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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back Story

Here's a little more of the back story.

I started investigating stabilizers right after buying the boat this past fall. As mentioned earlier, it's a 2009 Grand Banks 47' Europa with a 27 ton displacement. I considered Naiad, TRAC, Wesmar, and Quantum. Quantum said they had nothing for a smaller boat like mine, so that ruled them out. I placed initial calls to the other three and confirmed they could support the boat. Then I started looking for owner's reports to assess product quality, reliability, and company support. I also started getting quotes from yards and installers recommended by the manufacturers.

Although I didn't come across anything negative, I couldn't find many people using Wesmar. Naiad had mixed reviews. Mostly positive, but not all. For TRAC, I couldn't find anyone who wasn't completely satisfied. Given this, my first choice was TRAC, then Naiad, then Wesmar.

Then the fun began with the quotes. My thinking was to pick who would do the install, and keep the boat with them for the winter to give them a good winter job. People I had spoken to who had installed stabilizers in the past 5 years of so all said to expect an installed cost of $35k to $45k. All three vendors' equipment was about the same cost - $30k give or take.

I contacted Wesmar and they passed the lead to a yard in Maine, and they were prompt at getting back to me and providing a quote, but it was a jaw-dropper. $50k plus $13k for winter storage.

Naiad was helpful on the phone, and referred me to an installer, but I never heard boo from the installer so I concluded my job wasn't of interest to them.

TRAC was also very helpful on the phone and gave me a list of several installers. I found one marina on their list who was also a Grand Banks service yard, so I figured I'd try them. Getting a quote was like pulling teeth, which I consider to be a red flag. But I finally got it - $58k plus winter storage. Ouch.

At this point it was late October and winter storage was more important so I brought the boat to a local yard for the winter. This yard is fine with owners working on their boats, so it was a good match for me. In addition to the stabilizers, I had a full electronics refit to do, and having the boat 15 minutes from my house was pretty darn appealing.

In January, I got going again, and contacted Naiad again. This time they said they could do the install, which sounded pretty good. I got a quote for the equipment ($30K again), and arranged for them to come inspect the boat and quote on the installation. It took about 6 weeks to get them to see the boat, and a quote followed shortly behind. $56k plus I have to get someone else to do the glass work.

None of this was making sense. Everyone was saying it was about a weeks work for two guys, which is 80 hours. That's $8k @ $100/hr. Throw in some more for travel, hydraulic hoses, supplies, and I figure $15k should do it.

At this point, frustration kicked in. I would have to separately hire someone to do the glass work, and then pay $30k for someone to hang equipment, run hydraulic hoses, and wire things up. So I decided just do it myself, hiring a glass person, and handling everything else myself. I liked the design of the TRAC system better than Naiad's, and the installation process is very well documented and more forgiving than Naiad's. Also, every step of the way TRAC had been the most responsive with information, specs, drawing, etc. It was the most complete, detailed, and descriptive. I asked them if they could support me acting as the GC (general contractor) for the project, and they were fine with it. I also asked Naiad the same question, and never got a response.

The next day I placed the order with TRAC, and started working with my local yard to line up a glass guy.

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