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Author Topic:   An Unpleasant Whaler Week
dittybag54 posted 04-04-2004 05:49 AM ET (US)   Profile for dittybag54   Send Email to dittybag54  
This is my first post after lurking for months. Perhaps new owners in particular can learn from my situation. Be warned; this is a long post.

We wanted to try a Whaler for a long time after owning many sail and motor boats ranging from 13' Lasers to 27 foot S2's (over 15 at last count). We now have a Sport 130 that is a little over a month old but has not yet been in the water due to weather and other factors. It has been living the good life in the garage since I drove about 600 miles RT to the closest dealer to buy it. The downtime has been used to spiff it up, mount a dash depthsounder, etc. The first Whaler in our family gets special attention.

I asked my dealer about a ladder for it (wife likes ladders) and he sent pictures by email. It looked good; so told him it was a deal and he had Whaler drop ship it to me. He told me he would send mounting guidelines and that the transom would have to be tapped as there were backing plates for the ladder.

The ladder had arrived with four 1/4-20 machine screws for the ladder brackets and two screws for the clip that mounts on the transom deck. Dealer sent more email pictures and gave me the measurements on the phone. Went out and bought complete tap set as none of the stores had just the one tap I needed in stock. That should have been my first bad omen warning right there in Lowe's. I inquired about the backing plates and was told they were there and that it should be on my wood locator diagram. Told him my diagram did not show a backing plate on the port side. Was told it was there; that their sheet had it. Decided they must have given me an old locator sheet by mistake. Bad omen number two.

Later that day I drilled hole for starboard bracket and hit plywood as expected. Drilled hole for port and hit air and foam. My heart sank and I called the dealer. After much discussion he agreed to call Whaler. He called back later and said the plate was just added in 2004. Mine was a leftover new 2003; they sold it to me a month ago and should've known these things. When he had no suggestions that I felt good about, I knew it was time for ME to call Whaler.

Lesson One: Never trust the dealer to know that the part they are offering actually works on your boat. (Unless your dealer has proven himself reliable over time)

Lesson Two: Rely on the locator diagram and if in doubt, double check with factory before drilling holes, no matter what anyone (including dealer) tells you.

I called the factory. Jennie was very kind, told me best advice was to stop right now as that ladder should never have been sent for my boat. Factory says they cannot help; suggests dealer should help. I truly think Jennie felt really bad about the whole thing. She gets two thumbs up.

So now there are two holes in my transom for no reason. Dealer said they were sorry but offered no assistance. I asked about some gelcoat and they said they would look into it and again, they were sorry.
Not as sorry as me as even if they offer help, they are a difficult road trip away. Was hoping for an offer to take it somewhere convenient to be fixed or to be reimbursed for expense of repair. They did not call back anyway.

You will be glad to hear the story is winding down. Sealed hole from starboard bracket; perfect, no problem. Still have to gelcoat it but that can wait. Port side hole looked good until an hour later when epoxy blew an air bubble slowly as it cured and a tiny pinhole was evident. Grind it down and then find the big hole that the bubble created. Am thinking the hull temp rose as the epoxy cured and forced a tiny bit of air out?? Temp was 62 degrees at start of project rising to 72 later in the day. By the way, it was Marine-Tex and not West System as I was concerned about heat buildup next to foam if the hole had thickened epoxy flooded into it.

Am angry at not only dealer but also myself for not questioning what I was told.

Am also of the opinion that the factory should have a system to doublecheck (using the HIN) a drop shipped order for a swim ladder that does not belong on the boat registered to the address they are sending it to. A red flag should have gone up somewhere. There were no instructions with ladder and no warning that it was not meant for pre-2004 boats. Am thankful that only two useless holes were drilled in my boat instead of six. Once again; trust your diagram, no one else.

Any Whaler transom hole repair tricks would be greatly appreciated. Most of the port side hole is sealed now except for a hole about the size of a coffee stirrer. The maiden launch is on hold.

Thanks and sorry this ran so long.

prxmid posted 04-04-2004 10:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for prxmid  Send Email to prxmid     
Wow, sorry for the rough Whaler start.

I'm surprised you're not holding the dealer more accountable.

Kind of like a doctor taking off the wrong leg, then saying "sorry"

divefan posted 04-04-2004 10:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for divefan  Send Email to divefan     
WOW. Really bad news. I can't believe the factory does not support you and insist that the dealer provide the resources for the fix. I think in a word the whole thing is "OUTRAGEOUS" as in it "SUCKS."

Come to think of it I have been asking my dealer for a small can of gelcoat since I took delivery of my 170. There was a small patch on the transom that needed fixing. I offered to do it instead of dragging the boat back to him. I am still waiting for the gelcoat 3 phone calls and 6 weeks later.

Every boat I have bought new in the past came with a can of factory gelcoat as a convenience to the customer for just these types of situations. Why BW can't do it too is beyond me. The boats certainly cost enough.

Knot at Work posted 04-04-2004 11:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Knot at Work  Send Email to Knot at Work     
I think a valuable lesson was learned, But I also don't think anyone is responsible for the holes in your hull, except you. I am sorry for your new never been in the water whaler with two holes in it, but I do not feel that it is the Factory or even the dealers repsonsibility since they did not drill it.

my 2 cents


dittybag54 posted 04-04-2004 12:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for dittybag54  Send Email to dittybag54     
Jeff; your point is well taken and you will note that I did not absolve myself. When the decision was made to mount hardware by me it became ultimately my responsibility. You will note that the dealer was not named as I do not wish to hurt their reputation. I fully expect that when this is over that they may reimburse me for materials. Even if they do not they will not be named. That is not my way. The post was meant more as a warning to others so that things might go better for them.
If I had seen a post describing such a scenario before I did this, it would not have happened.
Whaler makes it clear that they wish you to conduct business through your dealer as was done. It was my fault for taking their advice over what was on my locator diagram.
Knot at Work posted 04-04-2004 12:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Knot at Work  Send Email to Knot at Work     
Iam glad you have a course of action to correct it and your wisdom and experience will go far to those of us who would be tempted to "go it alone"

Note- My comments were directed at those who would blame the factory and the Dealers for personal actions.

On the one hand Ditty, I am sure one of these fine Esquires that lurk in the site will be glad to help you recover costs by some sort of product liability claim or other tort.


prxmid posted 04-04-2004 01:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for prxmid  Send Email to prxmid     
Well I agin will state that you drilled the wholes but on the advice of the dealer.

This is not like buying something at Wal Mart where they have 100,000sku's and your getting advice from a 17 tear old kid.

You purchased a high dollar item from a niche specialty dealer who should be expected to be the expert in their product line.

Knot at Work, that's like saying if you are given the wrong prescription and suffer harm it's your fault because you swallowed it.

Drisney posted 04-04-2004 01:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for Drisney  Send Email to Drisney     
The good news is that you did it yourself and stopped at two holes...The dealer might have drilled all eight before realising it didn't fit.
TRAFFICLAWYER posted 04-04-2004 02:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for TRAFFICLAWYER    
" Every boat I have bought new in the past came with a can of factory gelcoat as a convenience to the customer for just these types of situations. Why BW can't do it too is beyond me."...

Gel-Coat generally has a limited shelf shelf life of 6 months and sometimes may be further extended by refrigeration. It is not practical for Whaler to assume that every boat in it's high volume production will require some glass work. That assumption serves only to increase market cost to the rest of us. Each case is handled on a case by case and certianly Whaler bears responsibilty for the dealer network.

divefan posted 04-04-2004 08:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for divefan  Send Email to divefan     
Well, guys I have to disagree with some and agree with others.

If, the dealer gets on the phone and gives specific advice to a customer he should be held responsible for any wrong information given. Period. Regardless, of whether you drilled the holes. Obviously, you drilled the holes and not the dealer. That's why you asked him for instructions in the first place. If, he's not sure about a question he should say he's not sure and then follow up and check with the factory first. That's his job. To help his customers. But, to give someone who is dependent upon him for crucial information, incorrect and damaging information is just plain wrong and irresponsible. If, we can't get good sound advice we can rely on from the BW dealer where we purchased the boat then who should we go to to ask questions about procedure? I will admit and believe that no one acted with malice. I am sure the dealer made an honest mistake. But, at the very least he should help out and make things right. The long term benefits far outweigh the short term savings by being obstinate.

On the other point, I have kept gelcoat for much longer than 6 months and it was just fine. Never had a problem as long as it was sealed properly. AND... I think it's absurd to imagine that an already high dollar premium boat would cost more by giving it's customers a small touch up can of factory gelcoat. It costs pennies at the factory level. We are not talking gallons. Just a touch up can. Maybe 1/2 pint or less.

I don't mean to offend anyone with my opinions. Just contributing to a lively debate. :)

elaelap posted 04-04-2004 08:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
Please post the dealer's name, and make sure he knows you did and why. I sure don't want to do business with a dealer with that attitude; maybe other potential customers would agree. As some might say, let the market decide.


P.S. I'm one of "these fine Esqs who lurk in the site [sic]...", and I can tell you this, if it happened to me and the dealer refused to make me whole, he'd find himself in small claims court posthaste.

dittybag54 posted 04-05-2004 01:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for dittybag54  Send Email to dittybag54     
Here is the way it is. I am not on the warpath with my dealership. The dealer has not been unkind or refused help; they just did not have anything at all to offer as a suggestion at the time. They were just at a total loss as to what to say in my opinion. As stated in an earlier post my feeling is that they will help out with repair expenses.

I wanted to get this boat fixed and in the water so it was my decision to move on and not wait for them to act first.

Since the repair does not involve the underbody structure, it is easier for me to just do it. I have fixed a number of balsa cored boat problems in the past, so this is not a big obstacle (the outgassing bubble was a little annoying though). It is too far out of the way to go to them for this repair and would put the boat at more risk rolling down the road. Not to mention hotel time that is not on my agenda right now.

It has cost me time more than anything else and there were better things to do this weekend but no one has been rude or negative at the dealership level. It was more like an awkward silence.

Even though I am very unhappy about the whole deal the truth is that it was a mistake with sufficient blame to go around. My wife has reminded me that I kept looking at the wood locator diagram and saying that "they must know something we don't about this boat" Should have picked up the phone but did not. One call to BW would have stopped this in its tracks.

The labor cost is mine to donate as payment to the devil for my part in this (plus a few other minor sins). I will end up with about 30 bucks in epoxy and 65 bucks for a quart (wish there was a pint size) of gelcoat at the present rate. If the dealer reimburses me for this, then this whole episode will be written off in my mind as a seriously bad chain of events. I may double-check things better in the future but at this point they have not lost me as a customer. One thing I have not forgotten was that the boat buying experience at this dealer was one of the best in my years of buying boats (or cars for that matter). Everything was exactly as promised even though it was bought sight unseen.

I have made many mistakes in my career (and tried to make it right) and thank goodness no one wrote me off after doing so.

Once again (for the last time actually) the reason for the story was to save someone else from a depressing weekend of filling and sanding holes in a brand new boat. It could have easily been more than two holes. Thought it good to remind new owners in particular to be careful and be absolutely sure that an option is suited for your boat. Make sure it has been installed on your exact model year boat before. Look at the wood locator diagram. Ask questions, many questions.

Am not entirely happy yet as there is still work left to do but also have no desire to ask for more than material costs. They have said they were sorry already and there is no reason to doubt them. My anger is worked out by wet sanding. Besides; spring is here; there are bays and islands to poke around and for the first time in my life I shall be Unsinkable.

Knot at Work posted 04-05-2004 11:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for Knot at Work  Send Email to Knot at Work     
well put Ditty



hooter posted 04-05-2004 11:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for hooter    
You yuppies give me a chuckle, so ate up with appearances over functionality are y'all. Ah can say that, as Ah've raised four of 'em mah self, and they give me chuckles all the damn time. You've got yourself a fine boat, there, dittybag54, with or without the almost-ladder holes. Good gaud, quit obsessing, squirt some 5200 in bof'em, put that baby in the water and go have some fun. Life's way too short t' be all tore up about a couple 1/4" holes that ain't hurtin' anythin' except your pride. Live, learn and get over it:-!
Tom W Clark posted 04-05-2004 11:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

I am sorry things did not work out perfectly and I do understand your frustration but come on, you've only got two 1/4" holes that need to be repaired. That is very easy to fix, and barely worth the trouble of starting this thread.

You do not need to spend $65 for a quart of gel coat and you certainly shouldn't have spent $30 for epoxy. All you need is a $20 Spectrum Gel Coat Patch Paste kit, some tools, sand paper, and rubbing compound and about two hours of your time.

dittybag54 posted 04-05-2004 12:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for dittybag54  Send Email to dittybag54     
Talked to BW for their suggestions which differed from mine and also Tom's previous suggestion. It is almost over, the boat will be out and about this weekend and I consider the matter closed. You are right Tom; it was not the end of the world but was an avoidable hassle.
jimh posted 04-05-2004 10:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have a bunch of holes in my boat right now that I am waiting to get around to fixing. I just cover them with a small piece of "SCOTCH-33+" vinyl white tape. If you clean and dry the gel coat around the hole and cut the tape cleanly with scissors, the darn stuff will be waterproof and will hold for years. You can get SCOTCH-33+ brand tape in white at most any electrical contractor supply.
cmarques posted 04-05-2004 11:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for cmarques  Send Email to cmarques     
Do like hooter says with a little 5200. Then seeing'em you won't feel so bad the first time you ding the dock or come up the trailer crooked ;-) I have a few holes from the first transducer I installed and worried about covering them over-2 ss screws dipped in 5200 went in no problems.

If, the dealer gets on the phone and gives specific advice to a customer he should be held responsible for any wrong information given.

I work as a service advisor in a large Ford dealer. Although not boats, I get at least 10 calls a day on people asking how to do this or that. I've gotten the routine "I don't know but bring the car in and one of our trained technicians will have a look at it for you for $84.95" This isn't meant to be negative but too many people will call back and blame us for bad advice or call 3 more times "What do I do next?"
I praise Dittybag54 for not naming the dealer. Too many people want to just blast and blame for everything they do with no responsibilty to themselves. Everyone thinks they should have something for free. If we work on a vehicle and screw up we fix it and the customer. If the customer screws it up, it's gonna cost.
When I sea trialed my Dauntless, I hit the trailer as the salesman was showing me how to load. Left a nice black streak on the keel and a small gouge. I was at the wheel, I screwed up, I didn't expect anything. The mark is still there- I live with it.


JoeH posted 04-06-2004 01:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for JoeH  Send Email to JoeH     
The first ding on a new high ticket item hurts, holes in a boat, stain on the carpet, scratched car door. Look on the bright side, you get to practice repair techniques in a small inconspicous area so you will be ready when the big gouges start showing up. Joe
dittybag54 posted 04-06-2004 02:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for dittybag54  Send Email to dittybag54     
Thanks everybody for comments and suggestions.

Taking this to a more positive level; it is amazing how many different ideas and techniques there are for something as simple as a bolt hole. I have always used West System for repairs except for the occasional MarineTex usage just for the ease of it. It sands so easily. Since these holes will be underwater quite a lot and were 1/4 inch I did not want to just gelcoat paste them even though as Tom pointed out, that would work. I just never think of gelcoat as more than a finish coat even though technically it is pigmented resin. The plywood side hole was eventually MarineTex filled by the way.

Whaler suggested making a fiberglass strand mash with thickened polyester resin when I touched base with them today. I wanted to make sure that there was nothing extra to be aware of with the hole into the foam on port since it is my first Whaler and it was the problem hole with the air bubble. Air bubble did not form on second try. The 5200 idea had actually crossed my mind but I like to do things well; it is new after all. Never been called a yuppie before either, hooter, but do try to keep boats in top condition both from a mechanical and cosmetic standpoint. We do have some yuppie friends; they may be hooter's kids, now that he mentions it. I had never heard of that Scotch 33+ tape but in a pinch might use that instead of duct tape.

This was my most visited site besides B/W's site before buying the boat. It is good that it exists. Venting frustration to all you fellow Whaler guys was cathartic and helped me through the weekend (my wife's first one off in a month). Thanks.

AQUANUT posted 04-06-2004 10:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for AQUANUT  Send Email to AQUANUT     

without "atention to detail" these things happen..and they really suck when they do!
If I, as the rigger, had done would be my all-time folly...and I would prob take the mistake really really hard.

However it is what it is...if your go to the right person for gelcoat goes away.
on the "old, wanna save some bucks, models I work on..with the I hit the dock's boo's".....I usually take them on..but if not the case I shop it out to another fiberglas shop.

may I suggest using graphics to hide the fix..attractive too,,be decal that says...drill no hole care

Moe posted 04-06-2004 10:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
I like the bullet hole decals. :-)

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