Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bat-nuts crazy

Oil based paint is wonderful stuff; hard, durable, waterproof ... but it can take seemingly forever to dry. Such was the case with the coat laid over Kintala's battery box repair as it took 30 some hours for it to cure. Cure it did though so this afternoon saw two new AGM batteries installed; an 8D as the house battery and a group 31 for starting. (Yes, this is a bit small for a cruising boat house bank, but Kintala's pinched stern makes it a tight fit for batteries. Someday we may try to add to her capacity, but it will take some major work.) So confident was I that the last hurdle to leaving the dock had been cleared that I actually told a couple of people we would be on the hook tomorrow night, even if just a short distance away.

Silly me.

There are only two instruments in Kintala that hint at battery condition, analog both, one volt meter and one amp meter. The volt meter works with either battery. The amp meter, after the battery change, doesn't work at all. Well, that's not entirely true. Sometimes the needle twitches with a load, sometimes it actually deflects backwards, mostly though it just lays there. Normally one would assume something got hooked up wrong with the battery change but a careful review, including the use of pictures taken before the work, shows that all is as it should be in ye 'ol battery box. (And yes, it is possible that the amp meter died a few days ago and simply went unnoticed.) Best guess is that this 30 year old gauge has called it quits.

I freely admit to flying many an airplane many a mile with much worse problems than a dead amp meter. This alone would be no reason to delay departing if there was a compelling reason to depart. But there isn't. Critical or not this is a thing that needs fixed. We can fix it more easily here than hanging on a hook somewhere. And there is another concern. Prying open Kintala's electrical system is likely to result in a whole new can of whup-ass spilling all over my shoes. Best if a dock and a parts house is nearby when it does.

And that would be the cool headed, rational, experienced operations manager in me speaking. But that guy was forced into retirement a few months ago. The me that has been taking a 12 hour beating nearly every day since is about to go absolutely bat-nuts crazy. A couple of days ago, while trying to sort out the nav station, Deb found paperwork detailing damage the boat suffered when struck by a water spout while living in TX. (Paperwork that was not given to us with all of the other paperwork offered for review when we bought the boat.) The list of things "repaired" is almost word for word the things we have had to fix again; rudder, skeg, steering, toe rail leaks, damage to the forward deck, and standing rigging ... more than $20,000 worth. The truth is, had we known about this damage history we would have walked, nay RAN, away from this boat and never looked back.

I bought a pig in a poke, and now it is the only home I have. Grinding out whatever grinding remains before we feel confident enough to take this thing off the dock is the only choice left. I have been well and truly suckered by a marine industry that knew a mark when they saw one. The only hope now is that I am a good enough mechanic to pull this off and, so far, the jury is out on that one. Even if I think I can fix this thing, Deb has to be convinced that I have for, in no way, do we head out until she is happy to do so.

If we can't get there I have no idea what happens next. For now the cruising dream lays on the far side of a nightmare boat. For any trying to follow our path to a life on the water allow me to offer these few hard-earned bits of advice about buying used boats:

If you get the slightest hint of weirdness from either buyer or seller's broker ... run.

If you can't track down and talk with every owner the boat has ever known ... run.

If any broker or previous owner tells you even the slightest, smallest thing that you know to be untrue, if they misrepresent the boat in any way at all ... run faster.

Your surveyor is an idiot.

The boat is worth less than half of what the current owner wants for it. You probably can't get it for that price, but go in knowing anything you pay over that is - one way or the other - going to come directly out of your hide.

If possible, do not make an offer until after the survey and sea trial. There are going to be so many things wrong with a "good" boat that it will astound you, and all of them will be harder and more expensive to fix than anyone will admit.

Walk away from any potential boat for any reason and never regret it. There will be another one around the corner to look at.

A boat is just a machine; a collection of fiberglass and metal, wire and tubes, ropes and sails. It has no soul, no emotions, no intentions, no loyalty, and no guilt; it is just a tool you need if you want to go cruising. You are going to invest more money than you think and more time than you have; investing emotions as well will only make it worse.

(I, sadly, have failed at this last one ... I absolutely hate this boat. But it is the only boat, and now the only choice, I have.)

Go into any boat deal with the sure knowledge that someone is trying to bugger you silly and that they have had a lot of practice. Standing between you and your dream is a whole industry of miscreants, hustlers, charlatans, thieves and assorted low-lifes. Navigating past them will be the most dangerous part of your journey.

I hope you make a better job of it than I did.


Joel and Emily said...

You need to admit that your boat has a soul... or at least is prone to rebounding the negative energy you're throwing at her... before she starts being nice to you ;P Just saying *Emily* :)

TJ said...

I hate her less in the morning; but by afternoon ...

Mike Boyd said...

Hang in there guys! Wish I was in the area, I'd buy you a beer and you could rant about owning a boat and I could rant about not owning one. I hope you are nearing the end of repairs and can go enjoy the fruits of your labor soon.


Latitude 43 said...

I agree with Emily. Positive energy man, POSITIVE.
I mentioned your post to my Deb and she said "They need to sail. Sailing makes everything better". I agree. Screw the meter, go sailing.

You ever notice how many Deb's are sailors?

Hang in there Tim.

TJ said...

Do they sell positive energy at West Marine? We should have enough bonus points for a small can anyway. Until then grim determination and the fact that I have absolutly no other option but to keep trying will have to do.

Ben & Terri said...

We bought our boat 7 years ago and the work goes on, and on. I got nothin'... :( maybe I agree with Latitude 43 - go sailing. :)

Matt said...

Hang in there... I've had some cars like this... and thanks for the great advice on how much to pay, as I hopefully go doen this road in the next few years... Wow- half?!

Unknown said...

As a fellow male, you know all I have is
I'd agree with the go sailing prescription. If the boat is slightly seaworthy, if the engine will start, get off the dock. Don't go anywhere in particular, but do head out to sea. I think you need a big dose of sea salt to refresh your soul. You're not bound by a schedule. Hell, if you end up in BEW or Bo fort, who cares. YOU, my internet hero and heroine, are living on a Yacht.
I'm cheering for you and it appears others are too. Chin up big fella. Stay calm and go sailing.
I'm passing on my unsolicited opinion from my hell called an office...I'll trade with you, come write this audit report and tell the business owner that he owes more money...God, I wish I was sailing.

hypathia hunter said...

What John Clark and Joel and Emily said... I have to believe boats have souls but they can also be cruel mistresses. And just like women they are apt to change their mind and owe you no explaination. Hang in there for the hundreds of readers who envy you with each of your posts but who drag themselves from their offices each weekend to the dock to do something else to that damn boat. You are our future...

LatnLong said...

All boats take work, and some more than others. Please remember you have a dream. Even in houses cars and planes there is work., and it is ongoing. You are so close, and it is because of your exacting standards that you are in a much safer boat then when you started. We can only tell you the end is worth the patience it has taken to get to where you are. We look forward to seeing Kintala down the road coming up to you and celebrating your success. You have many people that are either routing for you and offering you support, or dreaming of doing what you have done some day. You two have been an inspiration to many and your honesty has not gone unnoticed.

Unknown said...

hey guys ...
you know the same as I that you will WIN and get passed these babysteps, even if they look like Mountains right now. Your boat is fine, you will never ever stop working on a boat, be it used or new, just get used to it. Yes you could have spend a cool half a million at the boat show, but guess what ? Even with a new boat you have Gremlins and a monthly mortage payment to boot.

Sometimes life deals nasty blows, just to open new doors just push a little, dont think everything has to be 100 % .. go .. dont worry about the small stuff ...

Like many others Ill trade with you right now .. even if she is a monohull

Best Thor

Unknown said...

I have been checking in a few times a day to hoping to see the picture of you two on the Chesapeake with the sails up and the engine off. I can feel it is right around the corner, and I am 800 miles away. I love you spirit, we are all pulling for you
Hope to see it soon,

kcramerus said...

T and D,

I have a 1 - 25 amp and 1 - 100 amp meter for you. I will send it c/o the Savannah Yacht Club. Hatchet the dock lines and put canvas to wind.


P.S. No really, I have two extra ammeters sitting here. They are brand new. Let me know.

Greg Martin said...

I pulled the original amp and voltmeter out of my T42 and replaced it with a modern battery monitor. You are more then welcome to the original meter gratis. Let me know and I can send it to you.

-Greg Martin
Serenity, T42 #29

TJ said...

Thanks KC and Greg ... we are putting in a new system and hoping it works.

Mike M. said...

Well, everything I was gonna say has already been said by previous commenters...

John Clark said it best with, "you need a big dose of sea salt."

Problems seem to be never-ending and SO damn frustrating, but hang in there. You're time is coming when you'll reap all the goodness and joy from the work you've done.


Unknown said...

Why not contact the broker and previous owner and discuss some compensation? you now have written evidence of constructive fraud.

Yes, it is a hassle to talk about legal action but leaving it untouched makes you part of the 'marine industry' that hopes you'll move on and start sailing.

I'd also say to go after your surveyor but he has so many escape clauses it is a waste of time. Plus he didn't actively defraud you, he just did a poor job which is actually the average job.

Yes, boats are a hassle, and I REALLY feel for you feeding wire through races (I have done it on a 34' and know it is much worse on a bigger boat), but you have gotten a real load of work - I don't know what you paid for Kintala but it would need to be quite low to repay you for the work you've had.

TJ said...

Richard, we are going to contact the people in TX who did the work ... assuming they are still in business. Not sure that much can come of it, but it is worth a try.

We are way too deep into Kintala to get out without taking a beating. We simply have no choice but to finish what we have started and hope we don't miss anything fatal. I've been fixing and flying airplanes all my life so that isn't anything new. Besides, I can't fly without a plane but I can float without a boat. Sailing has to be a little less risky, right?