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Dealer Service Qualifications

All Is Not Well in the Boating Industry

The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) has instituted a program for training  and certifying marine technicians. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has instituted a program for certifying boat dealers.

All of which points up and underscores a growing problem in the marine industry: The lack of knowledge and skill demonstrated by a huge number of dealer and boat yard service personnel. And you got to know that when an industry association acknowledges and undertakes to solve a problem, the problem has got to be big.

And big it is. Just how big is underscored almost every day in our daily work of surveying boats. There just seems no end of foolish mistakes made in the installation of hardware and equipment by both dealers and manufacturers. This article concentrates on those made by dealers.

I saw a stunning example not long ago when I witnessed two men attempting to install a T-top on a new boat. The legs didn't fit right, so they each had in hand an 8 lb. hammer that they were applying to the anodized aluminum legs of the top in order to force them into place. Probably more notable than the level of ignorance being displayed was the fact that the two men were third world immigrants, Haiti to be specific, which suggested to me that this dealer had sought out the cheapest possible labor he could find.

A greater level of incompetence you couldn't find, but there they were bashing the hell out of an $8,000 top with hammers. All this to ensure the maximum profit levels to the dealer. This is perhaps an extreme example, but judging by what I see so frequently, it's not far off the mark for the level of competence that has become the norm.

Some typical examples:

  • Dealer installs a windlass on a cored deck without suitable  backing plates and protection against water getting into the core.
  • Dealer installs anchor pulpit and roller that is not matched to anchor.
  • Dealer installs top or tower on boat structure that was not designed to support it.
  • Non submersible pumps installed deep in the bilge where they get wet and damaged.
  • Careless and incompetent wiring. Wire connections installed in wet locations. Equipment wired with hidden or inaccessible inline fuses. Undersized wiring. Sloppy, unsecured wiring. Improper wire connections.
  • Careless drilling of holes in cored structures. Hardware installed without bedding.
  • Screws and bolts installed in plywood cored transoms without bedding.
  • And, horror of horrors, through hull fittings installed through cored bottoms and hull sides.
  • Substandard plumbing installations with substandard materials.
  • Trim tabs installed with screws, no bedding and no bonding.
  • Outboard motor controls installed by making hull entry holes below level of motor wells.
  • Electrical equipment installed in locations where it will get wet.

In several cases I found a boat that had six empty fuse holders on an electric panel, with five pieces of electrical equipment installed with hidden inline fuses, all because the installer was too lazy (or wanted to save labor time) to properly wire the devices into the panel.

This list could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the point. The level of dealer service personnel competence is going from bad to worse. The most troublesome aspect of this is that novice boat buyers are generally themselves ignorant of proper standards, and so aren't aware of this. Virtually all of the conditions listed above will result in future problems such as equipment failures, and in worst case scenarios, serious damage to boat structures.

Very often, improperly installed hardware causes core damage to structures, the source of which is never identified until it is too late. Normally, the damage is discovered by a surveyor at the time the boat is being sold, and the warranty has long expired. Thus, the owner gets stuck with the cost to remedy the problem.

At the risk of sounding like I'm just trying to create more business for surveyors, I'm urging all new boat buyers to have their new boat purchases checked out before you take delivery. I can guarantee that you save the cost of the surveyor's fee many times over by getting potential problems nipped in the bud.

In fact, it would be even better to consult a surveyor before you have the installations made. It's a lot easier to get it done right the first time, than it is to attempt to correct a faulty installation. Moreover, you won't encounter resistance from the dealer about correcting problems if you can get him to agree to do it right in the first place. Then the dealer won't have a problem and you won't have a problem, and you can go have fun in the sun instead of wasting your time haggling with a dealer or fixing his mistakes.

It just makes good sense, doesn't it?

Related Reading:
More on Cores at www.yachtsurvey.com

Posted October 4, 2000


David Pascoe - Biography

David Pascoe is a second generation marine surveyor in his family who began his surveying career at age 16 as an apprentice in 1965 as the era of wooden boats was drawing to a close.

Certified by the National Association of Marine Surveyors in 1972, he has conducted over 5,000 pre purchase surveys in addition to having conducted hundreds of boating accident investigations, including fires, sinkings, hull failures and machinery failure analysis.

Over forty years of knowledge and experience are brought to bear in following books. David Pascoe is the author of:

In addition to readers in the United States, boaters and boat industry professionals worldwide from nearly 80 countries have purchased David Pascoe's books, since introduction of his first book in 2001.

In 2012, David Pascoe has retired from marine surveying business at age 65.

On November 23rd, 2018, David Pascoe has passed away at age 71.

Biography - Long version

Your First Boat - Part I

By far, the most frequently asked question we get in our emails is the one by first time boat buyers asking about what brand they should buy.

Your First Boat - Part II

In this segment we'll take a look at the basics of trying to decide exactly what type, style and shape of boat that you think you need, versus what may actually best fit you purposes.

Your First Boat - Part III

In Part II, we made the recommendation that an used boat offers excellent value and good prospects for reliability. But how old of a boat? And how do you go about completing a deal?

The Hull - to - Deck Joint

A Critical Look at This Often Under-rated Element of Boat Quality

Boat Specifications

Length, weights and other trivia

Dealer Service Qualifications

All Is Not Well in the Boating Industry

Sizing Up Serviceability

The Little Things That Add Up to Big Dollars

Related Reading:
"Buying A Boat" Section
at yachtsurvey.com

David Pascoe's
Power Boat Books
Mid Size Power Boats Mid Size Power Boats
A Guide for Discriminating Buyers
Focuses exclusively cruiser class generally 30-55 feet
With discussions on the pros and cons of each type: Expresses, trawlers, motor yachts, multi purpose types, sportfishermen and sedan cruisers.
Buyers' Guide to Outboard Boats
Selecting and Evaluating New and Used Boats
Dedicated for offshore outboard boats
A hard and realistic look at the marine market place and delves into issues of boat quality and durability that most other marine writers are unwilling to touch.
Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats
2nd Edition
The Art of Pre-Purchase Survey The very first of its kind, this book provides the essentials that every novice needs to know, as well as a wealth of esoteric details.
Marine Investigations
Pleasure crafts investigations to court testimony The first and only book of its kind on the subject of investigating pleasure craft casualties and other issues.
Browse Chapters with Excerpt at DavidPascoe.com