It is the cruiser’s lot to be in a constant struggle with the elements to keep our gear
working. Fair enough, it’s a tough environment
. But sadly, like everywhere else in the modern world, we see the gradual deterioration in quality of virtually all marine
products, more and more built as cheaply as possible, hoping to snare the unwary with cheap
, fall-apart stuff. Raymarine
sold me a heavy duty, offshore
drive for my self steering
arm made of plastic gears. West Marine
recently shipped me two Ronstan snap shackles (the volkswagon of marine hardware
manufactures) in Harken
(the BMW) bags at Harken
prices. And on it goes with line (rope) without UV protection, galvanized shackles that rust within days, Stainless steel
fittings that aren’t “stainless” because they are made of such low grade steel
they rust happily, blocks that blow up… and now a compass that failed within months.
I am a little embarrassed by my invective in the open letter to Ritchie Compass below, but I want to vent. I don’t know if I’ll ever send this to them directly, mostly because I doubt anybody at Ritchie would care one way or another, or that it would make one small bit of difference. But, at least, sailors contemplating a new compass need to hear this. And I’m mad as heck and not going to take it anymore!
Open Letter to Ritchie Compasses
Dear Mr. Ritchie,
Your Compass sucks.
Can you imagine my disappointment, after spending $800 SGD on a brand new Ritchie “GlobeMaster SP 5c, to find, just months after it came aboard, a pool of oil on the teak
cockpit sole and an air bubble the size of a tennis ball in the liquid filled compass?
The whole product has a cheap
feel to it. When I unwrapped our mail order, to my vast disappointment I found the compass light is ‘engineered’ from two LED lights
, mounted on an unprotected circuit board, just waiting to soaked by the next wave to come aboard. (Getting that replaced will mean a lot more than finding a light bulb!) And everything else is made of plastic of doubtful dimension and chemical composition. Just days into our first passage
, I was not impressed to see splotches of rust showing up all over the “stainless steel” mount. But the last straw was the bubble!
Now you and I are faced with the hassle and expense of a warrantee repair. I lose time. You lose money
. I mean really, what are you guys doing? You know this product is used in a marine environment
of salt water
spray and constant motion on ocean passages of thousands of miles. You know we will expect it to last more than a few months, one boating
season, or even, heaven forbid, a few years. Why then are you using 304 stainless on the mount? Why would you design a compass light around an unprotected circuit board? Why would you build it so poorly that it leaks
in the first three months?
Yup, your compass sucks. Shame on you!
I am telling my cruising friends about my experience with Ritchie compasses, because as your website says, "navigation really does begin with the right compass", and its sure not a Ritchie!
There is more at play here than consumer rage. There is a much more serious issue. It is not just about “fucknowlogy”, fumbling high tech stuff released into the market place, nor is it about businesses maximizing profit by squeezing quality, or our mute acceptance of ever more false advertising claims, though all of these are issues too rankle and highlight civilization’s failing social consciousness and values.
Rather, the more serious issue is the question of our very survival – we are wasting our planet’s resources. And I mean ‘wasting’ as in depleting, diminishing, exhausting, stripping, denuding, wrecking, etc.. because almost everything we produce is designed to fall apart quickly. And we are doing so exactly when we need so desperately to be doing the opposite. When we should be doing our modern best to build stuff that lasts a long, long time (repairable) – things that make the most prudent use of the planet’s resources -- we are, instead, building C.R.A.P.(Carelessly Resource Assailing Products).
And so we all ask as sailors and consumers alike, "What can ‘I’ do?"
This is the important question. I hope you will join me in a personal quest to stop buying
CRAP. Join me in rewarding manufactures who produce quality repairable products and punish manufactures who build cheap fall apart stuff. As for which camp Ritchie falls, you'll have to decide for yourself.
But help us save the planet - DON'T BUY C.R.A.P.