Shocking Work

Posted on Saturday 20 May 2006

I’ve been going over the work done by Peter Kennedy Yatch Services on the Pretty Gee, and it isn’t very pretty. Even though Peter Kennedy came very highly recommended by several sailors I had e-mailed and spoken with, and by Performance Cruising, the manufacturers of the Telstar, I would not recommend him. While I tried to give Peter Kennedy the benefit of the doubt—the quality of his work clearly speaks for itself and says volumes about him and his company.

Overall, his work on the different projects I had him do on the Pretty Gee was varied and mostly quite poor. The quality of most of the work and most of the materials furnished by Peter Kennedy Yatch Services is quite sub-standard—in many cases very poorly executed. While some of the work was acceptable—at least from a functional standpoint—and some of his ideas were quite good—even brilliant—the actual implementation and execution left much to be desired.

For instance, while the new GPS chartplotter and handheld VHF charging cradle installation works fairly well—there are issues with both pieces of equipment. The location of the handheld VHF cradle is not optimal, and it is difficult to release or lock the handheld VHF into the cradle. Peter also failed to use the O-ring supplied with the VHF cradle power cord.

The GPS chartplotter is on a swing arm which allows me to use the chartplotter at both the nav station and the cockpit, and the GPS interfaces to both the handheld VHF and main VHF units quite nicely—providing both DSC-capable units with position data—there are serious issues with the quality of this installation.

The first thing I noticed is moving the swing arm causes the shelf to flex the underlying fiberglass. Peter should have reinforced the shelf when he mounted the swing arm—to prevent it from flexing when the GPS unit is moved—as the shelf was not designed to accommodate the twisting load of the swing arm. I am installing a bracing block below the shelf, to prevent the fiberglass from being fatigued by the swing arm.

The second problem I noticed is the GPS unit was mounted with only two of the four screws. This is both unprofessional and cheap. On further investigation I found the mounting plate screws had nuts used as spacers between the screwhead and the GPS mounting bracket. Apparently, this was done to compensate for mistakes made on the mounting plate. The screw holes on the mounting plate were not properly laid out.

Detail of the flawed GPS mounting plate design.As you can see from the photo on the left, the screw holes were drilled in the wrong positions. The circle in the photo represents the size of the Delrin nylon bushing—which allows the mount to rotate. Yet, Peter placed one of the screw holes within the area taken by the bushing—requiring the need for the nuts as spacers. However, all of this was completely unnecessary, as the screw holes on the GPS bracket are far enough apart to straddle the Delrin nylon bushings, if the holes had been laid out properly. I am in the process of properly laying out the screw holes and re-drilling and tapping them. In this photo, you can also see the poor quality of the drilling and tapping done to the GPS mounting plate—this appears to be the level of quality you can expect in general from Peter Kennedy’s work.

The third major issue I found with the GPS swing arm was the inability for it to stay at a given tension. The mere act of moving the GPS would cause the swing arm to loosen or tighten, depending on which direction you moved the chartplotter. I have since remedied this by adding a set screw to the knob that tensions the swing arm. The set screw prevents the movement of the swing arm from altering the amount of tension set.

The GPS and handheld VHF cradle are working out—in spite of the poor quality of Peter’s installation. I have to emphasize that the quality of his work is very poor—even if the results are acceptable.

Another good example of the poor quality of Peter Kennedy’s work is the new LED-based masthead light, which was installed by Peter Kennedy Yatch Services. It did not even survive the trip up to Boston. These three photos show what I found upon arriving at the marina, after the 475-mile drive from Annapolis.

LED-tricolor mount fails on the way to Fairhaven.In the first photo, you can clearly see that the only thing holding the masthead light on is the electrical wiring. This happened some time after the rest area in New Jersey, as in that photo, the masthead light is still in its proper position. I have to wonder how much work hardening and fatigue damage to the wire has occurred during the trip.

Detail of screws used by PKYS for the masthead light mounting bracket.The second shows the three screws that were supposed to hold the light bracket to the masthead. The screws were bent, and the threads were partially or completely stripped. The screws were also covered in silicone sealant—from the amount of sealant—it appears that the sealant was mostly responsible for holding the light bracket to the masthead.

Would you consider this a $45 mounting bracket?The third photo shows the complete lack of workmanship and parts that I found with much of the work done by PKYS. The bracket is clearly not worth the $45 charge on the invoice. It consists of a narrow bar of aluminum, which was not even wide enough to support the LED-masthead light properly, as the masthead light is clearly being held on by the two washers and silicone sealant—the bar being too narrow to have the screws pass through it. As you can also see in these photos, the corners on the aluminum bar have not even been rounded or chamfered or finished in any way and are quite sharp—yet Peter Kennedy Yatch Services wanted to charge me for a finished mounting bracket.

Needless to say, I am having a local machinist make a proper masthead light bracket—that supports the masthead light completely. I will be re-installing the new bracket later this summer.

The solar panel mounts were the another major disappointment. I had spoken to Peter regarding the solar panel mounts, and the project still caused an almost four-week delay in the delivery of my boat. Granted, I had made been told to expect the first two weeks of the four as very likely, since Peter was traveling for a portion of the time, and he told me he wanted to personally oversee the panel mounts. While I was down in Annapolis—I rarely saw Peter over at Performance Cruising. Whether this is his idea of personally overseeing the work, I can’t say—but it certainly isn’t what I expected—and I’d hate to think what the work would have been like if he hadn’t personally supervised the job.

The solar panels mount to two rails that run between the ama and the cockpit rails. While the concept is excellent—the execution left a lot to be desired. On the rail mounts for the solar panel rails, the screws are stripped and mis-matched. I had expected new hardware, rather than what appears to be recycled hardware and screws. The aft-most rail on each side goes into a standard deckmount stanchion base. The solar panel mounting rail is held in by two easily-lost, tiny allen set screws, rather than the fast pins Peter and I had discussed. I will be modifying these stanchion bases and rails to use a 1/4″ fast pin instead of set screws later this summer.

The most disturbing part of the solar panel mounting system is that the port rails do not allow the panel to sit flat. When the panel is mounted, it is under noticeable torsion, and is visibly warped—in the long run, I believe this would damage the rigid panel. Peter said that this could be fixed by placing a spacer in the aft mount stanchion base. This is the result—even though I requested several times that this be fixed before the job was finished.

I am also going to have to re-work the actual panel mounts—the pieces that hold the panels to the rails. The way they are currently done allows the panel mounts to shift and twist. I think something a bit more rigid will prevent fatigue problems in the future. The current mounts also make the panels quite difficult to stow neatly. I haven’t posted photos of the solar panel installation, as they require the boat to be setup with the amas open. I will try to post some photos when I get the chance.

Even the simplest of projects seem to be beyond proper execution by his company. The installation of the Raymarine Smart Controller will also have to be re-done. This would appear to be a fairly simple installation—run two SeaTalk cables from the existing Raymarine installation; mount the base transmitter; and mount the charging cradle for the remote.

The Smart Controller Base Transmitter unit was designed to be mounted vertically, and it clearly states such in the installation instructions. However, Peter Kennedy Yatch Services installed the unit horizontally, and the unit seems to have trouble communicating with the base. It often takes turning off the remote unit and re-powering it to get it to recognize the base transmitter. He also cracked the plastic housing for the rest of the Raymarine instruments. Peter also initially installed the cradle with a SeaTalk cable too short to allow the remote to be fully seated in the cradle when it was connected. This was only remedied after I requested it be fixed several times. Yet, somehow, Peter Kennedy is allegedly an authorized Raymarine Dealer and Installer—hard to believe.

There were a few other things about the work that struck a sour note. First, the battery box installation requires that I remove the inspection hatch bezel (yes, the entire hatch and mounting bezel) for the aft buoyancy compartment to pull the box forward to inspect the batteries. Nothing was ever mentioned to me regarding this, prior to the installation of the battery box. It would have been nice to know about before hand, as I could have changed the location of the battery box or approved this arrangement.

Another example of poor attention to detail was how the cable ties that were used in the installation were left with a cut sharp end sticking out into the areas where you would normally reach. My friend Dave was badly scratched by them and took the time and effort to twist the sharp, trimmed cable tie ends to where they did not present a hazard.

The last problem I have had with Peter Kennedy’s work is the lack of documentation for the equipment he installed. I would have expected a wiring diagram or schematic of how the electrical system was setup, as well as manuals for the equipment he sold me—especially given the high markup he adds to the equipment. To date I have received neither. His work was poorly executed, and overall, the general fit and finish and attention to detail is quite low. While Peter seems to pay a lot of attention to the customer, but rarely follows through on any of his verbal promises. Peter Kennedy Yatch Services also seems incapable of meeting even the lax deadlines I had given them—or doing any work on anything resembling a timely basis.


7 Comments for 'Shocking Work'

  1.  
    July 5, 2006 | 12:38 am
     

    [...] This led me to investigate the work that had been done by Peter Kennedy and his company, Peter Kennedy Yatch Services, far more closely. Now, I’ve also written about the previous problems that I’ve discovered with his work thus far, but the low battery voltage—in spite of having an AC-based charger installed by Kennedy’s company—was very troubling. [...]

  2.  
    May 12, 2008 | 7:54 pm
     

    [...] to the curb. Too many customer complaints. Peter Kennedy Yacht Services: See the posts located here and here. __________________ Sailingdog Telstar 28 New England You know what the first rule of [...]

  3.  
    June 30, 2008 | 12:17 pm
     

    [...] The AC and DC panels were basically completely re-wired as part of this project. While re-wiring the AC panels to accommodate the new inverter/charger, I realized that the outlet that Peter Kennedy Yacht Services installed was upstream of the GFCI outlet—which meant the outlet was not GFCI protected. In my opinion, this is stupid and negligent of them, but not surprising, considering the quality of his company’s work. [...]

  4.  
    July 14, 2008 | 7:11 am
     

    [...] come back to bite them. So Quantum Sails Newport joins Kelley Marine Services, of Wareham, MA, and Peter Kennedy Yacht Services, of Annapolis, MD,  on the short list of blackballed vendors so [...]

  5.  
    tvmatheson
    July 30, 2008 | 10:20 pm
     

    Hi Dan-
    I have read much of your work, mainly because I’m interested in the Telstar and you have the most comprehensive coverage by far…videos and all – THANKS! I have learned much and am honored to have the opportunity to gain from your experience and efforts to document.

    Also the saga of your love, marriage and loss is beautiful. Please let me say that while you lost your heart, you will grow a new one and live a new life – every day is new. You owe it to yourself and to Gee…I could be wrong, but it seems to me you have too much to give and too much adventure in your heart to go it alone.

    My wife Vickie and I almost bought a Prout ’37 catamaran after we quit an adventure in a sailing kayak…and now we’re on land, wandering almost a month now in an Aliner travel trailer rig. Right now we’re at a NY State Park in the Thousand Islands. Very beautiful and the water is fresh and clean! Deep forest along the shore…but it is all spoken for – hardly any place for a wanderer to stop – we experienced the same while traveling in the kayak…nowhere to stop! Our blog is http://turtletooblog.blogspot.com/

    In a year or two we may get a Telstar…we looked at Geminis, but portability and all your reasons are our reasons – there should be enough room…but let me tell you – the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River are something!

    -Tom

  6.  
    August 4, 2008 | 9:17 am
     

    [...] for long-term cruising or liveaboard use. If you go with a new Gemini, I would highly recommend you NOT USE Peter Kennedy or his company. [...]

  7.  
    February 9, 2011 | 8:21 pm
     

    [...] Kennedy Yacht Services are professionals, but they do some of the shoddiest work I've ever seen…. READ THIS __________________ Sailingdog Telstar 28 New England You know what the first rule of sailing [...]

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