|Hiva Oa, French Marquesas, after our bow anchor roller
Even before I unwittingly snapped off our bow anchor platform in the French Marquesas, Wayne planned to deploy New Zealand’s excellent maritime services to replace it. Given it was as old as our 39-year-old Pearson 365 sailboat, we knew it was overdue for replacement. We just wanted it to hang in there a little bit longer. No such luck.
|Wayne used a discarded bow anchor roller to
streamline our Frankfix. It definitely helped!
Meanwhile, Wayne gimped together a somewhat sturdy but rusty, pig-iron-based interim solution in conjunction with our existing, but reinforced wooden platform,. Indeed, with some adjustments, that Frankenfix bow anchor platform setup got us through ~ 5,000 miles — all the rest of French Polynesia, a Cook Islands stop (where another fix was required), American Samoa, Tonga and, finally, into New Zealand.
|Deja vu, Suwarrow, Cook Islands.
This time our roller was retrieved.
When the time came for our New Zealand haul-out, “the guy” most recommended was heading off on vacation, unsure of when he’d get around to becoming available. While Wayne mulled over what to do about it, he was also busy with a couple other major projects, including pulling out our engine, and removingour original enclosed-below-the-cockpit fuel tank for replacement.
|Temporary Frankenfix fix in place again. Still working 4,000 miles
or so at our repair destination, Whangarei New Zealand.
We figured there were three options on how to replace the bow anchor roller.
- Quality timber, which we would either finish ourselves or leave to weather. This is what our original bow anchor roller was made of. It lasted nearly 35 years. Wayne’s time, spent on more pressing engine issues was the primary reason we didn’t insist on this approach, though we considered it a viable one.
- Plywood, fiberglass covered. The primary appeal to this approach for us was we thought it was a solid solution, and would take less of Wayne’s time, but cost less than stainless steel. We feel it’s a higher maintenance solution than either timber or steel, but still good, and our cost sensitivity factored into our willingness to consider it.
- Stainless steel. Longest-lasting approach. Primary reason we didn’t insist on it was we figured it was also the costliest approach.
|Wayne shows boat builders what we have
and describes our bow anchor roller
In some friendly, informal conversations, Wayne explained our sailboat was built in 1977 and our plan was to sell her in a year. She is not a high-end boat. Thus, every time we spend money on her, our focus is on safety and resale. Wayne thought he recalled requesting, before the bow anchor roller work began, to “Keep it to $1,000 or less. Let us know the best / most affordable approach.”
|This problem – a hole in our hull – prompted
our call to the boat builder for help.
The boat builders did an awesome job on our unexpected repair. They also did an awesome job on the bow anchor platform roller.
We then did what we should have done in the first place – local pricing research.
- Option #1, a wood bow anchor roller, would cost about $1,000. It was the most recommended approach.
- Option #3, a stainless steel bow anchor roller, would cost about $1,700 – $1,800.
- Option #2, the fiberglass coated plywood, could be delivered for less, but mostly the feedback we got was it wasn’t the recommended approach. “Too flash for your older, fiberglass boat with wood trim,” was the feedback.
While we never once took issue with the quality of the boat builder’s service, we did with the invoicing expectations. Certainly, we understood it was quite possible their fully-loaded costs were justified, albeit unexpectedly high.
|Old bow Frankenfix bow anchor roller channel on left.
Note the rust? To right is the old bow anchor platform;
it lasted 38 years.
Would I recommend this boat builder to other cruisers? Yes, as the quality of their work and service was excellent. In fact, I have recommended them since to other cruisers, with the following caveats:
- Boat owners request an agreement around cost parameters in writing up front.
- Boat owners monitor the progress, verifying that it’s within parameters or the work stops until there’s mutual agreement on how best to proceed if the cost are exceeding the parameters.
- If there’s more than one solution, ideally, boat owners take responsibility for seeking quotes, from more than one service provide if appropriate, to evaluate the best solution prior to beginning work.
|New fiberglass on wood bow anchor platform.
No more rusty iron channel to guide the chain
over the roller. Stainless steel skid plate, not
yet installed in this image, to reduce
chain chipping the new fiberglass platform.
Meanwhile, I am grateful. In the end, I felt given the circumstances, our boat builder behaved honorably, even though he no doubt felt it hurt him financially as much or more as it hurt us.
|Fixed and ready to splash in Whangarei.
Journey’s keel fiberglass repaired to better
than the original design with extra epoxy
and vermiculite to stiffen up what was
previously an overly deep bilge.
Sailing by the Numbers