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Chuck had another procedure to do on his leg, since completed successfully, so as we sat in Harbour Towne Marina with nothing but idle time and minds awaiting his final medical release, we decided that we’d investigate the possibility of having a davit/arch made in Ft. Lauderdale.  Initially, we thought we might wait until we got to Key West to have the arch for our new dink made but just for shits and grins thought we would take a look in FL instead.  After requesting bids from several of the local fab shops in FL and getting only one bite that was way more than we wanted to pay, we backed off on the idea.  And, then we thought we’d ask a local vendor we knew.

The Fiberglass Shop and its owner, Richard, had repaired Freedom when I took out the dock at Lauderdale Marina back in 2013 (transmission cable broke in forward when entering the slip).  We liked Richard and as his firm did a bang up job for us back then at a reasonable price we thought we’d stop by his shop, rekindle the past, and ask him for fabricator recommendations.  And, that’s what we did.

We first called Richard on June 12th and made an appointment to see him.  Upon arriving, there were hugs all around as he appeared to remember us.  We told him of our plans and asked him if he could recommend a fabricator…to which he responded, “Sure, we can do it…we can build anything you want, Susie.”

Great, we thought to ourselves!  Based on our previous experience, his attentiveness, quality of work, price, etc. we were thrilled.  We arranged for him and his fabricator to drop by the next day to review the boat and the preliminary concept drawings Chuck had drawn up on his onboard autocad program.

The next day they arrived right on time and we were introduced to Sergio, his fabricator…we liked Sergio right off.

Richard and Sergio reviewed our drawings.  We told them the drawings were preliminary at best but all agreed they were sufficient for bid purposes.  They seemed to understand.  What was extremely important to us was that the project be completed within three weeks or so.  Neither Chuck nor I wanted to get stuck in Dania Beach one second longer than we needed.  If the arch was going to take significantly more than three weeks we had every intention of having it fabricated in Key West…and we told them so.  We didn’t want to get caught up in the FL area for months as the project dragged on and on.

A week or so later we met with Richard, and after haggling over and then agreeing on the price, approved him to go ahead.  He indicated that his marine architect (!!!) would be down the next day to gather more specific dimensions in order to generate approval drawings.  A few days later his designer showed up and once again, along with Sergio, we explained what we wanted.  In all fairness, and after Chuck and I thought on the design, we added a slight extension to the top to facilitate the mounting of solar panels we anticipated installing.

Time continued to slip by as we waited for the drawings and what turned out to be a revised price for the adder.  Upon receiving them we were hit with a significant charge for the added extension.  Considering everything, we felt the charge was an attempt at recouping some of the monies that The Fiberglass Shop had relinquished during the negotiating process…nonetheless, and willingly, we agreed to the adder.  In spite of the drawings not being very good and lacking specifics, we approved the design and gave our go ahead on the arch construction.

The contract was to provide and install a working davit and arch system and the fabrication and installation of a small swim platform on the transom, as well as removing the existing electronics mast and, once the arch was installed, replacing all of the electronics, removing and repairing the several holes from where the existing electronics mast was, fabricating a new swim ladder to accommodate the new swim platform, and removing and replacing the existing davits as well as any and everything else on the stern rail.

At this point I’m not going to go into the details of the performance of the vendor.  I will say that over the following weeks we attempted on several occasions to contact The Fiberglass Shop with concerns regarding their performance and the status of the fabrication.  Though we both texted and called, as time went by we could not get Richard on the phone or to return our messages.  It actually got to the point we contemplated if we might have to sue The Fiberglass Shop to recoup the 50% down payment we’d offered up; those of you who know us personally know we are not litigious people…but they had our money, would not return our calls, and didn’t appear to be performing…and we had no leverage whatsoever.  The only other thing I will say, though it probably doesn’t need mentioning, is that we find ourselves unable to recommend The Fiberglass Shop anymore as a marine vendor.

Though we couldn’t get a response from Richard, we did eventually establish contact and rapport with his Chilean fabricator, Sergio.  As the time slipped by, Sergio seemed to come to life and it appeared the arch might really get built.  We got Sergio to agree to a drop dead finish date of Friday, July 28th.


Finally, during the week of July 24th the davit/arch was delivered to the boat and the installation started.  Almost immediately we objected to how they were attaching the arch to the hull and rail of our yacht (as an example they neglected to use backing plates on the hull connection).  They proceeded anyway in spite of our protests and pointing out our misgivings.  That night I stewed; Chuck fumed.  Fortunately, the next day we did finally hear from Richard.  Needing the remainder of his monies, now we did have leverage.  Perhaps he sensed we were quite prepared to head to Key West and challenge him to take us to court to get his proceeds if the arch was not attached to the boat properly.  Who knows or really cares, huh?

We didn’t exactly lay into Richard but very much let him know that the installation of the arch was absolutely and unequivocally unacceptable.  We laid out our beef.  Richard seemed to understand and said he would be down bright and early the next day to personally supervise removing and installing the arch to our satisfaction.  To his credit, he was…and did.

Later that same day, after the arch was finally attached to our satisfaction, Richard sat in the cockpit and presented us with his final invoice.  Lo and behold there was yet another significant adder to the price.  The list of additional work he wanted to be paid for was utterly ridiculous.  For example he wanted to charge us for the lifting eyes that the blocks were to be attached to.  The list went on and on.

After Chuck in no uncertain terms let it be known exactly what he thought of Richard, his company, and the way the project went down from start to finish, we paid the adder and the rest of the monies owed on the contract…for no other reason than to be done, DONE with this vendor.

Over all, we rate our satisfaction with the vendor’s handling of the arch project a D-, the fabricator a B-, the fabrication an A-, and the arch installation a C.  The small swim platform, however, we’d have to rate as an A+, it is rock solid and near perfect.


The modification of the swim latter was never done, nor was the removal of the existing electronics mast and the removal and replacement of the existing electronics and any and everything else on our rails.

The arch is a somewhat unique design as when the davit is lowered it swings both out and down, to clear the swim platform but also to clear both the engine and generator exhaust outlets.  It works perfectly.




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