TELL TALES: ASSISTED BY A VESPA
4 May 2021
Looking at the world today and comparing with how things were in the 1970: s I cannot but wonder how we managed. Things like computers, internet, e-mails, fax etc. did not exist. What we had was normal mail and if you were in a hurry you used airmail and/or telegrams. What you can do today, in form of communication, took much more time those days.
For example, when first contacting C&C regarding the possibility of cooperating on the design, we first sent a letter and after 3 – 4 weeks we got a reply. It was decided that we would talk over the phone. In order to phone Canada from Finland, you had to go via an international phone central, book the call and wait for the connection to be set up. It took 40 – 45 minutes to get the connection. If you were lucky, the person you wanted to talk to was available at the other end.
The level of communication that existed those days made it very difficult to arrange many things. Especially internationally, and many of the things that needed to be done in order to produce and deliver a yacht took time. But on the other hand, this was the same for everybody, so it was generally accepted.
I remember year 1975. We had completed two Baltic 46 to be shipped and delivered to Italy. It was agreed that we, the yard, would do the completion, launching and rigging in Savona. It was decided that myself and one of my partners, Jan-Erik Nyfelt, would fly down and do the job. We flew down to Milan and had some equipment and material with us. Rented a small truck in Milan and drew down to Savona. The yachts were on land, in a commercial harbor, no marina close by, no AC electricity available (for us).
The masts had been shipped direct from the supplier in Germany and when we started to check the mast and rigging, we notice that there were a few things not as ordered. Today you would just phone the supplier and demand that he would have personal on the spot the next day to fix the problems. But if you tried to do something like that, those days, it would take too long and since the yard was responsible, to the clients, for the masts and a delay was not an option, we ended up fixing the masts ourselves.
We spent 4 weeks working, long days, in a commercial harbor with limited tools and limited assistance. As and example, one evening when we fixed one of the masts, we had no electricity, only hand tools, we drilled using hand drills, no light. It was dark in the evening and very difficult to do a good job with the limited light we had available. An old Italian man with Vespa/Scooter showed interest in what we were doing and noticed our problem lacking proper lighting. He offered to keep his vespa engine running and direct the light to the place we needed. Very much appreciated and very helpful.
I am probably one of the few, in the yachting business, that have delivered a yacht in a commercial harbor in the light from an old Italian Vespa.
After four weeks, 7 days a week, long days we finally got the job done. Boats were launched, rigged and ready for delivery.
I must admit that during those weeks I had some doubt’s, weather would we make it or not but I had the best possible companion, in “Janne” Nyfelt, we worked hard and made it. Two happy boatbuilder went back home.
Today, looking at the job we did those 4 weeks, I am aware that this kind of job would probably take 4 days in today’s world, with today’s communication. However, 1975, was a different world and I am proud of the job we did, although it took us 4 weeks.
There can be few yacht builders like PG Johansson, who can boast an unbroken career with the company he co-founded almost 50 years ago. In that time PG Johansson has witnessed every twist and turn of a colourful, exciting and technically pioneering industry accumulating a wealth of fascinating stories, some familiar, some still untold. In this blog PG will be recalling his experiences of the yachts he has built, the people he has met and some of the more unusual events on the journey to turning clients’ dreams into reality.
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