Mechanic vs. “Mechanic”

Mechanic vs. "Mechanic

Not supposed to be green…

The second thing I noticed was that the wrench set I was having trouble finding was hidden under the watermaker.  Third (and by far most expensive) thing I noticed was the geyser of water spraying out from my watermaker when I turned it on.

Mechanic vs. "Mechanic"

That crack = geyser inside the yacht

Here’s my theory:  the “mechanic” went down there to turn on the watermaker.  He turned it on (thereby flushing my pickling compound into my water tanks) and then noticed a leak (which I was going to fix with the new O-rings) and decided to tighten the bolts on that connection.  The issue with that is that overtightening them can damage the high-pressure housing (right term?).  And that’s what he did – he over tightened the bolt and cracked my $10K watermaker housing. Kind of a big deal.  

I called Andromeda Yachts (who damaged the watermaker) to try to arrange some kind of repair.  Of course they didn’t answer and then didn’t call me back.  When I finally got them on the phone, they denied damaging it (despite being the only people onboard), claimed it was “an old machine”  (it’s 3 years old – well within it’s service life), and said that they would come and work on it – but that they’d charge me for it.

The words I’ve used to explain this to others, I can’t use here.  I’d like to, but I have a feeling it’d be offensive to some.

Since they completely failed to take any kind of responsibility – I don’t mind mentioning their name again and steering people away from them: Andromeda Yachts.  They’re a joke.  A bad one.  Steer clear.

The Starboard Engine

When I arrived back in Panama (for good, a couple weeks ago), the “mechanic” from Andromeda still hadn’t finished doing what I paid him to do – replace a water-pump onboard the starboard engine.

So he came out with me to the boat (with his girlfriend, how professional) and worked on replacing it.  At first he put the replacement on incorrectly.  Then he put it on correctly, but the wrong direction (so, still incorrect – but closer).  Then he put the old one back on.    Then he realized he’d brought the wrong (new) part out.   So he left me with the old one on.  But there was something far more inconvenient:  he left me with my starboard engine non-functional.   

When he’d arrived, my starboard engine was working.  It started without issue.  But, of course during his time spent in and out of my engine room either a) the rain or b) his incompetence managed to cause an electrical issue that we haven’t been able to completely narrow down.

Of course, he couldn’t be bothered to figure out what the problem was.  So I gave him and his girlfriend a ride back to the dock.  He left me with the problematic water-pump and an inoperable starboard engine.  I was far worse off than when he’d arrived, and I’d paid for the shafting.

The next day I called Andromeda and asked what they planned on doing to fix this issue with the engine.  Their reply:  rewire the entire engine, replace the control panel, and all of the electrical components.  To the tune of $2.5K per engine.  Roberto (the guy I was speaking with) had the gall to say they could only give me this price if I let them stay on board (to keep expenses down).

When I balked at this, he said he could simply remove some of the connections in the engine room (which “may” solve the problem).  The cost for this?  $2K, and then they couldn’t “guarantee” their work.  Not that they’d done a particularly good job of this anyways (they’d “fixed” a couple of things onboard during the purchase process of my yacht – those things were broken when I returned to check their work – they refused to fix it).  Classy guys.

Now I know what you’re thinking:  Nate, why would you even consider using these guys?  Well, for one I’m stuck in Puerto Lindo, with very limited options.  The other is that these guys were supposed to be certified by Lagoon – the makers of my yacht.  The final reason is that Roberto speaks English.   Being new to sailing yachts, this area, and this country – those were pretty compelling reasons.

Of course when I started asking around – I found out that these guys were drastically overpriced, didn’t really know what they were doing, and generally not great mechanics.  Virtually everyone on the forums, and here locally gave me the same advice – troubleshoot, isolate the problem, and replace only that.

Naturally, Andromeda said something like “replace everything – and oh, by the way, we’ll do it for double the cost of anybody else.” Without even seeing if that would solve the problem.  To add insult to injury – recent troubleshooting has indicated their “solution” wouldn’t have solved anything.  I just would have paid $2.5K (per engine) for them to shrug their shoulders, and charge me for more work.  This is certainly their MO.

Looking for the moral of the story?  Allow me:

A)  Don’t use Andromeda Yachts for anything (don’t even get me started about their dishonestly during the brokering of my yacht)

B) Don’t assume that because a mechanic is certified by a yacht company – that they’re decent mechanics

C)  Always, always be present when someone is working on your boat.  Always

D) Learn to identify the difference between a “mechanic” and a mechanic.  It’s an expensive lesson to learn

E) Don’t underestimate the value of buying a yacht in-country, where it can be surveyed and refit professionally.  In some countries, yacht-service providers (in my case:  the “mechanic” and the “surveyor” both) are nothing short of astoundingly incompetent

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