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Old 05-02-2010, 14:02   #1
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Boatyard Warfare

I hope this won't be too long to read, but I would be very grateful for some advice from experienced boatowners...

I purchased my first sailboat last April, and this is my first winter on the hard, where I have a fairly long punch list of maintenance (and a few repair) items I need done on my 20-yr-old boat. At this stage there are only a few items I am capable of doing myself, despite the books I've bought and the advice I've received from friends. I am dedicated, however, to keep learning so that I can eventually tackle most things.

So, that puts me in a situation where I must rely on local boat experts to do most of the work at this stage. Well, there is one guy who is recognized locally as THE sailboat guy. Everyone I talk to has said the same things about him: "He is very knowledgeable. He does good quality work. But he is dishonest and will overcharge you."

I have had him do some work, and with each of two invoices came about a $100 surprise. He refuses to provide estimates, and he becomes very unhappy when you refuse to give him free rein to explore and fix as he sees fit.

This caused me to seek out other competent folks: one who will do fiberglass work and some reseating, and one who can do engine and propulsion work. They, too, are both competent, and their reputations are much better.

The kicker is, the engine guy won't work with the overall sailboat guy, and the overall sailboat guy won't work with the fiberglass guy.

Aside from simply moving my boat to a different part of the world, I'm at a loss about how to proceed. I'm hearing horror stories, for example, about how the sailboat guy overcharges you and when you refuse to pay it, he slaps a lien on your boat and keeps you out of the water and in the courts. And yet, he's really the only guy around who really knows rigging. He unstepped my mast and will have to be involved in restepping it, reinstalling my radar, gps, etc.

Has anybody else faced these battles? Whatta nightmare. Any advice?
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:10   #2
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The yards I've been to have a owner/manager who arranges/farms out the work to
whoever, since the owner/manager is ultimately responsible for the result, they are
responsible for these problems, sounds like you took a shortcut, any chance of
going through the owner/manager?
Tom
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:13   #3
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I have sympathy for you.

I have not had to rely on the 'experts' but know these types.... I had to check your location since these guys are all over...

Resist using them as much as you reasonably can. Even if you screw something up and have to re-do it, you are at least getting an education for your money.

Of course you don't really get a second chance with some things (like the rig). fiberglass repair is pretty forgiving if you are reasonably competent.

THe biggest trap is to accept that you are in a trap. These guys do not own your our your boat.... do not buy into the belief that they do.

Best of luck to you, I am sure that if you post the specific questions you have about doing some of this work yourself, you can get through it without these guys....
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:18   #4
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Thanks, Tom. The owner/manager does a bunch of boat work, of course, but he doesn't really parcel anything out. He's a nice guy, and I've had him do the actual crane work of unstepping my mast.

He and his crew are willing to do a bunch of the work that the sailboat guy does, but at twice the hourly rate. They are not sailboat folks, however. They specialize in power boats. They can't tune rigging, for example, and they don't really know things like stuffing boxes, etc. The owner/manager refuses to give work to the sailboat guy, due to his reputation (even though the sailboat guy rents a huge loft from the owner). There are several boats sitting in his yard with the sailboat guy's liens on them. It's a mess.
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:19   #5
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One of the main reasons/goals for being a sailboat owner is independence. Most of us do our own work. Starting out small until we learn and then working our way up to bigger boats.

What ever the case, one has to stay within their own budget. Some with lots to spend can pick and choose their workers. And if you can't, then one has to learn to do their own work or fad away.

It sounds as if you may have bit off more then you can chew.
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:25   #6
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Thank you, s/v Faith. You make a very good point about ownership. The sailboat guy truly acts like he owns your boat, and that you owe him all the work on it. He's even been a bit of a bully about it, threatening (half jokingly) about sabotage if you don't agree to a certain repair.
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:28   #7
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Thank you, s/v Faith. You make a very good point about ownership. The sailboat guy truly acts like he owns your boat, and that you owe him all the work on it. He's even been a bit of a bully about it, threatening (half jokingly) about sabotage if you don't agree to a certain repair.
Re-step your mast, tighten all the turnbuckles had tight, and motor south.

I can give you some excellent references in NC, SC, and GA. Get out of there! If this looser is even joking about messing with your boat he should not get a single dime.

Pirates ought to be hung.
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:31   #8
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Delmarrey, I think you're right about my initial approach. Not really knowing the cost of some of these things, and not really understanding what's involved in the work itself, I initially was quite ambitious and may have even encouraged the attitude that, "we're gonna go over her from stem to stern." I have learned to scale back my initial hopes, though, and I believe I've become more realistic - much to the consternation of the sailboat guy.

The bottom line is that the boat will sail perfectly well again this coming season, even if I don't do a darn thing to her, but that's not maintenance, it's neglect. I am trying to figure out what I can truly afford, and I have done a bunch of work myself, along with the ordering of parts. I want to get to the point where I can do all the maintenance myself, but this is only my first season as a boat owner.
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:40   #9
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Sometimes I think we all get caught like this. I usually just try to finish up with whatever the guy is doing and seperate myself as soon as possible. You might use something like, "It's just not in the budget right now" and cut your losses.

When I strarted sailing a friend told me that the learning curve is steep and expensive. You learn a lot fast and when you get into situations like this, it's costly.
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:45   #10
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Thanks, Minggat. Yeah, the money... *whew!*
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:49   #11
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Sounds like Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) having to empty his wallet to the crooked mechanic, in the movie "vacation" ...LOL
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:58   #12
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I did that on my last cruise, Gnitfar. In Norwalk, CT. $600 to have the fresh water pump replaced on the engine. RETAIL price of pump: $150.
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Old 05-02-2010, 15:11   #13
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I want to get to the point where I can do all the maintenance myself, but this is only my first season as a boat owner.
We all started somewhere, the good news is that with forums like this you have instant access to peeps who have been there before you and are happy to spend their time advising for free.

Think you need to settle any outstanding bills with him and get someone to put the mat back up, even if he is the only one that can do this, although your location suprises me.

Next produce a list of jobs you want doing and post them on here with photos if appropriate and the lads tell you what needs to be done, what can wait and what doesn't need doing. You then pick off the jobs one by one

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Old 05-02-2010, 15:27   #14
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Thank you, Pete. As a start, I would really enjoy knowing how to reseat and reseal my starboard, sternmost port. It leaks a small amount of rain water. I'll take some pix and post them here. All help would be GREATLY appreciated.
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Old 05-02-2010, 15:36   #15
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DennisM

It's good to see your willing to stick with it. Over the years I've seen so many bail out after the first couple of years either too much work or $$$$. That's where you see all the boats sitting in the marinas that never move but yet they still pay for the slip. Haven't yet been able to figure that one out!
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