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Old 06-19-2015, 07:01 PM   #21
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I was only half kidding when I posted that I'd fly Eric the Mainship mechanic from Coeymans New York to South Dakota. If I had a major repair to do, it would definitely be worth the plane ticket, hotel, and meals.
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Old 06-19-2015, 07:53 PM   #22
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I once paid for the mechanic to drive 5hours one way to service my very sick 6-71. Turns out I dropped a valve. I motored 40 hours home on one engine. They met me a the dock on my return, had me rebuilt and back in the water in two weeks.
I have an outboard mechanic on Pine Is. Fla.
that is so honest it's almost scary.

The point is that there are good people out there we just need to be careful in our choices.
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Old 06-19-2015, 08:43 PM   #23
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It is both an indicator and a downside of the competent and honest mechanic that he will be busy and you may wait. It`s possible the honest ones are even more motivated to get it right because they don`t let themselves fib their way out of trouble if things don`t go so well.
If you find a good one, pay him, when you get the bill. Anyone in business knows that confronted with 2 jobs, the better payer has a good chance of priority.
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Old 06-19-2015, 09:10 PM   #24
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If you find a good one, pay him, when you get the bill. Anyone in business knows that confronted with 2 jobs, the better payer has a good chance of priority.
Pay him and also treat him well. Don't be a pain and make things difficult but make sure he understands you appreciate him.
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Old 06-19-2015, 10:56 PM   #25
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Huckins Yachts here in Jacksonville (904-389-1125) has earned my repeat business. They are custom yacht builders, founded in the 1920s, and still in the same family ownership. They built up their service department as a strategy to weather the downturn in custom boat building. Not the cheapest, but we should be wary of the cheapest anyway. On-site ownership, conscientious staff, high-skill work, and prices that always leave me satisfied that I've received full value for my money.

Nearby Sadler Point Marina also has on-site ownership, a fine gentleman named Brooks Busey, and an excellent reputation. Sadler Point strives to be a "green" operation, environmentally conscious.

Slightly upriver, Lamb's Yacht Center has recently (spring, 2015) changed hands. Reportedly it has been taken over by a member of the original Lamb family, and one may expect good service and treatment.

All three of these yards are on the Ortega River, a brackish tributary of the St. Johns River just south of downtown Jacksonville. A bit of a run upriver from the ICW, but worth the trip.
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Old 06-20-2015, 12:04 AM   #26
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My best experiences with marine mechanics have been when I hire a mechanic to help on a job and we worked together to solve the problem. I save on some labor, learn a few tricks, have some fun in the process and almost always learn something new about my boat.

If it's done right, you end up making a friend in the process.
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Old 06-20-2015, 08:42 AM   #27
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I've been working for 6 years at solving this issue of finding quality service work. Sometimes, it's a local boatyard. But in other places, it's a guy who works out of his truck. That guy in his truck has an impossible time getting exposure. Pure word of mouth isn't enough - there has to be something more.

We're about to turn on 20 new categories of services. These categories list the places by lat/lon where service can be gotten. The businesses can be found by map viewing or by name finding. Every listing has reviews and ratings.

Here's the list of new categories coming online:

AC, Heating, Refrigeration
Bottom Painting
Carpentry
Canvas, Upholstery
Detailing, Washing, Waxing
Electrical
Electronics, Navigation
Engines, Generators : Diesel
Engines, Generators : Gas
Engines, Generators : Outboard
Fiberglass
Haul Out
Mechanical
Paint, Varnish, Gelcoat
Plumbing
Propeller, Shaft, Running Gear
Rescue, Salvage, Diving
Retail : Stores
Sails, Rigging
Storage

There is some overlap between categories. A single business can exist in multiple categories and you'll be able to get a summary showing their ratings in all categories they belong to. A boat yard, for example, might be in all 20 categories. A John Deere guy out of his truck might be in only 2 categories.

We've experimented for about 3 years with 4 basic categories (boat brokers, surveyors, transport/water, transport/land) to develop all the software and figure out what was needed. That all has been done and we're ready to move to the next level with all of this.

...and there's more categories coming after this too.
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Old 06-20-2015, 08:52 AM   #28
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For those in Jax and nearby, a little further south on the St. Johns at Green Cove Springs (approx 20nm south from Huckins) there is Holland Marine. I have used them for work and Tom Holland has always been fair and honest with me as far as I have seen so far.

Before going to him I found a number of others's that had vouched for their work and honesty. Plus they can handle pretty much anything size wise I'd guess to about 65-75' with the travel lifts I've seen. One even can lift LARGE sailing cats that are WIDE.
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Old 06-20-2015, 11:22 AM   #29
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That guy in his truck has an impossible time getting exposure. Pure word of mouth isn't enough - there has to be something more.
I think any experienced independant marine service provider will tell you that word-of-mouth is the best advertising and in many, many cases, keeps the service provider as busy as he wants to be. You are certainly not the first to conceive of a centralized listing for marine service providers; I have listed my business on many of them. They bring almost no customers. Ineffective to the point that if they weren't free, I wouldn't use any of them. The bottom line is the best independants don't need to to do much advertising. They have as much work as they can handle without it. Don't get me wrong, I encourage your efforts and hope they're successful, although I have to say a listing of service providers where anybody can leave a review (whether they've actually used a particular service or not) is a potentially dangerous thing, and can do more harm than good to a service provider.

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We're about to turn on 20 new categories of services.
Hopefully, "Hull Cleaning" or "Dive Services" will be a separate, stand-alone category, as opposed to a subset of the "Rescue" category.
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Old 06-20-2015, 12:01 PM   #30
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although I have to say a listing of service providers where anybody can leave a review (whether they've actually used a particular service or not) is a potentially dangerous thing, and can do more harm than good to a service provider.
:
I have to say that comment is very true. I'm sure he will try to handle that appropriately. There is always the fear of the one unreasonable customer who has some sort of personal vendetta. However, as volume builds dilution takes place. I look at restaurant reviews regularly on google for all the areas we travel to. There are none that have averages of 5 but a lot over 4. I do feel bad for the restaurant when it's clearly very expensive but someone gives them a negative review saying the food was good but the prices were too high. They could have and should have looked at the menu before they went and would have known the prices. We'll see that on marine service providers where someone out of touch with what prices should be on a particular job writes and scores that way. If there are enough reviews it's easy enough to dismiss those that don't fit.

You even have sites for doctor reviews and you can look for consistent patterns. If there are 6 reviews and 4 say the doctor has a lousy bedside manner, you can figure he or she isn't very friendly. However, I saw one review where they gave the doctor a bad score because they didn't like where his office was located and the parking.

In your business I'm sure there are those who use the neighbor's kid to clean their boat bottom and suddenly go to a professional and then will write about the prices and perhaps even telling them they needed to replace their zincs and the kid never said that.

I've seen reviews on AC of marinas. The marina we left this morning had a 3 star review where the negative was that the marina would like you to make reservations before pulling in. So maybe they can assign a slip? Duh. Apparently when they just pulled in the marina wasn't prepared for them.
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Old 06-20-2015, 12:29 PM   #31
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If you bring your boat to Seattle CSR Marine. As a bonus no extra charge you can cruise the north west passage and you may not need AC and in many places less bugs than Fla. Oh did I mention big salmon crabs prawns oysters and gorgeous mountains lots of places to anchor you get the picture.
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Old 06-20-2015, 01:35 PM   #32
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Ey, if the word gets out it there will be less of the things you mentioned! Shhhhh!

I am also skeptical of lists and reviews. It's good for the list-maker as it is another source of revenue, but if you have paid to be included in a list you won't stand for a selection of bad reviews so by default, lists are biased. An example of that is the Waggoner, a west coast "cruising guide" that has great gaps in it because some of the businesses did not want to participate/pay the fee so there are entire marinas missing from their publications. It's sad, but true that a reviewer who gets a free meal is more likely to be complementary.

I witnessed the same in a restaurant where a newspaper reporter and a photographer were being wined and dined in a local restaurant. The review in the local rag was very complimentary yet our evening sucked because the wait staff were waiting on the reporter and the palaver and noise spoilt our dinner.

Word of mouth. That's how I got my diver, my welder and the shipyard I go to. Plus, I like to think I have intimate knowledge of my boat!
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Old 06-20-2015, 01:55 PM   #33
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I have listed my business on many of them. They bring almost no customers.
Yeah, marinas and boatyards told us the same thing 8 years ago. Things have changed a bit especially when their business is now effected in a major way based on their listing and reviews.

There's a reason 1,200 marinas are updating their fuel prices each week now. I have a sense that they feel the effect from something we're doing online.


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The bottom line is the best independants don't need to to do much advertising. They have as much work as they can handle without it.
That's great if their business is like that. I have a feeling that few will turn away the exposure of providing high-quality service. Having a vehicle for getting exposure because of quality will also provide a marketing tool for a great service provider who doesn't know how to start out and get those first few customers. It's not realistic to make a blanket statement, speaking for thousands of people running their own businesses.


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I have to say a listing of service providers where anybody can leave a review (whether they've actually used a particular service or not) is a potentially dangerous thing, and can do more harm than good to a service provider.
From managing hundreds of thousands of reviews, I believe we have the technology, procedures, and experience about how that should be handled. The goal is to share the experience received.

Many service organizations are going to get a big wake up call when they find that boaters will describe their experiences, good or bad, in a way that many thousands of potential customers can find and read easily. We think this type of transparency has improved marina and boatyard quality over the last years as so many boaters refer to reviews before they make a move. This is no different from product reviews in Amazon or restaurant reviews in TripAdvisor. You can always pull out a single review and show how something is wrong with it. But the essence of crowd-sourcing is coming to a conclusion after reading a variety of inputs from different people with similar interests. When that's done, the truth always shows through.
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Old 06-21-2015, 07:35 AM   #34
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Wow! Did they give you any breakdown on how they cam up with that number?
Wow is right. Attached is the estimate which actually is about $2300 and includes removing the fuel cooler, after-cooler and injector pump, all to tighten a fuel fitting.
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File Type: pdf PITTMANrepair_QUOTE.pdf (46.4 KB, 47 views)
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Old 06-21-2015, 10:58 AM   #35
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How easy is it to access that fuel fitting? Could they repair it without removing the fuel cooler and aftercooler?. Sometimes getting to the part costs more than fixing the part. They hit you pretty hard on transportation costs too.
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Old 06-21-2015, 01:20 PM   #36
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Judging a good and honest mechanic

Perhaps we should talk about how to tell (hopefully in advance) if you are dealing with a good and honest mechanic. You need both things.

Fortunately the marine service business is different from the auto service business. Marine mechanics are almost always paid by the hour not the job. Even somewhat honest auto mechanics have every incentive to change the part first and see if it solves the problem, because he gets paid to change parts and not to think and test first. Fortunately marine mechanics get paid just as much to think and diagnose as they do to turn the wrench. So take advantage of that difference and look for a guy who knows how to diagnose first and wants to do it.

But there will always be cases where it is so obvious what the problem is or that the cost of diagnosing is more than just changing the part. It is cheaper and quicker to just change the thermostat if your engine is running cool than to take it out, put it in a pan of water on the stove and heat it and watch when it opens. In the same 15 minutes that it takes to watch the thermostat open (and close) you can put in a new thermostat; and 99% of the time you are going to have to do that anyway.

But most marine engine problems can benefit from spending time thinking about the problem and developing a diagnostic plan and running a few low cost tests to rule out one problem or point towards another.

Some boat owners have enough mechanical sense to sit down with a mechanic, discuss the symptoms, develop a diagnostic plan together and implement it. But even if you don't have those skills, ask your mechanic how he will approach the problem after you have described the symptoms. If he wants to immediately replace parts without giving you a reasonable reason why or doing some diagnoses first, be very, very wary.

Following this approach can smoke out the incompetent but honest parts changer or the dishonest guy who wants to spend thousands replacing parts where the problem could easily be fixed for hundreds.

David
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Old 06-21-2015, 01:45 PM   #37
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My favorite story when it comes to marine mechanics was Dave at Lewis and Clark marina. We just got our boat and we hired him for an hour to go over the systems with us, just a teaching session. We couldn't get good water flow out of the air conditioning system - just a dribble. I was thinking new pump, new hoses maybe, with dollar signs dancing in my head. Dave plucked a thin reed out of a marshy spot a few docks away, stuck it into the discharge, and woosh, good strong flow.

"Spiders or bugs. They like places like that over winter storage."

He could have charged us $3000 for a whole new AC unit, back then I wouldn't have known the difference.
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Old 06-23-2015, 02:19 PM   #38
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If anyone in or visiting Marathon Fl needs a good outboard, electronics or trailer mechanic, I have recommendations if they pm me.
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Old 06-24-2015, 07:21 AM   #39
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How easy is it to access that fuel fitting? Could they repair it without removing the fuel cooler and aftercooler?. Sometimes getting to the part costs more than fixing the part. They hit you pretty hard on transportation costs too.
Yes it is a pain to get to. I probably won't have to remove the after-cooler but I might have to loosen it to move it slightly to gain access. The fuel cooler may have to come out but if so that makes moving the after-cooler very easy.
I'm estimating 3 hours to do the job myself. My pinched nerve block worked so I'm back up to speed.

Just to remind folks this was an estimate and I have no doubt that if Cummins did the work it would be close to that. Again they are not unethical, they are telling me in advance the charges. Crazy yes but not unethical.
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Old 06-24-2015, 08:26 AM   #40
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I was told by the yard manager at a Goose Creek S.C. boat yard that it was against yard policy for customers to do there own bottom painting. Enviro reasons he said. I was ok with that, realizing it was going to be expensive to have them do it, but you just gotta go with the flo sometimes. However, when a boat owner started scraping and painting the bottom on his big woody the very next week I asked the manager about it. He says "well, he's an old customer, been here lots of times". B.S. they just wanted to get a little more $$$ outa me. If he had come to me and told me he needed some work for his yard hands I would have been happy to oblige.
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