Our seven pledges on coping with boat-builders

In our past professional lives, we tried hard not to take on projects which couldn’t be delivered on time, on budget or to the appropriate standards. 

Unfortunately this approach with few exceptions, as fundamental as it might sound, is not one which is followed in the boat repair industry.

After 20 years of frustrations, holdups and expenses – emotional, logistical and financial – we feel we have the experience to list some points which may help others avoid some of the pitfalls and hint at what to expect when trying to get repairs done on a boat or barge in Australia, the UK or here on the Continent of Europe.  The longest we have had to sit and wait was five weeks, but as it’s so much fun out on the canals, even a hold-up of a couple of days is a couple of days too long we reckon. 

So (slightly tongue in cheek), our advice in the case of the average boat builder, is never, never:

  1. Make a payment in advance for work or parts in the anticipation that this will mean your project will be given any priority over those of anyone else.  It will not and you run the risk of losing your money if the boat builder or mechanic goes broke before getting to your job.
  2. Expect that any works will be done while you are away from your boat for an extended period – overseas etc.  If you are not there to supervise (drive the project) the odds are nothing will happen despite any assurances that things will; your deadlines are irrelevant.
  3. Expect any responses to emails, voicemails or SMS messages in regard to progress with your project, or that any instructions delivered this way will be followed.
  4. Expect that the cost and time estimates, even in written documents, will bare resemblance to the final facture (bill).
  5. Assume offering tea, coffee, sandwiches and aperitifs, loans of favourite books, CDs, DVDs or even offering free advice on how to improve their businesses or marriages will advance their progress on your ever-lagging project.
  6. Not carefully check or have someone else check the work when it’s (finally) completed.
  7. Lose your patience as this will do nothing for your health or theirs.

Stewart ‘trapped’ on board for five weeks when the boat should have been ready for our arrival, in Yorkshire back in 2008, but was still being built.

Now this might sound a bit negative, but we have pledged to ourselves and each other to follow this seven-point strategy and hope that at least some of the stress and strains will in the future be thus avoided. It has after all taken us 20 years to get to this point!

All this said we have found some very nice, efficient and reliable boat mechanics/electricians/plumbers/painters along the way… some have already been mentioned in our blog and we’d be happy to tell you about these and other heroes by email.

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About Lesley and Stewart

Loving great waterways of the world.
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