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Benjaminn 06-29-2015 06:50 PM

Refit: East vs West coast?
Greetings all,

I have a somewhat unique circumstance and set of questions. Without getting into much detail, I will be purchasing a specific trawler that is currently located in the Carolina area that I will be relocating to the west coast (PNW/WA state). Suffice it to say that this specific trawler is chosen for sentimental reasons and this won't change.

The trawler has a pilothouse needs removed to more economically trailer it.
At the same time, I would like to do some refit work below deck (in addition to changing the pilothouse a bit). The question at hand here is if there is a great difference in refit work cost in Washington state vs the southeastern coast.

I appreciate that there are a million "it depends" kind of angles to answer this question, but generally speaking is refit work less expensive/lower quality in one region vs the other?

Many thanks for any opinions. More details to follow.

Delta_JimS 06-29-2015 07:38 PM


First off, it depends.... I do not have expertise in this area, but from experience and reading Many frustrating posts on this site, that the #1 thing that you want to be concerned with is boatyard Oversight. You or Your Reliable Agent must be on top of this job most everyday.(that is when the yard chooses to work on your boat)

Otherwise, you may well find yourself with ugly cost overruns and not what you wanted in the first place.
Do your homework and be very careful of the yard you choose.

eagle419 06-29-2015 07:44 PM

IMHO when it comes to major refits, the most important decision is to locate the boat/project/tradespeople as close as possible to where you will be during the refit - preferably somewhere you can get to daily or at short notice.

Nothing on a boat is really "standard" so unsupervised cheap refits often become more expensive redos.

RT Firefly 06-29-2015 07:55 PM

Mr. B. Haven't got a clue BUT welcome aboard.

djmarchand 06-29-2015 08:12 PM

The mid Atlantic/Southeasetern states of NC, SC, Ga and northern Florida are definitely cheaper than S Florida or the northern states, sometimes by half. But I would guess that they are comparable to the PNW.

One thing you don't want to do is give a yard a general idea of what you want to do and walk away. When you come back, you will almost certainly be surprised. Yards love customers like this. These customers only get workers when no other more urgent work is available and when they do work they don't work efficiently as it is just fill in work until something more urgent comes along.

I would much prefer to put my boat in a DIY type yard, select each independent contractor for his skills, specify exactly what you want done and manage each one closely.


Tuesday 06-29-2015 08:13 PM

With job market statistics and people hungry for business. My vote is having it done locally to where you plan on calling home base.

Good to have friends and professional relationships in the trades. Even better when they arent 4k miles away.

Given so many variables.

Nomad Willy 06-29-2015 09:02 PM

If you can stay near the boat while the work is being done I'd have it done on the mid Atlantic coast.

I had a repower and much other work done on my boat north of Seattle and my costs were low. The reason was mostly because I chose a rather low buck marina where commercial boats usually outnumber pleasure. My choice of engine was from a similar source. So my low cost was largely a result of the people providing the goods and services. There is a high buck company nearby that probably would have charged me double.

Another thing to consider is the number of places you can get your work done. I'm thinking there may be more to choose from in the Carolinas than in Washington.

I do live here in the PNW so if you have the work done here shoot me a PM on or about when you arrive.

Old deckhand 06-30-2015 12:34 AM

Many Alaskans have major boat work in BC. It is even a better deal due to a savings on the exchange rate of 23-25%. I agree with those that believe in complete instructions, a cost estimate and oversight of the work.

Benjaminn 06-30-2015 01:19 AM

Thank you all for responding.
-Good advice to maintain close supervision throughout the refit; as close to home as possible.
-Sounds like PNW is comparable to the Carolinas.

In my unique circumstance I will not be able to be present during much of the work. Nothing will change this. I will have to mitigate the problems associated with this using a designated local advocate on me behalf coupled with liberal use of email/photos while using a yard that comes recommended.

Thanks again to all. Eric, I will send you a PM.

FF 06-30-2015 06:16 AM

In my unique circumstance I will not be able to be present during much of the work

That sucks as no matter how good the yard is , they can NOT read your mind, only YOU can make the hundreds of decisions on small stuff that make all the difference between OK and Custom for your desirements.

refugio 06-30-2015 09:26 AM


Originally Posted by Old deckhand (Post 344934)
Many Alaskans have major boat work in BC. It is even a better deal due to a savings on the exchange rate of 23-25%. I agree with those that believe in complete instructions, a cost estimate and oversight of the work.

Also, many boats from the Seattle area make the day long journey up to BC to get this kind of work done - and that was before the very favorable change in exchange rates.

And the Canadians are nicer. :)

Larry M 06-30-2015 10:06 AM

Having spent time working on our boats in NC, FL and the PNW (Lake Union/Ballard), I'd pick the PNW. The Lake Union/Ballard area has all the resources that support the Alaskan commercial fishing fleet. If you have to remove the PH to move it, do the work when you reattach at the other end. Lake Union/Ballard will have any miscellaneous parts you'll need there and you have many choices of tradesman within one trade. As with anywhere else there are good ones and not so good ones.

bayview 06-30-2015 10:14 AM

Forget the possible costdifferencesand have it done where you can oversee the work frequently

Portuguese 06-30-2015 10:49 AM


Welcome aboard. Nice to meet you
I have no clue either!

Scary 06-30-2015 11:00 AM

You didn't mention the size of your boat
For the last five years this is what I have been doing for a living. Retired from a 40 plus years as a custom builder, finish contractor and door mill owner. I have been building things and working on boats most of my life. Refits are always more expensive than your wildest dreams. If your looking for good inexpensive work on the west coast, Ensenada Mexico is the best bet if you can be there and stay on top of things and it's not a wood boat. They have been refitting boats down there for years and are beginning to come up into the states and work on boats in California. Washington or BC has more options than the Bay area / Delta where I am. With out a clear spec on what you want done your leaving yourself wide open. Boats are endless surprises. Since you are going to have to remove the pilot house, common sense say's to do the work on the west coast. And since this project will take longer than planned the closer to base the better. Get ready to open your wallet!

Barpilot 07-01-2015 11:47 AM

If you are anywhere in the New Bern, NC area, Hatteras has plenty of laid off craftsmen who work at reasonable prices. I had work done aboard our sailboat when we were there and they were great.

SteveD 07-01-2015 12:05 PM

I would recommend getting major work done in Port Townsend. There is an incredible pool of skilled craftsmen and labor rates are about 60% of those in Seattle.

yachtbrokerguy 07-01-2015 01:17 PM

Benjamin, you say that in your unique circumstance you will not be there to oversee the project. In that case you may want to hire a local marine surveyor who can go to the boat on a regular basis to see what is being done.
The cost of the surveyor is expensive but may be less than the cost of changes to the work order, and you have a professional on your side who is looking out to spend your dollars wisely.

caltexflanc 07-01-2015 03:48 PM

If for some reason you end up chosing NC, there are a couple of excellent people I would recommend as your advocate/ project manager. There are a lot fewer of those former Hatteras guys as they have fired up production again, but some have gone independent and made a business out of it. Of the one's I've used,one is one of the PMs I'd rec (and quite capable at many types of repairs), another is a master carpenter and very good for a lot of the work described, another is more of a jack of all trades. You could put together a great crew at about half the rates of the yards.

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