Word With... Capt. Gloria Borrego
Growing up in California, Capt. Gloria Borrego knew early on that
boating was the lifestyle for her. After studying mechanical and electrical
engineering, she became a marine electronics guru sought after by top
builders of both power- and sailboats. Among her accomplishments, she
recently oversaw the construction of the first luxury boat ever built
in Vietnam. PMY talked to Borrego about the challenges of working
in a communist country.
Q: First, why
did you decide to become an engineering and electronics expert?
A: I fell in love with engines early. When I was a kid, I wanted
to be an auto mechanic. Boating became more important to me, and after
studying as much as I could, I got a break and was offered a job as engineer
on a 110-footer in Fort Lauderdale. The captain was this great old guy
who had actually served as the chief engineer on the Queen Mary.
I learned a lot in school, but he taught me the real stuff.
Q: Why were you
chosen to oversee the construction of an 80-foot, steel-hulled cruiser
I gained a reputation for being able to design all sorts of onboard systems
under all sorts of conditions. I’m kind of known as a little MacGyver.
One day I was approached about a project in Ho Chi Minh City. I couldn’t
turn it down; it was just too interesting.
Q: What were
your impressions of the country?
for one thing, I’m short and everyone was my height. I loved that.
The workers were extremely nice. No one in Vietnam had ever done this
before. They were very excited.
Q: Did everything
go according to schedule?
even close. First of all, there’s no satellite communications there.
It was very difficult to communicate with the owners, the naval architect,
and the suppliers. And then you’re not allowed to import foreign
electronics, which was a nightmare. They open all packages at the post
office to make sure the items are legal. We were constantly paying extra
fees to get things through customs.
Q: Sounds like
a lot of hurdles.
A: Oh yeah.
Another big hassle was trying to buy tools and spare parts. To get a simple
transistor, I had to search the bazaars just to find some guy in the back
of a tent who had the right part. It was quite an experience, though,
and in the end the boat came together just fine.
Q: What are you
up to now?
living in Key West and just started my own business called GloTechnologies.
My service involves technical documentation of all systems on a boat.
I specialize in tracing it all out. Then I create manuals with digital
imaging and put it on a CD-ROM. It eases the learning curve when new crew
and owners take over a boat. Basically, I’m doing what I love to
These days recalls
are not only for aspirin, SUVs, and California governors. Unfortunately,
sometimes they’re also for boats.
Before you buy your
dream cruiser on eBay, check out a new Web site funded by the feds to
help warn boaters. The site is www.recalls.gov,
and the information is as good as gold. You can click on “Recall
Database” and get a complete list of recreational boats that have
been deemed unfit for use over the years for a variety of reasons.
You can also read about
boating safety concerns related to hundreds of marine products as reported
by the Coast Guard, or access the Manufacturers Identification Code (MIC)
Database if you would like to find information on any piece of equipment
sold in the United States or Canada.
Of course, if, like
voters in the Golden State, you don’t like what’s out there,
you can help ensure that it gets removed. The site lets you report any
defect you’ve discovered with any boat or nautical gear and register
it with the Coast Guard.
> What a Re-Reef, and more > Page 1,