A lot has been written about
how tough it is for boaters to get their boats
fixed quickly when something goes wrong.
Boating magazine editors
are editorializing about it. Services take too
long and, with leisure time hard to come by these
days, boaters are abandoning the leisure activity
they most love.
The people at the marine
industry association have identified poor service
as a national problem. They say the automobile
industry had the same problem at one time but
it was addressed and things got a lot better.
They want the same for boating.
Okay, but don't expect
miracles. The automobile industry is huge. The
boating industry is small in comparison. We probably
already have as many technicians as the number
of broken boats will support.
Is this another case of
people being too quick to blame others?
As owners/operators of
a yacht charter company, Vic and I have our own
report card for when something goes wrong on one
of our vessels.
If the manufacturer made
it wrong, we ask for a make-good. If the marine
service retailer didn't fix it right, we complain
and ask him to do it again. But when one of our
charter vessels is down because we failed to replace
a worn-out part, then we give ourselves a failing
grade. The way we figure it, that worn-out part
should have been replaced, on a schedule, just
like oil and filters and other "consumables."
At Southwest Florida Yachts
we do all we can to prevent breakdowns because
we could lose revenue and perhaps a customer,
too. So we don't wait for trouble. We replace
critical parts before they break.
You already take personal
responsibility for seeing that your automobile
is in good working order. If something is going
to break, you notice something amiss. Something
doesn't sound right. Something doesn't feel right.
You get it taken care of.
Admittedly, it's easier
to keep your automobile in good working order.
You drive your car every day. The battery stays
charged. The motor starts. You notice problems
before they become big problems.
The problem with boats
is most of us don't get to use them every day
so we are not as likely to notice problems coming
our way. Then, one day you load up the family
and the picnic basket and turn the key. The motor
won't start. Then you remember the last time you
were out on the boat, it really wasn't running
all that great. You had a warning.
It's one thing to be stuck
at the dock, quite another to be adrift on the
Find a good mechanic. Tell
him you'd like to set up a maintenance schedule
to identify and replace worn parts before they
break. Work with the same mechanic. Over time
he'll get to know your vessel and will get better
at anticipating problems. If you're a regular
customer, he might even agree to put you ahead
of the line in an emergency. Be polite, not rude.
Ask, don't demand.
Take charge of your boat
like you do your car. If you take care of your
boat, it will take care of you.
Good service is not cheap,
but peace of mind is always a bargain.