Our find loop boat requirements exploration, narrowing
We looked through every possible builder of boats in the 40-65 foot range we could find. From Yachtworld to google, you name it.
The vast majority however were quickly eliminated by a few factors. Speed eliminated traditional trawlers. Yes, we're greatly in the minority here. Just knew ourselves. We got use to 50+ knots on the lake. Rough water capabilities eliminated some. Most of the British and Italian boats were eliminated because of things like tender storage (most either tow or carry on swim platform) or range (most have incredibly short range as they have large engines but small tanks).
There was one design we loved at the outset but what we saw as the builder's standards and outstanding lawsuits and documents we read eliminated them from all consideration.
Draft, both water and air eliminated many.
Of all boats we've ever purchased this one became the most complicated and most difficult to match our needs.
Ultimately we narrowed it down to two primary builders.
Grand Banks was the first. We evaluated the 59 Aleutian and also slipped a bit and evaluated the 65 Aleutian. They met almost all our requirements well, except the 65 was outside length requirements. Height would require hinged masts but that was no issue. Draft slightly more than ideal but acceptable. Builder trustworthy but a lot of turmoil among owners and board that disturbed us as did their lack of profits and being on the Singapore exchange watch list. Now very recent events make us feel a little better about their future. Building in Malaysia would involve a good bit of travel on our part or someone representing us. The 59 met our needs at a very high score. Something over 90%. Some big pluses such as the optional crew cabin giving three staterooms with three heads but for occasional use a fourth with a fourth head. Only real negative we found was the refrigeration/freezing capacity.
Now to the typical looper we fully recognize this would not be the right boat as it would be too inefficient fuel wise, too big, and they'd be paying for things that not only they didn't need but didn't want.
The other was Hatteras. Hatteras once had some great smaller MY's and even LRC's and many here have those. Today their one model that might fit is a 60. Wonderful in so many ways. Great builder. NC. Not far away. We even have family near. One less head than GB but that was livable. No problem hinging arch to clear. Draft actually less than the GB. Fuel usage worse, considerably. Full size refrig/freezer plus more below. One big negative on our part. They are building most of these without a lower helm. As such we don't think they really thought the lower helm through enough. Even on their larger boats the very slanted windshield very much restricts vision. First just in height and second in reflections. Also as the Hatteras tends to be a bit bow high especially in planing the lower helm is less than perfect there. We did ride in a 60 and pretend we had a lower helm. This pushed advantage to GB.
So decision made. Well, not quite. We kept looking at a 65' boat a builder we know well use to make but eliminated it as their smallest size. We mentioned it. Well, one thing leads to another and the mold and tooling still there and all in place and since they like us so much. Now we have no idea if it will even have a brand on it when built. Might be B&B. Going to be built in slower time, low priority. Pretty much being done as a personal favor to us for now, although could resurface later. But yes, we ended up doing this. So how did it evaluate. Well, US built. People we know well, trust well. The boat meets all our requirements very well except one. It's too long. We realize that will give us docking problems occasionally on the loop but have mapped the entire circuit and found it to be ok. (Boat is actually 69' with platform). Exceeds our requirements in many ways. three staterooms, three heads, plus crew cabin and head. Lots of bridge space. Accommodates 15' RIB.
Oh I did leave one thing, one very important out of my requirements post. Interior height. I'm a little over 6-4. Big problem, literally. But all three of these boats accommodated. The BandB (for lack of anything better to call it at the moment) even has a master stateroom that accommodates a king size bed easily as it's a full width stateroom.
As to sea trial, we did get a day on an older one. As to survey, we do have a surveyor in that area who will watch build and survey after.
Had we not gone this route we would have gone with the GB Aleutian 59.
The point here isn't what we chose or even our requirements. It's the process. Don't try to jump to choosing without doing requirements. Don't decide to forego sea trial or something as close as possible in a new build or survey. And we scream to get a survey even on a new build. This will force things being fixed pre-delivery and not post. Biggest suits I'm aware of all involved boats that did not pass survey and were taken on delivery under the guise the builder would correct. One was guaranteed to be Veritas classed unlimited and insurance was bound based on that. Veritas wouldn't pass it. Oh it is still available on the used market as it has been since almost the day it was built.
Good luck to anyone ever purchasing a boat. Following the right process doesn't guarantee success nor does taking shortcuts guarantee mistakes. We're just talking about improving the odds of not the right boat, but the right boat for you.