Going to Canada for work on the boat – Was it worth it?

Wow! It has taken me way too long to get back to the blog and get this written. Apologies to anyone who may have been eagerly waiting for the final outcome. Too much work and other projects not related to boating have gotten in the way. And to be honest, sometimes I just loose the urge to blog for a little while. But it’s back. And I have a few projects to talk so it is time to get this done.

We took the boat up to Sidney, BC to have the some brightwork and engine work done back in early March. The folks up there had it for about six weeks. We had all the window frames painted, much of the exterior teak varnished, and engines serviced. It took us two days (well … a day and a half at least) each way to get there and back. Was it worth it? The short answer is mostly yes, and a bit of no.

I will say up front that everyone was very helpful and we are pleased with the results of all the work.

Avalon Brightwork did all the painting and varnish work. West Cost Marine Diesel did the engine service.

First, value for our money. After all, this is the primary reason we did this. At the time, $1.00 CA translated to $.73 US. That works out to a labor rate of about $45 US per hour. That rate is much lower than in the Seattle area.

The logistics of moving the boat up to Sidney and back was the most significant challenge for us. It is pretty much just Kim and I here. And I am limited to weekends.

Getting the boat to Sidney was fairly easy. Our friend Bruce (who shows up often on this blog) went with me. We went to Roche Harbor the first day, then over to Sidney the next morning. We met Don and Cam at the Sidney marina customs dock. Then it was off to Canoe Cove. After we dropped the boat off, we took a cab down to the Inner Harbor in Victoria, and the Coho Ferry to Port Angeles where Kim picked us up. Then it was just over an hour back to Poulsbo.

Retrieving the boat was a bit more challenging. Kim and I drove to Port Angeles, took the Coho ferry to Victoria, and a cab to Canoe Cove to pick the boat up. Then off to Roche Harbor for customs. We had hoped to make it to Port Townsend that night, but the wait at customs was longer than we had expected. We ended up in Aleck Bay for the night. We were on our way south early the next morning. Sunday afternoon, Kim took me to the Bainbridge ferry so I could get to the airport and fly off to work. Then she took a cab to Kingston to catch the bus to Port Angeles so she could pick up the car we had left there a few days ago. All in all, a bit of a pain to get it all done.

All of that also depended on good weather both up and back. Considering the time of year, we were lucky and had great weather both ways.

Our situation is unique. I work out of town and am only home on weekends. This would likely be a much more straightforward process for most other folks.

So on to what we got for our money. We asked that Avalon Brightwork strip and repaint all the exterior window frames. The Pacific Northwest weather had not been kind to our old boat over the last few years. The window frames were looking pretty shabby. We also asked that they varnish the cap rails, hand rails, transom, door frames, trim rails around the cabin, transom, and the cap rail on the flybridge. If there was money left over, they could keep going until it was gone. That was the plan.

We got quite a bit more than we asked for. But it also cost us a bit more. In addition to all that we asked for, Avalon varnished the wood around the flybridge. They cleaned the teak decks and steps to the flybridge. Oddly, they did not do the lower cap rails – just the hand rails.

We asked West Coast Marine Diesel to change the oil and filters, change the belts, add a spare belt to the port side, adjust the valves – generally do what they can to make sure those 39 year old engines run as well as possible. Cam had the oil and transmission fluids analyzed. We also needed to address a small oil leak from a gasket on the starboard engine. In the process, we discovered that it was time to replace the engine mounts. Another project. More on that in another post.

Soooo … the big question. Would we do it again. The answer is a qualified yes. Logistics aside, we got a lot of work done for a reasonable price. The boat looks better than it ever has – at least while we have owned it.

On the negative side, we managed to get away from Sidney without the boat key we had left with Avalon Brightwork and without a big tub that was on the flybridge with the BBQ, propane cylinders for the BBQ, and a few other odds and ends. Don mailed the keys back to us, but getting everything else was inconvenient for all. Don took the BBQ to the Grand Banks rendezvous. Madhi and Debbie from Lady Debbie, a very nice Grand Banks 46 that is just down the dock from us, were kind enough to carry the BBQ from the Grand Banks rendezvous on a tour of Desolation Sound and back to Poulsbo for us. Thanks to Mahdi and Debbie!

That’s all I have to say about that. Finally. Time to click on “publish”.

2 thoughts on “Going to Canada for work on the boat – Was it worth it?

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I saw your original post when you took Archimedes to Sydney and was very interested onyour project. What glorious results! I own Mercedes 42-97. She is in desperate need of brightwork and paint and I am not willing to do it myself. I have been considering taking her up north for that very purpose. I’m in Vancouver, Wa. So if I may ask? How many dollars did you end up investing in the brightwork and paint restoration project? Just get me in the ballpark, Please.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Tom. All in were at about $11k US ($15k CA) for the paint and brightwork. Labor and materials. They did a lot of work for that. Talk to Don Penny at Avalon. [email protected]

      I am sorry it took me so long to finish the story.

      … Oh and I grew up in Vancouver. 🙂

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