Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The SeaDek Ordeal

  We're approaching two years that Swing Set has been in a salt water environment. The recent picture above serves as proof that our boat has never looked better, but keeping it that way has not been easy nor cheap, which is how I describe myself occasionally.
  Rust is a constant issue, but we've been able to keep a handle on it by rinsing off the exterior of the boat after every outing, something we couldn't do when we were traveling. We also use Salt Away, a product that we put in a garden sprayer when we rinse the deck and hull, especially after being out in rougher seas.
  The stainless steel rubrail inserts are a constant maintenance item, and so are the bow rails. We use a product we found at the grocery store, Perfect Sink, made by Hopes. It's designed for stainless steel sinks, but does a great job on the boat. We've found some success in saving money by using products made for the home that do not have the word "marine" associated with them.
  One bugaboo was the grab rail on our swim platform. Rust was constantly seeping out from under the grab rail mounts until I finally removed the rail, thoroughly cleaned the base of the rail, applied Boeshield T-9 Anti-Corrosion Spray, then laid in a base of silicon caulking around the mounting holes and then re-attached the rail. So far we haven't had anymore rust seeping out onto the swim platform.
  Our marina is in a protected harbor, which also means we don't get much current. Not quite a stagnant water condition, but the growth that attacks our boat bottom seem to like this condition, and our boat bottom cleaner is earning his money every month when he scrubs our boat bottom. I checked his work the other day, after the third time he has been here, and found that Jacob, of Down Under Boat Bottom Cleaning, did a better job than I had ever done. He left nothing on the hull, or running gear, but it will be back when he returns in July. We've made a commitment to ourselves to get the boat out and run it at least once a week, which should help deter the critters that cling to our hull from getting too plentiful.
  We've also vowed to start our engines at least weekly, whether we get the boat out of the slip our not. Initially, I was under the impression that the sea creatures that like to live on our hull, and in the cooling system of our closed cooled engines, needed flowing water to live. I've since found out that the opposite is true, that our cooling system grows barnacles just fine with the engines just sitting there full of salt water, so running Barnacle Buster through our engines is suggested on a semi-annual basis if we want to avoid overheating when we run at speed.
  One thing I've done to attempt to minimize the growth of barnacles in our cooling system is that I've ordered three Groco Engine Flush Kits from Defender Industries. These kits are not cheap, but when installing them at our sea strainers on both mains and the generator, we'll be able to easily flush our engines with fresh water in between outings. The offending sea life won't grow in fresh water. I'll let you know how the installation goes when I get them.
  Speaking of Barnacle Buster, I've also learned that it's more efficient to remove the zinc anodes from each engine and replace them with plain plugs before circulating the Barnacle Buster, otherwise the acid is spending all its scouring properties eating up those pencil anodes before it can attack the crud in the heat exchangers that is causing the reduction in heat transfer that we need in order to run our Cats at cruising speed.
  Each engine has five zincs, and they are not in the most reachable areas, so that chore alone makes circulating the Barnacle Buster not an easy task. The engine flush kits will help ease the pain, not only in reducing the time interval requirement, but also in hooking up the hoses to do the job in the first place.
  It seems like we've been engaged in some sort of project on the boat ever since we've returned from The Bahamas last September. We've been addressing engine overheating problems, getting the new generator installed, new water heater, new dinette upholstery, new bimini top and curtains, new stereo components, new seal kits on both toilets, two new batteries in our house bank, and waxing/washing, waxing/washing, waxing/washing, along with all the little projects that pop up nearly everyday.
  But the longest running project has been the replacement of some SeaDek pads on our cockpit stairs. Even though we haven't done any labor on this project yet, getting the pads from the supplier has been proven to be an arduous process. The emails, phone calls, and just plain anxiety of waiting takes its toll.

  I have pictures on the blog from when I first installed the SeaDek stairpads on Swing Set back in 2009. I had called SeaDek and they supplied us with the phone number of their installer in southern Florida, Tyler Shealy of Castaway Customs in Merrit Island. I now know that SeaDek could have cut our pads at the factory, I don't know why they farmed the work out.
  I made patterns and sent them to Tyler, as per his instructions. He cut one pad "upside down", not paying attention to my labels of "this side up", but eventually he corrected his mistake, but by the time he did, I couldn't install the pads until the spring of 2010.
  It's hard to tell from the picture above, but one pad began to deteriorate. I noticed it in July. No, not this July. No, not last July, but in July of 2012!
  So, two years after I applied the pads, one was beginning to curl up at the edges like an old shoe. Note that the SeaDek material is similar to the material that your basic flip flop is made of, which is a spongy foam. Soft to step on and sit on, but just don't drop a knife or screwdriver on it.
  We were traveling at the time, so we waited until we were in Cape Coral in the fall of 2012 before I called Tyler to order a replacement. I figured he could use the patterns that I had supplied him with, as he assured me that he would keep them around, not only for the reason at hand, but he could also use them to make pads for other 400 Sea Ray Sedan Bridges, one of the most popular hulls that Sea Ray has ever made.
  We were in Cape Coral for five weeks, and we supplied Tyler with the address of our friends Gary and Judy, and Tyler promised that not only would he make another pad that had begun to peel off, he would make a complete new set so that they would match.
  I volunteered to pay for the work, but he said that the pads shouldn't begin to come off so soon, and that he'd make and send the pads at no charge. If only that had been true.
  Despite emails and calls to Tyler, we left Cape Coral without receiving our pads. We traveled through the keys all winter and left for The Bahamas last April 2013, with other things on our minds besides the SeaDek. I figured that Tyler had lost the patterns, and I was right.
  When we decided to stay indefinitely here in Key West, I called Tyler in February of this year and asked him why he hadn't contacted us or sent the pads that he had promised. He was very apologetic and admitted that he had lost the patterns, but he was due to visit Key West in March and he promised to come by and measure our steps himself. I didn't really expect him to come, but sure enough, we waited at the boat on the Sunday he promised to come by and he did.
  It was a pleasant experience having him on the boat in person, and he acknowledged that the material he used to cut our original pads was probably the wrong color, as the black color for the caulking portion of the step was attracting the heat from the sun and causing it to curl.
  Again, I volunteered to pay for the labor and material, but he insisted on redoing the job au gratis, once he received the material from SeaDek.
  Beginning in late March, when I contacted Tyler via email, or phone call, I received no replies until, in late April, when we got an email from him apologizing for not getting back with us, and promising to "knock out those steps next week".
  This began a series of weekly promises to "have the pads to you by the weekend", until I finally told him that if he didn't actually deliver the pads by a certain date, that I would call SeaDek and find out why. Two more weeks went by and I made the call.
  I talked to a representative of the company and she was very understanding, saying that if Tyler didn't have time to cut our pads, that they could do it at the factory, no problem. I told her that we'd give Tyler one more week to come through, and to sit tight. She didn't.
  Apparently Tyler came by the factory before the week was up and he was told that I had called SeaDek and spoke to them. Once I found they he knew I talked to the folks at SeaDek, I sent him a note explaining to him that as I had promised, my patience had run out, and that I had called SeaDek to see that my options were. I received no reply.
  Meanwhile, I contacted a representative of Flexi-teek, to consider going with another product altogether. I also contacted the representative of SeaDek again and got quite a different reception from the one I received when I first contacted them. The terse response was the forwarding of my email to another person at SeaDek to "see what they could do".
  Within two days I got another short email from Tyler, with a picture attached, saying that the pads were already cut and on their way.

  I at least had proof that some work had been done on our pads, having gotten nothing but promises for months. At least I had some hope of getting the pads.
  I have been wondering why Tyler wasn't just truthful in the first place? Why didn't he get right back with us in October of 2012 and say he didn't have the patterns? And why, if he was so busy this year, did he keep promising the work "next week" when he could have said "I can't get to your work until mid summer", but at least send a picture with any progress if there was any?
  See, the thing is, if I tell someone something, or promise something, you can take it to the bank. I also don't have much faith in other people if they have proven in the past that their word is no good, which Tyler proved back in October of 2012.
  But guess what? As I was writing this post, our pads arrived! I removed them from the box and made sure they were right. I'll put them on when the weather dries out later this week, and if they don't hold up...well, it's a safe bet that I'll be calling the folks at Flexi-teek.

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