Do it yourself, or hire out
30 May 2007 | The Fen
I like to work on our boat. In a perfect world I would do all of the work. Unfortunately not having access to the resources of a contractor causes projects I handle to go a whole lot slower. For instance, it seems I have to get a new SIM every couple of islands to keep the GSM cell phone running. We have no cell phone at the moment, which makes any kind of part chasing an all day affair. In addition there is so much EMI in the lagoon that it is hard to get usable Internet for any duration, even with our antenna. This brings my communications system down to dinghy & sneaker levels. Access to parts, tools, a workshop, knowing who to call and where to go to get things done, not to mention having a team of multiple folks allows you to get things done much more quickly.
We were developing a pretty long list of projects on several fronts and it seemed the only way to get ahead was to deploy the contractors. We had waited for Saint Martin to start things because we had read and heard that there was no better place in the Caribbean to get work done on your boat. We were also coming at a time when most of the shops were slowing down work wise.
Boat contractors are a bit like car mechanics, or maybe worse. I can safely say that I would not let more than half of those I have hired in the past back on my boat. Unfortunately this means that hiring a new contractor is a risky affair. You never know what you will get. It becomes very important that you supervise the work for a bit at the beginning to ensure that you have someone who knows what they're doing working on your boat. If you find a good one, load them up to the max!
Kent Grimbeek at Just Catamarans in Fort Lauderdale took care of a lot of work on our boat before we left. We got really spoiled working with them. I would have preferred to have Kent's team do everything we were contemplating but in some cases the projects weren't identified, in others we didn't have the parts, and, in the end, we just ran out of time.
FKG had come highly recommended by a friend in the BVI so we felt pretty good about them. My choice of Electec was just based on the fact that they were the most capable looking outfit and I had a good feeling after meeting with one of the managers. I discussed my projects with a gentleman named Jan, one of the principals at the shop, and I was impressed by his knowledge and his demeanor.
Patrick from Electec arrived today to start on some of the electrical and electronics work. It was nice to have them get started within two days of our first meeting. I certainly had a list for them.
• Repair bad breaker on Inverter Charger
• Upgrade Xantrex MS2000 Firmware
• Upgrade shore power to 125v 50a w/ 60' cable and pig tails for 125v/30a & 250v/50a
• Install Windlass Remote
• Install AIS receiver
>>> Install VHF antenna
>>> Run coax cable
>>> Install Sitex AIS brain
>>> Connect antenna to AIS brain
>>> Connect AIS to E120
>>> Install Raymarine Seatalk bridge
>>> Move NEMA for SSB & VHF Radios to bridge
>>> Connect Sitex to E120 on free NEMA port
>>> Upgrade E120 firmware
• Repair loud hailer
• Replace anchor light
Patrick, an EE from Wisconsin, is not only a great guy but a very good tech. He did first rate work and we were very happy with everything he did. It was nice to get a winner on the first try. It would be almost two weeks before everything would be completed.