The volume aspect of the head seat is clearly a contributer and goes quite a way to explaining the high cost but that does not alter the statement that we as boat owners get ripped off.
I needed a new starter motor. I went to a Yanmar marine supplier who quoted me NZ$975 for the replacement. I bought the exact same starter , bearing the same Hitachi ID plate with the same part number (so let's not debate that it isn't a marine version) for NZ$590 from an automotive vendor.
I then needed a water pump. Here I was trapped because there are no other suppliers for Yanmar water pumps and I was quoted NZ$630 for the replacement by the agent. I asked if I could get the parts to overhaul the pump and was told the pump is not serviced, parts are not available. I found an automotive vendor who overhauled the pump with new bearngs and seals for NZ$136. And in all honesty the overhaul was done so well it's hard to distinguish the pump from a new one. It was even painted with Yanmar paint!!
So why is this? The boating fraternity world wide could make every effort to boycott marine suppliers wherever possible. Would that make a difference? Not really. Because a large proportion of the boat-ownership world-wide are wealthy folks who don't even ask the price. They mostly don't even know what was done to fix a problem and their secretary or accountant pays the bill. I have several friends in the boat maintenance business here in Auckland and they reckon one in 5 customers ask for a quote. The rest just want the problem gone.
That's why we pay extortionate prices.
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