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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

My Struggles With The Workbench

April 13, 2005.

As mentioned elsewhere, Promise is currently stored on the hard in the boatyard on Virgin Gorda. Unfortunately, the boatyard is no longer in charge of any work your boat might need. You either have to find someone to do the work yourself, or rely on a particular organization which contracts with the boatyard to do work there. This organization is The Workbench. Promise was stored in the boatyard when I went down to the BVIs to check her out in April, 2003. She needed work, but I figured I could do a lot of the work myself and have the folks at The Workbench do the major stuff. Everyone assured me they do excellent work -- maybe they do, but the hard part is getting them to actually get started. I talked with the owner on the phone once in May before I bought the boat, as I wanted to know if he could examine the motor, which was out of the boat and needed some work, complete any needed repairs and install the motor. He assured me he would be happy to do so. After buying the boat in July 2003, I attempted to contact The Workbench numerous times by phone and email, but none of my messages were returned, so in September I sent them a 2 page letter detailing the work I wished done, and asking them to contact me. I received no response. In November, the broker I bought the boat through made a trip to the BVI and he offered to check in and see how the work was going. He was shocked to discover that they hadn't even started yet. He talked with the office manager who told him that they had indeed received my letter (she even showed it to him), and they were just about to contact me to schedule the work. In fact, he was told, as soon as she was done talking with him she was going to go right in and email me. I never received this email. When the broker returned, he phoned me to tell me what he'd discovered. He was not surprised to find I had received no email, and he suggested that I email them. I did this, but again, received no response. In January, 2004, I emailed a person at the boatyard and asked her to light a fire under the people at The Workbench. This person was also told I would be contacted immediately -- again I was not contacted. Desperate, I emailed The Workbench in April and told them that I assumed the problem was that they either could not do or did not want to do the work and, if I did not hear from them by the end of the week, I would start looking for someone else to do the job. I received a response immediately. It was full of ambiguous BS about the difficulties inherent in the job and various excuses (for example, they claimed they were waiting for the previous owner to deliver the motor -- he claimed he was waiting for them to pick it up -- they both work in the same boatyard, but The Workbench never made arrangements for pickup or delivery). I replied to this email asking several questions, trying to get some information, but my questions were never answered, so I then started actively trying to find someone else to complete the work on my boat. (I also discovered that they were telling people that they had heard nothing from me!!!) This apparently got back to The Workbench as, out of the blue, one day in May I received an email from them saying they'd completed the inspection of the motor and (such a surprise) it needed work, which they apparently couldn't or wouldn't do, don't know which, so they found a local fellow who repairs motors on the side who would do the work for me. At this point, summer of 2004, the slow time of year, The Workbench actually did finally get some work done on the boat, and I started to relax.

Then a new problem developed. For whatever reason, Promise has no cockpit sole. I've been trying to get The Workbench to install a new one since the beginning. I let them know that I wanted it installed as soon as the engine was ready. I didn't want it to get ruined by rain. Well, they put everything off so long that once the rainy season started the hull kept filling up with water. They gave me a choice of putting in a pump or installing garboard drains. Garboard drains are plugs in the hull that can be removed to let water out. Of course, if they fail, they'll let water in as well. Well, my view is that I don't want any more holes in the hull than is absolutey necessary, and besides I could always use a pump, so I told them to put in the pump and asked a few questions about it. My questions were not answered; however, 2 weeks later I received another email stating that they hadn't installed the pump, and asking me to reconsider the garboard drains--in fact, they insisted on putting them in. Meanwhile, Promise had been filling with water regularly for the entire 2 weeks. So I finally gave in and OKed the drains.

They contacted me later about additional work that was needed, new standing rigging, and I asked them to send me cost estimates...which I never received. After numerous attempts to contact them, I finally received an email from The Workbench saying they would be happy to finish the work, but it was charter season now and there would be a bit of a delay while they concentrated on the multi-million dollar charter boats. They said they would get back to me in about a month. This was in September, 2004. I have had no further messages from them. I sent them 2 emails in December and another in January 2005, but have received no response from them at all. I have no idea what work has been done or how much money I owe. In fact, one of the last emails I sent to The Workbench included a request to let me know if I owed them any money -- I have not received a reply, so I'm assuming I owe them nothing!!! Should be interesting when I go down to pick up the boat.

I've come to realize that if I want any work to get done on Promise I'm either going to have to do it myself or at least arrange it in person. Thus, I have decided that no matter what I'll be relocating to the Virgin Islands this summer so that I can get this work done. And what's the moral of the story? Well, that's for you to judge. But, if you happen to find yourself on Virgin Gorda and your boat needs repairs, you'd better be pretty handy or pretty rich, because only then will the work get done.

P.S.: And those garboard drains they insisted I install last summer? They have not yet been installed.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Peter Bradley II said...

I"ve enjoyed your blog. I came across it because I am looking at buying a cruising boat, and a Willard 30 is the most recent I am researching. Seems like a great boat.


But what I really want to say is that you should add "Don't Stop the Carnival" to your reading list if you haven't already read it.

Monday, December 05, 2005  

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