Miss Lone Star (and her crew) was involved in a big hailstorm in Austin late April 2015. It sucked, but I already wrote a journal about the issues. We needed to get her repaired and I checked her in to Platinum Marine in Austin a few days after the boat was surveyed for damage. Ten weeks until departure to Kemah, TX.
There was a lot of stuff to be done but it all seemed manageable. I played the part of the normal nosey and inpatient boat owner. The service manager played himself and his name was Mclane. I assumed that he was the big boss by the way he sauntered around the office and acted over-confident well beyond his young 30 or so years on this earth. I would call or visit the boat a few times per week. I mean, the repair had to be on time and we had already set off a ton of dominoes that would fall on the 15th of July.
Long story short, things didn’t get done on time. Two days before departure I took a load of our personal things that Aubrey placed in tubs to the repair facility. I was going to put them into the boat and I wanted to look over the detail job that was supposed to be done that day. The outside of the boat looked beautiful and I was sure that the interior would look just as good, until I climbed up the ladder. Holy fu#$%%%% sh##$$!!! was the response I yelled. Nothing had been done except pulling out the dash, wires and garbage were everywhere. Almost none of the items on the punch list had been completed. My nightmare had come true!
I stormed into the repair office and that old Mclane was sitting behind his counter with his feet up on the desk chatting it up with a couple of his repair techs. I had taken a moment to myself before entering so I could be professional but all bets were off when I saw that level of chillaxing. He told me “yea, I wish we were a little farther along on the job and a few things turned out to require more effort than we planned,” etc, etc. He promised that it would be done the next day. It wasn’t. The next day was moving day and we had about transporter all lined up who was on schedule.
Ten weeks of work took place on the last two days and we spent 12 hours in his parking lot with the family until the boat was done at 9PM! I was irate but I remained calm because I thought nothing will get accomplished from me yelling and complaining. The finish work was appalling and things as simple as caulking cup holders hadn’t gotten done right or at all. I didn’t get a walk through of the repairs and it got all loaded on the truck. They just wanted to get rid of me and send us out-of-town. I paid over $27k (insurance paid it, but still) and we paid top rate of labor $120 per hour.
One of the owners walked over to me and asked if everything was ok before we left. I chewed his ear for about an hour and we did a walk through. It was actually worse than I first saw. He said he would take care of me and we would stay in touch. I guess I forgot that the boat would soon be placed into the ocean and I was taking them at their word that the boat would float again. It was dropped in Kemah, TX the next day and it indeed floated.
Everything else was a different story. Ascetically, the boat looked bad. Internally, the GPS didn’t work, windlass was inoperable, ice maker was not working, speakers not working, it was dirty despite me paying $680 to the shop for a 1 hour detail job, etc. I was beyond frustrated because we planned to set off the next day but that wouldn’t be possible unless I wanted to do it with a boat that wasn’t ship-shape. I called the owner and I think I was almost in tears. I had no idea what was going to happen.
The other owner showed up the next day before I awoke and things got better. Apparently, the former service manager had no actual experience and he went rogue on my boat. They wanted to make good on it and get it all fixed. We worked on it all day and he made several trips to West marine to get things he needed to get the work done properly. Long story short, they performed well and eventually things were fixed, for the most part. They adjusted our bill for what wasn’t done and they did several really nice things that they probably didn’t have to. It is rare to find a business that would do the right thing without getting attorneys involved. I was relieved but we still had to organize the 10 super huge tubs that were left undone from the pack up.
What happens when you combine bleach and ammonia?
We found out as we started to unpack tubs from the inside of the boat. You guessed it right. Mclane helped us get everything stowed so we could get the heck off his boat lot back in Austin. He stacked some chemicals between two tubs and the reaction happened. Aubrey said it created a noxious poison and I believe her. It took about a week in Kemah to get thing straight but we finally did. Thanks, in large part to our next door dock neighbors (Bryan and Jennifer) who had immense knowledge of boats, mechanics and kid watching. All’s well that ends well. It worked out well for us in the end and we made some friends who will likely meet up with us in the Caribbean. I guess everything happens for a reason. I learned some valuable lessons from this experience:
- Demand excellence and accountability
- Get an owner involved early and often
- Never trust a man named Mclane
- Don’t let people rush you
- Don’t pay for work that hasn’t been done
- Demand a walk through and don’t accept excuses for anything
- Make sure the boat looks good and don’t pay for spotty looking work
- Get referrals prior to picking a repair shop and look for alternatives (other cities) for work
- Yell more often