Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Well THAT turned out well.

Aww look! Its a new noxious chemical to play with.

I have to giggle ruefully when folks email us to tell us that what we should do is pay someone to work on the boat for us. I've gotten several emails from people who are of the opinion that we haven't cast off the dock lines yet because we are DIYing it when the obvious answer is to just throw money at someone to do it for us. Oh, oh how sweet and naive they are. As I read their emails, I imagine them with bright and shining faces full of trust and hope. I also imagine the only work they've had done thus far is to have their bottom painted by yard staff or to have a rigger out to rig their boats. Oh how adorable you are, you cute little salty sailor who thinks a refit means installing new electronics and slapping on bottom paint.

Bottom paint, rigging and electronics do not a refit make. Rebuilding the boat basically from the keel up does. Okay, so maybe I am indulging in a bit of hyperbole but we are in the process if redoing every single system on the boat so it feels at time as if we are completely rebuilding. We have put aesthetic projects at the bottom of the list as we work our way down our punch list- soft deck repaired, chainplates, chainplate bulkheads, all port lights and hatches and surrounding deck repaired, all wiring, plumbing, engine mounts, deck hardware, rigging- both standing and running,  refrigeration, air conditioning, water maker, navigation equipment, communication equipment and sailsyou can see why we moved the aesthetic items of a master cabin remodel, galley refit and head remodel at the bottom of the list. Now about that master cabin remodel...

I long thought our boat would function much better with the forward head ripped out. After a few nights on the hook, Mark agreed it would make life much better but since he already had an enormous work load on the boat (see above), we decided to put it off until further on down the road. When we had a friend recommend a boat wright who was available, supposedly had the necessary skill set and was keen to go to work we decided to bite the bullet and have the work on the forward cabin done thinking it would move things along for us. This turned out to be a very expensive mistake.

While the boat wright we hired is talented at some woodworking (he can make beautiful dinghies), cabinet making and time management are maybe not his strong suit. After observing the work of the boat wright for a bit, Mark realized he needed to be on hand to carefully supervise the boat wright to keep him on task, from embellishing on the design and moving forward. This means a lot less time to work on his own list. Mark had a couple of trips out of the country for work that slowed things down and when he got back, the boat wright had a slew of issues that popped up that prevented him from working on our boat.

After many months of fits and starts, the head had been removed, the teak paneling removed, the floor leveled and the frames for the cabinetry installed. This constitutes about 30% of the work required and yet due to a tendency to work at a glacial pace, our boat wright had burned through 75% of the budget. Just a wee bit shy of $8000. That is a LOT of cheese. Mark and I both had a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs. Then there were the little issues. It pained us that it did not seem to bother our help that his tendency to drop tools where ever was gouging our teak and holly sole. The teak paneling was subject to a bit of abuse as well. We understand that bumps and accidents happen and interiors get banged up, but it shouldn't happen when the boat is tied to the dock and is a result of carelessness. The breaking point for Mark was a missing drill and broken light that the boat wright never bothered to mention.  Every one has a breaking point and its usually a tiny thing that pushes someone over the edge and this was it. So, we fired him.

It was not an easy decision to make. Firstly, the boat wright is an intensely likable person. He's very affable and we wanted to give him the work as he intimated at the outset that he needed employment. Secondly, we never would have begun this project if we knew we would have to finish it ourselves. We have other more pressing things to deal with. Ugh. Just UGH! To say we are disappointed would be a huge understatement.

There is a bit of light through the clouds though. We hired another boat wright to build a teak and holly sole piece for the front cabin  and to make the teak paneling staves. It was not cheap, but it was done on time and with a very high level of craftsmanship. Beautifully made, geometerically spot on and color matching was done very well too. No complaints here. Nothing but praise (Larry from Superior Marine) so I am reassured that its not case of us never being happy. Just wish we had hired Larry from the get go. We are licking our wounds for a little bit, but we might hire out some more work to him. We just need a little bit of time to stop the dizzying, vomitous feeling of a project going crazy and waaay over budget before we decide.

So if you feel inclined to email me and tell me how all my problems would be solved if only I would hire someone unless it is carries a big fat money transfer to my bank I will redirect you to this post.
Battling fumes for me, my hero wears a respirator. <3

Now let's be positive for a moment, shall we? The interior bulkhead between the master cabin and the salon was cracked and had a 1/4 inch gap. Mark was convinced that this would be a huge issue and the repair would not be perfect. He was also flummoxed by the way in which this defect throw off the geometry and prevent him from installing the teak paneling. I knew it would be okay. Captain Perfecto has MAD skills. Yes, it took a bit of extra effort, a new jig, a lot of fiberglass repair and a whole bunch of routering but it is looking really, really good. If only I could clone him...


  1. ugh. This is such the project. I have nothing more helpful to say but to send affable love.

  2. Progress is progress. Its easy to get bogged down in the process. I go through it periodically. You got one thing right though... DIY

    Paying people to do stuff on boats has generally been a huge recipe for disaster for us. I'm loathe to let anyone touch our boat. They charge too much, take too much time, and don't do a good job!

  3. Oy what a saga! My dad always said, if you want a job done right, do it yourself!

  4. "As I read their emails, I imagine them with bright and shining faces full of trust and hope." - Best line of this whole blog!! LOL

    Someday I really want to see your boat. With all the work you are putting into it, I bet it is going to be amazingly beautiful.

  5. Thank you one and all for your commiseration. So ready for this bit to be DONE!

  6. So glad you posted the reality about the stress of a total refit. Sounds much like a house remodel where the operative words are also 'do it yourself' if you want it done right and on budget. When you are enjoying your beautiful, safe, practical and reliable boat, you will forget all about this stress. You will LOVE having a beautiful master cabin. Over the years you plan to own this boat, that extra cost will be forgotten. Hope you get a vacation!

  7. my god that is pretty teak. well done mark. ITA with charlotte... love that line! hah!

  8. The panel strips look pretty good. ;)

  9. Ouch. Just Ouch. Cydney, I feel for you and the ARE.
    My gut churns when I see $8K for a relatively simple project that isn't finished months after it is started.

    But, it's all getting closer to done, and that mean closer to departure.

    As you know, I am all about the DIY. The more you spend on OPL (other people's labour) the more hours you have to work to pay others to work, money and time that you never get back. I have never regretted NOT hiring somebody.

    1. In all fairness, its not a relatively simple project. It is full on cabinet making but Mark gave him very, very detailed drawings and schematics. Mark works at a slow pace as well, so when budgeting for the labor he gave very generous time allowances. Sadly, the boat wright did not make us a priority and wasted our time and money. Sad because we really liked him. Oh well.

  10. I too like the vertical paneling, very sharp.