Dear BGE: I called a dockside mechanic to fix a minor problem on my 10-year-old boat and was completely unsatisfied with his work. He and his helpers were either late, no shows and or unprofessional throughout the very expensive repair that I thought was a small fix.
I found myself wishing there was an 'Angie's List's' (Clearing House for Qualified Repair Personal) for boat repairs. I am new to the area and trusted a few acquaintances' recommendations. I suspect there is a 'good old boy' network in Southwest Florida! Thanks, Leroy from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Dear Leroy: Yours is a sad but all to often-familiar problem to we old timers. Not to say that your dockside mechanic isn't 'Angie's Lists' qualified but you will have to make that determination when you send your recommendation to "Boatguy Ed's" list. Just kidding, I'm not Angie and I don't want to become a crusader for uneducated consumers who have to blame someone because they couldn't tell a knuckle dragging Neanderthal from a craftsman!
What was your first clue? The magnetic sign on the 10-year-old family mini-van, the rusty tools or his request to borrow a Phillips head screwdriver? I really don't blame the unemployed boat mechanic with the array of magnetic signs and a Craig's List account; he needs money for the rent. I blame you, Leroy for making it so easy to rip off yourself!
Everyone is trying to save money these days but you have to be more careful when you hire a boat mechanic, dockside or not. During the '1991 recession' we had a saying about overloaded bottom lines on work orders, "They were paying the bills in the drawer with the boats in the yard!" I am sure a little that this is going on today. But your unhappiness might be related to your misunderstanding of the original problem. I recommend always getting a second or possibly a third opinion, especially if the first two are diametrically opposed.
Boatguy: I've always wanted to own a waterfront restaurant, and I'm thinking of buying a local establishment. Since I see you and your yacht club buddies in many places I hope you can give me a helpful hint. Signed Waterfront Wanda.
Dear Wanda: I hope your kidding about the name. Secondly, and listen up close, go to the bank and withdraw $15,000 in one hundred dollar bills. Seat yourself comfortably on the bathtub, and begin wadding up bills and throwing them into the toilet. Don't forget to flush. I suspect that the waterfront restaurant insanity will leave your mind after $7,000 to $8,000 has gone down the drain.
Sounds foolish, doesn't it. Believe me, unless you are a graduate of a world famous hotel/restaurant management school, this is the cheapest way to resolve your whacked out idea. I am speaking from my vast amount of experience gained by having been a patron of every local waterfront restaurant. There are some great places and some not so great places and the difference between them is closer than you'd expect.
You must remember that a happy dinner will tell 5 people of a pleasant time, but an unhappy patron will tell 25 people. How do you like those odds, Wanda? In the event that you can't hire a graduate of a world famous hotel/restaurant management school to design your restaurant and set the menu or the money in the toilet thingee hasn't deterred your fervor, at least make the food palatable and consistent! Just being on the water won't make up for inconsistency and tasteless food.
A few other things; a real chef, experienced kitchen staff, never-ending staff training, a rewards card, a world class happy hour, friendly bartenders and wait staff and finally, patron comment cards so you can judge how well you're doing. Pretty simple, huh? Send me an invitation to the opening and good luck!
Dear Boatguy Ed: I e-mailed you a couple of weeks ago for an application for the 'Dead End Canal Yacht Club but haven't received it yet? Signed: A member in waiting!
Dear Waiting; The column that requested information about social members is only two weeks old and even if you sent in the request that very Wednesday, you should understand how overwhelmed our club's social secretary has been. I wish you'd have signed your real name so we could rubberstamp your app when we do receive it. The qualification portion of the app is pretty simple but since you have shown a penchant for vexation, you automatically are approved on grounds that you'll fit right in!
Seriously, we do apologize for the delay but, contrary to instructions, the social secretary sent the purchase order to a firm that uses a Japanese firm to produce the social membership cards, shirts and burgees. A printing error occurred, the name was spelled "Dead End Canal Racht Club" and they have to be done over by an American company. Please be patient and enjoy your racht in the meantime!
Send questions and comments to boatguiEd@aol.com or stop by the 'U Sell & Storage' on San Carlos Boulevard next to Jerry's Tire. I won't be there but say hello to Mrs. boatguy. Watch my son on 'Boater's Treasures TV' show returning to Comcast this October! See me around the waterfront restaurants.