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Old 06-02-2010, 06:35   #31
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Paul's post #20 is one of the most accurate assessments I have ever read on this forum.
In my experience, most first time owners have no idea of how long it takes to accomplish certain jobs on a boat. I was aked to replace the exhaust hose, in one piece, on a Morgan 51 OI. I asked the owner to work with me to avoid having to hire a helper. 6 sweaty hours later, (August in Bermuda), job done, the owner admitted that he would never have thought that it was that physical and required such contortions to get done.
The yard owner/manager that I work with has a policy, which he readily explains to customers. If he asks me in to do a job, he puts 10% on my bill, and I get paid before the boat hits the water.
If I bring the job in, I bill nett to the customer, and he is happy with the haul-out fee. I am responsible for my own collection. Guess which one I prefer.
Ther have been cases where I have let visiting boats leave the harbour before being paid, because I trusted the owners to pay up at a later date. But I could also tell you horror stories the other way.
Bottom line: Every yard, job, and customer is unique IMHO
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Old 06-02-2010, 06:50   #32
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Blue, thank you. I find value in both your and Paul's assessment. Part of my confusion about the "sailboat guy" is trying to figure out his true motivations. Is he actually dishonest, or is he simply somebody who will only do things according to a strict code of what he believes is the right way, which takes longer but is ultimately better than alternative methods? Is his refusal to provide estimates motivated by an opportunity to gouge or by a realistic understanding that "you never know what you're getting yourself into" with any kind of boat maintenance?

I have had two conversations with him about the above, and in both instances, he insisted that caring about the quality of his work and the integrity of my boat are what drive his approach.

Oh, and I pay my bills immediately upon being presented with an invoice.
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Old 06-02-2010, 07:35   #33
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Dennis, not sure what you currently have in the way of books but Nigel Calders "Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual" is probably essential for you.

This isn't easy bedtime reading, the print is small but packed full of useful advice which normally needs reading twice to get your head around what he is talking about. Mine is there when I have a problem and I need advice from its 800 pages.

Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual: How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat's Essential Systems Boatowners: Amazon.co.uk: Nigel Calder: Books

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Old 06-02-2010, 07:35   #34
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I've been in your shoes (actually I could consider still there...lol ) when my boat sunk at the slip and I was subjected to the local shake down.
You know, they know your insured, and that money will be coming, so lets do as much as we can to get a big piece of it..
like the thru hulls that were replaced, poorly positioned, I might add so the tail pieces which were not installed are now pretty damn hard to put them on.
And the engine pull and reinstall. that cost 5 grand. That was just for their labor. Oh and the refusal to put the boat back into the water untill they got paid, jacking up the storage costs significantly, while the insurance agency plodded along, taking 8 month to finally cut the check.

What I learned thru all that is to do my own work. It might not be the best, but its mine. As long as things don't burn down, blow up, or electrocute me, I am good.
Right now I am installing 2 ac units in a boat that had ac, but installed wrong. No duct work in the boat at all, so guess how long it takes to cut a 4" or 6" hole in a bulkhead? A lot longer than you think is the answer. As paul said in a previous post, it can take 4 times longer that you expected, and that I believe is for people that have been doing this a while. For the rest of us, expect it to take 10 times longer and for you to have to order parts several times till you get it right. Will it be as good as the best boat craftsman around, no! Will it be good enough, maybe.
If I need to revisit it at a later date, then so be it. I will have the experience of the first time, plus all the other jobs that I learned from the next time. And the money saved goes into QUALITY tools. Do not skimp on this part. The difference between a quality tool and the average one might be 2-3 x the cost, but believe me, it is more than worth it. For instance hole saws. Get the cheap on at home depot and it is toast in a few cuts, and it will rust away on your boat so the next time it is useless. Get a quality one from Jamestown distributors and it will last thru all your jobs and then some.
Don't give up. Keep at it. Reject the notion that you have to pay someone to do this for you, unless you are physically unable to do it, then reconsider moving the boat when you can to a area where you won't get taken to the cleaners by con men.
Believe me, after the last year, I wish I had just put the boat on the hard for a while while it was all figured out, then did it all myself, including engine rebuild. The money saved would have bought me a generator and a water maker.
Bob
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Old 06-02-2010, 07:45   #35
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Thank you for the recommendations, Pete. I'll definitely look those up. Right now I'm using Don Casey's "Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual" and whatever info I can download from the internet.

Bob, thanks. I've invested easily over $400 in new tools, which is probably laughable to a serious sailor. But I figured it was only a beginning...
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Old 06-02-2010, 08:21   #36
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Dennis if you have Don Casey's book, you can find the section on replacing portlights to walk you though the steps. I suspect you have gotten that far and the issue is where manuals and reality diverge.

In my recent case it was the forward hatch. "Simply remove the frame at the hinge and take it to your local glass shop to be replaced." This turns that $200 professional repair into an inexpensive DYI. Until when spinning the screws out, nothing happened. Oh, they turn. They turn very easily. But they don't come out. Nor can you see what they are turned into without removing the inside frame, and liner...but I digress.

As Paul Blais mentioned, he has been doing this a long time and adds a 4x factor. Moving from daysailing to my cruiser, I have concluded two things:
1. Boat units scale exponentially (a 15 minute job on my 20' is not 30 on my 31')
2. There are no jobs requiring tools that take less than 8 hours.

I figure #2 is true for me, because of #1 and that I am unrealistically optimistic that when I open up something to make a change - six other things will not always be found that need to be replaced "first". Maybe - someday - I will have everything I really need when I start (not what I think I need). And maybe like the example above, something will just "simply unscrew" like it says in the manuals.

I guess my point is, you are not the only one going through this, and just about everyone who works on their own boats remember being where you (OK - WE) are. Which is really why I like this forum.
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Old 06-02-2010, 08:51   #37
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Once you get started you will understand why its hard to get accurate quotes....
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Old 06-02-2010, 08:53   #38
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DennisM,
Hang in there! Reading your post brought to mind the scene from lost in space "danger! Will Robinson, danger!". I owned my own yacht service so have been around the person (s) you describe. I would recommend listening to the reputation rather than the worker himself. If sailboat guy says he wants to repair it as if it was his own boat then ask to see his boat. I have a feeling he is all talk. Most great workers are quiet and confident about their work and let their reputation speak for itself.

When I first bought Ocean Girl I needed a installation job done. I received two quotes. One quote was from..call him company A, my surveyor gave me his name. I asked around about him, all good, but they said he is expensive. The other quote ( call him company B) was from a recommendation of one person, company B talked a good talk and seem to have the knowledge. Company A's quote was triple the price of Company B's so I went with the cheaper less known company b. The job was done in a rather shabby way and he left it unfinished. I think he even used household fittings! So I am planning on going through the whole system myself to replace the cheap short cuts he did. In the end it will cost me about what Co. A quoted. Lesson learned, if you want it done right, go with the best/good reputation.

BTW - marine surveyors, they see the good the bad and the ugly. Ask the guy that surveyed your boat about your sailboat guy and ask if he could recommend a few names. He may be reluctant to talk negatively about sailboat guy but he will give enough hints to give you a good idea.

Some of us don't have the time to make majors repairs on our boats and must hire out. It is very nerve racking to have people aboard drilling and caulking. But I have come to realize that I'd rather the trauma be to my wallet then to my boat.

Cheers,
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Old 06-02-2010, 09:04   #39
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As you note, it's hard to be sure of the sailboat guy's motivations. He might be a bad guy - or just a bad communicator and businessman. In my experience, a lot of guys who do really good work on boats have those two weaknesses. I'd give him the benefit of the doubt one more time - after all, he doesn't seem to be overcharging since his price comes out the same as the boatyard's in the end. His estimates are just wrong. As mentioned, things on boats always take longer than you want to admit to yourself.

What you know for sure, is that his business is bad - really bad. The boat business is going through it's worst time in 20 years. Suppliers take his money and go bankrupt before delivering. Boat owners put off upgrades - and even maintenance. And a whole lot of people owe him money (those liens aren't paying his mortgage) Even really great boat guys are out of work and have a desperate look in their eyes.

Then you came along - a guy with plenty of money (for all he knows), a boat that needs a lot of work, and you wanted to do a quality job. He doesn't see that much these days. I'm sure you don't think of yourself as having "plenty of money" but look at it from his perspective. He's about to lose his truck to the bank.

So in a calm moment talk to him and try for a new relationship. First, tell him that you really like the work he's done. Second, pay him anything outstanding (and make sure he agrees you're even). Third, tell him that the recession has hurt you and money is really tight. You think you'll have to put off a lot of the boat work for a year or two.

There's a good chance you'll see an immediate change of attitude. Try to move to a relationship of "If I could get you $500, what things on the list could you do?" Get him to explain what things are hard and what's easy. Be obviously worried about money. He is.

If his attitude doesn't change, don't use him again. Instead, talk to the boatyard. Tell them that you really like the place and want to be a long term customer but that you'll have to move in the spring if the boatyard can't find you a good sailboat guy. Their business isn't doing well either.

Carl
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Old 06-02-2010, 09:20   #40
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I'm not sure about how accurate seeing the guys OWN boat would be.
My dad was a master carpenter yet the house we built/grew up in, had no interior doors or indoor plumbing for like 12 years..
Since this was interior Alaska,,,my mom always said she was glad dad wasn't a cobbler!
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Old 06-02-2010, 09:57   #41
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Quote:
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I'm not sure about how accurate seeing the guys OWN boat would be.
My dad was a master carpenter yet the house we built/grew up in, had no interior doors or indoor plumbing for like 12 years..
Since this was interior Alaska,,,my mom always said she was glad dad wasn't a cobbler!
James,

You could be my son!!
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Old 06-02-2010, 10:05   #42
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While there are some bad apples in the boat repair and service business, there are many real gems. I suggest getting your boat put together and out of that yard, and then spend the next six months asking your boat owning friends where they go, and not go.

Eventually, you will find the group of honest pro's who you might stay with for 25 years. They will never be cheap, but the work will be first class, and you can trust them. They will actually become friends.

Also, your willingness to work alongside them will be welcomed, and your willingness to tackle smaller jobs yourself will earn their respect.
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Old 06-02-2010, 10:06   #43
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James,

You could be my son!!
PAPA....PAPA.......at last!
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Old 06-02-2010, 10:13   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
As you note, it's hard to be sure of the sailboat guy's motivations. He might be a bad guy - or just a bad communicator and businessman. In my experience, a lot of guys who do really good work on boats have those two weaknesses. I'd give him the benefit of the doubt one more time - after all, he doesn't seem to be overcharging since his price comes out the same as the boatyard's in the end. His estimates are just wrong. As mentioned, things on boats always take longer than you want to admit to yourself.

What you know for sure, is that his business is bad - really bad. The boat business is going through it's worst time in 20 years. Suppliers take his money and go bankrupt before delivering. Boat owners put off upgrades - and even maintenance. And a whole lot of people owe him money (those liens aren't paying his mortgage) Even really great boat guys are out of work and have a desperate look in their eyes.

Then you came along - a guy with plenty of money (for all he knows), a boat that needs a lot of work, and you wanted to do a quality job. He doesn't see that much these days. I'm sure you don't think of yourself as having "plenty of money" but look at it from his perspective. He's about to lose his truck to the bank.

So in a calm moment talk to him and try for a new relationship. First, tell him that you really like the work he's done. Second, pay him anything outstanding (and make sure he agrees you're even). Third, tell him that the recession has hurt you and money is really tight. You think you'll have to put off a lot of the boat work for a year or two.

There's a good chance you'll see an immediate change of attitude. Try to move to a relationship of "If I could get you $500, what things on the list could you do?" Get him to explain what things are hard and what's easy. Be obviously worried about money. He is.

If his attitude doesn't change, don't use him again. Instead, talk to the boatyard. Tell them that you really like the place and want to be a long term customer but that you'll have to move in the spring if the boatyard can't find you a good sailboat guy. Their business isn't doing well either.

Carl
Carl, very good advice.
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Old 06-02-2010, 10:20   #45
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Quote:
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I'm not sure about how accurate seeing the guys OWN boat would be.
My dad was a master carpenter yet the house we built/grew up in, had no interior doors or indoor plumbing for like 12 years..
Since this was interior Alaska,,,my mom always said she was glad dad wasn't a cobbler!
I was speaking tongue in cheek! But it would be great to see the boats he has worked on. When I had my yacht service my new jobs were strictly by word of mouth. My boats were my advertisement. If a potential customer queried about my work I'd refer them to the boats I had worked on, and even though the bottom jobs couldn't be seen when the boats were back in the water, the varnish jobs could.

JamesS, it looks like you have inherited your father's skills, your boat is gorgeous!



Quote:
Originally Posted by HHNTR111 View Post
While there are some bad apples in the boat repair and service business, there are many real gems. I suggest getting your boat put together and out of that yard, and then spend the next six months asking your boat owning friends where they go, and not go.

Eventually, you will find the group of honest pro's who you might stay with for 25 years. They will never be cheap, but the work will be first class, and you can trust them. They will actually become friends.

Also, your willingness to work alongside them will be welcomed, and your willingness to tackle smaller jobs yourself will earn their respect.
Very good advice,
Erika
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