March 3, 2016

The price of a clean bottom

SOMEBODY MUST HAVE TOLD my local boatyard that only rich people can afford boats. They now charge $95 an hour for labor when they paint your boat.

The official minimum wage in the state of Washington is $9.47 an hour, so that if you are the sort of boater who likes to do your own work, you will save yourself $85.53 an hour, which should bring a smile to your face even if your back aches.

Meanwhile, you might wonder if the boatyard pays its painters $95 an hour (the $95 that it charges you) but I think the answer is likely to be no, nothing like it.  Painters, though, are in a special category, because they have skills, as do mechanics, electricians, fiberglass workers, riggers, and woodworkers, all of whose services will also cost you $95 an hour.

There is good news, though. If you just need a yard hand to help you with some general labor, the boatyard will charge you only $85 an hour. I expect they will give some of that to him, enough to cover his bus fare home to the bridge under which he lives, anyhow.

If you live in British Columbia, Canada, just over the border from us, you can put your boat on a tidal grid for free, or a nominal fee, let the tide go out, and slap on a quick coat of antifouling paint. But here in Washington state, the environmental police have closed down the tidal grids. You now have to be hauled out by a boatyard. Not that it matters. The environmentalists also know that boat owners are rich.

Say, for example, you own a modest little Catalina 27. It’s a belly-button boat. Everybody’s got one. Let’s see how much it will cost you at a local boat yard.

The charge for a two-way haul-out is $8 a foot with a minimum of $200, so your Catalina 27 is going to cost $216. But the environmental police have to be paid, too, and the charge applied to every boat the boatyard handles is a minimum of $80.  A pressure wash is going to cost you $3.50 a foot, or $94.50, bringing the grand total for hauling out, blocking and putting back in the water, to $390.50. That’s before any work is done on your boat, and before the charge for laydays has been applied  — that’s an extra $27 a day for your boat.

But hang on, there’s a better deal. You can buy the bottom paint package, which includes a pressure wash and two-way hauls for $32 a foot for two coats. That’s $864 for your 27-footer. And that price depends on the condition of the boat’s bottom. Additional preparation, getting off the grunge that the pressure wash didn’t remove, will cost you $85 an hour. Tenting and tarping, when needed to contain copper dust if the bottom is sanded, will also be charged extra.  The tarp fee is $100 minimum.

You may be in for a little surprise, however, because for some strange reason the bottom paint package doesn’t include the price of the bottom paint. That’s going to be another $100 or so.

But who’s counting? And did someone mention tax? No problem. Catalina 27 owners are rich. Everybody knows that. Except their wives, perhaps. Like most boat wives, they are kept in the dark. They don’t know that the boatyard charges $95 an hour, which is just as well, otherwise, I suspect, there would be many more mutinies.

Today’s Thought
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
New Testament: I Timothy, vi, 10

“How old are you, madam?”
“Officer, I’m approaching 40.”
“Yes, but from which direction, madam?”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

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