Saturday, March 12, 2011

a rant on marine quality...

Tim (AKA "Crab trap dude") over at Navagear has some thoughts on my post regarding solid fuel stoves and, as it happens, he makes a good point or two... He always does!

Tim, however, is a younger and less cynical man than I am and apparently still believes in the tooth fairy, honest politicians, and "marine quality". He actually likes the marine industry and seems to think that if we all clap just that little bit harder, Tinkerbelle will rally and live and the marine industry will actually make something that works in a marine environment enough to actually justify its piratical pricing.

Not too long ago, I bought a power plug to replace a marine plug that had become a mass of shorting corrosion... Fact is, the only thing that was still working on the plug was the $29.95 price tag still stuck to its bright yellow, though slightly melted plastic casing. When I took it apart I noticed that not only were the various parts dissimilar metals, but it seemed some effort had to be taken as every single component was a different metal... Going to ACE hardware for a replacement plug for $2.95 and comparing the two it became obvious that the ACE cheapie plug was going to be a lot longer lasting than the "marine" plug since it used one metal. While it is obvious it would rust in time, just keepkeep an eye on it, or better yet give it a shot of Boeshield every once in a while to keep it happy and rust free.

The thing is, the reason we are willing to pay for "marine quality" is we want the peace of mind that someone took a little care to make a better product so we can sleep soundly knowing that the gear on our boat is going to be trouble free and not put our lives at risk in the quest for higher profits...

I used to be involved with a chandler/consignment shop that mostly catered to the charter boats and cruisers in St Thomas... Folks brought us stuff that broke or failed on a regular basis as well as problematic gear that simply did not work well that they'd like to get off the boat and have it become someone else's problem. Sort of a good training in the myth of marine quality if you will... It also allowed me to deal with companies that built crappy equipment on a regular basis and learn that in most cases the companies involved just did not care.

Which is a roundabout way of getting back to the Stovetec stove and why it may very well be a better choice than a thousand dollar or more marine alternative... It's not an install and forget item, so you need to adapt it to the rigors of being on a boat yourself. As it is not "marine" you'll know that it may very well take a little maintenance from time to time. Sure with the Stovetec or similar stove you would have to cobble together a chimney arrangement and throw in a flower pot or suchlike for a heat radiator to make it a heater but in the process you would also get up close and personal with how it all works and have some foreknowledge of any possible trouble areas to keep an eye on.

Whether we buy marine or decide to do differently, we still have a responsibility to make sure the stuff we install on our boats does the job and does not put us at risk. These days, most people think that buying "marine" is some sort of insurance that a part or product has a certain quality or function. It has been my experience that we can no longer accept that on faith... Whether marine or non-marine, you simply have to treat everything with a certain suspicion... The bottom line is that where profits are concerned there are simply no morals and it is the prudent mariner who keeps that in mind.

Welcome to life in 2011!

So it goes...