Custom or Production

Building a Custom Boat or a Production Boat

Having the distinction of being one of the more senior players in this industry, Ted Gozzard has been designing and building cruising yachts since the early 1970s when he founded Bayfield Boat Yard. Before he sold his shares in that company in 1979, BBY had delivered well over 1500 full keeled cruisers (from 25 to 40') sailing the oceans of the world. Like any modern production facility, they were able to produce over a boat a week of any given model. The shop was organized with production lines, all with dedicated crews working on specific tasks. The use of jigs and patterns allowed workers to focus on the job at hand which meant that, although they might be well trained, they did not require a high skill level. This reduced the labor cost which in turn reduced the manufacturing costs. But as with any production shop, it meant all the boats had to be the same, exactly the same, and there was no ability to change or modify the product without significantly increasing the cost. We know all about the advantages and the disadvantages of production boat building because we have done it... 30 years ago.

By 1980 Ted formed Gozzard Yachts to free himself of the full production encumbrances. With this new company came the freedom to build a boat without having to please a sales department (dealer network) or worry about harming (by outdating) an existing product line. These new boats were properly defined as semi-custom as limited production tooling was used to build the hulls and decks. But this time there would be no predefined interior design or equipment specification so the customer had the luxury of having the boat built any way they wanted. Of course this came with a price that was significantly higher than that of a full production boat but by using a blend of limited production and full custom (which became our trade mark) we were able to provide far more choice at a cost well within the reach of our customers.

Today our product is targeted towards a small segment of the market... after all. if you are among those who are happy with an ordinary boat, why would you pay to have it custom built when it is available at a significantly lower cost elsewhere. Our customers tend not to be satisfied with what someone else thinks is good enough for them and they do not like to be qualified or bracketed by demographics. Instead, by having a boat built semi-custom, you can choose to mount the microwave here or there or not at all... you can arrange the freezer storage any way you want... you can make the shower stall bigger or smaller or move it... you can change the size of the berths... you decide what head room is appropriate... you can select a particular equipment manufacturer or leave it as specified... and you can have all the options installed while the boat is being built rather than just being tacked on top or retrofitted to an already finished product by non factory personnel.

And it is more than just being able to select any hull color (and believe it or not, that is still a real problem for some manufacturers), you get to have input... a say in how the boat works for you. You can have the boat fitted to you and your requirements. It is a big investment and you deserve to have it match your needs.

These boats take a lot of time to build with even our smallest taking almost 9 months to complete. Each boat is built specifically for the client. The process starts by sitting down to discuss all the things that are important to you and what the intended use of the boat will be. You do this with the builder and the designer, not a representative. And you don't have to be all that experienced to know what you want... with a design portfolio and building experience that extends back over 20 years, we can make suggestions and bring to your attention any potential problem because we have seen them all before - in real life in a real boat. We can even mock up parts of the interior full scale to allow the owner to see if it works or feels right before committing it to final construction.

You must start by understanding a yacht is full of compromises. For example, moving the head forward might make for some interesting interior options but it will render the head difficult to use in a seaway. Knowing and understanding these compromises will allow you to develop the boat and select the best set of compromises that fit your intended use... It will allow you to build the best boat possible for your needs.

Yet some still believe they can buy a production boat, one that doesn't meet all their needs and is less expensive, and then modify it or upgrade it later. They can try... but sadly, and more often than not, they end up spending far more trying to get what they wanted rather than if they had just done it correctly from the start. Inevitably modifications and upgrades are always plagued with trouble as they can never be fully integrated... to be correctly thought out which can only be done from the start. Things like ease of access and ease of maintenance are not just a convenience; they can also develop into significant safety issues.

In conclusion, having a boat built for you will mean it can be far more comfortable and useable... especially for you. The only reason you would not choose a custom boat is the cost and we think we have that covered.