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Old 02-06-2008, 11:44 AM   #1
Auzzee's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2005
Home Port: Darwin
Vessel Name: Sandettie
Posts: 1,917

An article in an Oz cruising mag addresses one suppposed cruiser's vain attempts to solicit tradespeople to work on his boat.

I think the article perpetuates a myth and embellishes an unfair stereotype which is, unfortunately, a frequent topic for conversation amongst cruising sailors. I wish to read about the true experiences of our members in order to either prove or disprove this myth.

For instance, in the past year I have needed a refrigeration mechanic, a diesel fitter, an electrician and a hydraulic engineer. In all cases I was well served. I did not have to wait long for any of these tradespeople to visit, quote and commence work. This has been my experience over a long period owning many boats.

I am always being told that "You are lucky", because "Tradesmen these days are not well trained and give lousy service". It seems many people will talk of getting a tradesman for a whole season, ask the advice of fellow cruisers, procrastinate....then maybe call a 'tradie' on Christmas Eve and expect same day service.

Are tradesmen the inefficient, ill mannered, over-priced bunch who exist to exploit yotties at their leisure....or are they the good, solid professional team of my experience who put up with a lot while having to work in some fairly poor conditions.

What's the verdict, team?



"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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Old 02-06-2008, 12:34 PM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 31

Interesting topic David.

During my 30 years as sailor and boatowner I have yet to hire a 'pro'. With my, relatively, small and simple craft(s) I have done all work by myself. At times I have asked others - including a friend who is a pro - how to make a repair or installation though.

Never the less I am interested in reading what expereinces others may have.



To be happy for a night - get drunk

To be happy for a month - get married

To be happy for a lifetime - get a sailboat
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Old 02-06-2008, 01:50 PM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 396

I think the answer to your question is the same answer to ARE WE BAD? We will find both unscrupolous tradesmen as well as highly ethical, fair, and capable tradesmen. So far I too have been lucky, and have only needed the service of a qualified electrician once. I have been able to either fix the problem myself, or learn from a friend.

The one time it was needed I had issues come up after the work was done. The company came back out, and worked for free until it was resolved a half a day later. I think that is only fair!

Myself being a highly skilled tradesman in the auto repair business. I find what my fellow mechanics are doing to customers nothing less than shameful. Sometimes down right theivery!
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Old 02-06-2008, 05:20 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Home Port: Washington DC
Vessel Name: SV Mahdee
Posts: 3,236

This topic is really all about objectivity. Its naturally hard for most folks to keep their objectivity about anything. When you throw money into the mix, its especially hard. IMO people are very critical of the work of others as the $ goes up. Its all relative.

I do believe good tradesmen exist everywhere. Given any project and any locale, you'll find a person to do a good job for a fair price. Just about anywhere you go this is true. We're major DIY types, but when ever we've needed professionals, we've found them. One's expectations may be too high or too low depending upon WHERE the boat is located and what the cruising budget is! Just because I can't fit the work proposed (to be done by someone else) into the budget does NOT mean the proposal is a bad deal--just that I don't have the money for it. If all I have money for is a fellow who doesn't have a clue about the project he needs to do--well, that's not lack of a tradesman, its a lack of money.

Being objective about the going rate in a geographic area for any given work is really important. One can overpay for low quality work in a Third World country quite easily and walk away with a smile thinking "well, its Third World and, gee, at least it was cheap" instead of thinking "These locals can't do anything I want at the level of quality I want or using the materials I want...etc." Its my opinion that boaters are a forgiving bunch when it comes to "inexperienced but cheap"; conversely we're a critical bunch when it comes to high prices whether or not the quality is there and whether or not the high prices are justified by the local cost of living or competition for high quality tradesmen.

On the negative side, here, in Southern California, there are many, many, many (MANY!) people who DO NOT have the experience to do the job they're trying to do. These same folks want too much money to do their trade because they frequently don't even understand that their work is not up to the standard of the next tradesman's work. A steady demand for people in marine trades allows this to happen.

Putting that aside, here in So. Cal we've readily found quality tradesmen to do things we've needed done and when we've had the money for the project we've paid the price for tradesmen to do it.

We presently have a true craftsman working full time for us on the rebuilding and refitting of our cruising boat. He's been with us working for over a year and we find his work to consistently meet or exceed our expectations. The keys to the success of this relationship: He is professional, he set a fair price for his work, he had numerous clients who were very happy as references, and finally, he has an open mind about working side-by-side with the boat's owner (very important to us).

Being objective is difficult but makes finding people to do the job and negotiating the terms much easier--and finally, allows one to be happier about the work that was done.

Good luck! deciding on what has to be done by a tradesman and what you can do yourself and good luck in finding tradesmen to do what's needed.
"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

What we're doing - The sailing life aboard and the Schooner Chandlery.

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