On August 10, the final day of the 45th White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Maryland, Pascual Jimenez, an angler aboard John Roberts’ Weldor’s Ark, weighed in an 83-pound white marlin to take home a world-record payout of more than $2.5 million. It was a win not just for Jimenez and Roberts, but also for Cat® dealer Gregory Poole. The marine service team there turned around a complete engine replacement on the winning boat just one week prior to the start of the five-day tournament.
Routine Service Uncovers Big Issue
In late July, Roberts scheduled his 55-foot Jarrett Bay for a routine oil and filter change in Morehead City, North Carolina. After finishing the job, a technician from Gregory Poole started up the boat’s two Cat C12.9 engines and heard an unusual sound. Digging into the problem, he discovered a valve crack in one of the cylinder heads — an issue that eventually would lead to catastrophic failure.
“Worst case, the valve would break off from the cylinder head and go down into the cylinder,” says Chris Parker, Marine Service Operations Manager for Gregory Poole. “The boat was still running at this point, but that engine would have failed eventually. There’s no way the customer could have participated in the tournament without both engines.”
Knowing time was short, Gregory Poole reached out to the Caterpillar warranty team immediately, and the decision was made quickly to replace the engine. That’s when the hard work began.
Racing the Clock
While no engine replacement is “typical,” Parker says the timeframe required to perform the service can range from two weeks up to two months. Completing one in just seven days was unprecedented.
“We got the call to replace the engine on the afternoon of Friday, July 27,” Parker says. “We sent two technicians to the boat full time, with a third helping as needed, and they worked all through the weekend and overtime all week. They got the engine in, and we sea-trialed the boat on Friday, August 3. The customer ran it up to Maryland on August 4 and the tournament started two days later.”
A Win for All
The rest, as they say, is history — with Jimenez and Roberts beating out 381 other boats for the top prize in what’s known as the “world’s largest and richest billfish tournament.”
Parker believes the win sends a strong message about the power of Cat dealer marine service and the strength of the Caterpillar warranty.
“If it had just been a mom-and-pop type of operation completing the oil change, they might not have caught the funny noise. We did,” he says. “Between the warranty and Caterpillar goodwill, the cost of the new engine, our overtime, all of that was covered at no expense to the customer.”
The performance of Weldor’s Ark in the tournament also underlines the importance of Roberts’ decision to repower the vessel with Cat C12.9 engines in 2016.
“When the customer first heard about the problem, he apparently told our technicians, ‘This is why we went with Cat engines,’” Parker says. “He was confident he’d be taken care of in time.”
Clearly, his confidence was well-placed — and paid off in a big way.