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Old 10-10-2017, 10:18 AM   #1
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In case anyone on the west coast is interested in obtaining a non bias opinion of the Helmsman 38E trawler there is a boat test article in the October issue of Sea Magazine. While the photos used are not of boat the actual test run was performed on our H38 in San Diego. Hope you enjoy.

John
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:32 AM   #2
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While I'm sure the H38 is a nice boat, I have never read an unflattering new boat review. Those advertising dollars are important. Hearin lies the beauty of walking the docks, going to boat shows, talking to competitors and getting sea time.
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:43 AM   #3
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While I'm sure the H38 is a nice boat, I have never read an unflattering new boat review. Those advertising dollars are important. Hearin lies the beauty of walking the docks, going to boat shows, talking to competitors and getting sea time.
I also have never seen any less than stellar reviews in Sea Magazine. Seems to me that they are A) very selective on what boats they do review or B) get advertising $$ from the manufacturers to review their boats. Please don't construe this to be a knock on any of the vessels, it's just strange that every boat they review is perfect. Every boat I've ever owned has some flaws somewhere.
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:26 AM   #4
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Guys...

It could also be that boat manufacturers are building really good boats!

I think that is expected given that a new trawler sized boat costs several hundred thousand dollars.

While I am not in the market for a new boat, I read Sea magazine, and I think it’s really cool that the OP’s boat was the one used for the tests!
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:56 AM   #5
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Being in the business I can tell you the majority of boat reviews are either actually paid for (which are then referred to as "advertorial content") or tied to advertising sales ("If you buy X number of ads we'll do a boat review next issue").

Some publications use staff writers/editors or a semi-independent writer/reviewer that approach the article with an experienced critical eye. Sometimes they actually start from an enthusiastic standpoint, e.g. being excited to get aboard a brand new design from a venerable high-end boat builder. However, at the end of the day everyone knows who is ultimately writing the check. So the writer (or the editors) adjust accordingly.

Some publications just re-write the manufacturers written material and even include images provided by the builder. Even then, just publishing specs, photos, prices etc. is helpful.

For myself and our video boat reviews, we simply show as much of the boat as we can and talk about what we like. And if you love all kinds of boats like I do, it's easy to be enthusiastic. I purposely avoid finding what's wrong which, quite frankly, is just my opinion anyway. Actually, I don't like using the term "review" and have long tried to find a more accurate word, such as "tour". But the overwhelming majority of searches are for boat reviews. So if we want our video of the new Blah Blah 42 to get views, well I need to stick with that word.

That's not to say boat "reviews" don't have value. We all glean what we can from multiple sources, with owner comments the most important. Even then, there's often an ownership bias that comes into play that can sometimes cloud an objective perspective.

Sunchaser is correct, nothing beats just boarding a vessel and doing your own inspection. But not everyone can go to multiple boat shows. Reading and watching as many reviews as possible at least will help narrow your search and allow you to concentrate on two or three models that fit your criteria.
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Old 10-10-2017, 01:25 PM   #6
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While I think it's good to recognize the inherent prejudicial nature of boat reviews, let's not overlook their benefit. A good review includes test numbers and tells you the conditions under which they were obtained. It also gives you information on the features of the boat. Even in what is overall a positive review you can generally find glimpses of those things about the boat the reviewer would change. Sometimes it's their personal view only, such as one reviewer I know who would never have a lower helm on a boat 60' or under. But it might tell you the advantage of the optional engine, the one in their test boat. It likely will show and tell you if the ER is tight. They will tell you things that are helpful about the galley or the staterooms. I've read many reviews that indicated need for additional handrails or bars.

Read reviews with a discerning mind and not as one to tell you if the boat is decent but to help you understand how well it fits what you might be looking for. A review is an opportunity to learn more about a boat from a different person's perspective. I've even read reviews where the reviewer said, "I'm 5'11" and had an inch or two additional headroom in the stateroom or ER or hallway." Well, for me, that would tell me quickly not enough headroom for me. The reviewer might be impressed by something I find unimpressive. Great example is to say the boat at WOT gets 18 knots and cruises at 14 and with the optional engine is capable of 21 and 17. Well, to many that is nice. I read it and think, "darn, it's too slow."

Here are a couple of excerpts of the helpful nature:
The anchor is mounted to a stainless steel roller embedded into the bow. Wed like to see a cleat for securing the rode when the anchor is deployed to take the load off the windlass, which is not recommended by the manufacturer.
The engines are conspicuously absent sea rails but there are grab rails overhead, but high for shorter captains.
I find both of those observations valuable.

I will also echo what ksanders said and that is that most boats built today are well built. Now, there are builders I wouldn't consider either because of their ethics and integrity or their inability to meet their commitments or often because of their lack of financial stability. A reviewer isn't going to disclose those things, nor are the reviewers even capable of doing so. Their review is going to be within the imaginary walls around the boat. The big differences in boats today is the uses to which they can best be put. Also, the price range in which the boat fits. A review isn't designed to tell you a Sea Ray isn't a Feadship. It also won't tell you about warranty service or any dealing with the builder after the sale.

I could definitely write more insightful reviews. Only a couple of problems. Would have no advertisers so no magazine and would not have any more boats made available for me to review. Even Consumers Report reviews have bias though. I use to read their outboard reviews and they'd do all outboards between 50 and 60 hp. Then, shockingly, they liked the 60 hp better than the 50 and 55 because it was more powerful.

So look at reviews carefully, understanding the bias, but you can still learn a lot from reading them.
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Old 10-10-2017, 03:06 PM   #7
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John, it is pretty cool to have your boat featured in the mag and it sounds like you guys put a lot of thought into how you wanted your 38 to be built. I do like Helmsman and back when we started our search this was one of the first brands in our potential candidate list. I especially liked the large ER access door and we did meet Helker at one of the trawlerfest events. ultimately we went a different direction but i do think the Helmsman makes a good balance of tradeoffs and great use of living space.
The one in the article looks like it has light gray(?) hull topsides, or is that just the way it was photographed?
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Old 10-10-2017, 03:32 PM   #8
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John, it is pretty cool to have your boat featured in the mag and it sounds like you guys put a lot of thought into how you wanted your 38 to be built. I do like Helmsman and back when we started our search this was one of the first brands in our potential candidate list. I especially liked the large ER access door and we did meet Helker at one of the trawlerfest events. ultimately we went a different direction but i do think the Helmsman makes a good balance of tradeoffs and great use of living space.
The one in the article looks like it has light gray(?) hull topsides, or is that just the way it was photographed?
I was impressed and sometimes shocked at them during the build process. John's changes all the way through would not have been well received by most builders.

Now, I just guess I'll wait until the article hits their website and see what they had to say.
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Old 10-10-2017, 03:43 PM   #9
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I don't know if this is intentional but at least when i looked it up, it seemed the on-line version was free to access:

October issue
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Old 10-10-2017, 03:58 PM   #10
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I don't know if this is intentional but at least when i looked it up, it seemed the on-line version was free to access:

October issue
Thank you. I was unable to find it yesterday but maybe I was in the wrong spot.
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Old 10-10-2017, 08:59 PM   #11
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Being in the business I can tell you the majority of boat reviews are either actually paid for (which are then referred to as "advertorial content") or tied to advertising sales ("If you buy X number of ads we'll do a boat review next issue").

Some publications use staff writers/editors or a semi-independent writer/reviewer that approach the article with an experienced critical eye. Sometimes they actually start from an enthusiastic standpoint, e.g. being excited to get aboard a brand new design from a venerable high-end boat builder. However, at the end of the day everyone knows who is ultimately writing the check. So the writer (or the editors) adjust accordingly.

Some publications just re-write the manufacturers written material and even include images provided by the builder. Even then, just publishing specs, photos, prices etc. is helpful.

For myself and our video boat reviews, we simply show as much of the boat as we can and talk about what we like. And if you love all kinds of boats like I do, it's easy to be enthusiastic. I purposely avoid finding what's wrong which, quite frankly, is just my opinion anyway. Actually, I don't like using the term "review" and have long tried to find a more accurate word, such as "tour". But the overwhelming majority of searches are for boat reviews. So if we want our video of the new Blah Blah 42 to get views, well I need to stick with that word.

That's not to say boat "reviews" don't have value. We all glean what we can from multiple sources, with owner comments the most important. Even then, there's often an ownership bias that comes into play that can sometimes cloud an objective perspective.

Sunchaser is correct, nothing beats just boarding a vessel and doing your own inspection. But not everyone can go to multiple boat shows. Reading and watching as many reviews as possible at least will help narrow your search and allow you to concentrate on two or three models that fit your criteria.
While I'm not I a position to debate your assessment on how the process may work I can honestly tell everyone I didn't receive any compensation for the sea trial and don't believe Scott did either. I offered my time and boat just to help boaters see the amazing "value" these boats offer.

John
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:17 PM   #12
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While I'm not I a position to debate your assessment on how the process may work I can honestly tell everyone I didn't receive any compensation for the sea trial and don't believe Scott did either. I offered my time and boat just to help boaters see the amazing "value" these boats offer.

John
Obviously you're biased and the reviewer is going to be positive. However, I felt like it was an excellent detailed review. If I was considering the boat I would have learned a lot of valuable information. I would have picked up on things I liked and things I didn't. To me, that's a great value.
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:54 PM   #13
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While I'm not I a position to debate your assessment on how the process may work I can honestly tell everyone I didn't receive any compensation for the sea trial and don't believe Scott did either. I offered my time and boat just to help boaters see the amazing "value" these boats offer.

John
John - Sorry if I was unclear. The majority of boat reviews - not all - are often times tied to advertising commitments or payment for placement. However, any form of compensation definitely does not go from the publication to the manufacturer or owner, but rather the other direction. I also am not insinuating that was the case between Scott and Sea with the review of your boat, as I have no personal knowledge of the situation.

I do know we have "reviewed" Helmsman Trawlers in Cruising Outpost magazine that Scott did not pay for, and he has never advertised in the magazine, either. In fact, we have spoken to many manufacturers about "reviewing" boats in Cruising Outpost and we have been told, "But I'm not an advertiser, and I'm not planning on being one either." They are always surprised when we say that's not a problem, as we want to put boats in the magazine our readers would be interested in.

However, even when a review is tied to payment or advertising, just like BandB said they are still beneficial and you can learn a lot from them. They serve a valuable service for all three parties involved: the publisher (content), the manufacturer (exposure), and the reader (information and/or entertainment).

And most owners of new vessels that I've been involved with for a review are like you, very enthusiastic and happy to show other boaters what a wonderful vessel they have. You are proud, and rightfully so. You have a very cool boat! I like the Helmsman line, and have actually had a few conversations over the years with Scott about having us do a Pacific NW Boater video of a new Helmsman. Maybe someday we'll do one (I'm just now working on a video of the new North Pacific 44 Sedan).

Now let's talk about magazine's "Boat of the Year" awards... Just kidding!
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:50 PM   #14
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I like to read boat reviews regardless, as long as they are truthful, and by far, most are. With a lot of new boats, the negatives may not be even known.

Reading the magazines with all the pretty pictures and specs are great, and can wet out appetite.

I like the BoatTest.com ones. They are pretty positive, but occasionally mention something that "might have been better if".....

If you want some negative reviews, look at David Pascoe. I like his, too, and he really tells it as he sees it... no fluff.

A lot of us are not new buyers, and it's also nice to see older boats reviewed. Pascoe and BoatTest have a ton of them.
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:17 PM   #15
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I feel for the poor OP

He was happy, and a bit proud that his boat was featured in a review.

Then it turns to this...

The way I look at it is like I think BandB mentioned. Iys not a critical detailed review, its a tour of the boat.

Look at it like that and enjoy the reading
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:39 PM   #16
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John, it is pretty cool to have your boat featured in the mag and it sounds like you guys put a lot of thought into how you wanted your 38 to be built.
I've had the pleasure of touring John's boat as he is a dock mate of mine and I can testify to the excellent quality of the boat. At 38 feet, the inside room is fantastic and the overall looks have everyone on our dock impressed. If I were in the market for a single engine trawler with a terrific layout I would be hard pressed to find anything better than the Helmsman 38. Truly, one hell of a lot of boat for the money!
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Old 10-11-2017, 12:00 AM   #17
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If I were in the market for a single engine trawler with a terrific layout I would be hard pressed to find anything better than the Helmsman 38. Truly, one hell of a lot of boat for the money!
It's a quality boat at a reasonable price. Doesn't make it right for everyone but for many it's a perfect match. And the average person will know much more about it after reading the review.
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Old 10-11-2017, 07:21 AM   #18
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I feel for the poor OP

He was happy, and a bit proud that his boat was featured in a review.

Then it turns to this...

The way I look at it is like I think BandB mentioned. Iys not a critical detailed review, its a tour of the boat.

Look at it like that and enjoy the reading
Kevin, nobody has said anything negative about John's boat. The facts are just the opposite. For nearly two years now he has received compliments regarding his new build. The underlying issue raised by John's post is that Sea and many of its brethren are advertising vehicles. A read of Sea will show that.

TF is one of the few sources where a few realistic boat issues can get raised. Very few at that in this PC world it would appear.

But back to John's boat. I'm impressed because he walked from the seeming invincibility of a Nordhavn to a coastal cruiser while maintaining standards and quality. To me that is the back story. I doubt any magazine will touch the reality of people buying a new Nordhavn and then relegating it to on shore duties.

As we recently considered a nearly new Nordhavn a few weeks ago, my wife and I had this exact discussion. How much boat do we really need? John's 38 answers this question and could well have been a few insightful paragraphs in Sea.
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Old 10-11-2017, 09:45 PM   #19
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John, it is pretty cool to have your boat featured in the mag and it sounds like you guys put a lot of thought into how you wanted your 38 to be built. I do like Helmsman and back when we started our search this was one of the first brands in our potential candidate list. I especially liked the large ER access door and we did meet Helker at one of the trawlerfest events. ultimately we went a different direction but i do think the Helmsman makes a good balance of tradeoffs and great use of living space.
The one in the article looks like it has light gray(?) hull topsides, or is that just the way it was photographed?
I believe they used a photo of the light gray hull boat in the magazine. I really like the color, it reminds me of my first Nordhavn. Funny that after N1 I had to have an all white boat and built N2 that way. Our N35 had the gray hull. Overall I believe all boats should be white, but that's just me.

John
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