Which Factory Options Should You Take On a New Catamaran
Purchasing a new catamaran is an exciting undertaking. Getting the purchase right is critical. Unlike buying a new car from the dealer, there are certain items on the factory options list that you should not have the factory fit. You will save money, and the final boat will be set up more suited to your style of cruising. We will take a look at which factory options should you take or not take when ordering a new catamaran.
New Catamaran Pricing Strategy
Most of the main catamaran brands all follow similar pricing strategies. They start with a price for the basic boat, this doesn’t include much past the hulls and structure. Next, you need to choose one to three starting equipment packages. Starting at a basic package for the charter market, a mid-range package, and finally, an add-on luxury features and trim package aimed at the private owner who wants every option. Once you have decided on which starting package is for you, you may then select individual options from the factory options menu.
Some Packages Are Compulsory
It is frustrating when buying a new catamaran to find that certain highly desirable options may only be available in a package. By including options in a grouped package, you are forced to take other options you may not have opted for. Or worse may not even want on your new catamaran.
One catamaran manufacturer includes fabric trim installed in the cabins as part of their high-end trim line package. This is a good example that irks me. Fabric is a mold magnet but to get a storage compartment in the forward cabin, the buyer is forced to take the undesirable fabric trim as part of the option. Sure the fabric looks good at a boat show. After a couple of years, the owner will wish they had chosen the easy to clean basic wood finish.
Some packages aren’t optional at all. For example, Lagoon lists its ‘Essential package’ as an option whereas it’s impossible to order the boat without this package. As a prospective future Lagoon 40 owner (current 380 owners), I have tried to do this with two different dealers. One dealer even went back to Lagoon before responding. It turns out the ‘essential package’ is well essential. It contains most of the bits of the electrical system!
Lagoon isn’t alone in the ‘optional’ compulsory game. Of the big three yards, both FP and Leopard have various options that the boat cannot be ordered without. It’s all a marketing game, making the ‘basic’ boat appear cheaper than it actually is.
Why wouldn’t you take a factory-fitted option?
Many catamaran buyers think of a motor vehicle production line when they think of a catamaran factory. That is to say, buyers assume that if it is fitted by the factory it is built in during production. And it must be done correctly! Unfortunately in the case of boats, this isn’t always the case.
Some factory options such as upgraded engines are installed during production on the line inside the factory. However, it will come as a surprise that most factory options are installed by outside contractors after the boat leaves the actual factory. This is especially true in the case of the big French production cat builders. These options are installed during the commissioning process. This is a busy period and there will be multiple workers on the boat often from different outside companies.
Factory Options Commonly Completed by Outside Contractors During Commissioning
- Marine electronics
- Stack packs and canvas
- Bottom painting (including or lack thereof epoxy barrier coating!)
- Side Coverings
Does It Ever Make Sense to Only Take the Factory Options?
If you need to finance the purchase of your catamaran, the finance company will want the purchase done in one transaction. That is to say that unless you can afford to pay for the options out of pocket at a later stage you will be stuck with having to take factory options.
Taking Factory Options is Also the Logical Choice if:
The boat will be delivered to a location where marine labor rates are high and you are unable to do the work yourself. Or you are in a place where it is difficult to find or expensive to bring in components.
If you are on a tight schedule to leave the factory. Such as joining the ARC to cross the Atlantic soon after delivery. It may be worth deferring installing certain options until after the crossing. Things such as a 120v washing machine, sunshade, extra freezers, etc. Where parts could be cheaply shipped into St. Lucia duty-free as a ‘Yacht in Transit’.
New Catamaran Options You Should Take From the Factory
Before deciding on options to take on a new catamaran, why not take a look at our Ultimate Boat Evaluation Guide to spark some thought about what may and may not be important to you on your new boat.
Air conditioning ductwork is difficult to install after production. It is interesting to note that only one manufacturer, Leopard, offers the option to install air conditioning ducting only at the time of production. This is a nice option as it gives you the option to install ac down the line if you feel you need it.
Factory generator options are also worth exploring. This is one item where manufacturers seem to pass on their bulk buying discounts. TIP: Research, if the generator offered, is the best for your needs. If you’re looking to run your generator for extended periods at a time, make certain the generator the factory offers is a unit designed for long cycle times.
You benefit from bulk buying being passed on. You will save yourself a ton of research and back and forth trying to determine which prop size is best for your boat engine combination.
Cushions and Canvas
Making cushions look great is difficult to do. Unless you can make these yourself you will spend far more having a local shop make a one-off set of cushions. The same logic can be applied to canvas. For both cushions and canvas, you are best to go with the factory options on your new catamaran.
It’s just not worth the hassle of removing the factory standard toilets at a later time for the small savings you will achieve. TIP: Think if you want the added maintenance, and headaches that come with electric toilets?
The riggers who set up the boats for the factory are so familiar with the rigs that they are experts at the task. Again any savings you may make having someone else do the work will be fairly small. TIP: If you want to change running rigging for Dyneema have your dealer try to strike a deal with the contractor who will be installing your rigging to substitute Dyneema for the standard lines with you paying in for the difference.
Saving Money on Optional Upgrades
If you are looking to save a considerable amount of money and have even limited technical ability. You should seriously look at which of the factory options you can install yourself. At first, glance, installing a Chartplotter seems intimidating. However, when you look at it it’s no more difficult than plugging in a new TV and home theatre system. Installing a watermaker is a little more challenging, but not much!
Which Options Will You Save Money On By Adding Them After Purchase
The factory may benefit from bulk buying of marine electronics. These small savings pale in comparison to the high labor rates charged to install the electronics. GOOD to KNOW: Marine electronics even when purchased in bulk do not attract much of a dealer discount.
There is no one size fits all approach for watermakers even on the same boat model. The type of watermaker that is best for you will depend on daily water use, electrical generating capacity onboard, space available, planned cruising area, etc. One thing that is for certain, installing the watermaker yourself will save you money! TIP: Before having the boat antifouled and launched make sure you know the size thru-hull your watermaker will require and install (or have installed) in a location the watermaker manufacturer recommends.
Even if you don’t save money on the factory dinghy/ outboard combo, you may be able to find a dingy better suited to your needs by shopping on the open market. TIP: Bigger isn’t best with tenders when going offshore. A large center console dingy with a big motor may be cool to zoom around in but will be completely impractical in certain areas as you will not be able to beach it. Remember you also need to hoist the dingy on board each night. Even with electrical help a big dingy is tough to hook up to the hoists in a rough anchorage and may even hurt you.
Extra Fridges/ Icemakers
You will most likely find a better fridge/ freezer or icemaker at a far better price at West Marine, Defender or similar chandlery. Icemakers and fridges are not too difficult to install. TIP: If you are unsure of how to do it. It won’t cost much to get a local domestic fridge tech to do the final connecting and charging. There is no need to use a dedicated marine fridge specialist for this simple task.
Many manufacturers are not giving buyers the option of an epoxy barrier coat. These are also frequent complaints about paint falling off new boats from certain manufacturers. This is a result of incorrect surface preparation. Find a contractor to do the work with the condition being that you would like to inspect each stage of work. TIP: Make certain you have a barrier protection coating applied to your boat before the first bottom paint goes on even if the boat is advertised as having an anti-osmotic layer.
If you plan on going cruising we don’t recommend that you take the manufacturer’s anchor option. save your money and buy a new generation anchor such as a Rocna or a Mantus. If you have no choice but to take the anchor they supply, keep the anchor as a secondary, or try to sell it.