available information, you can find real professionals out there.

    Don't think these issues will go away with a trawler or single engine. Perhaps with a new boat, but depends on brand. No, the problem is universal and if I was having it, I'd be looking for another way and/or another person to maintain my boat.
  9. zen

    zen New Member

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    Iknownothing - Maritomo's look awesome, will keep that in mind the next time around.

    Olderboater - it's not anyone's fault. In addition to myself, I have decent mechanics and a good manager keeping an eye on it. Both recent failures were absolute last minute things with bad timing on parts/repairs (dead battery charger and bilge pump).

    Maybe I'm just getting frustrated dealing with the hassles that come with boat ownership, so a different question: What's the ideal 40-50ft boat to run around the bahamas, occasionally spend a night or three on when land accommodations are booked, button up and rinse quickly when you are done, minimal maintenance (ha!) One head, small galley, AC, etc. Maybe something like an Intrepid 410 Evolution? Am I fooling myself thinking something like that is more reliable than what I've got?
  10. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    A dead battery charger or bilge pump isn't a show stopper. It s a 30 minute (each) fix

    One head ? Means no back up...
    Small galley? You gonna eat cold sandwhiches?

    Yes you re fooling yourself... a small boat is less reliable than a larger one
  11. Iknownothing

    Iknownothing New Member

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    I'm sorry to disagree. Maintenance doesn't always equal a trouble free experience.

    The best tech won't be taking apart your air con sea water system to see if there is corrosion or pitting. No one is going to check if the factory accidentally ran a screw into the fuel tank or a wire loom.

    While I absolutely agree there are more hacks in south Florida, premium yards are not always the best solution. I am routinely called in to fix other people's mistakes. I'm not promoting myself and won't say my company name. I go to yards up and down the east coast because no one wants the liability of touching anything electrical.

    Ask around for suggestions if you have an issue, other captains, owners, etc will tell you who to avoid and who can help.
  12. Fletcher500

    Fletcher500 Member

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    It sucks when you spend a lot of time and money, and the boat lets you down in the summer when you are ready for some longer trips.

    First world problems, but many of us work very hard to have a boat.

    I have a 44 ft boat, 3 years old, and I was ready to sell it to the lowest bidder this spring.

    It is working again, lots of trips taken the past few moths, all is good.

    Regarding your question, I think there is some good advice on here. If you are looking for hard-core reliability but can give up speed, how about a single engine trawler? I was looking at the 43 foot helmsman trawler and it is a solid Asian boat. Still not ready to go in that direction, but perhaps when we retire.

    Good luck, I hope you get things sorted out
  13. ranger42c

    ranger42c Member

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    Amenities and simplicity are almost antithetical.

    You want a battery charger? Yes. But sometimes they die... any brand, installed in any brand of boat.

    You want bilge pumps? Yes, But sometimes they die (as do float switches)... any brand, installed in any brand of boat.

    You want AC? Yes. But sometimes they die... any brand, installed in any brand of boat.

    You want _______ (fill in the blank)? Yes. But sometimes they die... any brand, installed in any brand of boat.

    And so forth...

    Some "deaths" can be anticipated in advance, fixed before actual breakage. Some can't.

    Enjoy the boat you've got. Switching boats likely isn't going to change service issues. Unless you just want a good excuse to go boat shopping. :)

    -Chris
  14. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    There are some JD Powers ratings out there for boat builders, but that won't give you guaranteed reliability, as they don't measure down time/reliability, more like initial quality stuff.

    Growing up, our boat was our life, we worked weekdays for the weekends, we were on it 48 weekends a year. That gave us time to fix a bilge pump, keep everything ship shape and turnkey, so it would be no issue to head out on Friday night and comeback on Sunday with very little mechanical issues.

    The most reliable boats are maintained in this fashion, in my experience.
  15. bayoubud

    bayoubud Member

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    Continuous maintenance.....
  16. Liam

    Liam Senior Member

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    This! People are saying this and that, and the main problem I have encountered is most owners abandon the yachts during Winter and then they expect that everything will be a turn key experience.

    It is never like that. Even my small ten meter needs a month of fix after a couple months in the yard to get her in ship shape.
    The bigger the boat the more you have things to fix in that month.

    The sea is a difficult environment.

    Interesting last year I ran an Italian boat (Cayman 58 WA from 2005) with Kohler and Mans for 1000 nm trip and had no problems with the boat its electronics and the rest.
    What did I do, I use to check systems on a weekly basis from March till departing in late June.
    Only fault was a stuck bilge pump on the first day of the trip.
    I am one on this forum who would say Man are good engines especially the R6 lumps. But anyways to each his own....
  17. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Make that two satisfied MAN customers. On the boats we manage in total we have 5 sets of MAN's from 800 to 1360 hp and happy with all.
  18. zen

    zen New Member

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    All very true. A trawler appeals to me on many levels and I have a friend with the Helmsman you mention. While I'm fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule, it's usually only for 3-5 days at a time. So if I want to hit the far islands in a good weather window, I need to get there quickly.

    Regarding some other comments - the charger and bilge pump died on separate Saturday nights before planned crossings. Both items were replaced in less than 48 hours which is pretty good given the timing, but weather had changed and my visiting guests had limited time.

    And Pascal - I very much enjoy cold sandwiches :)
  19. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    You're the one who made it sound like they were issues that were serious and prevented your trip. Then you mention battery charger and bilge pump, neither of which would prevent a trip.

    With good maintenance, I don't suffer from a reliability problem. I don't know your definition of "minimal maintenance." Certainly an outboard Interpid with little equipment would be less maintenance than a cruiser, but still has it's potential. The less it has on it, the less maintenance. However, also the more critical an issue can be. One or two of many different things is more maintenance for backup.
  20. Prospective

    Prospective Member

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    Everyone will have their preferred brands of boat, motors, and equipment but my take on reliability is this...

    The more you use it, the less often things will be broken.

    That's for two reason. The first reason is simple math. On any given boat, X number of things are going to break in a month. That's boats. And if you only use it once a month then that's when you're going to find it, and it could be show stopper. Now, if you use it 3 times and that one thing breaks, then the other two times are problem free trips.

    Second, when you're on it all the time you are much more likely to identify things that are tired or require maintenance. So preventitive action is more likely.

    If you are the type of boater that likes to swoop in, jump on, and use it, then your only choice is a captain maintained vessle where the captain uses it and makes sure it is ship-shape and ready to go at all times. If you can't do that then you are headed for problems.

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