Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Long time no blog....

Ok, ok, I know it's been awhile. I won't bore you with why I am so busy as I know everyone is busy and it's no excuse. Anyway, where was I? Romance is looking better and already back in her slip. Ben Miller of BM boat works was kind enough to shoot a few pictures of the repairs as they were happening with Romance. Below you can see that we stripped off the dragon’s tail and big red heart. It just didn't really fit with us. I'll be painting the stern a nice white next time I am in Kemah. Below that is the rudder repair. There were some pretty deep cracks in the top edge so Ben sanded it down and reglassed the whole top edge. Should make her water tight and much stronger to boot. Next is the patch of the old through hulls. for some reason the previous owner had the speed and depth indicator mounted at the stern of the boat. Now I don't know much but I do know, especially after running around at Offats, that I'd rather know how deep the water is in front of me than under me. That way at least I have a shot at slowing down or stopping. Next comes the shiny new paint job. Please note my only complaint was that we didn't strictly measure the prop aperture before I shelled out 3K to PYI for that Max-prop. So, I fixed up the old proplock and we'll just have to live with a little bit of drag. But, speaking of PYI, let's talk about vendors for a minute.

Since the email exchange below I still have not heard a single word from Givens. I've also just noticed that they did not take part in Practical Sailors life raft test this year. For some reason they were just too busy to provide the raft to PS. Makes you wonder doesn't it? Maybe I should send them another reminder email that two more weeks have gone by and I still haven't been updated.

On the other hand, two huge gold stars to PYI who distributes the Max-prop and to Katadyn Water Makers. PYI has been excellent through out the past haul out. Even thought the prop didn't fit they were exceptionally customer focused and said not to worry, that they would provide a full refund and all I'll be out is the shipping. Good people over there. As for Katadyn, they purchased the company that made the PUR Power Survivor 35. They still make it in a manual form for ditch bags and the like, but no more power version. However, upon one single email they provided me with the now out of copy owner’s manual that had been produced by PUR. They even pointed me towards the part numbers for the service kit I will most likely need to get her running again. Now that's good customer service.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Givens Continued....

Did I overstep my bounds or am I being unreasonable in expecting at least some sort of feedback after 7 weeks? I'd think at a minimum some sort of timeframe would be in order. But then again maybe I am just too demanding of a customer.

Lee: your raft is in for testing and I agree since this is life saving equipment we DO NOT RUSH TESTING.I would think you would appreciate that. There are other rafts in for serviceahead of yours and yours went in proper order. I cannot ruch the servicng procedure and conveyed this to you every time you called and I did call you and spent alot of time with you on the phone explaining how to ship the raft and answering your questions. After you decided to send it , You told me there was no rush. I will discuss the status with my staff and be touch as soon as possible.
Best Regards,
Ms. Lori Perrino
Givens Marine Survival Co.,Inc.

Givens Marine Survival: Customer Service

I am getting really annoyed with Givens. I've sent them the link below and let them know my experience with their company is being documented through this blog. Let's see if this makes any difference at all. I'll copy their response in if and when I get one.

Hi Lori,

I am sorry to say that I am frustrated with the lack of information that has come my way since I sent you my life raft. The only updates that have been provided over the past 7 weeks are in response to my direct inquiry. Not only that, the only content provided in those updates are that my raft is still in the shop for testing and that you believed there to be no rush. I've been updating a published web log with my experience outfitting my boat for cruising departure and Givens is not ranking high on the list. For a manufacturer of a piece of equipment so critical to the safety of sea going vessels I am surprised at the lack of customer service and it forces me to question the viability and safety of your product.

It is in my interest, and hopefully yours, that we can conclude this transaction to the satisfaction of both parties. I can assure you that I will happily act as a positive reference based on the outcome of our interaction. I look forward to more detailed information about the status of my raft.

Lee Winters

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Quick trip to Kemah

What can I do in a day and a half?

1. Pull spare sails and take them to Neil Pryde for review and repair. (Spare main, genoa, mizzen, mizzen staysail, storm trysail, and spinnaker)
2. Remove windlass, disassemble, and take for sandblasting.
3. Pull all chain from locker and mark 25ft & 100 ft intervals with zip ties and secure the bitter end.
4. Pull autopilot pump and determine cause of fluid leak. Repair if possible.
5. Remove captains chair and epoxy open holes.
6. Check cockpit speakers and replace if wires are live.
7. Find a way to fold dodger forward while underway
8. Remove/replace fish finder

I am overshooting a realistic goal for this weekend. I know already that I will only be able to do either one or two, and not both. Both shops close by noon on Saturday and the sand blaster is way north east of downtown. I am waiting to hear if the sail shop is open or if he is out racing this Saturday. That answer will make my decision for me.

Three and four both came up when Kris and I went to Offats Bayou. While the ground tackle worked great, I realized I had no way of knowing how much chain I had let out. I’ll use multi colored zip ties to mark the chain in bright color so I know I have the right amount of scope. Dragging anchor seems to easy to prevent not to better understand my tackle. The autopilot just loses it’s fluid almost immediately. Upon first inspections is seemed to come at the housing opening for the ram. I know jack about hydraulic pumps so this should be interesting.

There is a feature on this boat that never fails to elicit comment from the sailing community. That damn captains chair in the cockpit. It really isn’t all that functional since you can’t see over the dodger in it anyway, so I think it has to go. A little west system epoxy and we can take a big step towards cleaning up our cockpit. There is generally just too much clutter.

The rest of the list are more random odds and ends I though I would remind myself of in case I make good headway on the other projects. Even though she is on the hard I am happy to be getting back to Romance.

I want to say a quick thanks to those readers who are writing in. Your comments and encouragement are extremely helpful. I’d encourage any others who are following along to drop me a comment at the end of this post or an email from my main page. In fact, I’ll pose a question to you. Given the choice between two lives, one of safety, security, and routine the other of great joy, hardship, and adventure would a man chose the safe, but mundane? When did we stop risking all to make our own positions in life better? Has pure, unadulterated capitalism really become the only, unquestioned way to raise ourselves and others up?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The rest of the New Years pictures

So I finally got the rest of the still pictures from our New Years trip. Run your mouse over the pic and you can speed up the scroll rate. There is really no justice done to the immense size of those cargo ships. These things are like mountains cruising at 20 knots. (1.15 statute miles per nautical mile) Cutting across the Houston Ship Channel will definitely get your blood up. There was a fair amount of hanging about until we had a nice wide passage we could cut through. Even then, those things move deceptively fast.

Romance got pulled out of the water yesterday. I'll be flying into Houston this weekend to check on the progress. I also bit a major bullet and dropped $3,000 on a new propeller. That fancy feathering job I mentioned down below. This eliminates the need to try and fix the worn out proplock. It also ensures that I won't kill the transmission by sailing while the prop freewheels. Not to mention it typically adds up to 15% of the hull speed by reducing drag. That could give us 0.5 - 1.0 knot faster sailing performance. I'll take all we can get. The cruising kitty is starting to hemorrhage......I am afraid of where this will finally end.