View Full Version : How much is tech support worth?

Jeff Fuchs
03-22-2001, 04:22 PM
I am in the process of studying boatbuilding for my future project, which may be years in the future. I'm considering various designs, but the costs vary for the same plans. For instance, Iain Oughtred's Grey Seal looks like a good choice. Duckflat sells the plans for $315 ($642 Ausralian Dollars). Woodenboat sells them for $275. Not a huge difference, but Duckflat says that the cost also buys support for builders. As a newbie, I may need this, but I don't know for sure.

What experiences have you had with support from design suppliers? Does Wooden Boat Magazine offer similar services to its customers?

03-22-2001, 06:37 PM
Depends on the boat, the completeness of the plans, your experience and how much you want to "individualize" your boat.

If you are building a day salier as your second or third boat, you can proabaly dispense with on going support. If it is a popular plan,it is probably fairly complete and you can probably get advice here.

OTOH, if it is a fair size cruiser you better make sure that access to an experienced member of the designer's staff. Most larger plan (for example most of the Bruce Roberts designs) come with lines, layout, structural drawings and some detail but you are pretty well left on your own for most of the systems and other details.

John and I exchange e-mails on a regular basis. My custom design cost a LOT more than than what you are talking about but it was still the best money I have spent on the boat.

Greg H
03-22-2001, 06:37 PM
I would say in regard to Ian's plans, buy them at the cheapest you can find. You can call him with any questions. Plus get his book, very helpful.

Tom Beecroft
03-23-2001, 04:47 AM
Jeff, Duckflats have a good reputation and the support would be probably worth the full amount and more if you were in Australia. But I'm not sure how much support you can reasonably expect from Adelaide (South Australia) to New Iberia Louisiana.

The folks in Adelaide have likely never seen a bayou, use 220V power, different wood, metric measurements, and I ga-ron-tee don't know jack about gumbo and jambalaya. Plus they're 16 1/2 hours ahead of you (once your DST starts and ours stops). So when you're working on your boat Saturday morning, they've already started partying for Saturday night.

The make great red wine, though.

03-23-2001, 10:52 AM
Or, buy our plans from Iain, ask him you questions if you have any that can't be answered here. I sent my questions on a piece of paper leaving room for him to write the answers and include an international postal coupon. His answers come back in a couple of weeks. He also publishes his phone number.

I wouldn't bet he bothers to use the coupons and may never get around to cashing your check but ya gotta love his boats.


03-23-2001, 09:25 PM
If you are a first time builder and don't know the difference between good plans and bads ones go for all the support you can get. Personally, I would go for the support even with high quality plans.

Get study plans (not just pictures)first so you can see how much detail the designer is giving you. Ask if there are material spec sheets and material lists with manufacturers names, etc. Don't expect to build a big boat with only two or three sheets of "plans" unless you know about boat building already. It can be done but will be a pain in the axx and take longer.

Ditto with the Bruce Roberts plans as stated above. The ones I saw left a LOT of decisions up to the builder.

My suggestion is not to skimp of plan costs as good ones will save you money, time and the heartaches of decision making. Find a designer in the USA that is easy to communicate with.

My 02.

Bill P.