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Thread: BB385 - pros and cons

  1. #1

    Default BB385 - pros and cons

    We are seriously considering ordering a new BB385. We are aware of the chequered history of the BB brand and will obviously ensure protections are in place should we go ahead and order but we would be really keen to hear from present owners what you think about your boat. Reading various blogs and forums there does seem to be a consensus that basically the BB385 is a good boat against which I suppose one has to balance the fact that no one likes to admit they made a bad choice!

    If you were ordering your BB385 from new what would you change? What problems did we ought to be aware of, what issues have cropped up and what needs watching? Is there anything you regret not having installed at the time of build? Are there things you specified but now regret including or simply don't use? All advice very gratefully received.

    We'd also be keen to hear from anyone who has direct experience of similar Lagoon and Fontaine Pajot models.

    In anticipation, thank you.

    Trevor & Jo
    Last edited by Trevor and Jo; 20th September 2009 at 05:51 PM. Reason: typo correction

  2. #2

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Hi Trevor & Jo,

    We have one of the last BB385's 'Tiger Toes' Hull #34 that came from the old BB owners. On the whole we're still really pleased with the boat. The normal snagging list as with all new builds was one of the main headaches. (Leaky hatches, duff calorifier and the wiring was different from the schematics in tha owners manual!) As the old BB owners were not very good at QC and customer service was lacking somewhat, this took the very Sqeaky cog approach to get things done! Thankfully after 9 months this was all sorted.

    'Tiger Toes' is all coded up for commercial skippered charter through our company Breakaway Sailing. One of the successful charters that we offer is a 2 day catamaran experience that allows clients to get fully hands on with the boat and put her through her paces. We also get to hear all about the other boat designs too from our clients! It's always very interesting to hear how it compares.

    In a nutshell:
    Pros: The boat is extremely robust with watertight bulkheads (absent on many cats - especially the ones designed for the charter market)
    A rig, that is in my opinion over engineered (no bad thing).
    The aft sail rig is very easy to manage single handed and realistically still sails up to 35-40 degrees apparent!
    Tacks well in flat waters without backing the genoa or easing the main

    Cons:
    Solid boat means she is heavy and generally takes a little bit of wind to get going. Not a fast catamaran but 8-9 knots waterspeed easily achieved.
    Steep solent chop and the solid bridgedeck means the boat needs the genoa to be backed and the main eased, otherwise she can stall halfway through the tack. Slapping does occur when sailing to windward, however, this isn't half as bad as you would expect with the low bridgedeck clearence and solid foredeck.
    The main winch and clutches were installed too low (rectified later I hear!)
    The Genaker lines need adjusting so they do not rub on the cockpit sides

    As we skipper charter the boat we get to see varied conditions. Last week saw 30-34 knots gusts and the boat was a s solid as a rock. 2 reefs in the main and 3 in the genoa. This gave us 5-7 knots. As with all heavily furled headsail systems its was doing its best to destroy the sailshape too!

    The only extras that we had put on the boat:
    reacher on prodder - A must for downwind work
    Autopilot
    Rear heads/shower on Stb side
    Walk in shower on Port side
    The 20hp volvo's are great when coupled with Bruntons! Thus saving money, weight and fuel.

    We installed everything else after the boat was delivered. This saves 's!!!

    If you would like to come down and see us in Chichester marina then just let me know.

    I hope that helps!
    Mark

    http://www.breakawaysailing.co.uk
    'Discover a different way to sail!'

  3. #3

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Mark,

    Thank you so much for such a comprehensive and swift response.

    That's all very helpful. We've heard complaints that the quality of finish on recent boats has left something to be desired.... I think this related to the boats manufactured by the recently 'bust' company. Was yours built before that? As I'm sure you are aware the BB brand is now under the control of new owners having lead a fairly troubled existance.

    We had anticipated that BB385s were not as fast as the more recent Lagoons/FP's but having looked at the new offerings from these manufacturers at Southampton last week we were pretty underwhelmed by the quality of finish. The Lagoon 400 really did look like an advertisement for Formica knocked up by Ikea or B&Q. Such a shame because the basic design concept is right, it's just the penny-pinching execution lets it down. The quality of the FP Livari was much better but we felt did not score so well in cabin and heads layout.

    I think we would love to take up your offer of a chat and visit to Chichester. Are you in Chichester Premier Marina? We are currently moored in Gosport and the manager there has just moved to be manager of Chichester. His name is Graham, nice chap.

    Again, thanks for all the advice. We are off to Guernsey tomorrow to pick up our Prout Quest and sail her back to Gosport ready for sale. Sad really because we love the Quest and have spent a fortune on a major refit but we realise now she's just too small for what we want so it's very important for us to make the right decision on the next boat.

    If we may we'll be in touch soon after we return.

    regards T&J

  4. #4

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Your welcome, no problem at all.

    The boat is 2008, so just at the end of the old BB!
    Yes we are in Chichester Marina (Premier)

    My number is on our website so just give me a call on your return and we can arrange a time.

    Have a safe trip back and speak soon.
    Mark

    http://www.breakawaysailing.co.uk
    'Discover a different way to sail!'

  5. #5

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    First off - I can well recommend going out with Mark on Tiger Toes. A great setup and a thoroughly nice guy I speak as a customer....

    (Cheques to the usual place please Mark!)

    However, I'm struggling with Broadblue a bit. I doubt anyone will deny there have been a few quality control issues on both the 385s made in Poland and the 42/415/435 made in the UK. The delamination issues on the 385 would worry me considerably. Of course, that was the 'old' Broadblue, and I'm assured these issues are being addressed...

    I'm also not sure I could buy from the new 'Broadblue' company. The 'new' 415 was due to be at Southampton wasn't due to some financing issues, and whilst I'm sure thats all innocent enough - it would take quite a leap of faith to put down a deposit to have a boat built to order from a small company in the current climate. How confident are you that the company will be around to honour warranty issues?

    Perhaps I'm overly conservative, but I am a potential customer - and my concerns are steering me away from Broadblue for now....

  6. #6

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Hi Rick.

    Many thanks for your kind words! Most appreciated.

    In reply to your comments on the delamination issue we had. This was again solely down to the poor QC from the old BB! I would urge anyone who buys a brand new boat, let alone second hand to get a full hull survey done. I wonder how many new boat owners think that their hulls are perfect from the off! (rightly so!) If there are any problems then this will only arise when they come to sell the boat. Making them have to cough up the monies to put things right as the boat is no longer under warranty!?

    After we had our delamination issues addressed it was Multihull World (who were the brokers back then) who paid the GRP guy! Not the old BB. If they are willing to do this when they didn't own the company then i think this only strengthens their commitment now they are the new co-owners!
    Mark

    http://www.breakawaysailing.co.uk
    'Discover a different way to sail!'

  7. #7

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Fair points Mark. I would always suggest a survey on a new boat, ideally done a couple of months before the warranty runs out. It can certainly help (assuming the builder remains in business!) and gives you the best assurance that nothing untoward lurks out of sight!

    I think part of the Broadblue problem was precisely because MHW fixed problems, that feedback did not 'hurt' the Polish builders - so build quality never improved. Closing that loop is something that the 'new' Broadblue is doing apparently.

    I know that in the past some builders have been able to offer bank-backed guarantees for the sums involved in a build. Whether you can persuade any bank to do that now is an interesting question and would certainly ease the worry in a potential customers mind....

  8. #8

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Thanks very much for the useful feedback.

    All appreciated - we are very anxious to make the right decision as it's a large amount of dosh and the boat will be our home for six months of the year for the next ten years or so.

    Trevor & Jo

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
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    2,817

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    I only know multihullworld from the broker standpoint, but can report that I was very happy with them. Very professional, and willing to go the extra mile.
    Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Given the amount of bad publicity BB have generated over the last few years, I would steer away from them for the foreseeable future, as any boats carrying the brand name will most likely lose more value in the second hand market.

    Having the hulls built in Poland, or anywhere far from home, without a good and reliable surveyor looking over the builders shoulders will always be a bit risky.

    Have you guys thought of a custom build, or maybe a semi-custom?

    What about a Freydis, or an Outremer?

    Alan

  11. #11

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    I agree it's such a shame the old BB company allowed a handful of boats to come off the production line with such poor QC. However, the rest of us BB owners (and there are a lot of us i'm sure) are more than pleased with the finish of our Catamarans (afterall, it was the solid build and high quality of finish that lead us to buy the BB brand in the first place!).

    I, for one will hold judgement until the new boats come off the production line. Why would the original owner and a reputable brokerage put their name on the line if they didn't believe in the product???

    It would be interesting to hear from other BB owners who are chuffed with their boat and finally start to move away from the negative views brought about by the 'OLD' BB!
    Last edited by Tiger Toes; 22nd September 2009 at 01:04 PM.
    Mark

    http://www.breakawaysailing.co.uk
    'Discover a different way to sail!'

  12. #12

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Hull delamination immediately after build is neither easy to discover nor popular with the builder but I think it's important to make sure that this it is discovered before a boat is delivered and corrected at source. That not only fixes it for the current boat but, most likley, also fixes it for future boats.

    The problem is that how do you ensure that confidence is transferred to the new owner without incurring significant extra cost - even before this thread my thoughts were along the lines of employing a well known multihull surveyor to survey each hull prior to despatch from the factory - however, several problems arise:
    1. There is an on-cost to this, can it be recovered in the market price of the boat when no other manufacturer does it?
    2. Will the factory chosen surveyor be accepted by an owner as independent?
    3. Should the surveyor be paid by (or perhaps half paid by) the buyer to ensure independence?
    4. Should the buyer be encouraged to find his own surveyor, even though one particular surveyor has already done 90% of all the BB surveys done in the UK and already has significant experience in this matter?

    Comments on this would be welcome as it is certainly an issue I'm wrestling with at the moment and reflects the perspective of the current Broadblue owners with regards to delivery genuine quaility products to buyers.

    Thanks,

    Mark
    If god had meant us to sail monohulls he would have given us one leg shorter than the other!


  13. #13

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Quote Originally Posted by Nordic View Post
    Given the amount of bad publicity BB have generated over the last few years, I would steer away from them for the foreseeable future, as any boats carrying the brand name will most likely lose more value in the second hand market.
    I'm pleased to say that this isn't reflected in the sale price of boats sold todate. On survey they seem to fare a little better than most other brands - there are some repeating themes on Broadblues which need addressing but none of the major structural issues that seem to arise with other brands I see surveyed.

    Mark
    If god had meant us to sail monohulls he would have given us one leg shorter than the other!


  14. #14

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Quote Originally Posted by Splash Out View Post
    I'm pleased to say that this isn't reflected in the sale price of boats sold todate.
    You have the advantage over us, of course. However, I believe the BB42 that was in Gunwharf for some time sold for considerably less than the original (and even the reduced) asking price. Which was a shame, as I think I missed out on a bargain

  15. #15

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Don't worry too much Rickp, there are rarely any bargains......and a good deal is where both buyer and seller are equally as disappointed!!
    If god had meant us to sail monohulls he would have given us one leg shorter than the other!


  16. #16

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Thanks everyone for your responses. The observations re delamination and general hull integrity are very useful. I was unaware of those issues.

    Assuming the Polish factory/Broadblue are able to prove things have improved, albeit with visits from an independent surveyor, may I ask what aspects of a BB385 you think are great and what not so good.

    AUTOPILOT
    What autopilots do people use? Can they cope with light airs, heavy seas, wind from all directions?

    ENGINES
    What size, what make?

    ELECTRICS
    What's everyone's experience with solar panels and wind generators? Again, what makes and models are prized and which ones to avoid?

    HEATING
    As we plan to be in the Med let's hope heating will not be needed but even there there can be chilly nights so what have people found works? I know some people have fitted Eberspacher hot-air systems (we use that currently) while others have a hot water 'radiator' installation...good, apparently, in the heads for drying towels. What are your experiences re heating?

    All advice gratefully received.

    Trevor & Jo

  17. #17

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    The Raymarine autopilot setup seems to work very well for us. We have had no problems with it wandering or struggling to keep course in heavy seas. As it works off the hydraulic steering it doesn't draw much power either.

    We opted for the Mikuni wet heating system which we installed in the watertight bulkhead behind the master cabin. You can hardly hear it! This supplies heater matrixs with thermostat & 2 speed fans in the cabins, Towel rail in the main heads and 2 radiators in the saloon and stb midships. It also supplies us with hot water through the calorifier instead of the engine.

    We too are looking at Solar & wind chargers so it would be interesting to hear what people recommend.
    Mark

    http://www.breakawaysailing.co.uk
    'Discover a different way to sail!'

  18. #18

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Mark,

    Thanks for that. I'm not familiar with your heating system and will now Google away.

    We have Raymarine autopilot on Starquest and although initially it was useless once Greenham Regis installed the software update it's been brilliant. Good to know it works well with larger boats too.

    As for solar/wind options; The Rutland wind generators seem to be almost silent. We've been moored next to boats with them fitted and can't hear them running even in a stiff blow. Some wind generators make an awful racket. No idea how the Rutland units perform in terms of charging, reliability etc.

    Apparently the latest solar panels are efficient and a big improvement on previous technology but it would be good to hear from anyone who has fitted and used them. Big appeal of solar is that it's totally silent and in the Med a reliable source of energy....unlike here!

    We are now (just) back in the UK and will be in touch shortly to see when's convenient to meet up.

    All good wishes

    T&J

  19. #19

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger Toes View Post
    We opted for the Mikuni wet heating system which we installed in the watertight bulkhead behind the master cabin. You can hardly hear it! This supplies heater matrixs with thermostat & 2 speed fans in the cabins, Towel rail in the main heads and 2 radiators in the saloon and stb midships. It also supplies us with hot water through the calorifier instead of the engine.
    A wet system is definitely the way to go. If you have the desire, you can also add an aircon to the same circuit, so you could have heating in winter and cooling in summer (or when you head off to the tropics).

    The Kabola boiler is the ultimate version (in my view), but is too heavy for a cat I think. After that, Webasto, Mikuni or Eberspacher hydronic seem to be the next level.

    I'd also add a separate electric heater to the towel rails, as its nice to be able to heat them without having to run the whole heating system (eg. in our wet summers) - but that depends on if you have mains power easily available and how fancy you want to get.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Bay View, Ohio
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    549

    Default Re: BB385 - pros and cons

    Back to an earlier response, I would think that in marketing, a company which could point out that all its hulls were surveyed at the factory by an independent surveyer would more than recoup the cost of supplying such a survice. As to maintaining the independence of said surveyer, it would seem that outsourcing would be a first step, and perhaps putting the surveyer's name on the boat or its papers, so that the person would know that if a poor job was done, it would come back to his personal integrety. There is no foolproof system, humans being what they are, but I feel that would go a long way. I would certainly feel better about looking at dropping a lot of my hard-earned on a product which was produced at a factory where they were willing to submit ALL product to inspection and certification. Just my opinion.

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