Michael Kasten 52 ft. Valdemar | Yachtsmiths PEI

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I will never forget my first visit to YachtSmiths International — who we eventually selected to build our dream — when Brian Smyth (one of the two guys that runs YS) told me that there would undoubtedly be changes along the way as the boat went from 2D drawings to 3D metal, wood, glass and equipment. I confess I did not believe him, but he turned out to be quite correct. Once the boat begins to take shape and you start climbing on and in it, suddenly little design alterations that never occurred to you appear out of thin air and, sometimes, what looked great on paper doesn’t seem to be what you envisioned initially. Being in the space can be quite different than simply imagining it. A good. Flexible and imaginative builder is an absolute must.

Michael Kasten / Yacht Owner

Excerpt from a trawler yacht blog posting by the same client

A Blog Poster Wrote:
While 50′ would be nice, any talk of 50′ boats raises the investment substantially. Building in North America will put a 50′ budget north of $1m fairly easily

Yachtsmiths’ Satisfied Client Replied:
That is not necessarily accurate. I am building a 53′ Aluminum passagemaker in Nova Scotia (which is a little more expensive than steel). I can tell you from real live, recent experience — since I have been writing the checks or wiring the money — that my final build price will be less that a million, and when I started the exchange rate was much worse than it now is.

It can be frustrating to find the correct builder, and that is a process in and of itself. I did get bids and estimates for more than a million (one was for a lot more). The two estimates from the two builders I narrowed the list down to were both under a million dollars (and I am going the aluminum, controllable pitched prop, wing engine, flat screen, and nice electronics route; it is not an extravagant build, but it is far from minimalist).

I visited and interviewed both (which is an absolute must, of course, when you start building a “one of a kind, never been built before” boat). When I selected my builder I was convinced, and still am, that I has found the right builder, with motivated and dedicated owners and professional, hard working employees, who would work with me to do everything possible to get the price to a reasonable figure.

I will share a quick story with you that I have not even told my builder. It was one of those moments when I knew that I made the right builder choice:
Very shortly after construction began and the frames started going up I got a call from the builder asking me if I could come up to talk about some design and build issues (remember how I mentioned how they warned me that some things would look differently in 3D than what you may have envisioned by looking at a 2D drawing). Anyway, when I went up to Canada to see what was up and walked into the building where my child was being built . . . there she was all shiny, with frames, a partial deck, etcetera.

I knew from my interview visit months and months before that the owners’ office was upstairs, and as I headed over to go see them, some guy walked up to me and stuck out his hand to introduce himself. He was obviously an employee and obviously a “welder type” of a guy. Anyway, he came over and said “you must be the owner”, which I acknowledged was the case. I thought he was just going to point out where I should go to find the company owners and my contact, but he introduced himself, told me his name, and — I swear, I will never forget this — he thanked me, actually thanked me, for selecting the company he worked for to build my boat and told me how proud and honored he was to build it for me. He actually used those words — “proud and honored.” He told me that he wanted to let me know that he and everyone else working on my boat were going to do everything possible to make sure that they built a strong, safe, and reliable boat for me.

I am sure I thanked him and mumbled something, but I don’t remember what. I am a trial lawyer by training and profession and I am not often caught speechless, but I was then. This was just some guy with a welding torch getting a paycheck every two weeks. He didn’t own the place; he wasn’t making big bucks or the profit; it wasn’t “his” company, he was just a guy on the line working paycheck to paycheck. I have got to tell you, I knew right then and there that my partner and I had selected the right builder and that we could trust what would go on there.

That is probably a little bit afield from the blog poster’s initial point, but if you find the right builder with the right motivation who wants to work for a fair price as opposed to trying to dig as deep into your pockets as they possibly can, you can build a nice 50+ foot passagemaking-capable boat here in North America. I know. I am doing it.

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