coast guard rescue man on boat 1
It’s funny what one finds to do to occupy oneself during isolation. The house got a very thorough spring-clean this year, and the garden looks better than ever, although a long way from Gardener’s World standards. I check often, but I’ve never found my fingers to be even slightly green, just a yucky shade of dirt brown. I shouldn’t be allowed to grow roses as I do them a huge injustice, but there are signs of a reasonable bean harvest this year for a change. But still, there have been times of boredom and onset of isolation blues.

On one such occasion the tranquility was interrupted by the sound of emergency vehicles; mainly fire trucks judging by the sirens. Something was afoot close by, and human nature being what it is, I searched the internet for a means to listen in to the radio traffic at the scene. Soon I was eaves-dripping onto a fascinating real-life drama, with reports going one way and directions going the other. Luckily for the householder it was a minor issue with a smoking attic fan, and nothing serious enough to stoke my pyromaniacal tendencies. Oh come on, we all love a good fire, don’t we? Don’t we?

What struck me was how very calm and coordinated it was. No panic; no talking over each other; just well-rehearsed procedures carried out by well-drilled participants. They had a mission to identify the problem and fix it, and they did it simply, effectively, and with minimum fuss. So why can’t we achieve the same when trying to help customers with boat equipment issues?

The problem is especially noticeable at the big-boat level. There, even the smallest little issue is typically deemed an EMERGENCY that must be fixed IMMEDIATELY. Big-boat agents will have at least one henchman who acts like a two year old throwing toys out of a stroller every time there’s an issue.

We understand that a captain, engineer, or dealer are just doing their job when intimidating and cajoling us, so we’ll typically politely pay them lip service while working diligently and directly with the technicians.

Just like the firemen arriving at the scene of a fire, there are certain defined steps and procedures that must be followed when troubleshooting in order to identify the source of the problem and eliminate other possible causes. Miss one step, make one assumption too many, and you’ll be headed off in the wrong direction.

Working directly with owner/operators of smaller vessels demands a different approach. We can and do help many customers identify problems and suggest solutions by phone and email, but there is a limit to what we can achieve working remotely.

Just as you wouldn’t expect a doctor to be able to perform a prostate exam by WhatsApp, there are some issues that will require a technician on board and/or the vessel taken somewhere for surgery. Contrary to popular belief we cannot always perform miracles, especially during the current Covoid crisis, but we sure as heck do our best to help when and where we can.

If you do have a problem and seek our help, please send as much detail as you can regarding the issue and of what components you have installed. And send pictures, the more the merrier, but just of the equipment, please. A shot of your boat in an idyllic anchorage may look absolutely lovely to you, but it doesn’t help us sort out what might be happening in the bilges.

Oh, and even if you really are an engineer, best keep that snippet of information to yourself to begin with. But tell us you’re a fireman and we’ll get along like a house on fire!

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