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Old 21-05-2016, 20:43   #1
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5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

Hey everyone! While we are celebrating 10 months on our brand-new Fountaine-Pajot Helia 44, we are also lamenting the items that still aren't working (some of which have never worked), and it made me think that these stories (cautionary tales, most of them) could be useful to anyone looking to buy a brand-new boat or who is in the process of negotiating the purchase of a new boat.

Things can get very complicated with all the parties involved in creating your new floating home (factory, broker, manufacturers, post-factory outfitters, etc.), so I wrote this post to highlight the lessons we learned from our experience buying a new boat and the mistakes we made in the process (which hopefully you can avoid :-) )

Good luck if you are buying new or old and, fingers crossed, it goes a little smoother for you than it did for us :-). The link is below:

5 Lessons in Outfitting a New Boat - Turf to Surf

Sincerely,
Tasha
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Old 21-05-2016, 22:45   #2
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheeky Monkey View Post
Hey everyone! While we are celebrating 10 months on our brand-new Fountaine-Pajot Helia 44, we are also lamenting the items that still aren't working (some of which have never worked), and it made me think that these stories (cautionary tales, most of them) could be useful to anyone looking to buy a brand-new boat or who is in the process of negotiating the purchase of a new boat.

Things can get very complicated with all the parties involved in creating your new floating home (factory, broker, manufacturers, post-factory outfitters, etc.), so I wrote this post to highlight the lessons we learned from our experience buying a new boat and the mistakes we made in the process (which hopefully you can avoid :-) )

Good luck if you are buying new or old and, fingers crossed, it goes a little smoother for you than it did for us :-). The link is below:

5 Lessons in Outfitting a New Boat - Turf to Surf

Sincerely,
Tasha
First I want to say, I love your videos. It's great to see videos from cat sailors. Wish there were more cat sailors making videos.

My sympathies. Sorry to read of your troubles. Your story reminded me of when I did a major renovation in my home. The lying, the incompetence, the not showing up, etc. At the end of the day as you point out, the only real power you have in a contractor relationship is holding back payments.

You of course have another very powerful tool at your disposal now. The power of the internet. Many a hotel is now realising how negative reviews on sites like hotels.com or bookings.com can severely damaged their business.

I wish we had such consumer facing sites for the boating industry. Kind of like an amazon or Ali baba for boat equipment and service providers. But that's another issue.

Getting back to the power of the Internet you now have I would be scared, very scared if I were that dealer who brought into the picture the dishonest outfitter. You see, for every subscriber you have on YouTube you have five or ten times that through word of mouth. And yes the boating world loves to talk.

So by giving your broker a heads up that you will mention his name on air for setting you up with a shady and shoddy contractor, should get that broker off his dime a he'll of a lot sooner than what happened.

I would also say that FP has a responsibility to manage what dealers out there become dealer representatives of their company. FPL does have a responsibility here. They are responsible for the sake of their own reputation to only have the most professional and ethical dealer's. Just as the dealers are responsible to hire only the most ethical, honest and professional contractors.

After all your not going out and hiring a contractor from Craigslist. You took on the contractor after he was referred by the dealer. And the dealer is a representative of FP.

So I would beat up the dealer. No matter how nice a salesman he is. He needs to take a hit for introducing you to an a... hole. And even if you messed up by not getting the factory to install your autopilot. The broker and his friend the contractor are collectively responsible for the screwed up install.

Perhaps we should have a shame section on cruisers forum for us all to post the names and businesses that everyone needs to be warned about.

Sorry. But the way you have been treated is an oft too often repeated story. Time for us all to fight back.

Kind regards,
Chaya
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Old 22-05-2016, 02:13   #3
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

All sounds depressingly family. I would make a few points.

My story was for a Lagoon 400 S2. Fountaine Pajot may be different and perhaps a little more flexible.

In the case of Lagoon you get a order spreadsheet and tick the boxes only. As far as I know there is no facility in terms of your contract with Lagoon to specify anything that is not on the spreadsheet.

Lagoon use commissioning contractors to complete some of the work that is part of their responsibility. I was able to commission these contractors directly to do additional work that I wanted.

For some items, I had the option of contracting Lagoon or the commissioning contractors. It cost a lot more to use Lagoon so I choose the later.

The quality of the work between Lagoon and the commissioning agents was similar. Generally good but both made serious mistakes. The most annoying was the settings for the batteries. We ordered flooded lead house batteries but the settings on the battery charger and the solar panel controller were for gel batteries. Too high. We cooked and destroyed the batteries.

Warranties from both parties involved in the supply are, being generous, weak. We sought compensation from the commission agent or Lagoon for our destroyed house batteries. We got nothing. A propellor fell off and Lagoon contributed $1000 towards a $2500 cost. Also the only warranty from Lagoon is 1 year for most things. We had a unusual series of problems after the 1 year mark. They compensated for some and not others.

However we love our Lagoon and would not swap it for anything else. It is a solid boat and has no creaks or groaning. We both feel safe. And it is amazingly comfortable.

Brian
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Old 22-05-2016, 05:27   #4
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Going Walkabout View Post
... Perhaps we should have a shame section on cruisers forum for us all to post the names and businesses that everyone needs to be warned about...
Not exactly a "shame" section; but we do have Product or Service Reviews & Evaluations ➥ Product or Service Reviews & Evaluations - Cruisers & Sailing Forums
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Old 22-05-2016, 09:12   #5
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

Active Captain has reviews for marine businesses. Check them out, and leave your poor review there. Every bit helps.
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Old 22-05-2016, 09:17   #6
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Going Walkabout View Post
You of course have another very powerful tool at your disposal now. The power of the internet. Many a hotel is now realising how negative reviews on sites like hotels.com or bookings.com can severely damaged their business.

I wish we had such consumer facing sites for the boating industry. Kind of like an amazon or Ali baba for boat equipment and service providers. But that's another issue.
This is a question I've wondered about recently. Even in Cheeky Monkey's blog post Tasha has made an effort not to name names. I've done the same in a post of my own.

I think many of us are scared to post a public negative review of marine service providers. Since it's a small industry, we're afraid word will get around and we'll be black listed or something. And something like that threat from the outfitter to get them in trouble with customs should never ever happen (yet we're afraid of it happening).

Yelp.com is an option for reviews, and I have seen a few reviews of boatyards and the like on Yelp, but far fewer than expected. And when I talked to cruisers about a provider, many bad things were said, but when I checked Yelp there were only good reviews for the most part. I wonder if the ones who had the bad experiences were afraid to post a review or just didn't know how.

In the boating world many things are still old school and word-of-mouth. I wish it were not that way because the Internet is a great equalizer - empowering customers with knowledge raises the bar on customer service and forces out dishonest or incompetent businesses.
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Old 22-05-2016, 10:17   #7
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

Thanks for sharing your experience
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Old 22-05-2016, 12:34   #8
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

Sadly this is pretty much my experience as well. Locally at least I have a list of good contractors and good yards, and those who are terrible, overpriced, or both.

I tend to think of buying a new boat much like building a house, even after everything is done the punch list can be formidable, and there is often little leverage available to go after a poor contractor.
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Old 22-05-2016, 12:54   #9
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

I've never had to deal with such problems myself, mainly because I've only ever purchased one new boat from a manufacturer, and that was a 20' open day-sailor. There were one or two minor problems and the manufacturer fixed them immediately. I also purchased a new bare hull and deck assembly for owner completion from a fellow who could not finalize his deal with the manufacturer, but there's not a hell of a lot can go wrong with that is there? ... unless they failed to mix the resin formula correctly.

However, it did remind me of the "fun & games" we had dealing with various suppliers & contractors when doing a major reno of our home a few years ago.

We started our relationship by telling them how fussy we were, & that we had hired them on the backs of references we received from others. We told them we would be taking photos of all work in progress, & that would include the people doing the actual work. I then asked, "Do you have a problem with that?" to which, they all answered "No" ... I believe that in itself promoted good workmanship.

The photo's really paid off following the installation of new pre-manufactured windows. They were a disaster from the word go. Were it not for the photo's, we would have had a hard time proving some of the problems. Out of a total of 27 windows, one small bathroom window was the only one that did not need to be replaced.

The manufacturer did fix everything to our satisfaction eventually. I then learned he was dealing with a labour strike, & our windows were assembled by temporary workers - strike breakers if you will. But we were not told of this at the time we placed our order otherwise, we would have found another supplier. O yes. The manufacturer folded right after we finished our renovations. We felt very lucky we didn't find ourselves labeled as "unsecured creditors".

The point I'm making is, there are risks in everything we do. You, and only you, can control contractors but only if you do it right. Legal payment hold-backs, Photos, and detailed records. Even videos in certain cases. Discuss each and every problem as it arises & get a commitment on how & when it will be corrected. All disputes need to be documented and signed or initialed by persons involved. Remember, it's your money, so look after it.

As I told one employee when asked why all the pictures. I simply said, "so we know who to sue if things fall apart" ... he became a very diligent worker following that.

Some years later, I experienced similar "window problems" when I had a Solarium built on the back of my home. I hired a local contractor who was promoting the product at the time. He too went broke immediately after poorly'finishing' my project ... he was held by court order to bringing in another contractor at no cost to me to resolve my complaints.

The court was impressed with our photo's & records supporting our complaint making it an easy decision in our favour. We were also awarded legal costs.
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Old 22-05-2016, 13:13   #10
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

Teething issues. Try making a 1 y.o. baby next time ;-)

b.
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Old 22-05-2016, 13:15   #11
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

It has been said on this forum many times "do your own work or be there when it's being done". IMO it's not because we are a bunch of cheapskates, it's due to the difficulties of getting it done. It's really too bad, but getting good work done is often as much work as doing it yourself.
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Old 22-05-2016, 21:18   #12
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

As much as I can relate too and understand the frustrations of this process I can also see where products and service providers can be incorrectly blamed when things do not workout. It's a very well written blog that raises very useful info for those who are venturing out and spending $1M on their dream boat!

We live in a world where instant gratification and satisfaction is expected to be the norm....things MUST just work! Unfortunately many people do not realise that when it comes to building something like a sailing vessel boat with the many personalised accessories in addition to an already complex project it's not always smooth sailing and it's very different to driving a car out of the showroom where hundreds of thousands are built to the exact same spec.

The author says that they had a bad run with Raymarine but in hindsight they should have stuck to the factory fitted (OEM fitted) products supplied and fitted by the factory. Not only is it tried and tested but in this case the builder would have taken ownership of the autopilot issues. Garmin makes a fine product but when it's not installed properly then one can hardly blame the manufacturer.

As for messy workmanship or trades people not thinking it through, I don't think this is unique to boat builders.

A few years ago I had a few air conditioners installed at my home. I showed the technician where to install them and then I made the fatal mistake and left him on his own. When I returned he had installed the condensers 4ft away from where I asked and he said that they would be easier to service and clean in the new spot. BS! It was just easier to install. I tried living with it for a while but landed up paying someone else to move them to the original position.

Moral of the story. It's not theirs so they do not care. They're there to get a job done and that's it. Finding an experienced trades person who cares about your boat as much as you do is worth his weight in gold.....so pay him his worth ;-)
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Old 22-05-2016, 22:12   #13
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

I remember following a guy down the ICW and spent several days docked together. He was telling me how he had the boat custom built in china. He wanted a particular fiberglass epoxy used and he shipped an entire container to them to use.
I asked how do you know they used it? Boy Did I get the stink eye. But no answer. I'm sure they used it even if unfamiliar with it. Yeah its fine. Nice yacht anyway.
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Old 23-05-2016, 00:48   #14
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

New I can,t afford, nor need, want a reinforced fiberglass 38 ' ketch that I can repair, respect and refit to liveaboard on the Gulf, I have built big homes for others, looking for a boat with a hardcore frame that is worthy of refit with headroom of minium 6' 4" , for example not encouraged about Irwens deck to hull setup or balsa core no matter how you lay it, in heavy weather I want to trust the rigging. Let,s see if this forum works, tks. D
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Old 23-05-2016, 05:04   #15
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Re: 5 Lessons Learned Outfitting a New Boat (A Cautionary Tale)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheeky Monkey View Post
Hey everyone! While we are celebrating 10 months on our brand-new Fountaine-Pajot Helia 44, we are also lamenting the items that still aren't working (some of which have never worked), and it made me think that these stories (cautionary tales, most of them) could be useful to anyone looking to buy a brand-new boat or who is in the process of negotiating the purchase of a new boat.

Things can get very complicated with all the parties involved in creating your new floating home (factory, broker, manufacturers, post-factory outfitters, etc.), so I wrote this post to highlight the lessons we learned from our experience buying a new boat and the mistakes we made in the process (which hopefully you can avoid :-) )

Good luck if you are buying new or old and, fingers crossed, it goes a little smoother for you than it did for us :-). The link is below:

5 Lessons in Outfitting a New Boat - Turf to Surf

Sincerely,
Tasha
Tasha,
It all comes in the end to evaluation of people.
We had two companies doing the commissioning for our boat at Les Sables d'Olonne.
One was excellent and the second "not so good" to say it politely.
I saw after first contact who was reliable and who wasn't but I could not replace the company I did not like as both companies were contracted by our Lagoon agent and not by me.
However, I did additional work with the company I did like, and even though I was not around they did an excellent job.
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