Wharram Builders and Friends

A Photo & Discussion Forum for Wharram Design Enthusiasts

I'm a boat builder to trade and I am totally sold on Wharram's to the extent that the boat I am building for my own use is a Pahi 63 of which I will use upon it's completion as my home, office, charter, workstation, etc.

However some professional Yacht Brokers I know in the business don't share my opinion. Keeping their personal opinions aside they say the Wharram's have little or no re-sale value, mostly amateur built and of ply construction there is no consistency in quality, therefore they usually sell at a loss in the post build and re-sale market.

Looking at the Brokerage lists I can't argue, I have seen "costal trek" and "ocean class" Wharram's both unfinished projects and proven boats go for less than the material costs.

I don't build Wharram's professionally most of my work is tied up where it is in demand in the "plastic fantastic" Gin Palaces and Honeycomb core Carbon Racers, mainly repairs and insurance work. However I do look at the Wharram's fondly and think of building a few low hour costal trek designs just simply for the pleasure of the build alone and the satisfaction I get from my work. If there is anyone out there that has a different story to argue the Yacht Brokers opinions I'd love to hear it!

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I agree. It's pricipally the material that turns off potential buyers, as well as, to a lesser extent, the spartan amenities and the uncertainties involved in buying an amateur (unknown quality) build.

I don't see why the design couldn't be adapted to fiberglass, either to a half-mould (hull and deck molded together and joined on the center line, or strip planked in foam and epoxy like the Farriers for one off builders. Given that the hulls are almost developable surfaces, there's no intrinsic reason why they could's be made up on a flat surface and then bent into place like the KISS boats. All of this would take some structural adjustments in the design, as well as adapting all of the details. I don't see that there is any advantage to the Wharrams in going to the trouble of producing new plans for home builders (they probably wouldn't sell many more plans than they do now) and there's really no commercial market for these boats at the price a professional would have to charge for it to be profitable for them. I've wondered if someone couldn't make a business in kits or molded hulls, but I think the market is just too small. The small boat (skiff, kayak, canoe) people like Chesapeake Light Craft are doing OK, but the price of their kits and the size of the project is much smaller, and they sell thousands of kits and plans, I just don't see the demand for Tiki 38 hulls, knowing that there are thousands of labor hours left to turn them into a boat, and very few people are going to sign up for that. In short, there's a reason we are where we are, and I don't think the situation is going to change much.

I could probably sell my 38 for about what I have in it, leaving the time spent constructing it a dead loss economically. But I don't care that much. I wanted to build a boat, and, ultimately, I wanted to build this boat because I like its spirit, and the journey has been worth what I payed for it. I think that's mostly in line with the Wharram's vision for their designs, and mostly the motivation of most of the builders, at least the ones who succeed. And at the end we have these great boats to go sailing around in.
When one looks at the variety of Wharram boats at for sale the vast majority are at best in need of substantial TLC and many are in need of complete refits. Many people who build Wharrams do not have strong building skills or substantial sailing experience. JWD claims that their boats can be built much quicker and weigh less and will cost less to build than is actually true in most cases.
When the primary goal of a boatbuilding project is to minimize cost then one should expect that the resulting vessel will reflect this philosophy. When I told my wife were going to build a spec boat she thought I was nuts. When she could became aware that I had decided to build a Wharram she went berserk. The Wharrams she had seen over the years had all been definitely on the ratty side and she did not want anything to do with a ratty boat. I believe that there are many people who are fans of Wharram's designs but are put off by the available boats. There are also many people who would rather do what they do well and pay a professional to build a boat that they can be proud of. We have taken our Tiki 30 to several boat shows and we have folks say that it looks like a Wharram, is it a knock-off? Most folks have never seen a Wharram built to professional level of finish. When a boat is built professionally to high standards then one should expect to pay a commensurate price. If one is bottom feeding then one must normally adjust expectations considerably. We have now sold two new Wharrrams and are currently in negotiations with several more individuals for new boats. By the way the nice Tiki 30 for sale that has been pitched for ages 8 months off and on) on EBay was not built by Andy Smith. Andy is in the Philippines. My firm in Jupiter Fl is Boatsmith Inc.
I certainly understand the thrill involved with building ones own boat and the pride associated with this endeavor. I built my first boat at age 13 and have been hooked ever since. I happily support everybody who wishes to go this route and have answered many queries as to how we do something or why.

We currently offer the Tiki 8m /26' in foam core glass construction. We can provide just bare hulls to complete boats. We will soon have molds available for a 36' Tiki. We are at this point prepared to build a Tiki 38 or Tiki 46 in foam glass. As soon as someone commits to buying a T38-T46 we will foot the cost to build a hull mold for this boat.
The idea that it is easy to build boats for profit is ludicrous. It certainly is not something anyone does without some kind of passion involved. I make my living primarily working on high end sport fishing yachts and large motor yachts. Building sailboats is something I do for love. But we only build what we can sell. When we sell the Tiki 30 we will build ourselves another spec/demo boat. Until that time we are enjoying one of the nicest Wharrams in the world and we also enjoy the constant stream of compliments that the boat receives.
We have been offered $250,000 US for Peace IV (Tiki 46 launched in 2002) but do not wish to sell. This was not only one offer, but three different offers over the years. Someday we may be interested in selling, but not yet. Peace was surveyed 8 times during the build, has had a new suit of sails, is getting new engines this summer, has new chart plotter, and is well maintained and built to plan or with designer approved modifications. We used Okume marine ply throughout. Folks say she is well built. Our connection to Wharrams is well known. We sell plans and if the builders live on the US east coast, we often stop by to see how they are getting along. Have made many good friends through the Wharram connection. Mostly a hobby. Not a earner job.

I think a live aboard boat can have a hidden value - she is not just a toy, but also a house. I used to have a Shannon 28 as my single hander live aboard boat and Shannons have an excellent resale value. I was visiting my son in his low rent student style apartment years ago and found out what he was paying for rent and I did not have much money at all in those years either. I divided what he was paying for rent into what I paid for my old Shannon and figured that if I lived aboard that boat for just a few years, she would not owe me anything because I lived well on her. I was at anchor the way I wanted to live and was not paying marina fees or apartment rent etc. When I sold that Shannon 28, I got about what I paid for her although I had put new sails on her and lots of offshore equipment too. But I figure that the money is not the main point. I was living cheaply and was enjoying myself and keeping within my budget. Living aboard is so cheap compared to living on land, that saving can be added in if you are live aboards. I have lived aboard for over 20 years now on the Shannon 28 for 6 years, on a barge for 8 years, and on this Tiki 46 for 8 years. I love living on the water. I have not been marina based. I am not fond of restaurants. We do live simply and it is a pleasure for us to live that way.

OK. We have a porta potty. We do not use a lot of water. We use very little electricity. Actually that is ok with us. We like it that way. We have just come from Florida where we had a family aboard for a week. The family were delightful and plan to live aboard and wanted to see how we managed cruising on Peace. They were not used to low water use. Probably they will want a water maker when they move aboard the boat they bought while they were with us. Probably they will want lots and lots of computer and electric use too because they enjoy that. They wanted to learn how we cruise and we like to look at stars, take a sponge bath, see the sun rise and sun set, go to sleep early and wake at dawn, etc. The family love electric gadgets and sleep in after staying up late. They can surely arrange to put all that stuff on their boat. Lots and lots of cruisers like that stuff. Wharrams can do it just as well as the other boats. No problem. Plenty of solar panels can fit topsides and away you go. You can have marine toilets and pump outs, personal computers for each person aboards, long hot showers, and all that jazz. Wharrams can do it. Build it whatever way you want and live the way you want. We like it simple. WE actually LIKE IT BETTER that way because after 20 years, it seems more sensible to us.

Somebody said it is like living in a rabbit wharran with all the hatches. Well, one time we had a couple making love in the starboard aft cabin which we call the honey moon suite. Three guys were talking engines in the galley. Nev was in his work shop forward in that hull fixing something a friend brought over. I was in the port forward area where I keep bosun stuff and epoxy, fiberglass and paint. Somebody needed a shackle. A young mum was nursing a baby in the aft port hull. somebody else was napping in the forward port berth. Women were swapping recipes on the foredeck and some others were pulling out charts from the deck house and telling favorite anchorages in the cockpit. That is 8 gatherings all functioning easily without anybody bothering anybody else. Try doing all that on a Lagoon. Try doing all that on a Fontaine Pageot. You can't. Only a Wharram gives you that much privacy. We had a Christmas carol sing in Bahamas and 44 people came. We were all on deck with instruments and joy. Try that on one of the production cats. Can't do it! Only works on a Wharram.

What value do you want to put on Nev and I (we are old folks) being able to go on deck naked in the middle of the ocean and do what we wanted in the bright sun shine on that wonderful fore deck? Most production cats have no level deck space for that. We were comfy and safe out there and the boat was gentle out there in mid Atlantic. We had energy to spare and room to enjoy ourselves. Just that memory. How do you put a dollar figure on it? We simply laid out a sleeping bag on the deck slats and had lunch etc each day that it did not rain.

What is nice is having that family with us and the kids loved sitting in the foreward netting. One or the other parent seemed to be napping a lot. Deciding to change lifestyles and go cruising full time is a big deal. They were talking, dreaming, taking action, and needed naps. Peace catered for that. Kids often went to their rooms and did quiet activity. Peace catered for that too. How do you value that? Two families with very different values happily managing aboard one boat. Easy on a Wharram.

I think lots of folks try to just do arithmetic when putting values on things. I think you gotta look farther than that. I hope these ideas can be seen as a step in understanding a little better how I look at economy and freedom and lifestyle. We have a three bedroom home here. Renting an apartment would cost a lot more. Renting waterfront property would cost a bundle for sure. Think about it. I cannot imagine living this well on land for such a small budget. Impossible! After 60,000 miles of cruising, I think the Wharram makes sense.

Love, ann and Nev (written as always by Ann)

OK. Perhaps a lot of Wharrams are poorly built or the builders have wild ideas, or do not finish. My husband wanted to build a big catamaran. He was not going to be contented until he did. THAT IS THE MAIN POINT! You want to build a boat. If you build a Wharram and stick mainly to the plans, you get a safe boat. Sailing them and living on them is fun. Living this way is satisfying. If you want to live like they do on Wall Street, then ok. We wanted to build a big cat. We did it. We like it. The years of building were what my husband wanted to do. Earlier he had volunteered to help several friends building boats. It is his pleasure and his dream. Not everything has a money value. Take children, for example. A dead loss financially. But what pleasure!!!
It is too bad that more people do not understand what many Wharram sailors already know. As usual, you are preaching to the choir. Hopefully, more people will be drawn to the lifestyle that Wharram Catamarans offer.

It is not about resale value, but about the freedom that comes from building your dream and then sailing the ocean in safety and class.

Maybe one day more people will "get it."
Wow Ann, very well said. Thank you for taking the time to put it together that well.
Thanks Ann, Well thought. Well said.
Excellent and well said Ann & Nev, you should write a book on your experiences you seem to have the Wharram philosophy down. My time as a liveaboard has yet to come. I started dreaming of the Pahi 63 when the design first came out but I couldn't afford it then so this has been in the pipeline for a while. My ideal boat started with my profession, my first build was an 8ft dinghy sold it and kept trading up. The boat I'm finishing now is a Sailwind 28 GRP Monohull with 10ft on the beam (someone elses abandoned project, the boat is 20 years old and hasn't seen the water yet) upon it's completeion I'll be cutting my ties with the land and moving onboard. Then and when if needed it will be sold to finance the finishing of the Pahi. It was a long journey, the countless hours of mixing grinding fibreglass and the countless rashes because of it. The trips back to college to get my qualifications to keep up with the demands of the EU and the RCD. If it wasn't for the plastic population and all the money wrapped up in fibreglass yachts I wouldn't of got here. I think now of how much more pleasnt the journey would of been if was done through building and selling Wharrams but the re-sale value wouldn't allow that.
In my career I have come full circle the Pahi 63 is the biggest project I'll ever be involved in and because of it's size a lot of the work is subcontracted which leads to it's own problems, now I'm only interested in small craft. Boats I can build and sell myself up to 24ft max so you don't have to look too far to see the finishline and I don't have to wait too long inbetween paycheques. Again I would love to build something like a Tiki 21 just for the heck of it, sail it around a bit and then sell it but if I do so, it looks like I'll be doing it at a substantial loss and regardless of how much I love Wharrams that just dose not make any sense to me.
Wow! A timely discussion indeed. Thanks to all, but most of all Ann and Nev. I have my own wharram advertised for sale elsewhere on this forum, price $AUD is there. I am thinking about withdrawing her from sale, and this read may have helped me to hang onto my dreams. Ann, she is still a lovely boat, as before her pacific crossing - I just need to find time (the quarantine service inspector commented that he had seen a lot of wharrams over the years, but this one..nice, very nice). I have been informed of a number of wharrams whose owners have indeed sold them very, very cheaply. I could easily give in and join those ranks, but if we think about a total of 25 metres of hull, and 7 years of work - I dont care what I have to do in a few years, let the others give their boats away. Then again, I found a Narai in an old internet ad that sold for over $100K US. It is a funny world, this one of boats - a lot of it is built around perceptions. Think about the America's Cup contender of a few years ago - pro built and designed, the best of everything that the elite of yachting could produce for her task - until the thing broke in half. Up until that instant, the pinnacle of boat design and construction. Wharrams, with half a century of succcess in their niche...I am sure you all understand my point - they just keep on with their designed task. Hmm, next time I get the "hippy boat" comment I will use this comparison!
Wow,
I was a little hesitant to say what I did about resale value, but I guess you have helped me feel more secure. thanks for the support. I really thank you all so much for "getting it" so easily. Keep mixing glue.
Love, ann and Nev
Now I've the experience of the building of our Tiki30 and her sale 5 years after the launch I can tell you it's not the good way to get money. I'm sure, only the new owner will have the possibility to make money ( or to loose only a little) when he'll resale she.
She cost me a total of about 35000Euros (without tools) and I sold she for only 30000Euros.

I used high quality plywood and brought a lot of improvements with a good finish.It's a good argument for the sale but due to the low Wharram market value it seems impossible to get money from your own work, and in fact the almost 3000 hours of work has been a gift for the new owner..........Perhaps with less hurry to sold she it could be possible to get a little more?

Happily, I took a lot of of pleasure and learned a lot during the building and after during the 5 years sailing.........

The fact is we live in a stupid society where very often the market value is completely disconnected from the real value : very often it's not the workers or artists which create goods which make the more money, but some resellers or speculators with only a phone or a computer are able to make a lot of money on the back of the workers.........

Bertrand
Hi all, just to advise that I have just sold my wharram for a figure that both the buyer and I consider fair. Both happy. Out of respect for the buyer, I cannot discuss figures, but as said, very fair to both parties. The market does seem different around the world - some places and people respect Wharrams more than others. Where to for us? Time out for a while, but I do not intend to remain boatless. Alii-Nui is a great boat, was kind to us, and if you see her out there, say Hi to the new owners - great people, will do her proud - and I was happy to hand her over to them.
How about an analogy, automobiles. If you go looking for an automobile, most buy a new car or used car. How many build their own car? A new car is expensive, compared to used, but building it yourself might be the most expensive way of all. Plus, your version of car may not be to anyone's liking and it would be worth less than an ordinary car. Then you have custom cars that can sell like pieces of artwork. Something to think about when you begin building your own boat. The boatyards can order supplies at wholesale prices and organize their workforce efficiently. They can produce a boat of high quality at a lower price than a self builder. Of course these boats are designed for volume production, for charter, or for the most plural denominator. If you like creating things with your hands, then the boat you build is a pleasure to create, then you have exactly what you want, and you get a double bonus that is of value to yourself and maybe not to anyone else. If you have to sell it, the payment you get is only icing on the cake. You can build your boat and sail it too, unlike the cake.

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