Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mack Snails

The summer we had in Brunswick was total fun and we met some very nice people. We made friends. We saw family. We had a good time. Maybe we had too good a time because there was plenty of work to get done that didn't, but that's OK. We are retired after all. The people we met at Brunswick Landing Marina are the best. There were some who will bust your balls for a good laugh but are there in a flash to help you out when you need it. My kind of peeps. The social hours were some of the best around and the marina made sure you were as happy as can be with the free wine and beer. If we come back to the states again next year I can't imagine there will be any slips available now that word has got out about the place. Good for them. Hopefully the old man gives the staff a good raise as well. They deserve it. 

We did have a list of items that we really needed to happen before we took off for the Bahamas and beyond. Free beer and wine slowed some of the progress on that list but we managed to knock off a few items while we were there.

  1. Bottom Paint
  2. Rigging inspected
  3. New head plumbing
  4. Provision
  5. Re-bed ports

We looked at several places to get the bottom painted including the marina we were at. We got some pricing and decided on Titusville. We figured we would get it done on our way south. We installed two new toilets and re-plumbed the aft head. This was not something I enjoyed but I think it worked out fairly well as we no longer have any odor. I also reinstalled some of our ports with Butyl tape and they are now leak free. So the only thing left to deal with was the rigging. 

We found a guy to inspect the old stays and install the new rigging if needed and he came highly recommended. He was also highly expensive. He had a slight British accent even though when asked he came from Alabama. All Americans love that accent when getting lectured or sold something don't they? American Idol or Dancing with the stars - British accent guy declares you unfit to even sing a bedtime song to your child, or dance at your wedding. It must be true, he’s a smart British guy. Then there’s the Dyson vacuum that must be better than anything else because that British guy says so. So when our rigger came down and said in a Brit accent, “This is the part of my job I don’t like”, I knew we were fucked. It was like the British guy on that talent show on TV telling me my singing sounds like pulling a cat through a chain link fence.  “I condemn your rigging. My report will be emailed. Don’t sail in any wind stronger then a gentle breeze. Pleasant day. Carry on then.” The Jolly Good Rigger then charged me $250 and said he didn’t have time to do the actual rigging. Off he went down the dock. Cheerio old salt!

Well now what? After I stopped imagining myself beating people with a British accent we looked around the web for reliable riggers and settled on Mack Sails. They came highly recommended by several people and despite what happened these people are still our friends. I googled Mack Sails and received mostly positive feedback. After contacting them and getting a price quote over the phone that very minute I got a small but noticeable twitch in my brain that as I look back on now was probably my intuition saying “Run away!!” I mean, you have not even seen my boat or its rigging and you just casually lay a price on me that's not only reasonable but then you schedule a date for removal and tell me it will be done in two weeks! The only way I would have accepted that deal any faster would be someone giving me that price with a British accent. In hindsight the conversation just seemed too fast and casual without very many questions or details. It also seemed like nothing was being written down. It's like I called when everyone was out to a lunch party and I got the janitor who was pretending to take an order.

With Mack doing the rigging in Fort Pierce at Cracker Boy Boat Works we decided to let Cracker Boy do the bottom paint as well. We even got a better price than the others. So here’s how the procedure was going to go.

  1. Leave Vero for haul out at Cracker Boy
  2. Haul, drop mast, paint bottom
  3. Launch and go back to Vero
  4. Two weeks later go back to Cracker Boy and get the mast installed and celebrate. Cheers!

What actually happened.

  1. Leave Vero for Haul out at Cracker Boy
  2. Hauled. Dropped Mast.
  3. “Hey Cap! Look at your rudder!” WTF.
  4. Get quotes on rudder repair.
  5. Order new rudder
  6. Remove old rudder
  7. Deliver old rudder to Foss Foam
  8. Sit in yard
  9. Sit in yard
  10. Curse everyone in the yard
  11. Get new rudder. Drink Beer. Cheers!
  12. Mast arrives and placed next to the boat. Incomplete. WTF.
  13. Curse Mack Sails!
  14. Install new rudder. Drink beer. Cheers!
  15. Sit in yard
  16. Curse Mack Sails.
  17. Bottom Painted. Drink Beer. Cheers!
  18. Launch boat without mast. WTF
  19. Curse Mack Sails.
  20. Sit in Vero without mast. “We’re not a derelict boat!”
  21. Curse Mack Sails.
  22. Mack Sails finishes the mast. Drink Beer. Cheers!
  23. Leave Vero for Cracker Boy
  24. Install Mast. Radar not centered. Pin holes on chainplates too small. Hole for wires too small and the best for last…. NO BACKSTAY! They forgot.
  25. Shoot Mack no better not, Curse Mack Sails!
  26. Leave Cracker Boy for Vero with halyards for backstays.
  27. Curse Mack Sails!
  28. Mack sails installs backstay and two of the spreader boots. All they had.
  29. Drink beer. Curse Mack sails!
  30. Waiting on spreader boots.
  31. Drinking beer. Cursing Mack Sails.

The mast was quoted as taking about two weeks. It's been five. Four of those weeks were spent in a dusty noisy boat yard where we had to climb a ladder to get home. They charged us an additional $10 as a liveaboard fee for use of the amenities. The amenities consisted of a one hole bathroom and shower. The shower had no curtain but if you opened the stall door all the way it would block anyone from seeing your bright white ass.

Sitting and cursing with our incomplete mast

We are not vagabonds! We  have sails!
Our finished rudder at Foss Foam

Barrier coat on the rudder

We thoroughly enjoyed this posh resort we were dropped into. The best moment was having the shower nozzle pop off and shoot out into the room sending a stream of water all over the chair holding my once dry clothes. Imagine walking in on a soapy naked fifty something gray hair bent over in the middle of the bathroom. “Oh holy Geezus! Man I’m sorry! I'll come back later.”  No worries. Just grabbing my nozzle!

Dog in the stall comes in second best. I was doing some waste management when a guy walks in with his dog on a leash. He’s at the urinal and the dog decided I was pretty interesting so he crawls under the stall and wants me to pet him. Talk about ruining the moment. “Nice dog pal, but could you reel him in please!” No apologies either. Asshole. I should have strung some toilet paper under the dog’s collar.
So there you have it for amenities. We did use the water and some of the power so I guess the ten dollars is warranted. No, it’s not. We hardly used any of it. Bastards.

Four weeks in a busy boatyard is not fun but we endured. The crew at Cracker Boy was good. They knew what they were doing but they are not cheap. Neither was the rudder but it could have been worse. Al at Foss Foam really came through for us. Good people there.

I look like I'm leaning with the mast

Hands on hips does not mean I'm
about to do the river dance. It means...
 somethings fucked up

Yep. Somethings definitely fucked up.
There was a moment in the yard when they were pulling the old rudder. I mentioned that a sling might be a good idea when dropping the rudder into the hole you just dug. "Nah, we’ll just hold it. This isn't our first day on the job you know." As they finally got the gudgeon plate removed the rudder slipped through their hands and fell into the hole. All three just looked over at me and I just shook my head. Good thing that's the old rudder boys.

Some of the new chainplates
The mast sat beside our boat for a week with nobody doing anything to it. I had to call Mack about every other day to get things moving. A crew finally showed up to re-wire the mast. They mentioned us getting a new tri color masthead light. No. I didn't ask for that. I asked for a deck light, a new sheave, radar mounted and all wiring replaced. I checked on them later and they said they didn't have a deck light and the sheave was OK. No its not! "Yes it is. We put some oil on it and it is fine." Um, no. Come with me junior. We looked at it and I asked them to remove it. I showed them how to remove the pin and then showed them the bushing pushed out of the sheave. "Oh! That's not good." No shit. You really have to watch the people working on your boat. If we weren't there I would have a non functioning oily sheave.

So here we sit in Vero waiting on Spreader booties. You believe this shit? I’m not going to lie and say this was all just a bit of fun and adventure. The truly positive people out there would turn this post into a delightful romp through the trials and tribulations of the cruising life. No, it sucked. It truly did. We were pissed off and angry and depressed at times but I have to say we mostly handled it well and with some laughter. A tear or two has been shed over our accounts but what can you do? It’s all part of this life we are chasing in a twenty five year old boat. Shits just gonna happen. 

We have had some fun moments while sitting on the dirt.
  • Walking to the bar too far. It was just across the creek!
  • Having the train blow the whistle for us as we walked the 10 miles to the pub.
  • Getting to the bar only to find zero craft brews and only grilled cheese for veg heads.
  • Visiting with Deb's Mom and Chuck. Miss you Mom!
  • Seeing old friends from Western NY. You guys have not changed! Good times.
  • Laughing as the train rocked the boat on the jack stands.
  • Playing tunes and enjoying some brews in the boatyard.

While we were sulking in Vero some friends showed up on SV Odin. Bonnie and not Clyde (Craig) pulled in for some laughs. Thanks guys! You really eased the pain. I should probably stop saying “not Clyde” but it amuses me.

If I could describe Mack Sails I would say they are skilled at what they do, they just do it slow and disorganized. It really only takes a bit of communication with the customer and your personnel. You assign a customer a job number and a worksheet is entered into your database. The worksheet has the tasks and the materials required. Your people sign off when completed. Each job has a due date. This date may change due to material availability, staffing, etc. But you have the info for your customer and you can track your work. Its not that freaking hard these days. C'Mon Mack get with it!

So we were thinking this little string of bad luck was finally getting behind us and then don’t I lose my wallet overboard on the dinghy ride back to the boat one night! Son of a bitch.
What the hell will I do without my AARP card!


So I got this new keyboard for my 7 inch tablet. I squint to see the screen and my hands are close together while I'm hunched over the whole thing. I pretty much look like vermin.  But hey, blog posts.


  1. Sounds to me like they knew what they were doing, except when they didn't. Good thing you were looking over their shoulders. And i hope they wired the mast correctly.

  2. Wow, sorry to hear that! Glad it seems to be almost over. We've been doing all of our own boat repairs, and it sucks! But, it's a lot cheaper and we know it will be done like we want. However, if we had a lot of money, we'd take our chances and have someone else do it! =)

    1. Cheryl, its good to be self sufficient. We try to do most of our own work, but some things need professionals, like rigging for instance. We could have purchased the rigging on our own and installed it and it would have been much cheaper. The problem is where do you do it? Any do it yourself yard will charge you for all materials used. Even brushes and sandpaper! We wanted to paint our own bottom but all we would save is the labor. Everything else had to be purchased through the yard including the paint. In the end it just wasn't worth the hassle to do it ourselves. Insurance companies are also very picky when it comes to sailboat rigging. If yours is over ten yrs old I recommend replacing it now before you go. I wish we had.

      Hope you guys get out here soon!

  3. Glad you got it all together in the end. Great post. I laughed and laughed :)

  4. Our problems with Mack is not with their workmanship or their workers, it's the lack of communication and organization that impacts the customer. We never once received an apology for any of the delays or mishaps, not even when my mast went up without a backstay because they forgot about it. I guess thats the part that burns me the most is the uncaring attitude.

  5. Great...we just closed on our boat today... thanks for reminding me what I have to look forward to. ...

  6. Great...we just closed on our boat today... thanks for reminding me what I have to look forward to. ...

    1. We can actually laugh about it now, even though we still do not have spreader boots. It's all just part of the adventure and it sure as hell beats sitting in a cubicle somewhere. Best of luck on the new boat!