Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Good Guys

Any of you who have already read How NOT to Buy a Cruising Boat know that we're pretty hard on most marine professionals. Our experience with them, and most everyone we talk to as well, is pretty much unilaterally bad. So when we run into some good marine professionals, we like to talk them up. We had such an experience earlier this summer when we hired Art Johnson Marine Surveyors. Art was a consummate professional, and tempered our very bad experiences with all of the previous surveyors we had dealt with. Now that we're getting ready to leave Oak Harbor Marina and head south in the Chesapeake I thought it was a good time to talk about one of the best places we've been fortunate to have Kintala in the past 2 years.

Oak Harbor Marina, situated deep in Rock Creek on the northern Chesapeake, is a boat yard. If you're looking for a resort to pamper you with clear water pools and hot tubs and outdoor bars, this is not the place for you. If you're looking for a hard-core, hard-working, fair priced boat yard full of employees with integrity the likes I haven't seen in many others, this is definitely the place for you. When you first arrive, it's likely that the yard manager J.B.'s firm handshake and warm greeting will be the first you experience. If you're pulling into the haulout pit, his meticulously maintained sailboat will be the one you see alongside, a testimony to the quality of work you can expect.

Josh, A.J, Derek, J.B., and Chris

If you're coming for a rigging inspection or replacement, Chris will be your man. If you've followed the blog for awhile, you'll remember that this is where we launched our full time cruising adventure. It's where we replaced the standing rigging on Kintala, and where we chose to return for a rigging inspection this summer. Chris is careful and methodical in his inspections, a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed in the boating world, since many insurance jobs are sent here for completion. Chris is also a master at parts sourcing and has rarely let me down in obtaining any part I needed.


If you're coming for fiberglass work or painting, the very talented Josh is the guy you want. I had the chance to see his work up close and personal as a boat with a 10" or so hole punched right through the port bow topsides came to his shop for repair recently. If it wasn't for the repaired area being cleaner than the rest of the very dirty boat, you would never know where the damage had been when he finished.  Major or minor fiberglass repair or paint jobs are no challenge.

A.J. and Derek are the boat yard crew. No matter the time of day, the day of the week, the temperature, or their schedule, these guys are working hard. So hard, that it took me over an hour just to get all five of the guys in one place for a picture. No matter, they still manage to find time to greet you warmly. Clearly they love what they do because smiles and laughter abound during the work day. Derek even finds the time to race in the Wednesday club races and is an excellent racing captain.

On site at Oak Harbor Marina they also have a full-service engine shop, Anderson Marine. Nelson and his crew never seem to leave. They're the first ones there and the last ones to leave nearly every day. Fortunately, we haven't had to utilize their services but if you need it done, they're there for you.

Aside from the skilled people here, the thing that makes Oak Harbor stand out is the customer service. Ken and Barb Broman, the owners of Oak Harbor Marina, set the tone for their team, and it's one that puts the customer in the forefront. There is never any doubt that things will be done right, a rarity in the marine services industry. It was one of the main reasons we chose to sail all the way back north to put Kintala here while we went back to St. Louis to sell the condo and to work on her after we returned. As I think back on the two years since we left our home slip at Boulder Marina, only a handful of faces in the marine services industry come to mind. Craig at Tradewinds (customer service defined), Gerry at Cameron Marine Transport, the folks at Dinner Key Moorings and the guys at Oak Harbor. It's a small, exclusive club, and one that we've been happy to be on the receiving end of.

So if you happen to be looking for a great place to haul your boat for some work, consider Oak Harbor Marina. Now that Kintala is leaving, they may need someone else to keep them busy!

2 comments:

Nicholas Wolfe said...

Deb,
I am glad to hear that there are some great people in my area if I am ever in need of some service. I will definitely consider Oak Harbor.

Phil Gow said...

Nice to hear of good pros in the marine service industry!