19 January 2012

If you cannot fix it with a hammer, it's an electrical problem….

Found this promising sign of a trusty workshop in the Bahamas: It made me reflect our past experiences with having work done on our boat. And let me tell you, in reality just the signs looked better in the US:

If you have a boat you need a yard from time to time. Maybe just for a simple haul out to apply a new coat of antifouling or worse, because something is broken and you are not able (or don’t have the guts) to fix it yourself. As we bought Habibi while we lived in Dubai and the boat was in Maryland (14h flight time in between) we had to depend on a yard at some point. And so far my personal experience with the work mentality/skills was not thrilling at all ….Or like a Swiss couple said after living for almost twenty years in the US: If you need something which involves a handy man, think twice: Either you can do it yourself or you probably don’t need it!

So the biggest learning so far is: Do it right the first time and that means DO IT YOURSELF! A fellow blogger said once “he is repairing himself around the world”, guess it's true, for any boater: But I truly hate to fix things, that are supposed to be done and I have paid for already. Some highlight out of my “do it twice” repair list:

I opted for replacing all the black water piping, and I guess they are called ”black water pipes” because you trust that you never have to see what’s in there. In short: I was able to check in detail what’s going on behind these expensive rubber walls! The moron who replaced them forgot to tie up most of the hose clamps properly. Thanks very much for this “Insider Information” I've never asked for….

Isolation Transformer: Nicely mounted but my zincs are still melting like snow in the Bahamian sun: So I got suspicious: After checking the manual and opening the unit it was obvious: There was a main connection missing, in fact with this setting it was not working as designed and was dangerous, just a highly paid piece of useless iron between my electrical wires…It's so obvious wrong that even an electrical dummy like me was able to find the mistake in less than an hour! First I was thinking to raise a complain, but looking at this work, I have to assume that the skilled electrician who mounted this unit is most probably already self-electrocuted and therefore out of business….

Solar panel mounting: Some panels are designed to be adjustable, means you can turn them into the sun. Would be a big advantage if done properly. The provided manual shows some screws with a handle to tie them up. Since the handles are missing (lost?) they used normal screws: Means I cannot adjust the panels, they are moving with the wind. To be fair, I’m not sure if this is a design glitch or just badly mounted. Anyhow, a highly paid “expert” should be able to think ahead when mounting, right? No wonder so many Americans are scared about the fact that 5 USD/h Mexicans could take their jobs, with this skill set/work attitude I would be indeed very afraid!

And yes I forgot: If you drill holes in stainless tubing to mount solar panels, please make sure that not all the sharp iron pieces are falling into our dinghy stored below: Sharp steel shiver can cut holes into an inflatable boat, claro? Yiekes, sounds this like an advice to a highly paid yard worker??? I would be really scared about my job at this point…..

There are many other things pending which I thought have been addressed, so my to do list is not smaller yet. But at least I’m a bit wiser now, I understand why I need to do the stuff by myself and it's now clear to me why they're building high walls between countries: Simply to keep the unskilled 85 USD/h worker separated from the guy who could do the same job (most probably better) for 80 bucks less an hour….


PS: to be clear this is not US bashing! As most of you know, I work for a big US company and I’m well aware what brilliant minds are capable to achieve: But I cannot stand overpaid clumsy tinkerers, and so far that’s 90% of what I was confronted with the past three months.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the cruisers reality :-)

    After sailing through the tropics from West-Indies down to Australia hoping to find skilled craftsmen after more then two years in the islands between and the yacht urgently needing some repairs... guess what? Don't expect to much there either :-(

    Except that you can get most materials to do the stuff yourself again. The good thing about it - by then the chances are high you will be quite skilled yourself...

    Cheers Jan