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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #11  
Old 04-29-2008
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Larry,

I'm sure there are others here.....but I walk lock step with you! only I work for myself......I bid a job....do the job as if I were working for Jesus, then bill for EXACTLY what I estimated. I eat a LOT of the bill myself.....time AND materials.
My wife says I'm nuts.......but I sleep like a baby.....
It irks me to see shoddy expensive work by others when I do quality work for much less money....
Keep on Rantin' ....... venting helps sometimes......along with knowing you earned your bread by the sweat of your brow.......honestly!
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Old 04-29-2008
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Larry -
"Hear hear"!
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  #13  
Old 04-29-2008
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Larry, you must be a great guy to hire to do the work (and if only I was at Hartge, I'd be glad to have you working on my boat). BTW, I like Harge, they do have a good reputation, but they are too expensive for me (I am not from six figure world, unfortunately). I bought my current boat at Harge actually I wonder if you've seen it before.

But here you talk about how you went about doing a varnish job, and by your description I can tell you that this is not what I've seen from majority (like 9 out of 10) people doing boat work. What I would have expected to happen in most cases, is that varnish would have been painted onto the old varnish without removing anything, without rebedding and without any regard as to how well it is done. The bill would have been the same - $75/hr or so. So, while you do what you do well and care about doing it right - many do not. That's the problem. Whats worse - often it is impossible to even get anyone to do the work - many so called pros aren't even interested in your money (and even worse is when they start a job and leave it unfinished).

Simple example - I need to have a wiring snorkel made. All it is is a piece of 180 degree bent pipe, with one side welded to a flat round flange. If i knew how to weld and had a source of round flanges - I'd make it (I found a source for pipe elbows and I can cut it). But here I am, on a 7th machine shop, asking about this simple thing and more than ready to pay pretty much whatever they ask for it. And yet so far I usually call once, get a vague promise of doing something, and then call 10 more times and nothing gets done. That's the marine industry I see.

So far my one real positive experience with marine pros was with Mack sails out of Florida. They asked only a few necessary questions, did a quick and quality job, charged less than local lofts and all this was done very promptly. I would highly recommend them to anyone. That's my positive list. At the same time I have a long list of places I would highly recommend against.

So, that's my rant.
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  #14  
Old 04-29-2008
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Thanks, guys, I appreciate that.

And Buckeye? "Poverty motivates me in ways prosperity never could." Great line - cracked me right up!

Humor always helps. And rum...
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Old 04-29-2008
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Amen Larry!!!! Please forgive me for joining you in your rant.... I'm thinking you guys never read the Dilbert comics in the paper? Any boat yard is set up first to make money. They're not set up to make Larry rich and they're not set up to fix boats. The bean counters set the system up and they're the folks who say if the yard remains open or that everybody goes home. This business is hugely capital intensive. Taxes are crazy, EPA requirements are crazy, not to mention OSHA. I saw the equal access bathroom regulations once. 400 pages! Jeesum. I don't even want to think about the permitting process for dock repairs (cause you can't just go down and fix 'em) and the cost of building maintenance up here in the northeast. You have to pay all that before Larry even sees your boat..... You can get that ideal quality of repair work done, but it costs a lot more than $85/hr. There is a reason 90% of us here are do-it-yourself'ers, and we should be. Up here in the northeast, if you bob around in the water for an hour, even in the summer, it means death. You are the Captain. YOU and nobody else.. any explanation you can think of will not be accepted once you're in the drink. Know your boat and if it isn't right, do it over until it is. God bless you Larry and thank you for the hard work you do.
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  #16  
Old 04-29-2008
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Great post Larry. People are biased about their boats and I'm sure they underestimate how deep the problems are.
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  #17  
Old 04-29-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomandKarens34 View Post
Amen Larry!!!! Please forgive me for joining you in your rant.... I'm thinking you guys never read the Dilbert comics in the paper? Any boat yard is set up first to make money. They're not set up to make Larry rich and they're not set up to fix boats. The bean counters set the system up and they're the folks who say if the yard remains open or that everybody goes home. .
Well, ideally then I should be able to hire Larry or other people that do good work directly, we can strike a deal somewhere between what the yard charges and what the yard pays employees and both be happy with results. What the heck, I'll pay whatever I pay the yard even - just to know I get good expertise and someone that knows what they are doing and likes it

The one issue with this system is - good people are few and far between, and very hard to find. Leafing through yellow pages ain't it for sure.

A few years ago with my previous boat I hired a guy who has a shop in Annapolis (he has his own company, referred to by major marinas there). All I needed was a few replacement thruhulls. Well, here is how it went:
- He cut out old thruhulls with reciprocating saw, damaging boat hull in process (cut lots of deep gouges around every single one of them)
- He patched up gouges with some epoxy slapped right over the old ablative bottom paint and dirt that was there.
- He stuffed new thru-hulls into old holes without cleaning them of old paint or sealant, just smeared some 5200 and put them in. All that also went right on top of old bottom paint.
- Then he sprayed some thru-hull black paint on each one to cover up.
- Also - for reasons unknown he decided that the head thru-hull was too small (1.25") so he cut out a bigger hole and installed 1.5" thruhull - bronze, with a ball valve which weighted about 40lbs. Since there was not enough clearance he cut the thruhull short, leaving only a few threads (and this was the ugliest most uneven cut, looked like teeth all over the top of the thru hull pipe).
There was more. When I asked him to fix some of these things, he disappeared and stopped returning my calls. So, I had to take all that crap out, fix the hull, properly install and bed thru-hulls etc. Now I do this stuff myself.
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  #18  
Old 04-29-2008
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Quote:
Anyone have any thoughts and experiences on the subject that they would like to share?
I find that dealing with a boatyard is much the same as dealing with any contractor. You need to be completely specific about what it is that you expect and what you will be charged for. Write everything down. Specifiy which materials will be used.

If the yard or the contractor balks at this - move on to someone else. The pros are fine with contracts and actually prefer them.

Realise that when you change your mind or make 'adjustments', it is going to cost your contractor time and money and you cannot reasonably expect them to absorb that. You made the change so you need to cover the expense.

Hold back 10% of the payment until you are satisfied that all the work is done properly and you have had a chance to inspect it. Discuss this at the start of the job. Don't wait until payday and then offer 90%.

I have had most success by only contracting one task at a time. If I need several things done, I break it down and hire people in logical order. The times I have had the largest number of problems have been when I used "project managers".

A couple of times I have been 100% satisfied. There are times that I have been happy with the work, but not with the time it took, or what it cost. There are times I have been happy with the price but not the work. There have been times when things were done quickly, but it was pricey and shoddy.

Given the choice - I will pay the extra money for the better work. If I have the time though, I much prefer to do things myself.

Last edited by Sailormann; 04-29-2008 at 10:38 PM.
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  #19  
Old 04-30-2008
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Sailormann, I agree with your assessment on how to get the job done.

I've been a contractor in construction for over 35 years, and I've dealt with clients that didn't know their ass from a hole in the ground about my work, tried to run the job by telling me how it was suppose to be, and how long it should take. I've also dealt with clients that didn't know a thing about what I do, told me what they wanted, and gave me complete control in getting the job done. I've bid some jobs that tried to get me down in price, and jobs that never said a thing about the price.

A long time ago I didn't know what my value was, so I worked for less. As the years went by I realized by the horror stories told me by others, that I was worth more than I thought. From that day on I decided that I would never prostitute my labor again, and I would always do the best work that I can...for a price! Good work comes at a price, and if the client doesn't want to pay the price, then he doesn't get me to do the work (Period). One day my dad (rest his soul) said to me "there are no craftsmen anymore", and I told him, "Oh yes there are, you're looking at one! But dad, I'm sorry to tell you this. No real craftsman would ever work for you, because you're a cheap ass."

Everyone that has the gift of working with their hands, can look back at what they did for the day, and feel good inside about a job well done...and they deserve to be paid for good work. I know this about craftsmen, and it's the same with all craftsmen, no matter what they do. I'm willing to pay for good work, and I tell the people doing work for me that. I know that it takes time to do good work, and time cost money...that's just the way it is. Many people will hire and pay an unskilled worker to do a job for them, and they'll think they got the better of the deal...but their just fooling themselves. It takes years to get good at something, and those years of dedication to a craft should be rewarded with good pay. Now the question comes, how much should a good worker make? I think a good worker should be able to take home at least $200.00 a day. If the worker wants to make more money, then he needs to go into business for himself, and then that's when the hourly price gets to $70.00 to $80.00 per hour. Why the big jump in pay? Now the man's company is paying taxes, workers compensation if he has workers, insurance, rent, utilities, purchasing equipment...and the list goes on. People think their getting ripped off, but that's the cost of being in business.

I know these things when I go to a yard, and I know I'm going to pay through the nose for good work, but I'm willing to pay if I get it. When I have engine work done (and it's not often), I tell them to look for everything that needs to be done, and do it. When I'm having electrical or electronic work done, if they find something that's not right, then make it right. Once you get everything right, all that's left from then on is normal maintenance...and that is the work I do for myself.

Tell the yard or contractor what you want, ask them for suggestions if they see something you don't, get a proposal listing the work they're going to do, a price for doing the work, and a time frame when it will be done. If these people come recommended, and you have a good feeling about them, sign the contract and give them a deposit. If you get a bad feeling about them, move on to the next contractor until you find the one you like. Plan on the work taking longer to get done and costing a little more, as there is always the chance of some unforeseen problem...they don't have x-ray eyes.

Do these things and you will probably have a good experience.

Did I rant long enough?
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  #20  
Old 04-30-2008
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Good post, JiffyLube. Spot on!
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