Advantages of Owning a Quality Semi- Custom Yacht

By David Walters

May 29, 2015


By: Dave Walters

There is a significant difference between a quality semi-custom offshore cruising yacht and a production yacht. The man hours to build a semi-custom sailboat are 3-5 times greater than those needed to build a production boat and the material and equipment costs are much greater. The difference is not only in the construction, but in the design. The designs of most semi-custom sailboats make them more comfortable to sail offshore than the newer generation designs due to their heavier displacement and more sea-kindly hull and keel shapes.


The term “Quality semi-custom” refers to yachts built in limited production using fiberglass molds. These sailboats are built to order and offer the opportunity to customize and are built by small to medium sized companies. The designs are drawn to maximize the performance of the yacht and ability to sail safely in all conditions as well as carry extra equipment and tankage. Their superior engineering and construction offer an owner a stronger heavier built yacht that can withstand a grounding with limited or no damage. The extra hull thickness whether solid or cored provides the extra strength if the boat strikes an underwater object. Interiors are built with solid hardwoods and natural veneers. The cabinsoles are usually thicker hardwoods that can be refinished. Other important advantages are more refined engineering and systems installations. The extra labor invested in each phase of construction results in a quality finished yacht with better future resale, especially after the yacht is older.


Unfortunately during the past 20 years the ever increasing cost of building quality semi-customs has resulted in many semi-custom builders ending new production, especially for designs less than 55’. With the single exception of Morse, all of the quality semi-custom New England sailboat builders have ended production of sailing yachts 38’-54’: Alden, Hinckley, Shannon, Little Harbor, and Cambria are examples. Many well-known European builders Camper Nicholson, Sweden Yachts, Trintella, and Southerly - have also ended production. Asian builders including Tayana, Hylas and Passport are building limited numbers of new yachts less than 54’ and Taswell has ended production of sailing yachts.


There are still a few semi-custom quality builders continuing to offer new construction. In addition to Morse in the US there are Oyster, Hallberg-Rassy, and Nauticat in Europe and Hylas, Tayana and Passport in Asia. The cost of building any of these boats is at least double the cost of building a production boat. For sailboat buyers who want a semi-custom without incurring the high cost of new construction there is the brokerage option.


Fortunately, it does not cost much more to purchase a quality brokerage semi-custom and there is an excellent selection of pre-owned models built to the highest quality standard. The average semi-custom yacht offers approximately 25% more displacement, is stronger, has much better storage and higher quality interior woodwork and systems. There is also the extra pride of ownership of a yacht that has exquisite styling and a better proportioned hull shape for offshore sailing.


David Walters Yachts currently has one of the best inventories of pre-owned semi-custom yachts that include 22 models listed below: For detailed listing information, photos, or videos and to speak to the listing broker contact our Fort Lauderdale office. (954)527-0664,


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