following the application of CopperPlus antifouling.
May of this year we decide that it was time to repaint our boat (a 46 ft
steel sailing yacht). After much deliberation we selected a paint system from a
company called Permanent Coatings based in Bodmin. (33
Normandy Way, Walker Lines Industrial Estate, Bodmin, Cornwall. PL31
1HATelephone 01208 264999 Fax 01208 264998 e-mail email@example.com)
system consisted essentially of a number of coats of their epoxy ceramic
product “ArmourGuard” followed by 2/3 coats of a copper epoxy product
CopperPlus is an antifouling product.
Antifouling is essential to prevent weed and barnacle growth on the
underwater sections of boats. CopperPlus
is advertised as having an effective life span of around ten years as
opposed to the one or two years of traditional products.
It is of course more expensive.
much discussion with Richard Foster, (who we now believe with the
exception of his secretary to be the only person at Permanent Coatings) we
arranged to have the boat taken out of the water, the underwater hull
sandblasted back to bare metal, and the entire paint system professionally
applied. All work was carried
out exactly as specified in the instructions received with the paint and
as confirmed or modified by Richard Foster.
The only significant change in Richards’s instructions as opposed
to the written ones was:
the instructions suggested that sometimes lightly abrading/ burnishing the
surface of the final coat of CopperPlus to expose more copper gave
improved antifouling performance and for this reason we had had this
burnishing included in the overall cost of the job.
Richard told us that the CopperPlus now had a porosity agent included and
that a greater surface area was therefore exposed so burnishing was no
longer recommended. On this
basis we, even though the burnishing was paid for, we instructed the
workers not to do it.
of the work was carried out at Base Nautica Usai, Fertilia, Sardinia,
work had taken 17 days at a cost of €3500 plus the cost of the paint,
which had been, was £992 Sterling.
returned the boat to the water on 19th May.
months later, in July we anchored in Syracusa (Sicily) and I took the
opportunity to dive under the boat. It
was immediately clear that the CopperPlus antifouling had failed
catastrophically. The entire hull was covered in coral to an average thickness
of 2cm. This was the worst
fouling we had ever seen – it was for example at least twice as bad as a
completely unprotected boarding ladder that had been left in the water for
6 months in Sardegna the previous year.
Our tender in contrast, which was protected with a traditional
antifouling (International Micron Plus) and had been in the water for most
of the same period had no fouling at all.
immediately contacted Permanent coatings and spoke to Richard Foster. To be fair, he was extremely sympathetic and immediately
offered to replace the paint and to cover the costs associated with
re-application. His, view at
that time, was that the paint had clearly failed and that a key
constituent had been left out - “perhaps there wasn’t any porosity
agent in the stuff we sent you….!!! We should have a record somewhere”
was his actual response. A
bit worrying, but he was offering to make do everything he could to make
things right, so we accepted his offer.
next step was to arrange to get the boat lifted and the work done. We weren’t aware of a suitable yard in Sardegna, but new
that we could get the work done in either Malta or Tunisia. Richard told us that he had previously shipped the product to
Malta. Dealing with customs in and the quality of work in Tunisia were
unknown quantities. So we got
a quote from Manoel Island Yacht Yard in Malta, sent it to Richard and
jointly agreed that we would sail to Malta to get the work done.
were now moving very slowly and we were on an increasingly tight deadline
to get out of the Med by the end of October.
Dealing with Richard was never unpleasant, but always it was like
dealing with an absent minded and somewhat scatterbrained professor.
It transpired over the next couple of weeks that the new paint
would have to be sent to Malta by ship because there wasn’t an air
carrier that would accept it, something Richard had omitted to mention or
we could have chosen another location on mainland Europe, but it seemed by
then too late to “change horses”.
There were other delays; mostly inane eg the person who packs the
paint is on holiday this week. None
of which was helped by the fact that Richard never returned phone
on August 23rd, Richard confirmed that the paint had left him
for loading with an ETA of 31st, so we sailed for Malta.
We arrived in Malta on 27th and contacted Richard
because we still had not received a copy of the Bill of Lading and just to
check all was OK. He was out
of the office and of course never returned our call, so his secretary gave
us the contact details of the shipping agent.
They told us that the package had not been sent in time to be
loaded on the ship and that Richard had been warned of this repeatedly.
This introduced a further delay, but the paint finally arrived in
Malta on 7th September. It
needed to clear customs, but we lifted the boat so as to be ready to start
the materials had been shipped without the appropriate customs declaration
and could not be released. We
spoke to the shipping agent – yes they nearly always completed the
customs declarations for their clients, but on this occasion Richard had
insisted on doing it himself because they charge £14 for the service
(sic!). The form would have to be completed and presented to customs
retrospectively. After many phone calls the shipping agent and Permanent
Coatings we reached a solution and the paper work arrived on 15th
was a period when we trying continually to contact Richard, but now he
would neither take our calls or respond to e-mails.
We had in good faith instructed the yard to lift the boat and once
we asked them to proceed with the work we would be looking at a bill of
MP1100 (£1740STG), for work we had already paid to have done only 2
months earlier. Richard had originally agreed to pay, but we were getting an
increasingly uncomfortable feeling.
the end, we were so doubtful that Richard would honour his commitment to
pay, that we decided to do the work ourselves.
It’s a grim job for two people, but we simply couldn’t risk
being left with a bill of this size, and this turns out to have been a
very wise decision – see below. We
finally left Malta on 2nd October, but by now our plans for the
winter where in shreds – also see below.
the last week of September we finally received a message from Richard’s
secretary to say that he had been in contact with “the shareholder”
and that their solicitor would be in touch.
Of course this was untrue and he hasn’t and neither has any one
from permanent coatings contacted us since.
have in an attempt to reach some sort of reasonable settlement, since sent
to permanent coatings, both by e-mail and by registered mail a complete
recap of the events, details of all costs and a proposal for an amount as
a compromise settlement. There
have been no replies and the deadline set has now expired.
you will see from the above in pure financial terms we are now out of
pocket at the very least to the tune of
£450 and the figure is only this low because we completed the work
ourselves – something that we only did because Richard Foster failed to
deliver against his promises. The
figure for the work as Richard agreed to pay for it (or if one bases it on
the costs incurred in abortive application of the faulty product in
Sardinia) is £1740.
addition to this, there are delays to our schedule, caused almost
exclusively by Richard Foster’s incompetence and/or abysmal customer
service. This is much more
than the fact that we have lost two months at the height of the sailing
season – though that in itself is bad enough.
Even more significantly, the delays meant that we had insufficient
time to leave the Med for the Canaries before the recognised weather
window closes towards the end of October.
This in turn means that we have had to postpone our journey to
South America for a year and instead overwinter in Barcelona.
sure that to anyone sitting in an office in the UK on a cold wet December
day this may sound a small hardship, but it is a significant disruption to
our lives and of course impossible to put a price on!