Showtime's Launch Day

As Showtime hits the ways, we take a look back at her refit.


Over the past two issues, our "Yacht Yard" section has chronicled the progress of Showtime's refit work as it moved from planning to implementation with an almost around- the-clock effort by the crew. They were trying to make the six-week haul-to-launch schedule a reality. Now, as we wrap things up, we'll take a look back at the project, including what the team faced before the work began and how it wound up. We'll see what went according to plan and what issues threw monkey wrenches into the job. We'll evaluate the initial budget and expectations, and hear from the players who made Showtime's on-time launch a reality.

As Showtime was gently lifted from her place in the J&J Marine refit yard in Somerset, Massachusetts, and placed tenderly in the medium she was meant for, an old Irish saying came to mind: "Nodding the head does not row the boat." This is the perfect adage to describe the approach necessary to complete such a project. The most memorable aspect of any refit is the unexpected, and on an old wooden boat, there's going to be plenty. Those problems included some wiring issues, the likelihood that additional work would be required below the waterline, and trying to decide whether to remove the old stabilizer fins. Solving those problems meant getting the right person to do the job. Accomplishing that means doing just plain old-fashioned legwork, research, and listening carefully to those in the know.

"Once we got going and the problems started popping up, as they always do no matter what kind of boat you're working on, the first thought was 'How much more is this going to cost?'" said Showtime owner Jock West. "And that was followed closely by 'Will we make our deadline if we do it?' Compromise and common sense held sway and if it saved time, saved money, did not compromise safety, and did not screw up the look and feel I was trying for, I normally said 'Do it.'"

While the 40-year-old Trumpy was in relatively good shape, the owner's experience offers the opportunity for others, no matter what the building material is, to learn a valuable lesson or two before considering a refit. West has been in the boating business community for as long as this 63-foot Trumpy has been afloat. Even with this kind of water under his keel, he was able to come away with some new insight and knowledge.

To manage the project, the eight areas of the refit were divided up into teams. The total work crew numbered 25 and they set their collective talents on the pilothouse, galley and heads, holding tanks, cushions and enclosures, navigational electronics, electrical system, entertainment systems, and all exterior woodwork.

West heaved a sigh of relief when Detroit Diesel mechanic Lou Bacon pronounced the pair of original Detroit Diesel 671s healthy, with no major issues. "That made my day as engines were definitely not in the budget," said West.

But what was in the budget was a full cosmetic refit delivered in 37 days. "We first got all the fixed costs listed and then Jock and I started in on his wish list," said project manager Steve Anderson. "Once that was done, we kicked in the reality check and got to the bottom line pretty fast." He reiterated what he had said from day one: "Think carefully about what you want versus what is practical and what you can afford."

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Did West get what he wanted? As we looked at the before pictures and walked through the boat after all but minor cleanups and last-minute fixes were being done, I would say so. In addition, I was recently aboard Showtime for one of Yachting's scheduled events, this one a benefit for kids and their families at the Ronald McDonald House, and not only did she look beautiful but our guests were enthralled to be aboard such a special vessel.

While J&J got Showtime going in time to fulfill the first of her business commitments, she was scheduled to revisit the yard in late August for some additional work including removing and replacing three suspect planks, and any other necessary work, such as adjoining planks and any frame and rib sistering in the surrounding area. West also decided to deal with the stabilizer fins at a later date but will be installing a bowthruster. The 10-day project was carefully researched with Newport Yacht Joinery, chosen to do the future work because of its extensive experience in such projects.

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Did West's refit make fiscal sense? He was able to find a boat in relatively good shape for around $350,000. His refit cost some $410,000 and his after-work appraisal came in at $1.3 million. And while he did have an overage of $37,438.53, West accepted that as coming with the territory given the somewhat unreasonable time frame. (See "Is The Price Right?" below. The reason for the extra money? As Anderson said, "You never know what you're going to find with some of these projects and whether working on a late-model vessel or one of these older boats, if you undertake this kind of work, you had better be prepared to make some decisions that will force you to dig a little deeper to get what you want."

West summed up his take on things this way: "Like all endeavors, it is not just the talent, but the attitude of those involved, that makes a successful project. This crew was topnotch in all respects."

I can generally wax poetic on the subject of boats, but I think a quotation from Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows is far more fitting in describing West and Showtime. "There is nothing, absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

Please look up Showtime at premier in-water boat shows on the east coast. We're proud of her and the people who made the dream a reality, and we would love to show you their products and craftsmanship. Her schedule is at www.showtimeyacht.com_. -Jock West_

IS THE PRICE RIGHT? ******Estimating costs starts with fixed expenses.**Getting a handle on that baseline cost number is as matter-of-fact as getting a rate card from the yard. For example, J&J's hauling charges range anywhere from $16 per foot for a 41- to 50-foot boat and $20 per foot for a boat 61 feet or longer. Washing the bottom is $3 per foot with additional charges for extreme fouling. Blocking and stands run $2 per foot for all boats and hourly work rates include $95 for carpentry, electrical, mechanical, welding, and custom canvas work, and $100 for gelcoat repairs. Hourly paint and fiberglass work comes in at $85, as does detailing. Daily electricity for 20-amp service is $8; for 30 amps, $12.75; 50-amp will cost $21.25; and 100-amp single- and three-phase will run $42.50 and $76.50, respectively. It can really add up.