Friday, February 10, 2012

Marine Service in Beaufort SC. Shocking!!

I'm not sure exactly how to put this, so I'm just going to say it.  Butler Marine is awesome.   There.

Those of you who follow this blog know that we bought an old boat and spent considerable time and money getting it up and running to make this trip we're on.   We did it, and have been cruising down the ICW since last fall having the time of our lives.  Everything is working perfectly now that we have our fuel issues sorted out, but we've been staying in marinas every night because of the dogs.  They need to get off the boat a couple of times a day.  No matter how hard I tried, I can't get them to hang off the poop deck.

Drift Away came with a 13' Boston Whaler which sits in chocks up on the flybridge.

Like Drift Away, the Whaler sat unused and uncovered for 20 years.  I had fixed the electric hoist used to get it on and off the flybridge a long time ago, but then focused on the big boat's systems and did nothing with the Whaler.  Before we left, though, I bought a new gas tank, battery, and fuel filter in anticipation of working on the Whaler.  We didn't have an ignition key for it so I bought a new ignition switch.  

Since we're here in Beaufort for a bit of time, I decided to tackle the Whaler.  The first thing to do was to install the new ignition switch.  I disassembled the control, not  too bad of a job.

I then spent the better part of a day trying to find the new switch.  Like many things on this boat, it simply disappeared.  So next I decided to work on the steering, which seemed loose.   I tried to unbolt the old mechanical helm and, in no time flat, snapped off a rusty bolt.  In the process, the old wooden console broke apart, the victim of decay and wood rot.  I was left with a train wreck.

I got on the laptop and, amazingly, found a place in California that sells a mahogany replacement console for only $179, so I ordered one, which I am now awaiting delivery of.

Back up to the Whaler to disassemble the steering controls.  There was no point in being gentle or methodical, so I just started taking things apart.  The mechanical helm was a little tough.

I finally got it unbolted from the console.  Now to take it apart.

Part of owning a boat is figuring out how things work.  As I analyzed at the steering mechanism, I realized that there was no reason to take this apart.  It was working fine.  What I snapped the bolt off of was this....

a simple bezel that connects the steering wheel to the mechanical helm.

Now here is the amazing part.  When I first tackled this job, I had thought that the steering mechanism was the problem.   After considerable googling, I found that the unit was made by Teleflex.  I looked on their dealer list and found that Butler Marine here in Beaufort was on it.  I emailed them inquiring about a replacement.  I soon received a call from Billy in parts.  By the time Billy called, I had learned that I only needed a new bezel.  Within the hour, Billy was at the marina with a couple of possible replacements.

How's that again?   While all my cruising friends are sitting here reading this with their jaws hanging open, let me explain for my landlubber friends.  Customer service in the marine business is practically non-existent.  Yes, that's right.  Generally speaking, service in the marine biz stinks.  Nothing is ever done within estimate of cost or time, and customers are generally viewed as the enemy.  Yet here was Billy in the parking lot of the Beaufort town docks with parts in hand trying to help me out with my small project.

Not only did I buy the replacement bezel from Billy, but I ordered everything I could think of from Billy, which wasn't much but included a couple of bottles of two cycle oil, two spark plugs, and an ignition switch.

Pam and I walked the dogs over to Lady's Island yesterday, and on the way we came upon Butler's Marine.  We stopped in and I picked up the ignition switch.  Billy had it sitting on the parts counter with my name on it, intending to deliver it on his way home from work.  One of the ladies who works there saw the dogs and had to go outside to see them, and then even invited them into the store. 

What a great place.  Nice folks at Butler Marine.   So here is a shameless plug that I make no apologies for.  If you're anywhere remotely close to Beaufort, South Carolina and need any kind of parts or service, you call Butler Marine, 70 Sea Island Parkway, Beaufort South Carolina.   843-522-9461.  Email Billy at parts at  They're fine folks, and the owner should be proud of the employees he has.  They represent him well.

Good old fashioned customer service.  Imagine that.  What is this world coming to?


  1. That's great news, Dave! Hopefully you'll have that whaler running soon. Nice to hear about folks who give good service. I think my friend, Jeff, bought a Yahama outboard from Butler when we were there years ago. I'm totally blown away by the $179 mahogany whaler console. I'm not sure that I could buy the material for that price.

  2. Hi Dave,
    Have you tried this yet?:

    1. Hi Bob,

      Yes, I've heard of that technique. We found a piece of astroturf a couple of weeks ago, although we haven't "christened" it yet.

      BTW, I've wanted to comment on a couple of your blog posts but couldn't find a comment button. Did you remove it on purpose?

    2. re comment button: no, I didn't realize it disappeared. I'll fix that now.

  3. Excellent Article Bob, Thank you.

    Dave, Good customer service these days is a rare thing. Never apologize for giving good people a plug!


  4. Damn you, Dave. I only started following your blog because I've "known" you for years. Now you've got me hooked and starting to follow other blogs, too. And that ancient restlessness in me has raised its ugly and attractive head... Somewhere in the back of my head a quiet mantra has gotten increasingly louder... go now, go now...

    curses and a pox on you... LOL

    1. Bwa ha haaaaa!

      One thing I've seen our here that should probably be the topic for a future blog post are all the different boats and budgets doing what we're doing. We're doing it, the guy in the big yacht docked next to us is doing it, and a couple in a Pearson 26 is doing it (God bless 'em). It's true what they say, if you really want to cruise, you can do it. The only things holding you back are of your own doing.

      I'm doing it off of retirement savings right now, but in September I hit social security. If we live on the hook, we can do this indefinitely.

  5. Hi Dave and Pam, You're post has brought up a constant source of wonder for me, which is. How in the world can something get lost on a small boat? Everything gets lost. From a socket the fits only a spark plug, to a special bungee cord--everything seems to run away and hide. Oh, ver eventually find it--but never when we need it.