gbasport - quality/warranty - update

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Tourer
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gbasport - quality/warranty - update

Post by Tourer »

Dear all,

I recently phoned Jim Morissey regarding my warranty issues

http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... t&start=30

and he quite simply told me to fix it myself, carefully avoiding to respond to written communications.

As for handling in rough conditions it mainly does what it says (unlike a lot of other makes, P&H Quest for one).

With following seas it broaches a bit, but that is well controllable, surfs but not at great speed, tolerates well side waves and clapotis.

The skeg helps a little but not that much.

In flat water I found it hard to accelerate much beyond what I think is around 4 knots.

In strong cross winds ~ 7 it goes side ways - the foredeck could be lower for that.

Despite the claim it is not a day boat - I tried to push it to its limits by putting a friend in and me on it (both >90 kg) - in theory 180 -200kg capacity, it still didn't go under. Sitting on the aft it just submerged, sitting on the foredeck it didn't.

No surprise that with some extra ballast of 4 kg front and aft it is rock solid in rough seas, without at times a little whobbly but never scary like my previous Quest.

Arguably the volume should be a lot less, less rocker, more length at waterline for speed, max width ~ 52-53cm, the aft lower for easier rolling in a lay back.

Less volume and more waterline should make a much faster equally rough water suitable boat.

Look at all those factors and what you get in a production boat is a NDK Explorer or something like it, Skim Dex, or a 100% native design like the Anas Acuta or Bjoern Thomasson's designs who copied from East Greenland lines.

Regards

Rainer

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Ceegee
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Post by Ceegee »

Rainer,

This has been discussed ad nauseum

http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... t&start=30

What part of "you get what you pay for" don't you understand? Of course it "handles". It's an Aled Williams hull (sort of) - just not the build quality.

Steve

Tourer
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Narwhal/Xcite or what and for whom ?

Post by Tourer »

Dear Steve,

if you read through the thread mentioned you will have noticed that the issue is not just one Polish company product quality while we don't know as yet that much about Plastex that now makes them now because very few are out so far for a short while.

Or if you don't like my views then maybe read and listen to what D. Wilcox has to say about larger Uk manufacturers, in a more carefully worded way, or what others say elsewhere.

The industry seems to be stuck in a 1970ies time warp, forever struggling with skegs and seat problems. The only thing really new is cockpit sizes adapting to growing midlines. Easy to get in - easier still to fall out, more often than not without thigh hooks, let alone adjustable ones..

It simply isn't true that more money gives you a better boat.

There are a awful number of nicely painted flawed and dangerous designs around, with hit and miss quality.

----

Xcite/Narwhal and similar designs who and what for:

1.: total beginners in sea paddling of > 80 kg at least will enjoy it, as it gives confidence and is not as slow and heavy as PE boats, takes easily a 110 kg person, probably a lot more, with the seat moved forward 10 cm then trimmed almost right.

Slams a lot in chop but that partly is a trim issue and doesn't bother me that much. Doesn't nose dive and broach like e.g. Quest in steep waves.

Skeg has jammed only once, and has a protected wire, made by Kayaksport, but handles reasonably without skeg anyway, unlike other designs.

NOT a day boat, at 366 Litres, if that's a true figure, but is less sensitive to trim than other designs, due to the extreme rocker and hard chined mid section.

So something suitable for centres/coaches, without resorting to chunky PE and as such targeting price and marketwise some of the NDK boats.

Angling and photo trips.

Who else:

Advanced and solo paddlers who take to tide races and in rough conditions who want that reassuring primary and secondary stability.

Not for:

petite persons < 70 kg.

Experts with a bomb proof roll under all conditions who enjoy a fast paced high angle work out and covering a distance at speed should look elsewhere.

Regards

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Ceegee
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Post by Ceegee »

OK Rainer, I'll take the time to spell it out. No one is arguing that the "major" manufacturers don't have the occassional QA/QC issues, but you started the thread out with a list of complaints specifically re: the "Narwal", namely:

Bungee used as deckline, leaking hatches, leaking cockpit coaming, poorly fitted foot rails, low quality deck fittings.

You followed up (this thread) that the distributor basically told you to PO and fix it yourself!

Now most reputable manufacturers A) use quality fittings, including their own proprietary designs, for hatches, recessed lines etc, and B) have some level of aftercare, especially with "warranty" issues.

I am simply pointing out that GBA is (to my knowledge) a contract manufacturer who were turned down for the manufacture the Excite by Tiderace because of quality issues (heresay?) but pirated the mould, and went into "competition" against their former client.

1) given that they were not up to the original Tiderace production standards, it seems unlikely they have improved when manufacturing under their own "brand".

2) they undercut the genuine article by only about 20% in western Europe, but by a whopping 50% in the home market (Poland), so they are not exactly cheap compared to the original!

3) they obviously use cheap and inferior accessories and are slap-dash about fitting them (i.e. your complaints).

I take issue with product piracy. You would not expect a Bankok Rolex immitation to be of the same quality as the original, but at least they are not similarly priced and do not purport to be suited to the same task, or appeal to the same target market. Unless otherwise informed, this could happen in the case of GBA v. Tiderace. Your original post was very welcome, drawing attention as it did, but IMHO strayed off point in becoming a critique of manufacturers' quality issues in general without recognizing the particular issues here.

Your last comments loose me somewhat, the Narwhal and Excite would be expected to have similar performances and applications, seeing as the former is a "copy" of the latter. As such, you are pointing out that it is a stable day/play boat for heavier paddlers and suited to beginners and advanced solo paddlers alike "who want reassuring primary and secondary stability", doesn't need a lot of skeg, and is not a high volume expedition boat.

That is what the Excite, and by logical extension the Narwhal, is designed for!

But we knew that...

Also I would have thought that: "Advanced and solo paddlers who take to tide races and in rough conditions" and "Experts with a bomb proof roll under all conditions who enjoy a fast paced high angle work" are pretty much the same beast, so why do you say it is suitable for the former and not the latter?

Just say it isn't great for extended high speed touring with a large load!

Steve

TaysideTom
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Post by TaysideTom »

A few points:

1) Don't get me wrong here - I love building kayaks and understanding the various design pros and cons of the boats I paddle. But every kayak is a tradeoff of different properties (and limitations), and every kayak is used by a paddler. It is possible to get too worked up about kayak designs and forget that paddling them is the point of the exercise.

For all of the different properties that various kayaks have, I tend to think that at the end of the day pretty much any paddler can get used to pretty much any kayak with a bit of perseverance. In fact it's probably good to be able to paddle boats with widely varying characteristics - it will stretch your skills. In the end, the paddler is more important than the boat.

2) Quality and price are tricky things. I'm an economist, so getting bogged down in these issues is a bit of a professional hazard, but it seems to me that most retail kayaks are a reasonable deal if you're a serious kayaker who uses it a lot. If you own a kayak for 10 years (and perhaps much longer), then you're paying less than £200 per annum for something you will get a lot of use out of. That's pretty good - comparable to going to see a movie once a week for £4 a go. Of course we'd all like to save some cash when buying gear, but in the scheme of things I don't think that modern fibreglass sea kayaks are unrealistically expensive.

3) Building your own kayak will save up front cash, but at the expense of quite a bit of time and perhaps several experiments before you get the boat you really want. Personally I find it very satisfying, but it's not for everyone. And given the time involved in producing a custom kayak, decent quality glass, wood or skin on frame kayaks are never going to retail for less than £1500-£2000, and in some cases more. That's simply how much it costs to make a kayak when you factor in reasonable labour costs. I made a West Greenland skin on frame kayak for about £250 materials costs, but adding in my labour at anything like a reasonable rate plus some overhead costs for construction facilities and equipment, would mean that such a boat would sensibly sell for about £2000 (folding boats, in my view, are a different issue. Approx £3000 for something which you may use for only a few weeks a year is not such a good deal, if you ask me. And there may be room in the market for cheaper folding kayaks than some of the current offerings - I'm sorely tempted to try something here... But you still have to consider the tradeoffs between application, paddler and conditions).

3) I know that there have sometimes been quality issues from the major UK kayak makers, but many people have bought kayaks without quality problems - we only tend to hear about the cases where there are issues. And usually they are minor and fixed promptly by the manufacturer (in my observation of friends who have bought new boats over the last couple of years). I don't think that there's any crisis of quality in the UK kayak building sector, even if things aren't always ideal.

The bottom line here is that any kayak (other than plastic kayaks) that retails new for less than £1500 - £2000 is probably too good to be true, and to be avoided. Most customers who buy kayaks in the £1500 - £2000 range are satisfied, even if it sometimes takes a little after sales service to sort things out.

Tourer
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Post by Tourer »

TaysideTom wrote:A few points:
Very good comments, Tom.

I do admit Ceegee has a point insofar as I have lumped separate issues together that could have merited separate threads - gba and general lack of QM for one.

1) Don't get me wrong here - I love building kayaks

I have a plan for a Thomasson Black Pearl but no space to build it (although a solid metal frame Gazebo on the driveway 3x6m might do), no time, being kind of self employed, currently it's picking up, had some slack a while ago and a friend off work but now back full time ;-((

So pm about your location in UK and estimate appreciated. Idea is either Tom Yost wood frame or plywood/glass for simple build.

and understanding the various design pros and cons of the boats I paddle. But every kayak is a tradeoff of different properties (and limitations), and every kayak is used by a paddler.

True, the perfect boat doesn't exist but it has to fit size and needs roundabouts. Lucky are those who fit into what is available, but often I see people e.g. struggle in following seas (myself previously included) which is design dependent, and certain designs are just plainly flawed.

You see seats fitted way too high up, perhaps way behind the centre balance in boats way oversized for the person who uses it - a sure recipe for desaster in rough conditions.

Living close to a shore luggage space isn't a consideration for me other than spare clothes and food for the day.

It is possible to get too worked up about kayak designs and forget that paddling them is the point of the exercise.

That's what I am currently doing after work at least once weekly solo in various conditions, at week ends with a club.

Far from being expert level but not quite newby either. Slow, safe wind sensitive and oversized for a day boat as the Xcite is I will outgrow it at some point, within the year probably.

The snags it had qualitywise I've sorted more or less. Bottom half is even carbon with internal keel strip. Maybe will swap for an Explorer that comes along second hand, tried previously, works well with me in seas where Quest fails.

In the end, the paddler is more important than the boat.

True, and apart from that there are issues like seamanship, tides etc., and knowing ones limits.

There are however basic rules surprisingly little known such as ~30-40% of the total volume to be loaded for good stability, and that applies to any vessel, hard chined is better for waves, front:aft relationship makes for broaching/nose diving.

2) ... there is nothing wrong with chargeing decent money for decent work or products, as it safes in the long term.. My AUDI is 11 years old, >500 miles/week..

3) .... And there may be room in the market for cheaper folding kayaks than some of the current offerings - I'm sorely tempted to try something here... But you still have to consider the tradeoffs between application, paddler and conditions).

Klepper/Nautiraid wood frame are far more resistant to impact than any GRP, easier to repair, just like a bike tyre, and superbly seaworthy as well, this is how I started. I took to the sea with it, carried on as it got rougher, dared more and more, finally sailed in a 5+ until it hummed.

Admittedly there is a emotional factor in it as well, there is lots more maintenance than a GRP/PE boat, so unsuitable for a day boat but clearly the choice for expeditioning/extended holidays in remote locations.

Cost is relatively high in the UK only, due to a small market - plenty galore good 2nd hand offers < 50 % NP in Europe. Can give pointers if wanted.

The bottom line here is that any kayak (other than plastic kayaks) that retails new for less than £1500 - £2000 is probably too good to be true, and to be avoided.

Most customers who buy kayaks in the £1500 - £2000 range are satisfied, even if it sometimes takes a little after sales service to sort things out.
If it only was true, but then where is that market after sales survey ?

Regards

Rainer

DominiqueS
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Post by DominiqueS »

Common sense should be enough.

If I had bought a Tiderace-like boat on the cheap (maybe even knowing in advance it was a "close knock-off", as maybe told in confidence by my friendly dealer to help me make my decision) and ended up with an unsatisfactory boat and a suddenly absent dealer, I would only blame myself for having been so short-sighted, or not having done my research properly, or for having been greedy as the case may have been.

But I would not try to rally others to my cause by claiming it is a "general British industry quality problem" - (by the way you have a Polish, not British, quality problem).

Fundamentally the real problem here is not quality but the questionable ethics of everyone involved - a polish manufacturer pilfering a design, a dealer who at the very least should have known the quality of what he was selling and be upfront about it or correct it, and a client who may have just seen "the bargain".

Something to be said about the danger of false economies.

I wish you a happier decision for your next boat.

Dominique,
A very happy Valley user, with a bunch of very happy friends all users of British boats.

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Ceegee
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Post by Ceegee »

Dominique wrote: If I had bought a Tiderace-like boat on the cheap ... and ended up with an unsatisfactory boat and a suddenly absent dealer, I would only blame myself ....

But I would not try to rally others to my cause by claiming it is a "general British industry quality problem" -

Dominique,
A very happy Valley user, with a bunch of very happy friends all users of British boats.
Hear hear!!!

Steve
A very happy Valley user, an even happier soon to be Rockpool user

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