DIY and VolksCruising…

A couple of decades or so back while living in in St Thomas there was a really nice couple who’d bought a famous (it had featured in a movie with Bing Crosby) albeit semi-derelict Alden schooner sight unseen.

At the time I was working at a local marine consignment store and the couple came in often looking to buy needful items for their boat and pumping us for advice.

You know what they say about free advice.

The couple while knowing zilch about boats and on a shoestring budget still managed to do a lot of work on the boat and seemed to be on a roll when they made the mistake about bringing in a local rigger to help them with their rig.

A couple of weeks after they showed up with a shopping list provided by the rigger that, to me at least, was some kind of interesting. The first thing that caught my attention was that there were a lot of things that just did not belong on an old wooden schooner. So I asked  which boat the shopping list was for.

They answered that the rigger had laid out a whole new rig as he had access to one of the old America’s Cup boats and could reuse some of their old rod rigging…

Now, St Thomas is a pretty small place and the rigger in question was somewhat infamous for doing bad jobs. He seldom actually did any real rigging work leaving that to his crew who were more or less clueless and paid sub-minimum wages. The clients, of course, paid $75 bucks an hour for each of those sub-minimum wage minions. So hardly surprising that a lot of projects turned into clusterfucks.

I pointed this out to the couple and recommended that they hit the local book store and buy The Riggers Apprentice by Brion Toss and that the book would answer all of their questions in getting their rig fixed right. Soon after they were DIYing the rig with a bit of help from Brion on the phone when needful.

Not too long after the boat was doing the daysail charter ting and earning money.

I mention this story because the marine trades in general are not your friend. Some are simply inept while others are, at best, just black hearted villains who will steal you blind. Whichever sort you’re dealing with be assured that the only thing most care about is what’s in your wallet.

Worse yet is the fact that far too often marine tradesmen work in concert with each other. For instance that nice helpful surveyor tells you your rig is shot and sends you to a rigger to sort out your problems. Sadly, far too often that surveyor didn’t really find anything wrong and is going to receive a kickback or part of the damage that the rigger will inflict on your budget.

I’ll point out that in this sort of scenario the too often used adage “You get what you pay for!” is true but in a very negative way.

So, the whole VolksCruiser vibe is really just about accessible knowledge and accumulating the needed skill-set to keep your boat running. Well that and avoiding dastardly assholes.

Larry and Lin Pardey pretty much coined the perfect VolksCruiser mantra when they said something along the lines of…

“If you can’t fix it, it doesn’t belong on your boat!”

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