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Scope creep, project creep, "kitchen sink syndrome", no marine term exists

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,328
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
for the inevitable project creep that takes place, working on anything but a new boat.

Even pro's are haunted by unseen turns, back ups and surprises nearly every task takes, on a used boat. The savvy owner knows, when the boat yard calls, the simple project on his/her boat, just grew.

I wouldn't expect (nor trust), a fixed quote from a reputable boat yard to perform most tasks on an old boat (I won't give a quote in my line of work, restoring old houses, I can't predict the future).

And so it goes with marine wiring, when it comes time to connect new wires to old. Simple work ends up taking longer than I expected. No surprise, anymore. But there should be a term for 'boat project growth',...

It would take a fully equipped marine electricians van, just to save the near endless trips to suppliers for wire and parts. That's the nature of working on your boat, when you are a DIY owner.

Enjoyable work, if you have the time to take your time (it would be a nightmare on a schedule).

Looking around the cabin at this point, I realized I never count on the time it takes, just to put everything away, when the last wire is connected.


Project creep._.jpg
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,611
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
I was once asked by a magazine after submitting an article on a major project (air conditioning installation in cruising catamaran) "do you have a picture of all the parts and tools laid out?" In fact, there is no possible way they would have all fit in a viewable space at one time. Perhaps one of the biggest time holes on boat projects is that you have to pull everything out, put it somewhere else, then work on one bit, then put things back and clear out some other hole, and then move back the first area and ... and the cycle repeats over and over. Though I've learned to be systematic, it's a constant source of delay.
 
Jan 11, 2014
5,753
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
And let us not forget those times when the needed tool or part is sitting at home and you're on the boat. The tool I own is 40 miles away on the work bench, the tool I'm going to own is only 20 miles away in the hardware store.

For things like wire, wire terminals, and fasteners I now buy in bulk, a little more money up front, but in the long run its cheaper and saves waiting and trips to the very distant marine stores.
 
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TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,328
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Oh Tom, I feel your pain. At least you have a Hamilton Marine just down the road. Oh to have a good ship's store down the road.....
Oh Tom, I feel your pain. At least you have a Hamilton Marine just down the road. Oh to have a good ship's store down the road.....
That has been a help. A lot of this stuff, like say #2 battery cable - that you need 6 feet of in yellow, and 4 feet in red - isn't something you'll likely need extra for, ever. Neither are the large crimp terminals. It's good to have a marine supplier that stocks this stuff, in bulk. Plus the people there are helpful and happy to cut you another 2' piece,...when you return, that afternoon.

And being coastal Maine, my regular lumber supplier stocks Ancor marine wire and connectors in small gauges, by the foot. Expensive, but who cares when you need a certain color and gauge.
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,328
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
I was once asked by a magazine after submitting an article on a major project (air conditioning installation in cruising catamaran) "do you have a picture of all the parts and tools laid out?" In fact, there is no possible way they would have all fit in a viewable space at one time. Perhaps one of the biggest time holes on boat projects is that you have to pull everything out, put it somewhere else, then work on one bit, then put things back and clear out some other hole, and then move back the first area and ... and the cycle repeats over and over. Though I've learned to be systematic, it's a constant source of delay.
"Systematic", is key when working on a boat. I've kept all the on the boat work, confined to a small space in the galley and forward cockpit.

I can use a lot of the available space forward, and aft, to store materials and tools, to be left out for days at a time(safe under a tight tarp). If I had to set up each session, I'd need more time. If I had to work throughout the boat, it would become a nightmare and require a different strategy.

I'll finish my work in this area, and then, put everything back together. Any work forward or aft, will be 'another' project, with another set up. I don't forsee any work in those areas to complete the wiring,...now.
 
Nov 30, 2015
1,221
Hunter 1978 H30 Cherubini Treman Marina, Ithaca, NY
Oh Tom, I feel your pain. At least you have a Hamilton Marine just down the road. Oh to have a good ship's store down the road.....
Oh quitcha bitchin’ I’m 9.75 hours away from that shop.
74C68B78-276C-4411-86F7-F36F2B700024.jpeg
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,257
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
But there should be a term for 'boat project growth',...
I call it the snowball effect..... As the project rolls along the snowball gets bigger and bigger....

My most recent is a customer with a Sabre and a dead 10 year old ultrasonic speed unit. Neither the control box nor the transducer are field testable, not even with my very $$$$$$$ Airmar test tool..... To send it in for repairs is about $15.00 in shipping then a minimum bench fee of $180.00 or two units to be tested @ $90.00 each. If the transducer is bad, you just buy a new one, they are not repairable $$$$$... Course you still pay the min bench fee. If the control box is bad they "might" be able to find parts to fix it, no guarantees though.

They have only a hand full of replacements left for this original unit, so is it best to just spring for a new one? I really hate to spend $800 clams, of my customers money, knowing damn well the ST-60's are no longer repairable as Raymarine has run out of parts and is no longer servicing them. The old model ultra sonic is also discontinued with a few NOS units perhaps kicking around. He's ideally due to jump to N2K in order for his instruments to work with his current N2K plotter/radar anyway..

The other option is the latest & greatest model ultrasonic, depth speed and temp unit, which is now NMEA 2000, but of course its not backwards compatible with the customers ST-60 speed display, which is looking for an analog type pulse.

So now we are looking at well over 1K, just for the transducer, then two new N2K displays at $600.00 each, plus a myriad of N2K cables, tees & terminators $$$..

The best part of this snowball is that his new transducer will need the N2K plug cut off the cable in order to chase it. So we now add a field install N2K plug too the order as well $$.. The transducer is in the bow/v-berth and the cable literally runs all the way to the stern then turns and comes in between the cabin liner and deck to the bulkhead where the instruments are mounted.. Just getting it out, while pulling a messenger, took 3.75 hours!!!! Oh and going out is the easy way as you're pulling large to small not small to large.........

The final layers of snow? The new ultrasonic transducer uses a different thru-hull fitting so that will also need to be extracted and replaced too, no, its not a drop in replacement for the CS4500 speed log. D'oh.... To R&R this massive bronze thru-hull fitting I will be standing on my head, upside down, like a yogi master, working in a 4" square opening battling, once again, 3M5200......

On and the customer just mentioned; "I just need replacement nav lights" a purportedly simple 30 minute job to replace two Aquasignal Series 25's, has turned into a nightmare on both ends. Sabre left ZERO cable in the bow pulpit and zero in the stern push pit. What is exposed is cracked and done for. I have over 5 hours in re-snaking the stern push pit and will likely have at least three in the bow pulpit. Yep the bases are filled with 5200!!!! I employed every snaking trick in the book but it still took nearly 5 hours to get it done.... This was just my Thursday afternoon and Friday....

Hopefully the snowball on this job has picked up all the snow it can and is nearing the bottom of the hill.
 
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Jan 11, 2014
5,753
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Now, MS, you know we Sabre owners love our boats even when they turn out to be a PITA to work on. If you happen to be working on a Hewson designed Sabre, don't suggest that the cockpit drain through hulls need maintenance or the hoses need replacing. There won't be enough bandwidth to support your comments. :mad:
 
Jan 11, 2014
5,753
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Oh quitcha bitchin’ I’m 9.75 hours away from that shop.
View attachment 147713
I've been to the Searsport Hamilton Marine! Will probably visit one this summer.

Fortunately, through some stroke of magic, I can get shipments from Defender overnight for regular delivery charges :thumbup:

And FWIW, Defender can be done in a day trip from here, albeit a very long day trip.
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,257
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
If you happen to be working on a Hewson designed Sabre, don't suggest that the cockpit drain through hulls need maintenance or the hoses need replacing. There won't be enough bandwidth to support your comments. :mad:
Been there, done that..... :banghead:How about pulling a fuel tank & replacing it on an S-34 MKI ......:doh::doh:
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,257
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
I've been to the Searsport Hamilton Marine! Will probably visit one this summer.

Fortunately, through some stroke of magic, I can get shipments from Defender overnight for regular delivery charges :thumbup:
.
If you are within UPS ground 1 day range no need to order anything expedited. I get stuff from CT in one day too...
 
May 25, 2012
2,933
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
those old aldens: M.S. and Dave, we all know of what you speak. tom's boat and mine are both alden design and molich built, same vintage. i can get to every square inch on aeolus. the vessel can be taken apart and put back together. it is rare out there to enjoy such engineering. it is luck that i get to be the caretaker, if you will, of this fine old toy.
.... but life has balance, my old ascow is very 'needy' keeping it ready for each run.
 
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TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,328
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
I call it the snowball effect..... As the project rolls along the snowball gets bigger and bigger....

My most recent is a customer with a Sabre and a dead 10 year old ultrasonic speed unit. Neither the control box nor the transducer are field testable, not even with my very $$$$$$$ Airmar test tool..... To send it in for repairs is about $15.00 in shipping then a minimum bench fee of $180.00 (two units to be tested @ $90.00 each). If the transducer is bad you just buy a new one $$$$$ and still pay the min bench fee. If the control box is bad they "might" be able to find parts to fix it, no guarantees. They have only a hand full of replacements left so best to just spring for a new one. Course I hate to spend $800.00 clams of my customers money knowing damn well the ST-60's are no longer repairable as Raymarine has run out of parts and is no longer servicing them. Plus he's due to jump to N2K to work with his current plotter/radar..

The other option is the latest & greatest model ultrasonic, depth speed and temp unit, which is now NMEA 2000, but of course its not backwards compatible with the customers ST-60 speed display, which is looking for an analog type pulse.

So now we are looking at well over 1K, just for the transducer, then two new N2K displays at $600.00 each, plus a myriad of N2K cables, tees & terminators $$$.. The best part is that the new transducer will need the N2K plug cut off to chase it. So we now add a field install N2K plug too $$.. The transducer is in the bow/v-berth and the cable literally runs all the way to the stern then turns and comes in between the cabin liner and deck to the bulkhead. Just getting it out, while pulling a messenger, took 3.75 hours!!!! Oh and going out is the easy way.....

The final straw, the new ultrasonic transducer uses a different thru-hull fitting so that will also need to be extracted and replaced, no, its not a drop in replacement for the CS4500. D'oh.... To R&R this massive bronze thru-hull fitting I will literally be standing on my head, upside down like a yogi master, working in a 4" square opening battling 3M5200......

On and the "I just need replacement nav lights" a purportedly simple 30 minute job to replace two AquasignalSeries 25's, has turned into a nightmare on both ends. Sabre left ZERO cable in the bow pulpit and zer in the stern push pit. What is exposed is cracked and done for. I have over 5 hours in re-snaking the stern push pit and will likely have at least three in the bow pulpit. Yep the bases are filled with 5200!!!! I employed every snaking trick in the book but it still took nearly 5 hours to get it done.... This was just my Thursday afternoon and Friday....

Hopefully the snowball on this job has picked up all the snow it can and is nearing the bottom of the hill.
"Snowball effect", that works. You know your stuff - marine electronics, inside and out. And keeping up to date, oh man. Your customers trust you.
 
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Mar 28, 2017
48
American Tug 395 Newport
I am always amazed at the phenomenon of project creep on boats.
Having spent my working life in the business of maintaining and repairing European automobiles, I have developed a very good sense of what a job might take to complete with the usual caveats for things like stuck bolts or other “surprises”... of course in that world, we have flat rate guides to refer to.
Still, I consistently underestimate the time needed for boat projects and the inevitable project creep.
Even maintenance tasks that I had done many times before take longer than expected.
Take my usual spring engine maintenance schedule that I performed every year on the Yanmar we had in the Sabre. I replaced all fluids, filters, the v-belt, adjusted/checked valve clearance washed the engine and engine room, WD-40’d everything down and inspected every wire terminal and engine harness plug.
The auto side of me glances at the project and says 3 to 4 hours when the reality was that it always turned into an 8 to 10 hour project.
I began performing this maintenance when the boat was 1 year old and somehow I never could get it done in less than a day in 12 years of practice. There was always something that led me down the rabbit hole of unexpected and unplanned maintenance.
So far, the Tug has been far easier to work on, partially as a result of the incredible room to work in and partially as a result of incredible foresight by the manufacturer but the same phenomenon exists here too.
By the way, this is a picture of the Yanmar with some 1700 hours on at 11 years of age...
I love maintaining our boats, project creep, snowball effect or whatever!
Bruce
90E5E24C-23C6-40CD-BFA8-60E0001BAED0.jpeg
 
Mar 28, 2017
48
American Tug 395 Newport
There is a series of children's books, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and perhaps more appropriate here, If You Give a Moose a Muffin that seem to sum up boat owner ship.

"If you give your sailboat a new genoa, it will want a new halyard. And if you give the boat a new halyard, it will want new winches for that new halyard...."
I always smile when I hear someone talking about how “the new paint job...” and how it will “freshen up..” the boat. Little do they know...
Bruce
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,366
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
I worked doing "punch work" in a housing project in NC once. That's where I developed my theory of 'Asymptotic Convergence in Construction Projects".
As the project nears completion, the finish work begins and various different specialists come in to spackle, paint, plumb, wire, trim, tile, carpet, etc. Each professional bumps up against the work of another's.
The plumber drops solder on a countertop, the cabinet shop fixes the countertop and drops a hammer on the tile floor. The tiler scratches the casing moving tools in and out of the room. The painter fixes the scratches and gets paint on the cabinet face, etc. Each operation moves closer to completion but almost never completed.

- Will (Dragonfly)
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,257
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
By the way, this is a picture of the Yanmar with some 1700 hours on at 11 years of age...
I love maintaining our boats, project creep, snowball effect or whatever!
Bruce
View attachment 147716
If only the other 99.8999% of boaters treated their boats as you do Bruce, my job would be sooooo much easier....
 
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