Raiatea Carnage Services
19 August 2008 | Raiatea
Day one in the yard was fairly typical. I spent most of my time trying to make sure that everything with a lead time got started, that all of my projects that required a particular specialty had someone lined up and that everything in general got moving with an understanding that I wanted to be in the water a week earlier than I really thought possible.
Boat yards are boat yards. You are never the only client. There never seems to be a project manager looking out for your boat and its needs. Everyone tells you "no problem" and you rarely see results the same day promised. Perhaps it is because you are a captive client once you're there, I'm not sure. If you ever want to get you boat back in the water you have to figure out who the players are yourself and get after all of them in the morning and again in the afternoon of every day.
My idea of customer service comes from the financial services industry where the customer is king and the clientele are demanding if not brutal. Perhaps this is too harsh a standard, regardless we are dealing with the exact opposite end of the spectrum when discussing boat yards.
All that said, I think this is my favorite boat yard to date. We have had services performed in the USA, Turks and Caicos, (tried to with no luck in the) BVI, Saint Martin, Grenada and Trinidad. Here Dominic, the owner, is very knowledgeable and a straight shooter. He still yeses you a little and is sometimes hard to corner, but he is in the office much of every day, ultimately delivers, or at least tries, and tells you why he can't if there's a problem. In Grenada they just ignore you if they are late on a promise.
This yard also has Fred. He is the secret weapon as far as I can tell. Fred is very experienced and appears to be able to fix anything. Fred pulled our damaged rudder and had it split in two by the afternoon ready to inspect. He is the kind of guy who prides himself on his work and anything he is happy with you will be happy with.
The Tahitian guys working in the yard are also very friendly and helpful. You do need to stay on top of things if you need a better than average job done of something (like cleaning a degreasing the hull before new stripes are applied). If you spoke French this place would be almost perfect.
It is a boat yard and thus toxic fumes wafts through the air and you'd better be wearing shoes but it is better than many in these respects as it is small with only one travel lift slip and the rail adjacent to a limited amount of space on the hard.
I haven't really gotten used to the entire boat sitting on an angle yet. I have decided to save all non bottom related projects until we return to the water for this reason and the fact that oil is in the back of the pan, going up the rig is out, etceteras. I am presently hoping that in the following week we can get our rudder glassed up, painted and reinstalled, bottom prepped and painted, props removed cleaned, greased and reinstalled with fresh zincs and new Prop-speed, drive legs prepped and painted, sail drive oil changed, old (partial) stripes removed and new stripes installed as well as some canvas adjustments and other odds and ends.
Today we got the bottom pressure washed and sanded and the rudder is out and opened up. Many other items have been set in motion so we'll see how it goes.