5 tips for buying a new Outremer
Here are some tips based on my experiences purchasing two Outremer catamarans. I took the lessons learned from buying our 5X and applied them to the construction of our 4X. This worked well for us, Puffin was delivered on schedule at the estimated price. There were a few problems that came up, but nothing serious. I have listed these at the end of the post in Lessons Learned.
1. Write a master specification document
There are too many details to keep track of if they aren’t written down in a master specification document. Outremer will compile a list of the options you have ordered, along with the price for each item and will send this to you for approval before proceeding with the build. The Outremer list doesn’t contain all the details of how each item will be built, so you will need to provide additional details. For some things it’s simple and a detailed description isn’t needed, the color of the boom for example. For other items, a detailed description with drawings or photos is needed to ensure the factory fully understands what you are asking for. Locations of remote controls for electric winches for example.
2. Find out what features are standard
Your order will start with the standard boat, and then your optional features will be listed. It’s important to know what is and isn’t included in the standard boat, otherwise you may end up missing a feature that you thought was standard, but Outremer considers an option. Looking at photos of other boats or even the sales brochure may not help, because pretty much every boat has some non-standard items. In cases where I wasn’t sure, I listed the item in my master spec to be sure it wasn’t left out, but it’s impractical to do this with every standard feature. Best to have a thorough discussion with Outremer when you begin the specification process.
3. Visit the factory periodically to make sure your boat is being built to your spec.
Outremer has good quality control, but boats are incredibly complex, so it’s inevitable that some details will get missed or instructions misinterpreted. I wasn’t able to travel to France during the construction of Puffin, so I hired a local consultant that I trust, to do regular inspections for me. I worked with Sandie Moreno from Services Plaisance. Sandie is a certified delivery skipper and has thousands of miles experience sailing and maintaining multihulls, and has acted as owners representative on the construction of multiple large multihulls. She helped me with a delivery passage on Wildling when I was short-handed and I found her to be excellent, both technically and as a sailor. Sandie visited the factory multiple times to check Puffin’s construction against the spec. and she sent me photos of each item. She caught some things with our North sails that were not correct and a few minor construction details that Outremer corrected before delivery, which helped keep the project on schedule and made sure nothing was missed.
If you would like to work with Sandie, you can contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Schedule time to fully exercise your boat after handover
Plan to spend some time living on the boat after the handover week is complete. Be sure and go over every system and check its operation. Check for water leaks and loose fittings. Wash your boat and wipe the entire boat dry with a cloth. This ensures you check every square inch of the boat to find any scratches or surface defects that need to be fixed. Outremer will schedule a first warranty service for your boat soon after your sea trials and shakedown cruise. This is the time to get anything that isn’t quite right taken care of before you leave La Grande Motte.
5. Don’t forget it’s a boat
If you’re buying your first new boat, it may come as a surprise to find that your new boat will have some issues, and that things will break when you start using it. We’ve become so accustomed to new cars having no defects, and even no need for a service during the first year of ownership, but boats are different. They are hand crafted and hand assembled. There are thousands of individual components that have to fit together perfectly, and they operate in one of the most challenging environments on the planet. Your boat will have some items to fix, and it will require constant maintenance and repair even when it’s new. Outremer knows this and has an entire team dedicated to supporting new owners. This is why the service and support provided by your manufacturer should be one of the most important criteria when buying a new catamaran.
I followed the approach described above when building Puffin and everything went well with the construction of the boat. Sandie found a few things that Outremer corrected before launch and Puffin was delivered on schedule and on budget.
Only one of my specified options was not installed before delivery, the privacy curtain at the entry to the starboard cabin. This was due to a misunderstanding over whether it was an optional or standard feature (see Tip 2 above). Sandie caught this, but it wasn’t addressed prior to delivery. Not a big deal and Outremer will add it during the first warranty service.
We did have a few problems with the North sails. Sandie caught all of these issues before delivery, but after they had been installed on the boat, and it was too late in the process to correct everything, so North still has some work to do.
Here are the issues we had with our North sails:
- The 3Di Mainsail was delivered and installed on the boat with sail numbers on the sail. I had specifically ordered the mainsail with no numbers, but it was delivered with a sail number of ZZZ888. These numbers were each about 500 mm high, but neither North nor Outremer caught this. Sandie found it during an inspection and North removed the numbers before delivery with no damage to the sail
- The North spinnaker was the wrong size and the wrong fabric. North had no issues replacing the spinnaker, but it was too late to get a replacement made before delivery so we are sailing without our spinnaker until North can manufacture a new one.
- The Staysail bag is too small and does not fully cover the sail when stored on deck. Both Outremer and Sandie caught this, but North did not fix it prior to delivery.
The North sails on Puffin are beautifully made, so there are no issues with the sails themselves, but the quality control process between North and Outremer needs some attention. If you order North sails with your boat (and I recommend that you do) you should add an inspection step to verify the sails have been constructed according to your specifications before they are fitted on the boat.