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Old 04-29-2008
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LarryandSusanMacDonald LarryandSusanMacDonald is offline
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A rebuttal

Okay, the other side of the coin.

I work in a marina - Hartge Yacht Yard, in Galesville, Maryland. (And it is near Annapolis)

For the most part, we have a good reputation. I'm not saying that we don't go over estimate in some cases. You can look at a job all you want to, but until you actually get into it, you don't know how long it is going to take.

Example number one:
I've been given a varnish job to do. I assess the job and gather my materials on Monday. I check the weather report for the week. No rain in the forecast. So I tape out the boat (this takes longer than you might think to do a good job) and start sanding.

I find some areas where the varnish has lifted and it peels off down to the wood. The guy making the estimate couldn't have known that. So I try to feather in the edges and seal it. Then I discover that the bedding is bad - which is why the varnish lifted in the first place. So I dissassemble and rebed. And I continue.

By now it's Wednesday and the forecast was wrong. It starts raining. Crap!

Thursday, you pull all of your tape and retape because the rain has lifted the edges of the tape. Then, you clean everything and get a coat down.

Friday morning you are informed that the customer wants to use his boat on the weekend. You can't put down another coat. And you have to pull the tape and put the boat back together.
Monday, you come back to the job to find that the customer has stepped all over the dry but uncured varnish. Retape and a hard sanding... shall I go on?
These are the things we face.

Example number two:
Customer wants some electric circuits added. You get into the boat and discover that the existing wiring is insane.

You tell the yard manager; he calls the customer; the customer says, "It's always worked before - just add the new circuit and leave the rest alone."

So you try to do it - but there is no room for another circuit breaker. You try to find an unused circuit. Tracing the old wiring takes all day long and by the end of the day you haven't accomplished a thing. Supervisor says - "How come you're not finished - we told the customer this job wouldn't take more than four hours?" You try to explain, but the supervisor is under pressure from the yard manager, who is under pressure from 87 customers.

Nobody wants to hear it. 'Jist git 'er dun!' is all we hear. So we 'git 'er done.'
And sometimes we screw up. I know none of you ever screw up, but sometimes we do. And I know we shouldn't. And I know we are charging $85.00 an hour. And I know that all you can see is a screwed up bill with an inflated price. I'm sorry. But some of us do the best we can under the circumstances.

There are about 35 guys that do the work on the boats here at Hartge Yacht Yard. Many of them have been working here for 20, 25, 30 years.

We have very few youngsters coming into the marina looking for work. The work is too hard. They don't want to do it.

So us old farts carry on. We'd like to retire. Our backs are sore, but our wallets are thin. Prices of food and fuel keep going up. We do not get paid the $85. an hour that is charged for our services. $15 or $20 is all most of us get.

We are a bunch of five figure people living in a six figure world.

So we carry on.

Fixing your boats.

Fixing things that you have no idea how to fix properly. Trying to undo what the owner has crapped on. Trying to fit into spaces and reach things that midgets with three elbows can't. Going home at the end of the day exhausted. And bruised.

And having gotten no thanks from the supervisor. (Compliments are unmanly, you know.) And no thanks from the management or the customer. Just complaints. Always complaints.

If we do something right - and believe it or not we often do - nobody says a thing.

I recently did a cetol job for a customer who had done the job before, himself.

It looked as if he had done it with a broom, from the dock. Without benefit of tape. There was cetol all over the deck, there was cetol all over the metal rubrail so bad that there were places you could not see the rub rail. I spent days cleaning up his mess. (Not included, I find out, in the estimate.) The thing is, if I leave the mess, it is MY fault. If I clean it up, I take too long.

Then I was told that the customer only wanted two coats on, because he wanted to do the third. I'm afraid to go look at the boat.

This turned into a rant, I know. But, I hope, probably in vain, that some of you may be able to see the other side of the coin.

We are not evil. We are, for the most part, not incompetent. We are just workers who are trying to do our job under difficult circumstances.

If you don't like the work, if you don't like the price, just do it yourself.

But when you're finished, turn the same critical eye on your work as you turned on ours. Keep track of your hours spent. Don't do a half-assed job. Do it right. Buy the tools you need. We have to. Work in the hot sun. Work in the freezing cold. Work in the wet. Work eight hours a day. Work with someone who doesn't know what he's talking about criticizing you for doing something that you know is the right way of doing it.

Damn, I'm still ranting. I've had a tough day today. I'm going to drink a healthy dollop of rum and forget I ever saw this damned thread!
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Saltwater Suzi and Cap'n Larry


"A sailboat is a fickle mistress. You’ve got to buy her things. You’ve got to understand everything about her. What you don’t know she’ll use against you." -Captain Larry


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Last edited by LarryandSusanMacDonald; 04-29-2008 at 06:31 PM.
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