Tag: Boat

Besenzoni P246 Smile seat and their quality control

Our boat has helm seats made by Besenzoni in Italy and the model is the P246 Smile (pleasant name). The seats are very nice and very comfortable, I can’t help but say. However, when our boat arrived, I couldn’t get the captain’s seat to work properly. It’s supposed to go up and down on a pneumatic cylinder like an office chair: pull up on the lever and it goes up, sit on it while engaging the lever and it goes down, release the lever and it stays at that position whether you’re sitting on it or not. But the lever couldn’t be moved at all and the seat always went to the highest position and when I sat on it, it went to the lowest position. It was as if the valve on the cylinder was always engaged. It turns out that it was.

I contacted Cranchi and Besenzoni about it and after 3 or 4 weeks, I received no good answers and no guidance to make it work. The other seat was also missing a bolt and a spacer that the bolt goes through that held the frame to the seat cushion.

One bolt is missing
One spacer, the other is missing

Besenzoni referred me to Marine Solutions, a Besenzoni partner in Florida, for the parts. It seems odd that knowing the model of seat and my description they couldn’t tell me the part that I need. The seat doesn’t have many parts to it. Marine Solutions asked for the serial number on the seat so they could tell Besenzoni and then could determine what size bolt I needed. Have they really made that many different versions of this seat with different size bolts in the last several months? Besenzoni said the serial number is “stitched” into the pedestal — I think they meant “etched” (probably an Italian to English translation mistake). Trying to figure out what the serial number was impossible since it wasn’t visible anywhere on the seat or pedestal that I could find, not even on the base of the pedestal under the boat deck. I sent photos to Marine Solutions asking where I would find the serial number, they forwarded the photos to Besenzoni but they never answered. I decided to take the captain’s seat off the pedestal thinking the serial number night be on top of the pedestal because it wasn’t visible anywhere else. It isn’t there either. But I discovered why the seat’s pneumatic operation didn’t work!

The problem was that the two steel plates shown in this photo were not fastened to each other.

They were clearly supposed to be, there are 4 bolts that were just dangling from the top plate and the bottom plate was separated from the top plate, the plates could easily move up and down separately so the whole pneumatic cylinder and lever mechanism was inoperable — the pneumatic cylinder was all the way up, the lever could not be moved because it was pinned to the underside of the seat by the cylinder. Sitting on the seat caused the lever to engage the valve pin at the top of the cylinder and the seat would go down but it wouldn’t stay at any position because the valve was always open. and the spring in the cylinder could always push the seat up when no weight was on it.

The bolts were not attached because the bolt holes were too big for the bolts — they could easily slide in and out of the holes. It’s hard to tell if they were even threaded, but maybe they were and whoever put them in did such a sloppy job that they stripped the threads. How did that person not realize the bolts were not secured?! And note the sloppy welding job around the circular hole. The steel was cut very jagged too, my fingers have lots of little cuts from reaching inside it to secure the new bolts. Granted, this part is not normally visible so they probably don’t care but a well-built product by a company that takes pride in their work should not look like that, in my opinion. It’s surprising given that Besenzoni seats are well-regarded and expensive.

I fixed it by buying longer bolts and secured them with washers and nuts. This was much easier said than done because the tube is so narrow that my arm could not reach into it to secure the nut on the underside of the plate. Thanks to my son for helping me! Now the chair works perfectly and has quite nice action. Unfortunately, Cranchi and Besenzoni were of no help at all.

I also replaced the missing seat bolt myself thanks to one of my favorite stores: McMaster-Carr. It’s stainless steel and not painted (yet) so it doesn’t match the color, but McMaster-Carr’s drawings are so precise and complete I could measure an existing bolt and figure out the correct diameter and thread sizing and my first attempt at sizing was exactly right. That’s rare for me! I now have 4 extras in case I need to replace any of the other bolts. FYI it’s this part at McMaster-Carr: 93395A544.

Besenzoni seems to be entirely at fault for the manufacturing and assembly issues and their customer service was not helpful. However, Cranchi’s quality assurance people should have tested the seat to verify it works as it should! They should have also noticed a missing bolt and spacer in the other seat. Furthermore, I initially contacted Cranchi for help with all of this but they were not helpful at all either.

Solo dinner on Lake Union

Nobody wanted to go on the boat today but I know that summer is ending and I haven’t spent enough time on the boat, so I had (reheated leftovers) dinner by myself and watched the sunset on Lake Union.

I live in the prettiest city in the country!
Sunset over Aurora Bridge and Gasworks Park

I’m finally reading The Boys in the Boat and read a chapter of it during and after my dinner. It felt very appropriate to be in a boat at the very place the book is set. Speaking of, I noticed today that the Pocock Rowing Center is right there by the University Bridge that we go under on our way to Lake Union– George Pocock is a significant character in the book and was the most prominent boat builder for crew teams across the country. I love the history.

Cranchi E26 Rider delivery day

We finally got the boat today! After all the delays, I was skeptical that we’d really get the boat this week. I was assured that the boat was actually on the ship that was anchored in Puget Sound for almost two weeks waiting in line to get docked but I didn’t know for sure. It was unloaded on Sunday and the trucking company was able to pick it up today, I assume after going through customs and other red tape.

Hamid, our sales guy from Newport Boats, flew up from Los Angeles late last night and met the trucking company at the shipyard this morning. He sent me photos at each stage…

He hired a captain to take it from the shipyard to the Seattle Yacht Club where we met them at our slip.

Gay, Hamid & Me

Hamid poured us some Prosecco and we motored out of Portage Bay and cruised across Lake Washington to Carillon Point and back.

Gay, me & Captain Chris

Note that I intentionally wore clothes to match the boat: white shirt to match the interior, aqua blue jeans to match the hull, a blue/white watchband to match both and brown shoes to match the decking. Hamid even gave us an Italian flag.

After Chris and Hamid left, Gay and I went to the deck at the yacht club for an appetizer and a cocktail and to hold a table for dinner. Eva was at a birthday party so Gay went home to pick up Havana and Hudson while I read over the stack of manuals that came with the boat. We had a nice dinner at the yacht club, then Gay left again to pick up Eva from the party at Green Lake and then we met on the boat again to go cruising into Lake Union until sunset.

Seattle skyline from Lake Union
Havana, Eva & Hudson

Got an SYC slip!

After only a couple months on the wait list, I got a slip at the Seattle Yacht Club marina in Portage Bay. That was unexpected, I thought I’d have to wait at least 6 months and probably a year or more.

Insert boat here

After months of not being able to get moorage, I was relieved to find one a few weeks ago and now I have two! This one isn’t covered but the location is much better for us, so I’ll give the other one up.

Preparing for the boat’s arrival

I finally found moorage for the boat! It’s hard to find moorage in Seattle, especially now since boating has become even more popular thanks to Covid social-distancing. I’ve been contacting marinas since the Fall and every marina either has waiting lists that are at least 6 months, and even several years long, and other marinas don’t even bother having a waiting list because they’re so lengthy. To make the moorage situation in Seattle even more difficult, Seattle Parks decided to renovate two of the three marinas they run so those marinas are closed down until October.

I was worried that I’d have to get a trailer, park the boat somewhere and put it in and take it out of the water every time I wanted to use it. I got lucky and found a slip yesterday and even better, it’s covered, so I grabbed it immediately. Renting the slip requires insurance for the boat and I got that today too. All of this is a huge relief to me.

I talked to my Cranchi sales rep and he sent me this photo of the shrink-wrapped boat on a rack at the shipyard in Italy just before it went onto a ship to cross the Atlantic. Thanks to the Evergreen debacle in the Suez Canal, worldwide shipping has slowed down. It was tentatively scheduled to be here on May 15th and is now scheduled to arrive in Seattle on May 23rd. Realistically, it’ll probably be a few days later than that and then it’ll take a few days to get it from the Seattle shipyard to the dock where we receive it.