© 2006 - Catalina 38 International Association  
Designed and maintained by Charles Finn

Northport Bay Boatyard, Northport Michigan

I left my boat here for the winter of 2008-9. Before launching, I had them replace the heat exchanger and the fuel filter. When I launched, I could not start the engine. Turns out they did not bother to bleed the air out of the system after changing the filter (duh).

But far worse was the bungling of the heat exchanger replacement ($600.00 installation plus $300.00 for the exchanger)! I had purchased a new, larger exchanger as the original is barely adequate and I had 100 of miles of canal motoring coming up this season. As soon as I was able to get the motor started, it began to overheat...... I again called the mechanic back and after a brief look, he declared the heat exchanger was "faulty" and everything would have to be redone. I told him that I believed he had not properly refilled the cooling system as per my instructions when I ordered the work done. His reply was he was too busy and I would have to wait a few days before he could get around to it!

So, I drained the cooling system and refilled it. This all took about 8 hours as the boatyard was not at all helpful despite it was their error. In fact, they closed up and left while I was below working on the engine. After I was certain the engine was not overheating, I left to cross Lake Michigan where I was meeting family. This now was a night sail with building seas as I was 10 hours late in leaving. The engine worked great....

But two weeks later.... I started losing engine coolant, which would lead to overheating. At this point, I am in Lake Huron and am 100s of miles away from the boatyard. I looked everhwhere on the engine as I could not find a leak, but I would slowly lose coolant despite replacing thermostats, radiator caps, etc. Having no solution and being more than 1000 miles from homeport, my only choice was to daily refill the engine and carefully watch engine temps. This worked until I made it to the Erie Canal, where I had to depend entirely on the engine as the mast was down....

I was in a lock when everything went south! The engine had to be immediately shut down and I had to warp out of the lock. This time there was almost no coolant in the system and when I refilled it, the engine overheated in less than a half hour. With no other choice, I was forced to anchor in a navigable waterway (more than a little illegal). With such a large flow, I could finally see where the coolant was coming from which was directly under the new heat exchanger. Turns out, the boatyard had NOT fashioned a new mount for the exchanger as I told them to. Rather, they had clamped the larger exchanger into the bracket which was too small. This had forced the exchanger onto a bolt, which wore a hole through the exchanger and the hole became progressively worse at time went on. Here is a picture of the damage done!

I was able to do an emergency repair and finish the trip. I did however contact Northport Bay Boatyard and infrom them of my displeasure. Their reply is that I left them without paying for the day I spent at their dock fixing the system! The bill was $194.00 for the mechanic!

It gets worse. I contact the owner in end of September after chasing him for over a month with emails and messages. He agreed to pay for the heat exchanger replacement and wipe the $194.00 bill from the books. I sent him a copy of the bill for the new heat exchanger and heard nothing. After several emails and phone calls, I finally reached someone at the marina in January. She said she knew nothing, but would get back to me... After more months of calling and emails, I was told the marina had been sold at the end of September (withing days of my negotiating with the owner)! I said a business sale brought with it both assets and liabilites and they said they would get back to me. Well, I finally got hold of them today (6/14/2010) and was told tough luck! In fact, they said I still owe them the $194.00! And, they would not give me contact information for the previous owner!

So, how much worse can it get? Both the old and the new owners are part of this fraud. They left me in a very dangerous situation due to such shoddy workmanship as to be consider malfeasance. Both owners avoided and/or ignored my many requests and never, ever returned a phone call or an email. I am out over $1000.00 and was actually put in "harms way" due to the problem they created. And, I still have to pay for the replacement and installation of a new heat exchanger!

I guess they feel pretty secure because I have no good legal recourse as I live in New York and they are in Michigan.