Examples of the work of

NHOON CARPENTER
WITOON  WANGPREECHA
วิทูร วังปรีชา


nhooncarpenter09@gmail.com

PHUKET, THAILAND


 

If you are planning on hiring Nhoon to do work on your boat, I suggest you review this page beforehand. Please note, this is Nhoon Carpenter who lives in King Kaew near Phuket Town. He is not the Noon (or Nun) who lives in Ban Ko En, the small village near Yacht Haven.

We hired Nhoon based on a glowing recommendation from a boat that had hired him 2 years previously. We signed a contract for work on the interior of the boat in March of 2013. The initial contract consisted of the following:

  1. All materials and labor are included in the price.
  2. The work will consist of

    Painting and varnishing the interior of the boat
    Varnishing all wood in the pilothouse and exterior of the boat
    Repairing damaged veneer
    Repairs to wood as needed
    Replacing floorboards as needed
    Modification to the table to make it higher

     

  3. Excluded from the work will be

    The headliner (except the small pieces around the hatches which need varnishing)
    Starboard ama veneer around side window
    Shower in port hull

     

  4. Epifanes varnish will be used.
  5. Jotun Paint or International Brightside will be used (to be agreed by both parties).
  6. The floor and part of the table will use 2-part polyurethane varnish.
  7. 3 coats of polyurethane will be used on  the floor.
  8. 3 or 4 coats of varnish will be used on the walls, 10 or more where the wood has been damaged, and 15 or more coats in high-wear areas like the steps.
  9. Work will start on Monday, 18 March 2013.
  10. No varnishing will take place while the outside of the boat is being sanded. Contractor understands there might be a delay of many weeks after the sanding is finished before you can varnish.
  11. Contractor and his workers will coordinate with the contractor painting the outside of the boat. Contractor will have no disputes which cause delay or other problems.
  12. Work will be finished by 30 June 2013 (unless there are delays caused by the work on the outside of the boat).

We later added a list of 35 items -- some big, some small -- in a separate contract.

We also had to hire Nhoon to repair the main hull of our trimaran as, after discovering the hull issues, we could get no other carpenters to quote on the project. We were told that this is because contractors will often not quote against each other if they worked together previously. But we are not sure of this since we got multiple quotes for other jobs.

Nhoon's crew consisted of 3 to 6 people depending on the day and the job. They tended to be fairly hard workers -- usually showing up between 8 and 9, taking a one-hour lunch/nap break, plus a couple of other breaks during the day, and leaving between 5 and 6. Some of the work was of exceptional quality. The problem? Some of the work was so poor that it would have looked better had we not done anything to that section of the boat. Below are photos and descriptions of many (not all) of the problems we encountered, as well as some of the good work.

Our biggest complaint is how difficult it was to get Nhoon to complete the list he had agreed to. The last 10 or 20% of items was like pulling teeth. And forget about the last 5%. Some things had to be done and redone so many times, we finally just gave up and lived with the sub-standard result, or finished it ourselves.

Also, when it came to the rebuilding of the hull, we would have had a terrible result had we not been there every step of the way as the workers were constantly trying to cut corners to hurry the job. More about that below.

Finally, Nhoon took some parts of the boat to his workshop/house for varnishing. Not everything came back. It was a battle to get what we could and we ended up having to rent a car and track him down. Finally, after our visit, his wife found some of the missing parts -- our headliner battens -- in a dusty loft. Unfortunately, Nhoon was so furious about losing face over this that he broke one of our battens in half. That was very upsetting to us.

Now to the actual work:

It did not matter how many times we asked the workers to please cover everything that would not be painted or varnished... there were always places they ignored.  Even places they had just varnished got dripped on.




 


Ignore the plywood delamination. Just paint over it!


This is the completed repair on a door frame. Never
mind about the big gap and paint blotches.


 
Peeling paint in poorly prepped places.
(Say that 5 times fast)

 


The wood used for the modification to this companionway had a hole right through it which was not filled.


This is how one of Nhoon's workers left the paint on some days.


A  completed job. What happened here? We don't know.


A used razor blade stuck to the paint.


Keep that varnished wood protected!



The settees weren't on the list to be painted. But after the amount of paint and varnish
dripped on them, they had to be refinished.

The floorboard project was infuriating. Though it was part of the contract, Nhoon repeatedly ignored damaged floorboards and didn't want to replace them.


Looks like it needs repair to me. This one was painted and
put into the boat as a finished project.

 
A new floorboard... but it doesn't fit.

 
The paint could be peeled right off of some of the
floorboards because they hadn't been prepped at all.
In fact, they hadn't even been cleaned before painting.


We hired Nhoon to rebuild this companionway to fit a new hatch.
When we tried to install the hatch, it would not fit. Research showed
that there wasn't a single truly square angle.


When a piece of wood was needed to make a hatch fit, it was just glued on
over the paint and masking tape.
A perfect example of the shoddy work by Nhoon and his workers.


We were pleased when Nhoon told us he had finished the repair at the base of the
mizzen. But we didn't understand why one of the pieces could just be pulled out
by hand...? It had never been epoxied in.

The repair of the main hull was a big job. Nhoon and his crew did a very good job on the framing and stringers. I was impressed with their skill.
When it came to laying the triple diagonal plywood planks, the cutting and fitting went well, but preparing them and epoxying them in place properly  was a constant struggle. I insisted that every piece of wood be coated in resin. They would do the faces but not the edges. And then only if we were watching. Then they would try to epoxy the planks in without sanding the cured (and glossy) resin. And then we had to make sure each plank was wiped down properly. Their skill at cutting and shaping was exemplary, but they didn't care about the steps that would make their work strong and long-lasting.


The hull with planks fitted.


Some planks would be left on the ground and then it would rain.
If we hadn't insisted on getting rid of them, they would have been used
on the hull.


Making sure enough thickened epoxy went on the planks
was also a constant struggle. We insisted on "no gaps", but
the workers had the attitude that a gap here or there didn't
really matter.


Constant vigilance was required to ensure that the
planks were properly sealed.


Nhoon wouldn't use stainless staples so they had to remove
every one of them.

   
For all the skill the workers showed in cutting and shaping wood,
installing it was not their forte. Here they completely missed the
stringer when screwing the planks in from the outside.



We spent hours going around the boat cleaning up little mistakes.
Here's a steel staple epoxied into a plank.

The final cleanup of this job was horrendous. We kept asking the workers to remove the blue tape and the plastic and then get the dust out of the boat. But no matter how nicely we asked, they would do a poor job and leave for the day. We would ask again the next day, and they'd go over the boat quickly but without much result. We spent days of our own time cleaning the boat.


These are the headliner pieces that went to Nhoon's shop.


Here are the gaps of the 6 long pieces that went missing.


Nhoon insisted he didn't have the missing battens. For months we argued with him. Finally he stopped returning our calls. He was not at his shop/home when we showed up. His wife said she would look for the pieces and found them that afternoon after we had left. Nhoon was furious at losing face. He returned the pieces with one broken and half of it missing. Then he told us he didn't do it. After many more phone calls, and intervention from some Thai friends, he made us a replacement piece. Of course it was not made of American maple like the original.


Nhoon lost some bronze brackets for the companionway stairs and we insisted he have new ones made, which he did.
However, he returned our newly-varnished wheel without the metal trim ring that was inlayed into the wood.
He said it wasn't his fault and would do nothing to make it right.

Nhoon's crew did do some decent work.


There were small jobs, like making a cut out in this bunk rail, that came out very nice.


Nhoon's crew replaced the veneer on the forward bulkhead of the main cabin. They did an excellent job matching the color to the rest of the boat.
However, after a few months it was clear the varnish job was of poor quality and we had to do it over.

My recommendation is to avoid having Nhoon do any work on your boat.

We thought we were smart enough to know how to get good quality work done in Phuket. However, even with several months of research and preparation and forethought, we were wrong. As an ex-pat in the marine industry who has lived in Thailand for 20 years said, "After a while, they just beat you down." And that is our experience. You can only ask to have something done correctly so many times. Finally you just give up and do it yourself.

As we have said in other places on this web site and on Noonsite.com, we love Thailand. But we detest the yacht service and repair industry in Phuket. Though there are some good craftsmen to be found, generally it is overpriced, riddled with dishonest contractors, and the reputation it once had for good quality is undeserved.

Bruce Balan
s/v Migration
September 2015

ONE FINAL NOTE:   If you have honest questions about Nhoon or our experience in Phuket, feel free to write. However, if you just want to tell me what an idiot I am or how I have it all wrong, please save your time (and mine) and use the energy saved to repair something on your boat. Thanks.