2002 Wildcat Catamaran Blistering and Delamination

4 Comments

In May of 2004, Ali and I had the boat hauled out while in Panama to have the bottom painted in preparation for crossing the Pacific. While hauled out we first discovered that we had delamination issues with our boat. The gelcoat blistering had been showing up in different areas of the boat for a couple of months, at least, at this point. In our opinion the extent of the delimitation couldn’t possibly be found at the time as the boating facilities in Panama aren’t exactly teeming with qualified professionals to survey the boat. This is when we first contacted Charter Cats, builder of the Wildcat 350 as well as the new Jaguar 36, to discuss the issues.

What follows is every email correspondence we have had between us, Charter Cats, and our original surveyor, Charles Kanter. The content of the emails have been left unchanged, while we have changed the formatting in order for it to fit this page. The statements contained in our emails accurately reflect the facts and our own opinions which we believe to be true.

The emails are in the left hand column. In the right hand column I have added my comments and opinions. We are doing this despite the fact that Charter Cats has threatened legal action against us, and have warned us that posting this would be detrimental to our resale value in the future. Our hope is that the people who read this, along with our website, will understand that the work we had done in New Zealand has made this particular Wildcat better than a brand new one off the show room floor. And that those of you who are busy researching your own boat purchase will be able to form your own opinion about what kind of customer service you might expect should you decide to purchase a Charter Cats yacht.

TO: Charter Cats SA General Email Address Email number one. The process has begun.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte  
DATE: May 2, 2004  
Hi,  
I am trying to reach somebody at Charter Cats to discuss some issues I am having with a 2002 Wildcat that my wife and I purchased in August 2003. The issues we are dealing with are blistering and delamination.  
Could you please put me in touch with the right person at Charter Cats? I received your email address from a friend who had access to the web, so I am not sure if you are the person I need to be speaking with.  
Thanks for your help. Patrick and Alison Schulte www.bumfuzzle.com aliandpat@bumfuzzle.com  
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Very nice, two day response.
FROM: Rian Mondriaan, Charter Cats SA  
DATE: May 4, 2004  
Hi Patrick and Alison  
We are in need of some information for us to start to look at helping you. What is the name of the boat and the name of the person that you purchased from? Where is the boat situated at the moment?  
We are also going to need some more contact information from you such as a phone and fax number.  
Best Regards, Rian Mondriaan Prowlercats and Wildcats 350 Sales Representative CHARTER CATS SA  
TO: Rian Mondriaan, Charter Cats SA Here is that information.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte  
DATE: May 5, 2004  
Hi Rian,  
Thanks for getting back to me so soon. The boat was originally named Karuna, but we have renamed it Bumfuzzle. We bought the boat from 2Hulls in Fort Lauderdale, but the name of the original owner was ***. It is my understanding that he sailed the boat from South Africa to Florida. My wife Ali and I are currently in Panama City, Panama where we had the boat hauled out to have the bottom paint done. This is why we noticed the problems now.  
My name is Patrick Schulte and my mailing address is: *** phone and fax is ***. Though obviously we will not be able to be contacted at that address or phone number, we do have somebody handling our mail there. Since we are currently sailing, email is the only good way to contact us. Our original plan was to sail from Panama to the Galapagos and then on to the Marquesas. Now things are kind of up in the air, so we appreciate your speedy reply.  
Thank you. Patrick Schulte www.bumfuzzle.com  
TO: Rian Mondriaan, Charter Cats SA  
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte  
DATE: May 11, 2004  
Hi Rian,  
I sent you this email a week ago and haven’t heard back from you yet. We are using Sailmail email from the boat so sometimes emails don’t go through. Just thought I’d resend this one.  
I should also mention that we bought the boat less than 1 year after it was launched. I hope the fact that we are not the original owners doesn’t stop you from trying to help fix the problems we are currently having.  
Thanks. Pat Schulte  
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte 9 days later we hear back from Nicole, the Client Liaison for Charter Cats.
FROM: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA
DATE: May 14, 2004
Hi Pat,
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Rian has been with Paul in France handing over a Prowler 450 powercat to one of our owners for the last week and is coming back next weekend. He gave half the email to Eric to answer and not the one with what is wrong or what needs sorting out on the email. I phoned Rian but he can’t remember everything on the email and this one from you below doesn’t tell us anything. Please forward that email to me and I will get Eric (the owner and builder) to reply to you on Monday.
regards, Nicole Hough Client Liaison CHARTER CATS SA
TO: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA Okay Nicole, here is the story.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte  
DATE: May 14, 2004  
Nicole,  
Thanks for following up. Let me just start from the beginning. My wife and I purchased our 2002 Wildcat in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in August 2003 from 2Hulls, Inc. The original owner *** had launched the boat in Aug. 2002 I believe and sailed it across the Atlantic up the islands to Florida and put it up for sale. We hired a respected yacht surveyor, Charles Kanter, to do the survey and everything checked out, including the haul out inspection.  
Anyway, since then we have sailed through the Bahamas to Panama where we had the boat hauled out for a bottom painting a couple weeks ago. This is when we realized that we had some pretty serious delamination and blistering problems. There are two large areas (at least a foot diameter each) of delamination on the outside port hull under the waterline. They appear to be dry underneath.  
There is also blistering in a number of areas. On the front of both hulls from the bottom up to a foot above the waterline. Along the entire rubrail on the port side 3 inches above and below it running from one end to the other. A lot of large blisters on the bottom step on the port side. More scattered blistering on the star. side under the waterline. And a few other spots. I wouldn’t have contacted you had it just been one or two small areas. But with the boat being only 2 years old, it seems a bit much for the entire thing to be covered.  
One other thing I should mention is that every single thru-hull on the boat had to be replaced. None of them were sealed properly and they all leaked. One thru-hull you could even spin around while it was in place. There was virtually no caulk used at all. I would like to hear what your thoughts are on this problem.  
We are very upset. We are in the midst of circumnavigating and now are afraid that the boat will not make it as it is right now. Please contact us by email. We are currently en route to the Galapagos. You can see the boat on our website at www.bumfuzzle.com.  
Thank you. Patrick Schulte  
TO: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA Two weeks go by without a response so we resend the email.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: May 28, 2004
Hi Nicole,
I sent you this email 2 weeks ago and you said you would forward it on to Eric. I still haven’t received any response so I was hoping you could check up on it for us.
Thanks. Pat Schulte
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Ya it is funny isn’t it?
FROM: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA  
DATE: May 28, 2004  
Hi Pat,  
You know it’s funny when you employ more people to help you get things done better and quicker, that sometimes they don’t get done at all or someone thinks someone has sent it but they haven’t…  
Anyway, Eric’s assistant typed the email and gave it to Eric to check and Eric thought he was just getting a copy of the letter. So it is still sitting on the computer. When he gets back to the factory he will actually send it this time. Sorry about that. Miscommunication.  
Thanks, Nicole  
TO: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA Two weeks later we still haven’t heard anything from Charter Cats. It’s now been a month since we told them what kind of problems we were experiencing.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: June 10, 2004
Hey Nicole,
We still haven’t heard back from anybody regarding our Wildcat. We’d really like to know what your guys thoughts on these osmosis problems are. Whether you have seen these problems a lot and what you have done in the past to fix them.
Thanks. Pat Schulte
[Attached is my original email from 5 weeks ago.]
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Pheew, Eric says delamination and blistering aren’t serious. I wonder how many sailors with a two year old boat would agree with that statement.
FROM: Eric Schoeman, Charter Cats SA
DATE: June 11, 2004
Dear Patrick
I am sorry for the delay in this letter being sent as there was a miscommunication. I know Charles Kanter, the surveyor, he is very knowledgeable, you couldn’t have picked better. The delamination is not serious. As from what you tell me, the area is a bit dry. The way to fix it is to inject epoxy into it with a syringe until it is completely full.
The other blistering is not a serious problem either. I can only assume some gelcoat repair work was done on these points at some time as you have a bit of contamination. Please send me some photos.
With regards to the thru-hull fittings. We always caulk the skin fittings, which are checked, and up till now we have had no reports of leaks. If there were leaks Charles Kanter, the surveyor, would have picked them up as he is very thorough. I also have a problem with the thru-hull fitting which you say you can spin around while in place. I think you will agree that if that was the case the boat would have taken on a sufficient amount of water as to make the bilge-pump ineffective, resulting in an overwhelming intake of water at that point, sinking the boat.
Your boat has, at an estimate, done around 10,000 nautical miles with the previous owner. It would be hard, therefore, to guess what he had done in the two years he had the boat, but please do send me some photos of the boat including the blistering. It seems strange that Charles Kanter did not pick these problems up before and I can only assume there is some contamination of the barrier coat or anti-fouling.
Regards, Eric
TO: Eric Schoeman, Charter Cats SA I’m also starting to pick up on some sarcasm from Eric. That can’t be a good sign. Actually the original owner only owned the boat for about 10 months, not two years.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: June 15, 2004
Eric,
Thanks for getting back to me. I’m sorry that you don’t seem to believe a word of what I am telling you. Maybe I should explain that we bought the boat in July 2003. Meaning that the original owner owned and sailed the boat for less than a year before we bought it. I believe that Charles Kanter, the surveyor, was very thorough but for whatever reason the leaks weren’t caught at the time other than to point out a couple of places where the wood had been discolored from previous leaks.
My wife and I so far have had to pull out and reseal 6 hatches that have been leaking as well as every thru-hull on the boat. One of which I was able to remove by hand in 3 seconds with a quick twist of the fitting. No tools needed. My point in telling you about this wasn’t to have you defend your building practices but to point it out as a possible explanation for all of the blistering and delamination.
Anyway, we are currently crossing the Pacific on our way to the Marquesas. I will send pictures of the boat as soon as I can.
Thank you. Patrick Schulte
TO: Eric Schoeman, Charter Cats SA See the photos below. Doesn’t really jibe with Eric’s explanation of us having some gelcoat repair work done, which of course we didn’t. I can’t imagine what we could have done to have damaged this many different areas of the boat. We don’t have any pictures of the delaminated areas because they simply don’t show up in pictures. Essentially what it is is an area that you can press in on and it flexes and pops back out.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: June 17, 2004
Hi Eric,
We ended up staying another day in the Galapagos so I was able to upload some pictures onto my website for you to see. They aren’t actually on the website, unless you know the link address to type in. But I find it easier to do it this way than to try and email these huge files.
Anyway, the link is http://www.bumfuzzle/***.htm. Let me know what you think.
Thanks. Pat Schulte
TO: Eric Schoeman, Charter Cats SA 8 days go by without a response to the pictures I have posted for him.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: June 25, 2004
Hi Eric,
Haven’t heard back from you so I just wanted to make sure you got my last email. Just in case, here is the link again for the webpage with the pictures on it. https://www.bumfuzzle.com/***.htm.
Let me know what you think.
Thanks. Pat Schulte
TO: Charles Kanter (the surveyor) This is my first email to Kanter. I had called him right after we found out about the delamination. He gave as a possible explanation that the SSB radio may have had an inadequate grounding system. He said he had seen this on other boats. So I contacted an ICOM dealer and had the radio tested for $130 while we were in Panama.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: June 29, 2004
Hi Charles,
I called you a couple of months ago from Panama regarding the blistering on my 2002 Wildcat. I’ve been in contact with Eric at Charter Cats SA and after I told him that you were the one who had done the original survey on the boat he told me he knew you and that we couldn’t have chosen a better surveyor. So with that said, I thought perhaps it would be a good idea to get your thoughts again on the blistering.
I’ve posted a bunch of pictures onto the web. Not actually on my website yet, but only to view if you have the link which is https://www.bumfuzzle.com/***.htm. Please let me know what you think. Since I showed the pictures to Eric I have not been able to get a response back from him, which doesn’t make me feel to good about the prospect of him doing something about the problem.
Also, we had talked about the problem possibly arising from the SSB. After I talked to you I had an ICOM dealer come out and test the setup. He gave it high marks and said it was a very good installation with a more than adequate grounding system. I don’t remember what they are called, but the stray signals that we discussed tested very low.
Anyway, thanks in advance for your help.
Patrick Schulte www.bumfuzzle.com
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte  
FROM: Charles Kanter (the surveyor)  
DATE: June 29, 2004  
Patrick,  
Whew! you really had me shook up! You did not tell me the blisters were on the TOPSIDES above the waterline! Had I known the blisters were topside, I would not have even suggested a radio problem, I was going under the assumption they were underwater. Frankly, what I am looking at in the photos, looks like PAINT that was not prepared properly.  
Is it gel-coat or Awlgrip? Has anyone broken any of these blisters? What is underneath? Is there anything in them? How thick is the blister skin? The blister skin looks very thin from the photos. From what I can tell from the photos, you have a cosmetic not structural problem, although I sure would not estimate that unless I felt and observed the blisters myself.  
How about taking the largest blisters you can find under the tramp where you cannot see them so readily, take a sharp knife, cut the blister off as best you can, if the material breaks, that’s OK just collect it in a place you can photo it at high resolution. Also photo at high resolution the blister you cut away. Hold a quarter next to the hole so I can judge the size. If you can get a high resolution macro photo so much the better.  
What is below the waterline? Has Eric answered you about this problem?  
BTW, many boats have Awlgrip instead of gel-coat, not unusual. I surveyed a Gemini lately that had exactly the same appearance and it turned out to be defective gel-coat. I do not know where you are now, but my guess is you need an honest to goodness materials expert, not a surveyor or yard foreman, unless you can really determine the problem. I suggest that if there is no penetration into the laminate, just surface blistering, you could with reasonable assurance continue on to New Zealand or Australia where you can get really good advice. Of course, you could just turn around and go back to Africa!  
Please keep me posted and I sure hope it turns out to be just cosmetic.  
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Here I am missing an email from us to Kanter. Basically it just stated that the blisters had a vinegar smell to them when popped. And here is Kanter’s reply to that.
FROM: Charles Kanter (the surveyor)
DATE: June 30, 2004
OK, if there is a vinegar smelling liquid in the blisters, they are regular blisters, cause, unknown. Many theories, no proofs. Hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but you are most likely in for major exterior work. Certain builders had terrible problems with gel-coat, Valiant had a similar problem as did Performance Cruising (Gemini) and it all led back to the distributor sending the wrong gel-coat.
Hope your problems get solved in NZ, probably best place there is for quality work at fair prices and I certainly hope that Charter Cats SA helps out as well. Let me know if I can be of any more help.
Have passport, will travel! Charles Kanter
TO: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA At this point it has been over 5 weeks and I haven’t received a response from Charter Cats ever since we posted the pictures of the blistering for them to view.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: July 25, 2004
Hi Nicole,
I have been trying to get an email to Eric by sending it to ***. However, I haven’t been receiving any responses. So I am not sure that he has been getting them. Could you please forward this to him as we’d really like his thoughts on our problems. Thank you.
Eric, I have posted a bunch of pictures for you to view at https://www.bumfuzzle.com/***.htm. The pictures aren’t actually on our website. They are only viewable if you know the above link. Anyway, we’d like to hear your thoughts on the blistering.
Charles Kanter, the surveyor, has viewed the pictures and is of the opinion that the boat got a bad batch of gel-coat. He said he had seen something very similar on both Valiant and Performance Cruising boats and it all led back to the distributor sending the wrong gel-coat.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Pat and Ali Schulte www.bumfuzzle.com
TO: Eric Schoeman, Charter Cats SA Still another week goes by. It’s now been 6 weeks.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: August 2, 2004
Hello again,
I’m not sure why we are receiving no response from Charter Cats to our previous emails. About two months ago you asked me to send you pictures of the blistering that we have all over our 2002 Wildcat which I sent to you the next day. Since then I have received no communications at all from anyone in your company despite my repeated emails.
Needless to say, my wife and I are very upset and find it hard to believe that this is on purpose. I can’t believe that a company such as yours would purposely duck a customers request for assistance with a major problem with one of your newer boats.
Again, I have posted a bunch of pictures for you to view at https://www.bumfuzzle.com/***.htm. Please let me know what you think of the blistering.
As I have said, Charles Kanter, our surveyor, is under the impression that we may have gotten a bad batch of gel-coat. As he has seen similar problems on both Valiant and Performance Cruising boats and that is where the problem was.
Thank you. Pat and Ali Schulte www.bumfuzzle.com
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Finally! 6 weeks and there is signs of life from Charter Cats. Of course, as you can see, I had already received this email from them on June 11th. That is the one that I had replied to right away. So still no reply concerning the blistering pictures.
FROM: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA
DATE: August 4, 2004
Hi Pat,
I know that Rian was trying to get the reply email to you but the emails were returned. We both checked our addresses and they were correct. We even pushed reply to your letter and they were still returned. I have the letter included in this email and you will see that it was sent to you the 11th June 2004. Rian sent me a copy so I knew you had been answered.
We answer all our customers queries, sometimes we are a little slow when we are busy, but we always answer.
regards, Nicole Hough Client Liaison CHARTER CATS SA
— Original Message — From: Rian Mondriaan To: Patrick and Alison Schulte Sent: Friday, June 11, 2004 11:12 AM Subject: Wildcat 350
Dear Patrick
I am sorry for the delay in this letter being sent as there was a miscommunication. I know Charles Kanter, the surveyor, he is very knowledgeable, you couldn’t have picked better. The delamination is not serious. As from what you tell me, the area is a bit dry. The way to fix it is to inject epoxy into it with a syringe until it is completely full.
The other blistering is not a serious problem either. I can only assume some gelcoat repair work was done on these points at some time as you have a bit of contamination. Please send me some photos.
With regards to the thru-hull fittings. We always caulk the skin fittings, which are checked, and up till now we have had no reports of leaks. If there were leaks Charles Kanter, the surveyor, would have picked them up as he is very thorough. I also have a problem with the thru-hull fitting which you say you can spin around while in place. I think you will agree that if that was the case the boat would have taken on a sufficient amount of water as to make the bilge-pump ineffective, resulting in an overwhelming intake of water at that point, sinking the boat.
Your boat has, at an estimate, done around 10,000 nautical miles with the previous owner. It would be hard, therefore, to guess what he had done in the two years he had the boat, but please do send me some photos of the boat including the blistering. It seems strange that Charles Kanter did not pick these problems up before and I can only assume there is some contamination of the barrier coat or anti-fouling.
Regards, Eric
TO: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA  
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte  
DATE: August 5, 2004  
Hi Nicole,  
Thanks for getting back to me. I know with the Sailmail system there is often problems with lost emails. Certain email carriers seem to have a hard time sending and receiving to the Sailmail address.  
Anyway, I had received the email that you referred to dated June 11. If you’ll notice though, that email asks for me to send photos. So that is the email that I have been replying to ever since June 12. I sent an internet link to a page with a bunch of photos of the boat. Again that link is https://www.bumfuzzle.com/***.htm. The link isn’t actually accessible from our website unless you specifically type in the link.  
I would like to hear what your thoughts on the blistering problem are after viewing the photos.  
Thank you. I’ll look forward to hearing from you. Pat Schulte www.bumfuzzle.com  
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Now Paul from Charter Cats is going to tell me that the blistering is not serious. Maybe I should have explained to them that while sailing around the South Pacific these repairs aren’t quite that simple. Hauling the boat out, sanding, and reapplying a layer of gelcoat isn’t something that I was really looking forward to. And of course, this doesn’t even discuss the delamination. And who do they expect to pay for all of this? Oh, the answer to that is in the sentence that says the blistering is caused from a surface repair done over the original gelcoat. Which implies of course that it isn’t from the gelcoat they applied, it must be from something we did.
FROM: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA
DATE: August 10, 2004
Hi Pat and Ali,
We did receive your email and pictures thank-you. We have upgraded our network and email system recently which may have caused a problem, please accept our apologies.
From the photos the blistering is not serious and Eric has seen this before. It is usually caused when a surface repair is done over the original gelcoat and there is a little water that could have been on the applying brush or moisture that has been trapped. The solution is to rub this area down to allow the moisture to get out. Thereafter depending on the thickness of the remaining gelcoat either just polish or reapply a gelcoat layer.
Kind Regards, Paul Hough
TO: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA After a couple of weeks of sailing and having family visit us in Bora Bora, we reply to Paul and tell him that we will contact him again once we get to New Zealand and get the opinion of an expert.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: August 23, 2004
Hi Paul,
Thank you for your reply. I understand what you are saying about blistering not being serious. However, when the extent of it covers nearly every area of the boat it becomes serious.
The blisters on our boat can be found on the front of each hull (top to bottom), under the trampoline all the way around, all the way along the port rubrail (above and below), on the back steps (both sides), in the coatpit, and of course all over the place below the waterline. So I think pinning the cause on a surface repair is unlikely.
Also, the fact that no blistering was evident after the boat had been in the water for 10 months when Charles Kanter (the surveyor) surveyed it confuses me. One year later blisters are everywhere despite no cosmetic work being done.
My biggest concern is that the extent of the problem is going to make fixing it a huge project. When we had the boat hauled in Panama we got an estimate of a minimum $10,000 USD and 6 weeks to fix. I realize that wouldn’t be the best place to get this sort of work done and that’s why we didn’t address it further there.
We will be in New Zealand beginning in November and plan to have the boat looked at by a few professionals there before having the work done. I hope that when we get their professional opinions you will be able to help us further. We will be in touch again then. In the meantime please email us with any thoughts you might have on the problem.
Thank you. Patrick Schulte
TO: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA We arrived in New Zealand and had Mike Menzies look into the delamination for us. A friend of ours from New Zealand contacted a friend of his named Tim Gurr, who is a boat builder, a two time member of Team New Zealand, and a member of the current America’s Cup Champions Team Alinghi, who in turn recommended Mike as the delamination expert of New Zealand. You can see more information on Mike’s background on his website www.mike-menzies-marine.co.nz. As you can see, he knows his stuff and it was immediately apparent to him that we had some serious problems. We also realized at this time that we had water in both keels. Thus, the questions to Charter Cats regarding the keels.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: November 8, 2004
Hi Paul,
I’m not sure if you remember, but we spoke by email a few weeks back regarding my 2002 Wildcat’s blistering and delamination. Since that time we have arrived in New Zealand and had the boat hauled out. So far we’ve got both good and bad news.
The good news is that upon initial inspection there doesn’t appear to be any osmosis issues, though the moisture meter is picking up high signals in a couple of areas we haven’t ground into yet. The bad news is that the delamination is more widespread than we had originally thought.
It extends above the waterline. One area is about two feet long by one foot wide. We cut out another area and found the delamination actually about a half an inch off of the core. The blistering is also going to take quite a bit of work and in the end the entire boat below the non-skid is going to have to be painted. A lot of work, especially for a boat that was put in the water Aug. of 2002.
All of our work is being conducted by Mike Menzies. You can see the background he has in this field by viewing his website at www.mike-menzies-marine.co.nz. He could also give you more details regarding the problems than I can. His email is ***.
Today I have a couple of questions regarding the keels on the Wildcat. Are they hollow? Are they supposed to be watertight? What is the construction detail?
I would also like to know what your thoughts are regarding the problems with the boat and what Charter Cats is going to do to help us resolve them. Needless to say we are really disappointed at this point to be having these sort of issues. Has Charter Cats seen or heard of any similar issues with other Wildcats? Please let me know about the keels as soon as possible.
Thank you. Patrick Schulte www.bumfuzzle.com
TO: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA Six days later and Charter Cats still hasn’t responded to our inquiries. Not even a quick email to answer our questions about the construction of the keels. Those questions were answered in one day by some readers who also own Wildcats.
  Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: November 14, 2004
Nicole,
I can’t seem to get any reply to my emails from Paul. Could you please make sure he is receiving them, or tell me who I should be directing questions to regarding my boat?
Thank you. Pat Schulte
Paul,
I’m not sure why every time I have a question for Charter Cats I have to email half a dozen times to elicit any type of response.
We are having serious, very costly problems with our 2002 Wildcat and would like to know what Charter Cats is prepared to do about it in order to help us get them fixed. We have extensive blistering over nearly ever section of the boat along with many areas of delamination. The work we have contracted to do with Mike Menzies here in Gulf Harbor marina is going to cost us upwards of $15,000 USD. This is on a boat that has only been in the water two years. And the problems showed up after roughly 15 months in the water. I would think your company would want to do something to help us remedy the situation and make this Wildcat a boat suitable once again for offshore cruising.
If you are having trouble seeing how helping us could help you as well, let me point out our website to you. It is www.bumfuzzle.com. As you can see we have received over 50,000 hits in only one year. We receive roughly 400 hits per day. All from sailors like ourselves, and many from people who are interested in hearing more about the boat. We have heard from a number of people who are interested in your new Jaguar 36. A positive response from you would go a long way towards us being able to give these people favorable input regarding Charter Cats.
You might also enjoy seeing an article written by me coming out in the December issue of Blue Water Sailing magazine. I mention that our boat is a Wildcat, but any future articles will not be including anything about the boat at this point.
Please let me know what you would like from us in order to get things to proceed towards a favorable resolution.
Thank you. Pat Schulte
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte One week later and he still can’t answer even the simple questions. I guess he’ll get back to us soon after he gets back on the 25th, right?
FROM: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA
DATE: November 15, 2004
Hi Pat,
I am currently in the U.S. and will be returning to the factory on the 25th of November when I will be able to discuss this issue with Eric. Please expect a response at this time.
Kind Regards, Paul Hough
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Apparently Paul’s trip got stretched out to the 29th now.
FROM: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA
DATE: November 16, 2004
Hi Pat,
I have received your email. Paul is in the USA on a boat show. He will return on the 29th November to answer your questions. Eric is arriving back from Cape Town on Wednesday and I will try to get him to get back to you ASAP.
I understand your concern and will try get it sorted out together with you amicably. Obviously the repairs will need to be done and I can’t say who could do them etc. Eric will have to answer this. Please hold on for a bit. We came back last week from being at 3 sailboat shows in the USA and are still trying to get our feet on the ground. Then Kim and Eric had to go to Cape Town on business for 4 days.
Speak to you soon.
Thank you, Nicole
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte This sounds promising.
FROM: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA  
DATE: November 21, 2004  
Hi Pat,  
Eric says to please take some photos of what you are talking about and email them to me. He is obviously concerned.  
Thank you, Nicole  
TO: Charles Kanter (the surveyor) By now we have come to the conclusion that we didn’t get our money’s worth from our surveyor. In my opinion, he failed to recognize any of the problems that we are now dealing with. So we ask him for a refund of the fees he was paid for the survey as well as an additional $500 to go towards the mounting repair costs we are now faced with. See additional photos below.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: November 28, 2004
Mr. Kanter,
As you may remember, back in July 2003 my wife and I had you survey a 2002 Wildcat catamaran for us. During the survey we had the boat hauled out and you proceeded to tap the bottom. In your conclusion you stated that there was no evidence of delamination at this time. In April of 2004, nine months later, we had the boat hauled again for bottom painting. After scraping the bottom the painter informed us that there was clear signs of delamination on the port hull. Because we were in Panama at the time, and not at all confident in the workmanship there, we decided to press on for New Zealand where we could have professions have a look at it again.
So now, in November of 2004, just a year after leaving Florida, we are in New Zealand and the findings aren’t good. Mike Menzies is the man we have hired to inspect and fix the boat. He was recommended to us through Tim Gurr, who has worked extensively with Team New Zealand on the America’s Cup boats. Mike has a website you can view at www.mike-menzies-marine.co.nz. As you can see there, he has years of experience surveying and working on delamination issues. I am sure you would agree that he is quite competent.
Since our arrival here Mike has tapped the entire boat and begun work on fixing the problem. He was quite appalled by the state of the boat and could hardly believe the boat was only two years old. What surprised him the most was the state of our port hull. The delamination there was so bad that he said he had never seen one built so poorly. When he ground through one of the larger delaminated areas on the outside of the hull he found the core was dry. But here is where our original survey concerns us. Mike is quite certain that this area was never adhered to the core and therefore should have been found in a previous survey. I have a page of pictures that you can view at https://www.bumfuzzle.com/***.htm.
As you can see in the pictures there is absolutely nothing on the balsa core. It is entirely clean. It is clear to us that the delamination was present at the time we bought the boat and had it inspected by you. It seems it was simply missed. Unfortunately for us, this miss is now going to cost us a lot of money.
At this point we have no choice but to spend the money to fix it properly since we plan to finish our circumnavigation. And obviously, if we want to have any hope of selling this boat in the future we are going to have to have all of the delamination repaired. We are upset because had the delamination been found during our survey we most certainly would not have purchased the boat, or at the very least would have offered to pay a considerable amount less for it.
We are asking that you reimburse us your fee for the original inspection plus an additional $500.00. We feel that $1000.00 is a very fair amount to ask for. Though obviously it will hardly make a dent in the costs we are going to have incurred when this is all said and done. I hope that you realize this is a reasonable request on our part as we relied on information from you in order to make an informed purchase decision, which ultimately has turned out to be a poor one.
We look forward to hearing from you and please don’t hesitate to ask us any questions or to contact Mike Menzies.
Thank you, Patrick Schulte Alison Schulte aliandpat@bumfuzzle.com s/v Bumfuzzle (originally s/v Karuna)
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Delamination, disbonding. (Po-TAY-toe, Po-tah-TOE.) Who cares, it all costs me a ton of money. Somehow I don’t think that we should have turned around, transited the Panama Canal a second time, and sailed against the trade winds for a few thousand miles in the hopes that when we got to South Africa, Charter Cats would have gave us a big hug and fixed our boat for us. I have a strong feeling that would have been a bad idea, not to mention ruined our entire trip. Uhh, yes, Charter Cats? Yes, would you please send me a new port hull. Me? Oh I’m in New Zealand. When can we expect that? Next week? Great! Thanks. However, notice some of the other comments from the surveyor: “it is extremely difficult if not impossible to discover this condition in an average C&V survey… “…when you discovered this obvious and blatant manufacturing deficiency in Panama…” “I…have been Charter Cats most vocal critic in the US.” “After spending considerable time reviewing the photos, it is obvious that a very poor job of quality control took place at Charter Cats factory.” Not exactly glowing comments in favor of Charter Cats. Yet Charter Cats has said in their own words: “As I said before, Mr. Kanter is an excellent and knowledgeable surveyor…” “I know Charles Kanter, he is very knowledgeable, you couldn’t have picked better.”
FWD: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited
FROM: Charles Kanter (the surveyor)
DATE: November 30, 2004
Patrick,
I really feel bad for you that what you had originally described as blisters, turns out to be major disbonding. If you remember, you sent me several emails describing blisters both above and below the waterline. (At this moment, I am awaiting a new computer to replace my crashed one and I will be able to access your actual email.) From the photos you posted, and the descriptions of the problems, what you are suffering is not delamination, but disbonding, which is the separation of the core material from the skin. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to discover this condition in an average C&V Survey, without some additional clues to go on.
If you check the photos I took at survey, there was no hint of any problem in the external appearance, nor any internal anomalies such as unexplained bilge water. When you tap on FRP, if it is not delaminated, it takes meticulous investigation to determine the cause of differences in tone. Delamination, on the other
hand, is when the actual FRP laminate disintegrates, which is quite different from disbonding and readily recognized from tapping (Percussion sounding).
As a surveyor on a C&V survey, there are reasonable limits as to what can actually be discovered vis a vis hidden defects. In percussion sounding of hulls, there is wide variation of the tones returned from the mallet
due to various construction issues. For instance, the tone varies at bulkheads, at engine stringers, and at any items that press against the laminate, which includes the core. If the core is not touching the laminate in some places it may still ring true, because the laminate itself is good. Without additional reason to probe further, there is no way to find it. Especially in a one-hour hang in the slings, soaking wet.
Actually, the painter in Panama discovered it without even sounding. Precisely what I describe as
additional clues. Those clues did not exist at your survey or I
would have discovered them. If there are questions
discovered at survey, then it is time for experts, not surveyors, and such discovery processes as thermal imaging or cutting coupons for lab analysis, both of which are destructive testing, beyond the scope of C&V survey. I suggest that the possibility that disbonding was beginning in various places at my survey is within the realm of possibility, nevertheless, delamination was not. I further suggest, that when you discovered
this obvious and blatant manufacturing deficiency in Panama, you may have been better served, had you headed the lesser distance to South Africa and back to Charter Cats SA rather than continuing on to New Zealand. At least there you might have stood a better chance of getting attention from the factory than you seem to be now.
I am sorry, your quarrel is not with me, but with Charter Cats. I am on your side as your surveyor. Again, if you check my survey, and recall my conversations and my published writings, I did not recommend this vessel and most certainly have been Charter Cats most vocal critic in the US. I have no basis to dispute Mike Menzies conclusions, since for whatever reasons I cannot get on his website as written in your post. I certainly think you ought to consider that people say many things and it is very easy to cast aspersion on people half the World away in order to ameliorate your immediate concerns. I am sure you have taken into consideration when you purchased the vessel that there were reasons for the extremely low price, one of which is detailed in your survey report.
After spending considerable time reviewing the photos, it is obvious that a very poor job of quality control took place at Charter Cats factory. Many of the disbonded core sections should be visible with a very strong light, looking right through the now translucent FRP laminate. I do see considerable disbonding and I see many voids. I cannot see any actual delamination (as separation between the plies of FRP) which is really the only thing a surveyor can count on when dealing with a one hour haulout and a wet boat with bottom paint. Now that the boat is in a laboratory setting, dry and bottom paint removed and destructive testing applied, the construction deficiencies are obvious. A luxury we do not have at survey.
I am half the World away with only photos to view. I suggest you ask Mike if the hull is even worth fixing? The last thing you want to do is throw good money
after bad. You might be better off getting an entire new hull from Charter Cats (at their expense, of course) and just cutting the boat in half at the hull-deck joint. That could be done either by shipping the boat back to SA and letting them do it at the factory (preferred) or shipping a hull to NZ and doing it there (at Charter
Cats expense, of course).
As to my culpability in this issue, let me sleep on it for a while.  Keep me posted. Hopefully, by the time I get your response I will have my own computer running again. I can certainly empathize your predicament. If there is any help I can supply, please just ask. Good luck.
TO: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA Time to follow up with Paul. He should have been back from his trip now for a few days. We are not experts and have very little knowledge about boat building, which we have said throughout, but our opinion remains that it looks like something went wrong with the construction process.  This is based on our own visual inspection, conversations with the repairer, and any number of others we have talked to in the boat yard, all of who have many more years of experience than we do.
CC: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: December 1, 2004
Paul,
I’ve been expecting to hear back from Charter Cats for a few days now. I am sure you were busy with catching up after a trip to the States. But now I hope you will take some time to help us address the issues that we are having. The webpage address I gave you previously, https://www.bumfuzzle.com/***.htm, has new pictures added after the completion of the tapping of the hull topsides. As I am sure you now know, we have extensive problems with our Wildcat which is only two years old.
After originally finding signs of delamination back in April 2004 while hauled out in Panama, we decided that a better place to tackle the problem would be in New Zealand. Now we are hauled out, the gelcoat has been ground off, and we have hired a very respected
professional named Mike Menzies to do the work on the boat. You can view Mike’s website at www.mike-menzies-marine.co.nz. The fndings on the boat are quite shocking. Especially so is the condition of the port hull and both of the keels.
Looking over the port hull it is clear that something went seriously wrong with the construction process during the building of it. There is such extensive delamination that Mike has even said that in all his years he has never seen a poorer hull. After grinding open one of the delaminated areas you could see that the laminate had never been adhered to the core. The core was completely clean. You can also see the sorry state that the keels are in. Obviously we will have to have quite a bit of work done on those as well, to make them waterproof and safe for offshore voyaging. We hate to think about all the extra time we spent sailing this last year because of the fact that we were lugging around hundreds of extra pounds of water inside the keels.
Anyway, I have told you all of this before, and still look forward to Charter Cats response. We are confident that a well respected company such as yours will want
to do everything possible in order to resolve the issues that we are now facing. Therefore we are asking that Charter Cats agree to pay for the repairs that are
necessary in order to fix the delamination and reinforce the keels. I would also be happy to contact you by phone in order to discuss this further. Please email me a contact phone number for you in your next correspondence.
Thank you, Patrick Schulte s/v Bumfuzzle
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte A reply from Eric. It sounds to me that he basically discounts everything we have told him up to this point and is making it clear that Charter Cats has no culpability in this matter. I would like to point out his comment in #5: “We have built over 150 boats which have all crossed oceans and have never had a problem with the keels.”  Is that so?  Maybe I could point you all to a couple of articles written by a Wildcat owner. The best part is that the second article is on Charter Cats very own website! Is this a case of a simple oversight? http://www.sailnet.com/collections/articles/index.cfm?articleid=ouread0059. In this now disabled link, the author, Jim Cash, owner of a 2001 Wildcat 350, writes: “It was late afternoon on the Saturday before Easter. The winds were off our port quarter at 15 to 20 knots apparent, and the big spinnaker was pulling our heavily loaded cat along at about eight to 10 knots. A routine check of the port bilges brought the “Oh Sh–” response to the substantial amount of water found. After pumping the bilge dry, a close inspection under the teak and holly revealed a small spout of salt water every time the boat settled into a wave. After ruling out all the obvious causes for sea water in the bilge, we decided we had better find a port to diagnose the problem rather than having a larger problem reveal itself in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. When the boat was hoisted out of the water our diagnoses were confirmed. A small patch of fiberglass cloth was delaminating at the trailing edge of the keel. The normally hollow keel had filled with seawater. On the third morning of our detour, a call to the factory connected them with Fibermarine, a local ship builder. They took responsibility for repairs, and a swarm of workmen descended on the boat. To take my mind off the grinding and cutting on my brand new boat, we decided to play tourist.” Boy, that sure does sound like a problem with their keels to me. http://www.wildcat.co.za/letter4.html (this link no longer works since Charter Cats has been put out of business). This article talks about how Eric Schoeman, head of Charter Cats, offered to build Jim Cash a brand new Wildcat for the
same price as his previous model. This, after Charter Cats had paid for all of Jim’s original repairs as well as a subsequent haulout and survey. But more than anything, I just love that it is on their very own website, and yet he still told me they had never had a problem with keels before. Unreal.
FROM: Eric Schoeman, Charter Cats SA
DATE: December 2, 2004
Dear Pat and Allison,
I have seen the pictures – please note my answers below: The boat is a few years old and who knows what it has been through since purchased. Some have been caught up in hurricanes and knocked about quite extensively. Upon survey by one of the most respected surveyors in the business, nothing untoward was found. The blistering on the front looks like some gelcoat repair was done with contaminated gelcoat or with a “damp” brush. It needs to be sanded off, re-gelcoated and polished.
Delamination can occur as a result of a lightning strike. We have seen this happen to a boat, but it can easily be repaired. Fill the void with a thin viscosity epoxy by drilling several holes and filling from the top.
As the epoxy starts to come out, tape shut with plastic
tape and continue filling until the highest hole is spilling epoxy out. It will then be completely sealed. The
keel is very minor and simple to fix and not expensive.

The boat has done in all probability around 10,000 miles without a problem. All our bilge pumps are fitted with the use of Sika and are not screwed to the hull. Obviously someone fitted new ones or felt that they required screwing into the hull. We have built over 150 boats which have all crossed oceans and have never had a problem with the keels. As you have already ground the keel, just re-glass the damaged section. All
of these problem areas can be repaired successfully.
Due to the fact that we pride ourselves on good relationships with our clients and do our utmost to assist them in any way we can, I am prepared without prejudice to contribute $2,000.00 USD towards the
repairs. It is just as well that you have chosen not to make this available on your website as it can only serve to lessen your re-sale value in the future. What I can tell you is that these great little boats are strong and sturdy blue-water cruisers and that once repaired she’ll be as good as new, especially if she has an owner who takes care of her.
Trusting that this will be of assistance to you and please let us have your banking details by return.
Kind regards, Eric Schoeman
TO: Eric Schoeman, Charter Cats SA Here I address Eric’s previous email and flat out refuse his pathetic offer of $2,000.
FWD: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: December 4, 2004
Eric,
Thank you for getting back to us. I’d like to address your points.
1. The boat is not a few years old it is only a little over two years old. The original owner launched it, I believe, in August 2002 and arrived in Florida with it in June of 2003. So judging by that timeline he would not have been sailing in any areas during hurricane seasons. And I can assure you, and you can read for yourself on my website, that we have not encountered a hurricane. In fact in 10,000 miles we did not encounter any sustained winds over 30 knots.
2. I am glad that you agree with me that Charles Kanter (the surveyor) is a very qualified and respected surveyor. Here is the email I just received from him regarding these problems. He viewed the same photos as you.
“I really feel bad for you that what you had originally described as blisters, turns out to be major disbonding. If you remember, you sent me several emails describing blisters both above and below the waterline. (At this moment, I am awaiting a new computer to replace my crashed one and I will be able to access your actual email.) From the photos you posted, and the descriptions of the problems, what you are suffering is not delamination, but disbonding, which is the separation of the core material from the skin. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to discover this condition in an average C&V Survey, without some additional clues to go on.
If you check the photos I took at survey, there was no hint of any problem in the external appearance, nor any internal anomalies such as unexplained bilge water. When you tap on FRP, if it is not delaminated, it takes meticulous investigation to determine the cause of differences in tone. Delamination, on the other
hand, is when the actual FRP laminate disintegrates, which is quite different from disbonding and readily recognized from tapping (percussion sounding).
As a surveyor on a C&V survey, there are reasonable limits as to what can actually be discovered vis a vis hidden defects. In percussion sounding of hulls, there is wide variation of the tones returned from the mallet
due to various construction issues. For instance, the tone varies at bulkheads, at engine stringers, and at any items that press against the laminate, which includes the core. If the core is not touching the laminate in some places it may still ring true, because the laminate itself is good. Without additional reason to probe further, there is no way to find it. Especially in a one-hour hang in the slings, soaking wet.
Actually, the painter in Panama discovered it without even sounding. Precisely what I describe as additional clues. Those clues did not exist at your survey or I
would have discovered them. If there are questions
discovered at survey, then it is time for experts, not surveyors, and such discovery processes as thermal imaging or cutting coupons for lab analysis, both of which are destructive testing, beyond the scope of C&V survey. I suggest that the possibility that disbonding was beginning in various places at my survey is within the realm of possibility, nevertheless, delamination was not. I further suggest, that when you discovered
this obvious and blatant manufacturing deficiency in Panama, you may have been better served, had you headed the lesser distance to South Africa and back to Charter Cats SA rather than continuing on to New Zealand. At least there you might have stood a better chance of getting attention from the factory than you seem to be now.
I am sorry, your quarrel
 is not with me, but with Charter Cats. I am on your side as your surveyor. Again, if you check my survey, and recall my conversations and my published writings, I did not recommend this vessel and most certainly have been Charter Cats most vocal critic in the US. I have no basis to dispute Mike Menzies conclusions, since for whatever reasons I cannot get on his website as written in your post. I certainly think you ought to consider that people say many things and it is very easy to cast aspersion on people half the World away in order to ameliorate your immediate concerns. I am sure you have taken into consideration when you purchased the vessel that there were reasons for the extremely low price, one of which is detailed in your survey report.
After spending considerable time reviewing the photos, it is obvious that a very poor job of quality control took place at Charter Cats factory. Many of the disbonded core sections should be visible with a very strong light, looking right through the now translucent FRP laminate. I do see considerable disbonding and I see many voids. I cannot see any actual delamination (as separation between the plies of FRP) which is really the only thing a surveyor can count on when dealing with a one hour haulout and a wet boat with bottom paint. Now that the boat is in a laboratory setting, dry and bottom paint removed and destructive testing applied, the construction deficiencies are obvious. A luxury we do not have at survey.
I am half the World away with only photos to view. I suggest you ask Mike if the hull is even worth fixing? The last thing you want to do is throw good money
after bad. You might be better off getting an entire new hull from Charter Cats (at their expense, of course) and just cutting the boat in half at the hull-deck joint. That could be done either by shipping the boat back to SA and letting them do it at the factory (preferred) or shipping a hull to NZ and doing it there (at Charter
Cats expense, of course).
As to my culpability in this issue, let me sleep on it for a while. Keep me posted. Hopefully, by the time I get your response I will have my own computer running again. I can certainly empathize your predicament. If there is any help I can supply, please just ask. Good luck.”
So as you can see he feels the problem is disbonding not delamination. To me they are essentially the same thing. Either way, he obviously feels that the damage is severe enough that it is either going to take considerable work to fix or that it may not even be worth fixing and that Charter Cats should replace half the boat for us.
3. As I’ve stated before, there is blistering all over the boat, not just on the front. Taking pictures of blistering is sort of tough and therefore I haven’t posted pictures of every location. But the fact that it is on the front of both hulls, below the waterline on both hulls, along the front of the boat underneath the trampoline, along the entire length of the rub
rails (about 3 inches on each side of it), on the back transom, the back steps, and on the cockpit floor, implies to me that this wasn’t just a quick repair done by somebody with a wet brush. It seems more like an overall failure of the gelcoat to me. And seeing as I have no experience with fixing blisters I would obviously need to hire a professional to sand them off, re
gelcoat, and polish them. All of which costs a sizeable amount of money.
4. I am sure that delamination can occur from lightning strikes. However, we haven’t experienced any. I’m sure Mike Menzies will give you more specific
information regarding the extent of the delamination, but with dozens of areas of delamination we are again talking about a very large amount of work costing me a lot of money.
5. From talking to people around the boat yard I would have to disagree with your point that the keels are very minor. The keels were extremely weak. Cracked wide open over large areas where it was supposed to be sealed to the hull. If we had hit a log out at sea I feel either one of these keels could easily have been ripped right off the boat. I don’t even like to think about the consequences of that happening. Not to mention the effect hauling around two keels that were full of water for 10,000 miles had on our sailing performance. And again, “just reglass the damaged section,” costs a lot of money. There is no way these could have been fixed properly without grinding the keels. All work that has to be done by professionals.
6. Yes, all of these things can be repaired successfully. But your email and your offer of $2,000 makes it sound as if it is a simple weekend job that I should be able to handle myself. When in fact, this will take a couple of months on the hard (which all by itself will consume most of $2,000), dozens of man hours done by professionals (at roughly $40 per hour), a lot of materials, and even a seemingly simple thing like repainting the bottom costs hundreds of dollars. So
needless to say we are not happy with your offer of $2,000. This number is so far below what it is going to realistically cost us that I refuse to even make a counter offer to that. I am willing to work out a reasonable settlement though, and look forward to working with you on something that will be mutually satisfactory.
Also, I am not withholding anything on our website because of future resale value. I have been withholding it in order for you to have a reasonable period of time to respond. I have had many readers ask me my opinion of Charter Cats, Wildcats, as well as your new model, and continue to tell them that we are having issues with blistering and delamination, but are confident that Charter Cats will go the distance to deal with the problem, and at that time we will certainly share with everybody what the results have been. And besides, if all these things are so minor, why would that lessen our resale value? And just so you are aware, I have forwarded this email to Mike Menzies, who is doing the work on the boat, so that he might have a chance to address the issues with you as well.
Thank you Eric, we look forward to hearing from you. Patrick and Alison Schulte
TO: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA Here Mike tries to intervene on our behalf and get Charter Cats to provide us some assistance.
CC: Pat and Ali Schulte
  Charles Kanter (the surveyor)
FROM: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited
DATE: December 8, 2004
Hi Nicole,
My 
name is Mike Menzies and I am a boat surveyor here in NZ (specializing in GRP craft) and I also have a second business specializing in the repair of osmosis. Both businesses are very successful and we have a very proud record. Both businesses have been in operation for more than 20 years.
Recently Pat and Ali Schulte arrived at Gulf Harbor Marina just north of Auckland to have some blistering on the underwater areas of their Wildcat 35 yacht BUMFUZZLE analized and attended to as necessary.
Initially I sounded the underwater areas of the hull like any surveyor does and discovered numerous (with many large in size) areas of delamination/voiding in the hull. I also analized the blistering which was extensive.
My analysis suggested the moisture in the gelcoat blisters had not got to the laminate but the gelcoat was extremely thick, full of cavities with water in them and also the bond of the gelcoat to the laminate was very poor. It was agreed that the blistering was far too extensive to treat individually and the only practical option was to remove all the coatings including the gelcoat off the underwater areas and re-coat with our vinylester coat system. We knew we also had the delamination/voiding to attend to once the hull was ‘planed.’ When the ‘planing’ was completed the full extent of the hull problems were revealed (see photos). We opened up a few of the poor sounding areas and discovered that the balsa core had never actually bonded to the outside hull laminate in the first place. The port hull is particularly bad with large areas cut out. This is very poor in a craft with such light laminates. As you would know, there is very little strength in cored structures unless the laminates and core are totally bonded.
Although Pat and Ali have sailed many miles to get to NZ the problems with this craft are not delamination from falling off waves but appear to be straight out poor building practices. (Again refer to some of the photos.) On top of the poor or non existant bonding we also discovered that the port hull has water in the core on the starboard side. Large areas are still bleeding after being open for approx a fortnight now. I have not established yet how this water has got in but at some point I have to determine this and cut off the
source. We also discovered (at my first analysis) that there was water in both keels. Sounding suggested this and drill holes into the keels certainly revealed both keels filled to capacity. The craft arrived here with extra glass taping around the intersection where both keels are joined to the hulls. This repair work was very
poorly done (I understand in the USA and the glassing was on antifouling!!!) and this suggested problems and this is certainly the case. The glass laminate of the keels is extremely light on the sides and our prep grinding after the hull was ‘planed’ went straight through the laminate in a few areas where they are glassed to the hull. In my opinion certainly not enough glass laminate to bond the keels to the hull. 
Because of a total lose in confidence in their craft by Pat and Ali and our discoveries in the underwater areas they employed me to sound the topsides up to the deck antiskid areas and they have now employed our company to rectify all the voiding in the hulls here as well (some as large as in the underwater areas). They wish to leave here with both hulls and bridge deck in top condition and they are paying significant money for this to take place. There are also problems and issues within the inside of the craft which they have put on hold for now because of the cost of the exterior work. I have briefly seen a few of these areas and I feel the craft really needs a complete survey to ensure all bulkheads and structural areas are sound etc.
Although Pat and Ali are the second owners of this craft they have ended up in a very unfortunate situation with a craft with significant structural issues and for them, a long way from home. To think the craft is only 2 1/2 odd years old is also an extreme
disappointment to them and an eye opener for me. I understand that they had the craft surveyed prior to purchase and this also reveals questions to address. I note the surveyors comments and explanation re delamination and an expression ‘disbonding.’ I
sounded this craft and marked dozens of areas where the outside laminate was not bonded to the core. When areas like this are discovered they are either delamination or voiding or in other words areas not bonded. We can all live with small areas not bonded
(many craft have them) but large areas are not acceptable and must be addressed. Now that we have opened up the craft it is obvious for all to see. There is no evidence in any of the areas of the laminate fracturing or ‘ripping’ apart which is delamination. The majority of areas cut out literally fell to the ground with no evidence of any bonding. The laminate is so light that this is easily detected and in the larger areas the laminate can be physically flexed. Pat and Ali sat and watched me do my job prior to ‘planing’ the craft and could not believe their ears and their eyes with what they heard from my sounding and my markings on the hulls. It certainly has the appearance to me that several of these issues would have been present at the time of the survey as they have been there since the craft was built.
On behalf of Pat and Ali I have done this report to draw your attention to the situation with their craft and copies have also been forwarded to Pat and Ali and the surveyor. I note from correspondence that a monetary offer has been made from Charter Cats. I ask on behalf of Pat and Ali that consideration be given to a much larger amount than suggested. There will be significant cost in cutting out and re-building the non bonded areas and the reglassing and structural work on the keels. We are also going to apply one layer of glass to all of both hulls prior to our coatings as the laminates are quite thin. The gelcoat issues should not have occurred in such a short time and also I ask you to remember the craft will be on the hard for a good few months to effect the repairs. We will be using special drying equipment to dry the balsa. The craft is readily repairable and will be in good shape when it departs here. We are well into it at this time and a new hull is not practical or necessary.
I also suggest to Mr. Kanter that he consider some help. I do not sit here half a world away and cast aspersions, I manufactured GRP craft for 15 years (between 12-73 feet) and have surveyed for a further 20 years. I do my job to the best of my ability. I had never seen this craft before but within a few hours of my initial inspection I found most of the problems that Pat and Ali are now faced with. Although some
time (and mileage) has gone by since the survey all the photos and evidence point to all the problems being there from day one and this discovery would have meant monetary allowances at the time for investigation and the necessary repairs prior to them leaving for their trip or alternatively not buying this particular craft at all.
We are a well respected marine company here in NZ and can readily supply a break down of how the repair work is working out. Some of the work is on a straight charge up basis as it is too difficult to estimate. As mentioned above, we have a very proud record and we have sent many people on their way from NZ knowing that we have rectified there particular problems and we like to feel that in each case their particular crafts are as safe as it possible for us to achieve. Pat and Ali want to feel the same way with their craft before they leave NZ. It is disappointing for me that I have had to convey my discoveries to all concerned parties as per the above. Pat and Ali do however have problems to address and at considerable cost and we will do the best for them and I ask both you Nicole at Charter Cats and Charles Kanter to maybe communicate and consider some assistance for them.
Please feel free at any time to email me re any questions photos etc etc. At the end of the day we want to see them on their way successfully and safely.
Yours sincerely, Mike Menzies Managing Director
TO: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited Well this sounds good. Nicole Hough, the client liaison at Charter Cats SA, is asking what we think the costs will be. Of course she follows this up by explaining exchange rates and currency valuations to us. Thanks Nicole, but I couldn’t care less about the rough time you are experiencing down there in South Africa. Maybe I should tell her how the NZ dollar is rising against the US dollar by the day, and these repairs are costing me more and more money. Not to mention that her explanation actually shows that it should be easier now for them to pay us in US dollars.
CC: Pat and Ali Schulte
FROM: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA
DATE: December 8, 2004
Hi Mike,
Thank you for your email. I have not seen the email from Eric to you, but only heard from my husband Paul about the donation towards the costs. What do you believe the costs will amount to in total for the repairs? Eric owns Charter Cats and what he says goes, but Paul and I will have a meeting with him to discuss ‘Bumfuzzle,’ but having an idea about the costs would be beneficial beforehand. Paul mentioned $15,000 is this correct?

We have been having a hard time with the strong Rand
and weak Dollar so our money does not go very far when converted these days. We would like to help rectify the problem but have limited funds. 2 years ago we used to get R14/1USD, now we get R5,80/1USD. Our production has increased 3 fold in 2 1/2 years that is why we are surviving. Two boat yards in Cape Town have recently closed because of the Rand Dollar fiasco.
Give me a few more days to try to negotiate something, and I will come back to you.
Thank you for your sincerity and interest in trying to come to an amicable solution.
Kind regards, Nicole Hough
TO: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited He sure does have a different plan and offer. Just wait until you read about it below.
CC: Pat and Ali Schulte
FROM: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA
DATE: December 9, 2004
Hi Mike,
Eric has had a meeting and he is going to reply in the next day or 2 from the factory. I don’t know anything about boat building so unfortunately all your good info is wasted on me. I have forwarded your last 2 emails to Eric and Paul so they are in the loop. Eric has a different plan and offer to yours. Please wait for the email.
Regards, Nicole
TO: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA  
CC: Pat and Ali Schulte  
FROM: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited  
DATE: December 10, 2004  
Hi Nicole,  
Thank you so much for your prompt reply and your suggestion of some possible assistance. We have given Pat and Ali an estimate (usually reasonably accurate) to ‘plane’ all the gelcoat off the hull, apply one layer of CSM to both hulls, lay up 3x layers of CSM on the keels and onto the hulls for a staggered distance of up to 300mm and then recoat the hulls with our own double vinylester coating system before fairing, priming and re-antifouling. Because of the expense I have given them a reduced cost to reglass the keels and put the extra layer on the hull. These costs are in my office and I am not there today. I can forward these in a few days.  
In addition to this we are doing on a charge up basis the cutting out of the un-bonded areas, the drying of the balsa, bevel grinding and re-glassing of the patches in preparation for the 1x layer and coating system as
mentioned above. We are only part way through this ‘patch’ work on the underwater areas at this time. We hope to have the craft well advanced by Xmas but before Pat and Ali left they employed us to do all the structural and some cosmetic work to deck level as
well, so we are a bit pushed at the moment. We could have some figures by Xmas but will not be aware of
the full cost until maybe the middle of January. Because of the topside work they are going to have to
re-paint the topsides.   
Pat and Ali have advanced us several thousand dollars at this stage and the final payment will be when we have completed all the work mid Jan. So Nicole, in the meantime by all means let all parties know of the situation and we can chat from time to time as it all comes together. I guess to give you some idea at the end of the day I imagine the cost not including painting could be in the vicinity of twenty five thousand dollars or so plus haulout/hardstand. Also, photos will be arriving today. Thanks again for your prompt reply.  
Yours sincerely, Mike Menzies  
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Here it is! The grand-daddy of all screw off letters. Kim and Eric have suddenly, miraculously, solved the mystery of the delaminating Wildcat. Wow, thanks guys. I can sleep soundly tonight. I know Ali and I are really looking forward to going out to dinner with these two. I’ll let you read this one and determine for yourselves what you think about their solution.
CC: Daniel, Factory Charter Cats SA
  Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA
  Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA
FWD: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited
FROM: Kim and Eric Schoeman, Charter Cats SA
DATE: December 15, 2004
Solution to ‘Bumfuzzle’ problems.
Dear Patrick and Allison,
I 
have studied the various reports and letters regarding your boat and believe that I have solved the cause of the problems. In all our years of production, the only time that problems arise such as yours is with a lightning strike. I will give you irrefutable proof that that was the case with your cat. As I said before, Charles Kanter is an excellent and knowledgeable surveyor and it would have been absolutely impossible for him to have missed any of the problems that you have encountered.
1. I refer to your email of 28 May 2004 where in you state that one thru-hull fitting could even spin around while it was in place. Any yachtsman with even the most basic knowledge of boats and underwater fittings will agree that if what you stated is correct, and I have no reason to doubt you, your boat would have been taking in a serious amount of water continuously and the bilge pumps would find it difficult to control the water pressure from the sea outside, forcing water between the skin fitting and the hull. You mention that all the other skin fittings had to be replaced as well. Mr. Kanter could not possibly have missed this with water leaks from all of the skin fittings. What caused the problem can only have been from a lightning strike or a series of strikes which grounded through the skin-fittings. He would have definitely picked that up as he would have been ankle deep in water. None of over a hundred boats built by us have ever had this problem. Obviously the lightning strike melted the Sika caulking on the skin fitting and damaged the others when grounding through the boat into the sea or in your case the land.
2. Regarding the dis-bonding. After studying the photos it seems clear that the damage was not there
when Mr. Kanter surveyed the boat. Everyone in the boating industry will tell you that if you have such a large piece of glass not bonded to the Balsa, it will
swell up in the heat or warm water as the air within the area expands, causing a large and conspicuous bump on the side of the hull. Apart from using a
hammer to tap and find the faults, you could use your finger to depress the laminate as it would be away from the hull and could be physically flexed as your surveyor, Mike Menzies, pointed out to you. You don’t have to be a surveyor to see that problem. Again, obviously that was not there as well when inspected by Mr. Kanter, as he could not have missed such a big fault whether visible by applying hand pressure or surveyor’s hammer. This is a result of a lightning strike.
3. Re the keels: I assume that the water in these was fresh water and came from the bilge pump or float switch which was screwed through the glass into the void of the keel and not sealed. We never screw our bilge pumps into the bottom of the hull and only ever use Sika to secure them. Mike Menzies, as a surveyor and boat builder for the past 15 years (I have been a builder of catamarans from 40 to 76 feet, for 35 years), should have noticed that the keels are part of the moulding and not an ‘add on,’ and that at the hull and keel corner it would be all gelcoat, giving an out of the mould look with no glass laminates on the outside. From what you tell me there has been a very bad repair job done at that point and that even the anti-fouling had been glassed over. It is patently clear that this repair job was done after the boat left the factory and in the three years that it has been sailed by the original owner or yourself. Remember that the boat would have been anti-fouled after arriving in the islands after the Atlantic crossing which would have thinned and polished it down in the process and also the owner having rubbed off the growth under the boat regularly. It would have been anti-fouled again after 6 months and then at least one year later. Somewhere along the line the boat has suffered damage and been repaired.
As to the thickness of the laminate, all you have to do is check the weight of your boat against any other boat of the same size and you will find that you are anything from one to two tons heavier and if you check a NZ one-off boat you will find that it is probably three tons lighter. Your boat should weigh around six and a half tons. During the build process, the boats stand on four tressles. There are at least twenty men working on the boat at times, so the keels are under extreme loads and we have never had a problem of anything collapsing or being damaged. The observation as to the ‘lightness’ of the laminate on the keels, what I can tell you is this: the keels have 1 x 300 gms CSM and 4 x 900 stitched quad on either side of the keels plus 6 x 1134 gms down the centre of the keels and all the laminates go up into the bottom of the hull which give you 3900 gms on the side and 10,704 on the bottom of the front and back of the keels. All our sailing cats have that laminate as standard plus they have two coats of International No-mosis epoxy. That is why by putting one layer of 300 CSM on the hull and 3 x 300 CSM on the keels is absolutely worthless and old technology. It is extremely heavy per sq m and has no strength at all. If you managed to plane through the keel, you went through 3900 gms of stitched superior quality strength glass and two coats of epoxy and have replaced this with 3 x 300 gms = 900 gms a shortage of 3,000 gms. This is in my opinion dangerous and understrengthened.
As for the hull, 2 x 900 quad = 1800 gms below the waterline and one 900 above, so if you plane away the laminate when you take away the gelcoat, you obviously take away some of the stitched quad and put back 1 x 300 CSM which is not acceptable and you will have a problem with this method. Using a plane to remove the gelcoat means that you cannot control the
depth of the cut and is indiscriminate as to what it takes off i.e. going through the keel. It is used for osmosis treatment on the old boats where the hull is
extremely thick because there is no core in the laminate and the normal procedure is that after a lot of the laminate is planed off, you put back 2 or 3000 gms of new glass, then fair the hull = an extremely long and expensive process.
You state that you are going to use two layers of Vinylester resin underneath the waterline. Check your photos that you sent me and you will see green on the
edges of the ground areas. That is two layers of International Gelshield epoxy for osmosis protection which comes standard on all our boats. It looks as if the boat has been damaged at some stage, the keels ground down, making them thin as you found them, and then repaired. We definitely have 10,704 gms on the keels when it comes out of the factory. The reason that we make the keels so thick and seal them off at the hull level with more thick glass, is to ensure safe passage as they are all delivered on their own bottoms to the States and abroad. This is usually in the region of +- 5,000 miles or more. Should they ever collide with submerged containers or the like, they will withstand the impact well. There is absolutely no reason why we would make them anything less than this and we pride ourselves in building strong and hardy
 boats for our treacherous coastline and ocean crossings. Our boats are surveyed during the build process by the South African authorities and in your boat’s case, by the owner himself prior to it leaving our shores.
Re: the water in the Balsa leaking out (13 Dec 04 letter). Check above the leak. That is probably where the lightning strike originated prior to exiting through the skin fittings. In your letter of 14 Nov 04, you mentioned a strange side effect being that your email stopped working when the boat came out of the water. That might have been the day that you had the lightning strike. You mentioned being able to turn the skin fitting around with your hand. If you had been in the water and this happened you would not have been able to control the intake of water, so the strike probably happened when you were on the hard. Had it been in the water the boat would have filled up rapidly as happened to us in Cape Town harbor when we were struck by lightning and it blew the one skin fitting right out, causing a jet of water to enter the boat which we had trouble plugging in order to stop sinking. We are talking from experience, and this is not fabrication.
In conclusion, I am very sorry about what happened to your boat, but it had nothing to do with the build factor. Act of Gods do occur more often than you think, and I sincerely believe that this is what happened to you. I gave you the easier and less expensive way of repairing your boat, but you chose to use Mike who is not only a surveyor, but happens to be in the boat repair business as well. Anywhere else in the world, this would be considered to be a conflict of interest. I have never heard of a surveyor carrying out a survey and then getting his own boatyard to effect repairs. That is just unacceptable. A surveyor has to be completely unbiased and uninvolved in carrying out the repair himself. He can advise and inspect, but to be involved in repairs and charges is unethical in the extreme. He is either a boat builder/repairer, or a surveyor, you cannot wear two hats. My offer to you of correcting the work that has been done still stands.

On your travels and when you pass by SA, please allow us to do this in the interests of safety and of standing by our clients without prejudice even as you did not buy from us directly or that the boat is almost 3 years old and done 20,000 miles. It does us no good to run from this type of situation and we are not in the habit of doing so, as we too are yachtsman with three daughters who have sailed around the world and know the meaning of safety and the implications thereof. We build strong and sturdy boats and are proud of our reputation in the building industry. Yes, some boats do have blistering. There is not a company around who hasn’t had some of these problems and usually they can be sorted out pretty quickly and efficiently.
You sound like an interesting and charismatic couple and we would like to meet you and host you in our country which has many great places of interest and game parks which you should not miss visiting. We look forward to your arrival and if you can let us know in advance of your arrival date, we can make arrangements to have your boat hauled.
With regards, Kim and Eric Schoeman Charter Cats SA (Pty) Ltd.
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Mike was obviously a bit shocked by Charter Cats response.
FROM: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited
DATE: December 17, 2004
Hi Pat and Ali,
How 
is it all going over there? The weather certainly has not improved here. We have however been getting enough fine spells to push on with Bumfuzzle. We had real issues trying to dry the balsa on the star side of the port hull. However after several washes with fresh water and a few gas cylinders of heating we got the moisture levels down really well and we have progressed on from there. By the end of today we will be close to having all the underwater areas re-built and will start fairing next week. We have not started on the topsides yet. I see us pulling it altogether in the first week back after the holidays.
I cannot believe the email from the builders. I have never heard anything so outrageous in all my life. They simply made one crook hull and I will reply to him in due course. Pat, the loose skin fitting. Was it one or two and were they not in the star hull (the one with much less in the way of issues and no water in the balsa). Let me know the answer to that. Also, the hull was well sealed round all the skin fittings was it not. We are still not aware how the water has got into the star of the port hull. I would really like to establish this. Nothing obvious has shown up from the outside yet. This Eric has got wound up has he not. He thinks all the skin fittings were loose. It was only one or two wasn’t it. Were the skin fittings metal or plastic or a mix of both? 
As for the void areas – the only successful way to detect is with a hammer. Did the Miami surveyor use a hammer and tap like I did? That’s how I do all boats. 
As for his comments re me and surveyor/repairer. I will tell him I still have not surveyed the craft. I consulted on blisters and found all the other problems. His comments on the green layer and Gelshield. That product was a total disaster and was stopped and taken off the market several years ago because of the failure rate. Re the glass. We have taken virtually no glass off the hulls or the keels. The majority of the original is still there so his comments on weights etc is irrelevant. We are stiffening the keels as you know and they sound much better now. The keels show no evidence of any damage just poor glassing round the tops. There is a bit more to reply to but if you can answer the above I will then reply to the builder.
Regards for now, Mike Menzies
TO: Charles Kanter (the surveyor) Okay, now we are back from our trip to the U.S. Time to talk to the surveyor again.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: January 15, 2005
Hi Charles,
Sorry for the delay in our reply. We have been trying to deal with the builder, as well as flying back to the U.S. to visit family during the holidays. Now that we are back in New Zealand and on the boat again, there is something I would like to address with you. That is the statement that “…if you check my survey, and recall my conversations and my published writings, I did not recommend this vessel and most certainly have been Charter Cats most vocal critic in the U.S.” I have poured over the survey time and again, and nowhere in it does it say you do not recommend this vessel. In fact, under suitability for intended use you give it a Good rating. And the only problems you raised in the survey were to repair/re-design the tiller steering system, to strap down the house batteries, and to relocate the fuel tank vents. All of which I did before leaving Florida.
As for the rest of the above statement, I can’t honestly believe that you expect that anybody you do a survey for is expected to have read all of your published writings. I was not aware of your writings until we met you in Florida. And in the little that I have read it seems that your biggest complaint with the Wildcat is that it has a sloping deck instead of a flat, square deck.
Something which has never been a problem for me.
And I certainly don’t recall any conversation in which you said that you did not recommend this vessel. If you do not recommend a vessel it should be clearly stated on the survey report. It is because of this reason that I feel you should feel some culpability in this matter.
Please let me know your thoughts. We’ll look forward to hearing from you. Patrick and Alison Schulte www.bumfuzzle.com
TO: Kim and Eric Schoeman, Charter Cats SA I think this pretty much says it all. We consider Charter Cats response to us to be utterly absurd. By reviewing all of our correspondence with them in order, it becomes pretty plain to us that they are either having a serious cash flow problem or they are just insane. Either way they seem to not be at all inclined to help us out.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: January 15, 2005
Dear Kim and Eric Schoeman,
Now that the holidays are over and we have returned to New Zealand and our boat problems, I would like to address your last email to us in which you have miraculously “solved the cause of the problems.” Your contention that all the problems with our boat have been caused by an “Act of God” is almost laughable. In
fact, it would be laughable if the boat wasn’t mine. Unfortunately it is.
You are trying to tell me that a lightning bolt struck the boat on the starboard side of the port hull (bypassing the mast), traveled throughout the boat, and exited little by little through many different thru-hulls and hatches. From every story I have ever read or heard about concerning lightning strikes I was under the impression that they either “blew the one skin fitting right out” as in your experience, or they destroyed the electronics on board. Nobody I have spoken with has ever heard of lightning doing the kind of damage that you describe.
Also, you keep referring to my experience with one thru-hull in which I stated I could turn
 it with my hand. You continuously tell me that the boat would have sunk if this were true. I wonder, did it ever occur to you that it might not be an underwater thru-hull?
The one that I was referring to was actually the shower bilge pump and exited just above the waterline. So instead of a sinking boat I ended up with a soggy one
whenever the waves were hitting us on the starboard side.
When we bought the boat there was already some water stains on the woodwork in a few places.
Therefore, we knew that there were leaky hatches way back then. We pulled the hatches and resealed them and haven’t had a problem with any of the ones we have done since. So again, if your contention that this was all caused by a lightning strike is correct, then the boat must have been struck before we bought it, and thus before it was surveyed by Charles Kanter. Yet you say that there is no way that he could have missed
these problems. Then you say that maybe it happened within the hour that the boat was hauled out and Mike began to look it over. I’m sure I could show you pictures from the haulout and you would agree there were no lightning storms in the blue skies.
I can’t quite understand why you say that the water in the keels was fresh water. Where exactly would hundreds of gallons of fresh water come from? The water was most definitely salt and it is as clear as can be from the pictures exactly where the water came in from. It really shouldn’t matter anyway that the bilge pumps were screwed in should it? I mean, the keels are supposed to be hollow and dry all the time so there shouldn’t be a problem with water coming up through the screw holes, right?
You also seem to have a problem with Mike Menzies. I
would just like to point out to you that Mike was recommended to me personally by Tim Gurr. Tim is a well respected NZ boat builder as well as two time member of Team New Zealand and current team member of Team Ainghi of Switzerland, the current
America’s Cup Champions. I don’t think we could have gotten a better recommendation than that and believe that Mike’s reputation is beyond reproach.
I received an email just today from a reader who is building a Schionning designed Wilderness 1230. In the process of making his decision he discussed our situation with Craig Schionning. Craig told him they aren’t very happy with Charter Cats because this is the third Wildcat that has delaminated. I doubt that everybody has had the same lightning problems. Anyway, I’m not going to waste any more time dismissing this ridiculous “solution.” You know, and anybody who reads about it will know, that it is ludicrous.
At this time I would like to ask you again for your help in rectifying the situation. We are asking you for $15,000. This is roughly half of the total cost involved in rebuilding this boat to a state that makes it both seaworthy and re-saleable. Without investing this money in our boat there is no way that we would have been able to resell it, much less felt safe over the
course of the rest of our circumnavigation. If you decide that you are not going to help us, then I hope that you are happy with your story of the unlucky lightning strike.

As you know, nobody buys a boat these days without first researching it on the internet. I intend to tell the story of our Wildcat in every detail on our website, as well as my two new websites www.wildcat350.com and www.jaguar36.com. I am sure that potential buyers will find it very informative and I intend to leave it up to them to make their own decisions based simply on every email that has been exchanged between me and Charter Cats, as well as dozens of pictures of the boat every step of the way.
Previously you offered us $2,000 followed by an email a few days later from Nicole to Mike Menzies asking if $15,000 sounded about right. In that email she says, “We have been having a hard time with the strong Rand and weak Dollar so our money does not go very far when converted these days. We would like to help rectify the problem but have limited funds.” This email made us feel that Charter Cats was about to do the right thing and offer us some monetary assistance in line with the actual costs. Unfortunately for us, a few days later we received your email telling us it was an Act of God and therefore you wouldn’t be helping us
financially. This sequence of correspondence would almost make it seem that the exchange rate had more to do with your decision than the sudden lightning strike solution. We hope that you will reconsider your stance.
I am not out to trash the Charter Cats name. I honestly believe that you normally build a very good product at a very reasonable price. In this case it would seem that something simply went wrong in the process of building the port hull. It’s a problem that could be fixed and has been. Now we just need Charter Cats to do their part as a respectable company standing behind their product and consumers.
Sincerely, Patrick and Alison Schulte www.bumfuzzle.com
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte  
FROM: Charles Kanter (the surveyor)  
DATE: January 16, 2005  
Patrick,  
Sorry you have not resolved your problems yet. Please let us not get into parsing words. When I do a survey, the intent is very clear and well stated. Please check the wording of your survey again. As an Accredited Marine Surveyor I am exceptionally aware of the latent liabilities of recommending or not recommending anything. Thus, my survey is a clear statement of the best available condition statement of the vessel on the day of survey. It is not a warrantee nor is it a
contradiction of a claim made by a manufacturer (which is fraught with other contingencies).  
Most of my objection to the Wildcat had to do with external features of sloping decks, low booms, sloping cabin soles, etc. The other features are rather obvious, as comparing a Cadillac to a Chevrolet. You pretty much get what you pay for and I think I emphasize that quite well in discussions with my clients.  
As far as “recommending” the boat, I specifically state
that the designated usage is a claim of the manufacturer and designer, not the surveyor. Your situation is a case in point. Obviously, by your own voyage, you have proved that the vessel was capable of the use claimed for it. I have no professional or legal standing to counter that claim. I can only show that the vessel did meet the manufacturers claim at the time of the survey and that with the exceptions I listed was in reasonable condition. I empathize with you. Whether or not lightning is the cause of your problem or not I simply cannot say, especially without actual first-hand viewing of the vessel. When I am confronted with a situation like yours, I immediately call upon the best expert available. The last time I did, I used Bruce Pfund, a world recognized authority of laminates.  
Please keep me posted. If I can be of any assistance, I will be more than happy to oblige.  
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Sounds promising again doesn’t it? We’ll see.
FWD: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited  
FROM: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA  
DATE: January 18, 2005  
Hi Pat,  
Based on your email to us regarding the said repairs, please supply us with a copy of your account from the yard to allow us to review the extent of work done. This would include for labour and materials used, thank you!  
Kind Regards, Paul Hough  
TO: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA  
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte  
DATE: January 18, 2005  
Hi Paul,  
Thanks for the reply. We’re getting the invoices together and will forward them to you as soon as possible.  
Talk to you soon. Pat and Ali Schulte  
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Here it is. The bill. Roughly $23,000 USD.
FWD: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA  
FROM: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited  
DATE: January 25, 2005  
Hi Pat and Ali,  
The costs in round figures are as follows. The underwater areas coating repair including the addition of 1x layer of glass on the hulls plus the extra 3x layers on the keels is approx $20,750. The extras including cutting open unbonded laminate areas, resin
injecting smaller areas, drying the wet balsa, rebuilding all these areas and fairing ready for the above work $6500. The haulout and hardstand including an estimate for the time in the shed and
allowing back on the 10th Feb $3700 – $3800. There is no GST on these and obviously all are in NZ dollars. This is close to what the repair has actually cost. We can do a final account for the extras but the other two will wait till we complete and you re-launch. We will discuss anyway when you get back.  
All the best with the claim Pat and Ali. We will see you after the long weekend. You do realize it is Aucklands anniversary day hol. on Monday so we are all back on Tues.  
Sincerely, Mike Menzies  
TO: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA Plus another $9500 on paint. And I won’t even go into all the other costs involved, such as thru-hulls, riggers, etc., etc.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: January 28, 2005
Paul,
Below I have included the email I received from Mike Menzies Marine regarding the final costs of the work done on our boat. He tells me that before we go back in the water next Friday he will have a detailed breakdown of the costs. As you can see, the costs for the work on the disbonding are roughly $30,000 NZ ($23,000 USD). On top of this we have had to have the boat painted due to the fact that so much work was done above the waterline as well.
Due to cost constraints we were only able to have the hulls painted up to the original non-skid and had to leave the underneath of the boat, from the trampolines to the back transom unpainted for the time being. This painting alone has come to $13,000 NZ ($9500
USD). Bringing our costs to well over $30,000 USD.
While reading your website we noticed you have an article on there in which a sailor had exactly the same problems with his Wildcat as we did. The article goes on to talk about how wonderful Charter Cats was in paying for the entire costs of his repair, as well as giving him a great deal on a brand new model at a future date. We hope that we can expect the same kind of customer service as he did.
In addition, I’d like to point out that time has become an issue. We are scheduled to be put back in the water on Feb. 4th. One week from today. Of course, before we are put back in the water, all of our bills to the yard
and the contractors will have to be paid in full. Your help in getting this taken care of quickly will be greatly appreciated by us.
Thank you, Patrick and Alison Schulte s/v Bumfuzzle
TO: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA No reply after another week.
  Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA  
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte  
DATE: February 3, 2005  
Hi Paul,  
Our plans for getting back in the water by today have been delayed until Monday. We’d really like to hear your thoughts as soon as possible. Please let me know that you have received our emails and when we can expect to hear back from you.  
Thank you. Patrick and Alison Schulte  
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Once again waiting on those meetings of the minds over there in South Africa.
CC: Kim Schoeman, Charter Cats SA
  David E. Monahan
FWD: Mike Menzies, Mike Menzies Marine Services Limited
FROM: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA
DATE: February 4, 2005
Hello Patrick and Alison,
Paul has been on the waterway between Houston and New Orleans. He flies out today to Atlanta and then to SA. He and Eric will respond as soon as they have a meeting when he gets back to the office.
Thanks, Nicole
TO: Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA Another 11 days have gone by without a response to our latest email. We are so tired of waiting for their responses that we thought we should finally just put an end to it one way or the other.
  Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: February 8, 2005
Hi,
Ali and I are really hoping to hear from Charter Cats concerning reimbursement for the work we have had done. I hate to put a deadline on things, but I feel we have been overly patient thus far and it is time for Charter Cats to make a decision. With the Miami Boat Show in a few days I am planning on posting a detailed page on our website concerning all the work we have had done to date and Charter Cats response to us. As I’m sure you know, our website has gathered quite a following and I’m sure you can look forward to hearing from many of them at the show. Whether they are positive or negative comments is completely up to you at this point. I will expect to hear back from you within the next 24 hours.
Thank you, Patrick and Alison Schulte www.bumfuzzle.com
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte 12 days after the money email, and one day after the deadline email, we finally hear from Paul. Well isn’t that a scary email? I wonder if we should say how sorry we are? Gee Paul, do you think you can forgive us for printing nothing but the truth about the boat that your company built and the customer service we have received since our first contact with you? I sure hope you don’t have any “lose” of business because of it. What a joke. If they have any loss of business it will be solely on their shoulders. If this is the way owners of their boats can expect to be treated then you can bet that they will lose business. What does he think? That he can just threaten owners into keeping quiet about the problems their boats have. The boat is now structurally unsound? God, I hope he realizes how stupid that sounds. And Paul, buddy, our boat isn’t insured, so you can sleep soundly at night, don’t worry. Tell you what Paul, if you want to disassociate yourself with its construction why don’t you fly over here and take off those stickers on the cabin that say Wildcat. We’d be happy to let you have them.
FROM: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA
DATE: February 9, 2005
Dear Pat & Ali,
Please find the attached letter from Eric regarding the work carried out to your boat.
Based on your proposed plans to post and continue to post slander about our products on your website or any other website we advise that we reserve our rights to take legal action without prejudice against you for
unfounded and untrue statements that cannot be proved and will sue you for any lose of business or damages as a result of your actions.
Based on the work carried out to your boat we further advise you to inform your insurance company as we feel your boat is now structurally unsound and disassociate ourselves with its construction.
Kind Regards, Paul Hough Charter Cats SA (Pty) Ltd Power & Sail Multihull Manufacturers South Africa [Sailmail deleted attachment: Bumfuzzle.doc]
TO: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA Can’t wait to see this letter. I hope he doesn’t take back that wonderful invitation to host us in his country. We were so looking forward to meeting all of them.
FROM: Pat and Ali Schulte
DATE: February 10, 2005
Hi Paul,
Great to hear from you again! It’s been a real treat dealing with Charter Cats from start to finish. Our email does not allow attachments, so could you please open the letter from Eric and send it to us as an email instead of an attachment to wdb5656@sailmail.com. Might I just add that any legal fees you incur would have been much better spent by taking care of your boat owners in the first place. Enjoy the website.
Best Regards, Pat and Ali Schulte
TO: Pat and Ali Schulte Okay, so here it is. The letter from Eric. First let me quickly address the first sentence of this email which is a little side note from Paul. Yes, Paul, you have made it abundantly clear that we are not your clients. And as you will notice if you read the email again, I say “by taking care of your boat owners.” There is a difference. Calm down. Okay, back to Eric’s letter. First off, it’s Alison, not Allison, could you please take the time to pay attention to her name. I don’t say Kym instead of Kim. Right off the bat it’s time to blame the leaky keels on something else. Did he really hit a floating object? It’s entirely possible, it happens while sailing all the time. Running into stuff at sea, being hit by lightning, are all possible explanations I guess. Funny that in Eric’s Dec. 15th email he states about the keels that, “Should they ever collide with submerged containers or the like, they will withstand the impact well.” “What I predicted would happen, did happen.” When did you predict this? And why didn’t you share this information with me? “…you have now caused a monster of a problem, which is what I said would happen.” When did you say
this? And why didn’t you share this information with me? As far as the paint goes, I’ll take some pictures of the gelcoat areas and stand them alongside the new painted areas and let you decide for yourselves which is a better finish. As for the rest of the comments regarding the work
done. Ali and I feel 100% confident that the boat has been
strengthened considerably and that it is now a boat worthy of taking to sea. Mike has been nothing but up front and honest with us since day one and is somebody who knows what he is doing and has a genuine interest in our well being. Something that we would not have been able to say had we had the work done in South Africa. Eric also goes on to say that they are prepared to assist. Well thanks Eric, but it’s a little late now don’t you think? And don’t you just love that little note stating, “we did not sell her to you.” It’s like Ford saying their 5 year warranty is no good if you are the second owner and purchase the car after only 10 months. Sorry, not our problem. And the final comment we will make regarding all of this is to address the issue of blackmail. Apparently Charter Cats feels that by us printing this information we are blackmailing them. I can only assume this is because they feel they are in the wrong. But just so there is no shadow of blackmail hanging over all of this, we agree to no longer seek compensation from Charter Cats for the boat problems we have had up to this point. And refuse their sad little offer to correct our boat at this time. And
therefore, cannot possibly be called blackmailers.
CC: Kim Schoeman, Charter Cats SA
  Nicole Hough, Charter Cats SA
FROM: Paul Hough, Charter Cats SA
DATE: February 10, 2005
Below is a copy of Eric’s letter to you! Remember you are not our client as you mentioned in your last email. Kind Regards, Paul Hough
Dear Patrick and Allison,
The article that you refer to was written by Jim Cash. He bought a boat from us and only after a few thousand miles did a leak appear in the keel area. We believe that they hit a floating object as a loud “bang” was heard at one stage during the voyage as reported to us by the crew. The damage and cost was minimal as they liased with us prior to effecting repairs. Unlike your situation whereby you had the whole keel rebuilt and used chopstrand on the side of the hull, a method
20 years out of date. No boat builders of any class would use it as a strength material. Stitch fabric and quad glass, yes, but not chopstrand.
What I predicted would happen, did happen. The boat yard created a lot of work (and money) for themselves by the way they tackled the problem. The minute that you plane off the gelcoat and glass (I gave you the different values that you use) you are going to cause a problem, you weaken the structure, and as a composite hull you take away all the stitched quad glass, leaving a layer of 300 chopstrand which is not used for any strength, but to stop print through, only
to put another layer of chopstrand over the planed surface, now definitely creating a weak structure, and that goes for the keel as well. The cherry on the top is that by planning off the gelcoat and some stitched quad glass and for whatever strange reason replacing this with the weakest form of glass chopstrand, you have now caused a monster of a problem, which is what I said would happen. Now you have to fair the hull, which is the most difficult and time-consuming part of the operation. (The tools used to fair are not called the “torture boards” for nothing). It is a miserable and very expensive job which you have now found out to your detriment.
The next problem that Mike has manifested, is that because you have faired the hull, you now have to paint it with filler coats, sand, paint and sand and then do shadow coats and fill and sand and eventually paint with a two-pack polyurethane paint which is weaker than gelcoat. It scratches easily, fades and peels off if not applied correctly. When the boat was in the USA it would have been easier and simpler for us to inspect and do repairs as we have a team of people who could do warranty work there. The correct procedure would have been to take core samples of what and where the problem was, and then use epoxy and vacuum bag the area, as explained to you at the time. This would make the repair stronger due to the strength of the epoxy. This is the quick and most efficient method of repair.
The problem, the way I see it is: In spite of the fact that you had the boat surveyed and nothing was found, without prejudice, we are prepared to assist. We believe that with all Mike Menzie’s experience, he went about the repair in the incorrect manner, causing you a great deal of unnecessary expense, and in our opinion you have now gone backwards. Most of your expenses were incurred by the manner in which the
repair was carried out, and in our opinion incorrectly carried out. We see the most expensive option being taken by the repairers and acted upon in spite of our directions and advice, and again we re-iterate that it
was the most ineffective method.
We do not feel accountable for costs incurred by Mike’s method of repair as we do not agreed with it. The unnecessary work was: a) planing off all the gelcoat b) cutting out the disbanded pieces c) glassing of the hulls d) fairing of the hulls e) excessive haul-out time to complete the work f) painting the boat and shed time.
Our offer to correct the incorrect method of repair still stands. If however, you continue to persist with your blackmail attempts, we will retract this offer. We in no way feel obliged to pay for something that was carried out contrary to our advice offering a solution to the problem. The boat is almost three years old, she was
pre-owned (we did not sell her to you) and lastly she passed the survey of someone highly respected in the yachting industry.
We look forward to your arrival in South Africa while on your travels and can assure you that we will repair your vessel in the manner in which it should have been done.
Sincerely, Eric Schoeman

 

We hope this sheds some light on things for people. I am sure there are those of you out there who will read this and completely disagree with us and feel that Charter Cats is correct. And this is alright by us. We understand that we have gone into this entire adventure with little or no knowledge about boats and that maybe we are just getting what we deserve. That sure seems to be what the boating industry is telling us. And it’s because of this that you won’t hear us whining and complaining about it. We have already moved past it and are looking forward to the rest of the trip in our new and improved boat.

And here is our final costs incurred for the boat repairs. Could it have been done cheaper? Yes, but the finished product wouldn’t be even close to the quality that we have now. And what is the point of only doing a job half way?

1 star front of hull 2 port front top of hull 3 star under tramp 4 star front hull 5 haul out NZ 6 star grind 7 grind done 8 drying balsa 9 keels empty stink water 10 keel starboard back of keel 11 keel starboard back of keel2 12 keel starboard back of keel3 13 keels to hull 14 keel port hull meeting 15 keel port hull meeting (1) 16 disbonding 17 hull void 18 port side outside hull 19 port hull front bottom2 20 port hull front bottom 21 blue tape voids 22 rubrail removed 23 star hull under tramp blister fix 24 starboard hull 25 keel fixed2 26 keel fixed 27 paint OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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4 Comments on “2002 Wildcat Catamaran Blistering and Delamination”

  1. Hi guys. Interesting that I came across the name Paul Hough on the CruisersForum, and remembered about your “adventures” with him and his company yourself. I did a search of his name on your site and found this post. People sitting in the cheap seats like me should always remember that there are two sites to every story, but I do think that him being arrested for fraud is telling: http://www.ibinews.com/ibinews/newsdesk/20090919142605ibinews.html
    Take care.

    1. Telling indeed. It was nice to see him and his wife arrested. We heard from quite a number of people who had deposited money with them for boats that were never delivered, or even started on.

  2. So wonderful to see they are now financing their lawyers lifestyle! Love reading on your adventures, you enjoy life so much !Take care.

  3. HI Guys hope you had some resolution of the costs incurred in the end.The company sure got into a pickle and no doubt paid a lot more in the end than they would have done if he had helped you out.The fact that he was prepared to jeopardise your lives possibly makes it that much worse.Take care and I hope you are out there still having fun together and hopefully with some of your own children now.
    Take care and fair winds.Kind regards,David.

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