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Finding Qualified Repairers

By badriance - Published December 02, 2008 - Viewed 2443 times

Qualified Repairers:

When it comes to "bargains" in boat repairers, the rule of thumb is that, almost always, you get what you pay for. Sometimes you get even less. For example, after discovering delamination in his 37-foot sailboat, a member in New Jersey hired a boat handyman to do the repairs. After nothing more than a handshake (a mistake) and paying the entire amount up front (a BIG mistake), the job was started and the interior of the boat was torn up. That was the last anyone saw of the handyman. An experienced shop later quoted three times the handyman's price for a proper repair.

Another example of a non-bargain involves a member in South Carolina who hired a seat-of-the-pants mechanic to change the oil in his two Detroit Diesel engines. Anyone can change the oil, right? The man drained out the oil, replacing the filters and told the owner that the boat was ready for the upcoming season. About a mile from the marina on the first outing, the owner noticed the engines running funny and limped back to port. When the engines were torn down (by a qualified mechanic this time), it was obvious from the carnage that the engines were ruined. The reason? The prior mechanic had forgotten one detail -- putting oil back into the engines.

At the risk of stating the obvious, whenever you hire someone -- a handyman or mechanic -- to work on your boat, reputation is paramount. Don't just pull someone's card off of a bulletin board and hope for the best; get recommendations from other boat owners. The same is true of boatyards; there is often a wide disparity of competence. Look for professional credentials, like membership in the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) and the American Boatbuilders and Repairers Association (ABBRA), which have certification programs for electrical systems, gasoline engines and support systems, refrigeration, air conditioning, and polyurethane painting, and fiberglass repairs.

Qualified Marine Surveyors:

Boat repair isn't the only profession with a wide disparity in professionalism; there are also good (competent) surveyors and not-so-good surveyors. After a 27-foot Sea Ray sank, an investigator was sent out to discover why. The owner, a new boater who had recently bought the boat, had it surveyed by a "captain" who advertised his bargain rates in the local paper. The captain's survey took a little over an hour and yielded almost no recommendations. Some obvious problems were missed, including cracked hoses and a leaking bellows. The boat sank within a few days of being put back in the water.

Anyone can call themselves a marine surveyor, so how do you find a good one? There are two associations that strive for professionalism: SAMS (Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors) and NAMS (National Association of Marine Surveyors). BoatU.S. also has a list of recommended surveyors: http://www.boatus.com/insurance/survey.asp. The site includes links to both organizations.


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