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Old 02-27-2021, 11:25 AM   #1
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Best Customer Support

As I begin to shop for a boat, possibly considering boats that may be 10 + years old, I would be interested in knowing which boat manufactures offer the best customer support; consultation with problems, tech manual and parts support, etc. Also, are there any thoughts on which boats should be avoided because they are just too hard to maintain without a good manufacturer support base? Thanks
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Old 02-27-2021, 11:44 AM   #2
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I can only give your information related to 2 US boat manufacturers. Both Nordic Tug and Amercian Tug have very good customer support. I owned a NT and was able to get questions answered and support from customer service staff in a timely manner, and always received good advise.
American Tug was great as well. At the time I inquired looking for info, even though I was not even an owner just looking at a used boat, Kurt was fantastic in replying quickly, completely, and I feel totally honestly.

There are also several NT owner associations, with many good sources of "been there, done that" info on their various sites.
Both boats are well made, and have earned reputations as being good investments (as far as boats go).
Hope that helps you in your efforts to gather this type of info.
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:37 PM   #3
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What size and type are you thinking of buying? Makes an enormous difference.... a Feadship or a Carolina Skiff?
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Old 02-27-2021, 07:24 PM   #4
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I think if you are looking for customer support you need to look at boats newer than 10 years old.

I just don't think you will get much factory support on a boat that old.

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Old 02-27-2021, 10:52 PM   #5
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I can only give your information related to 2 US boat manufacturers. Both Nordic Tug and Amercian Tug have very good customer support. I owned a NT and was able to get questions answered and support from customer service staff in a timely manner, and always received good advise.
American Tug was great as well. At the time I inquired looking for info, even though I was not even an owner just looking at a used boat, Kurt was fantastic in replying quickly, completely, and I feel totally honestly.

There are also several NT owner associations, with many good sources of "been there, done that" info on their various sites.
Both boats are well made, and have earned reputations as being good investments (as far as boats go).
Hope that helps you in your efforts to gather this type of info.
Those are good one; thanks.
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Old 02-27-2021, 11:13 PM   #6
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You may be right, but I would think you might could get some help with a brand like Grand Banks if you got in a bind.
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Old 02-28-2021, 04:40 AM   #7
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I have been very impressed with Kurt at America Tug
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Old 02-28-2021, 06:26 AM   #8
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Would be helpful to know general type/style/budget you're considering. Mainship? SeaRay? Fleming? Tug?

I don't think many boat builders understand customer service. Majority view their boats as fledglings - once kicked out of the nest, they don't even recognize the boat 20-mins later.

To their defense, boat builders are often more like contractors, not manufacturers. The electronics are often specified by the owner and installed by an independent company. Same with some of the electrical systems, pumps, etc. The builder constructs the hull, deck, and fittings, but many items carry their own warranty.

The most common brush-off is simply not responding. If they do respond, the second most common is "we have no idea what an owner did after it left our control." Fair enough, but that should not be a first line of defense. I have a friend who bought a 3-year old Horizon Power Cat 52 - a $1.5m boat that is still in production. He's reached out to Horizon for some semi-custom fittings that would be expensive to fabricate from scratch. Crickets.

Some builders view post-sales support as a strategic asset. 20+ years ago, Dan Streech, president of PAE once told me they shipped replacement parts to owners all over the world not because they were responsible, but for good marketing mojo. It worked.

But not to fear - I actually think strong user-groups are as least as important, if not more. When Willard was building, they took very little responsibility. But the Willard Boat Owners Group has been around for 25 years and is still fairly active with many good solutions. Mainship, Grand Banks, and others would be similar.

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Old 02-28-2021, 06:54 AM   #9
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For most boats expect ZERO customer support , although the internet gatherings can be a big help.
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Old 02-28-2021, 07:45 AM   #10
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My Grand Banks is 25 years old. I needed to replace a refrigerator door latch. GB said it could be located at their factory in Malaysia and would cost several hundred dollars. Later that same day they called me and said they located one on eBay for $23. Now that’s customer service.
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Old 02-28-2021, 08:17 AM   #11
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North Pacific--can call or email Trevor, the owner of the company
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Old 02-28-2021, 08:54 AM   #12
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Hatteras still supports their old boats. You can send for the "as builts" of your hull number, buy the owners manual blueprints of wiring and plumbing and so on.

Much of the support is provided by Sam's Marine, the spin off of their parts department staffed by very knowledgeable people. You call and give Sam's your hull number and they can tell you a whole lot about your specific boat, and what parts you may need (and they keep your info in their data base for future calls). They also host an excellent owner's forum. For me, this was a huge value to buying an old Hatteras, though I was fortunate that the various POs had preserved all the excellent original documentation.

Plus there are still a few guys around that actually built the boats, and Hatteras has not changed a lot of their construction and component philosophy over the years; I go on newer ones and immediately see the heritage in the systems.
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Old 02-28-2021, 12:50 PM   #13
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North Pacific--can call or email Trevor, the owner of the company

Leading reason i bought one. So far been great.
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Old 02-28-2021, 10:16 PM   #14
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Agree, North Pacific is excellent!
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Old 03-01-2021, 08:27 AM   #15
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It's not a trawler, but when we owned a Catalina sailboat, they had the best customers service ever. Anything you needed, they would put a real person on the phone to help you out. I had a rigging fitting get a crack in it that was so unusual I wondered if I would ever find a replacement when it cracked. They had one in the mail the same day.

Another company the same way, is Maxwell (the windless company). Same thing, I've emailed questions, and got the answer back in ten minutes.

Bennet trim tabs is another company like that. I know people who called up with a problem and ended up talking to Richard Bennet.
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Old 03-01-2021, 12:50 PM   #16
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We had an American Tug 34 and now a Nordic Tug 42. Both companies are still in business in Washington state and both are helpful with any questions you have on your boat. IMHO both companies make good boats.
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Old 03-01-2021, 01:03 PM   #17
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We're talking boats 10+ years old. I find that most of the builders who have been around 15-20 years and are still active provide good support. There are a few I could point out that don't. However, does that mean I wouldn't buy a boat from a builder no longer around or one that provides poor support? No, it doesn't. If the boat surveys well and is what I want then at that age I can get by just fine without the manufacturer. It's nice if they provide the support Hatteras and Sams provide, but not essential. I wouldn't have dared purchased a boat from Northern their last few years or any of their attempted comebacks but show me one built 20 years ago and surveyed well and it's likely a very good quality boat and the fact there would be no support would not concern me.
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Old 03-05-2021, 07:39 AM   #18
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We're talking boats 10+ years old. I find that most of the builders who have been around 15-20 years and are still active provide good support. There are a few I could point out that don't. However, does that mean I wouldn't buy a boat from a builder no longer around or one that provides poor support? No, it doesn't. If the boat surveys well and is what I want then at that age I can get by just fine without the manufacturer. It's nice if they provide the support Hatteras and Sams provide, but not essential. I wouldn't have dared purchased a boat from Northern their last few years or any of their attempted comebacks but show me one built 20 years ago and surveyed well and it's likely a very good quality boat and the fact there would be no support would not concern me.
That's an interesting point. We have an older Bertram motor yacht, now (1973). And, due to the changes Bertram has gone through, you don't get much support for the older boats from them (apparently most of their NOS was bought at some point by Hightide Marine, who does have a lot of their stuff). But, the good news is, you don't need much. Nothing ever breaks on this thing. Ours was built during Bertram's golden age and the workmanship through out the thing is amazing, compared to other brands I have owned.

A previous owner did replace the Cummins diesels with Yanmars, and trimmed the interior out with a lot of teak. Other than that, the thing appears to be as stock as the day it left the factory.

When we first saw it for sale, we really weren't interested in a boat that old. But, once we looked at it, and the condition it was in, and took into account the almost brand new engines, and a really good survey, we changed our minds.

We haven't regretted it.
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Old 03-05-2021, 09:44 AM   #19
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Not trawlers but Tiara in MI has great customer support. They helped me with my 20 year old boat on multiple occasions. Helped me source replacement parts and answered questions about construction/assembly. Viking also has a good rep for supporting older builds. I would add that a large owner base can be equally has helpful. Ocean, the maker of my boat went out of business around 2016. But they have a huge owner base with many owners active on other forums as well as on Facebook. Usually pretty easy to get answers which is the most important thing to me.
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Old 03-05-2021, 09:49 AM   #20
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Honestly, very little need for customer support for a boat. All of the components are third party. The boat manufacturer manufactures the hull and the deck, then marries them together. They then install all 3rd party components.

If the hull or deck break, you need a fiberglass guy to fix it. Everything else you're calling the manufacturer of the item itself (Engine, transmission, water heater, stove, electronics, Fridge, AC/Heat, Head, etc). If parts break you replace them.

It's not like owning a car. It's more like owning a house. Something breaks in the house, you don't call the builder. You replace the fridge, or call a carpenter, roofer, plumber, electrician.
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