There’s no getting around the fact that building a new boat or signing up to have your existing boat go through a major restoration is not for the faint of heart. You have to come up with a bunch of money at the start of the project, make periodic payments until the work is completed, and you are putting your means of making a living in the hands of another person. The tension is jacked up if the work needs to be done by a definite date — say, the start of a season.

How do you ensure that the project goes smoothly and that you and the boatbuilder end up shaking hands, instead of any number of unpleasant alternatives?

Welders at Fashion Blacksmith need a couple more frames before they can weld the sponson plating. Fashion Blacksmith Inc. photo.A good way to start is to following the advice of Ted Long who runs Fashion Blacksmith in Crescent City, Calif., a boatyard that does a lot of sponsoning work: “Talk to fellow boat owners who have been through a similar project that you may be planning, who have been to that yard and can say what happened that they didn’t expect — that cost them money.”

Long is being quoted in “Talking Shop,” starting on page 28 in National Fisherman’s March issue. Long and other long-time boatbuilders on the East Coast and the West Coast offer examples of how things go wrong in a boatyard deal and how to prevent that from happening.

The burden falls on both the boatbuilder and the boat owner. The boat owner should have a good understanding of the boatbuilding or repair process and communicate to the boatbuilder exactly what they want done.

The boatbuilder needs to be very clear about where the customer’s boat is in the work schedule, not hesitate to question some of the boat owner’s choices — they might be unrealistic — then verbally and with pictures keep him informed of the work progress. Of course, there’s the question of add-ons and how much of a financial cushion the boat owner needs, beyond the agreed repair or building price. But it’s all in “Talking Shop” in our March issue. Check it out for yourself.

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