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Boat Building

I was thinking prior to putting my thoughts into words how different sailing is to motoring, which equates to how very different sailboats are to power boats. This may seem obvious but at the same time to me there aren’t huge differences.

I speak Spanish and English. They are each a language but different. The same with sailing and power boats. Taking this a step further: rod and reel sport fishing is quite a bit different than operating a commercial fishing boat, walking out on an extended plank on the bow of the boat and harpooning a swordfish. It’s amazing to me that years ago we put a man on the moon but even to this day the appropriate way to harvest swordfish is by harpoon. Incidentally, I strongly support this method of fishing.

Briefly, I’m sad to admit in a portion of my previous adult boating life that our state and federal government were extremely misguided with regards to the commercial fishing area. The state charged an extra fee (funny how that happens) and allowed gill netting in state waters. The ten year or so period this was allowed, a major portion of swordfish, thrasher shark, tuna, other shark species, sea lions, porpoise, and many other species were killed by this lethal form which I cannot in good conscious call fishing. It was extinction. The federal government, naturally for a fee, issued long line permits to the Russians and Japanese. We witnessed the same results as the gill nets.

The gill nets were sometimes miles long and the net openings allowed for much larger percentages of “accidental catch” than the swordfish and thrasher shark species desired for the market place. The Japanese and Russian long lines were 10 to 50 miles long, and when they left an area they achieved the same “accidental catch” as the gill nets but on a much larger scale.

I beg you to help me and others to stay vigilant and make sure these money oriented foibles never occur again by our sometimes misguided bureaucrats. Our ocean now provides much, much smaller swordfish and thrasher sharks for our dinner tables and everyone I know who was aware of these events predicted this dire outcome, reluctantly so. Lack of common sense and money was the motivation throughout this process!

As mentioned in my inconclusive sailing column this week, I will now pass along more information with regards to the new boat building process of vacuum bag resin infusion fiberglass construction.

We have become aware of several failures of structural integrity also in large power boats.

Ocean Alexander, which has a dealership in Newport Harbor, has for a long time built their fleet of power boats in Taiwan using these methods. The international, national and local magazines I regularly read has substantial advertisements noting the superior build and quality control of these new vessels from about 50 to 100 feet. They may be coming around to the potential substandard methods as their new 120-foot model is: a) being built in the Pacific Northwest by an American company and b) not using the vacuum style method of construction.

The international yachting media in Europe and the Mediterranean have reaped numerous accolades and new boat awards for the new 120-foot yacht. Kudos to our friends up North for their accomplishments!

Reliable sources in our local brokerage businesses have mentioned to me that several deals on 80-foot Ocean Alexanders have fallen apart when structural deficiencies were found upon close inspections as part of the sales process. It is no secret that the 101-foot “Jelly Bean 2” Ocean Alexander was in a Los Angeles Harbor shipyard for more than six months to correct hull deficiencies that I believe occurred when the yacht was built. Rumor has it that the repair bill was around one and a half million dollars and the owner was outraged after spending millions of other dollars for his purchase of several Ocean Alexanders. The thought that his family and friends were in jeopardy of a catastrophic accident which could have happened deeply disturbed him.

In conclusion, buyer beware! Use a reputable broker and marine surveyor, and listen and consider their advice prior to placing yourself, family and friends in a possible explosive and perhaps deadly situation.

Remember the other golden rule; the most important part of boating is safety! Be safe, and then follow the second most important part of boating: have a good time!

Sea Ya,

Skipper Steve

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