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Old 15-06-2015, 08:16   #1
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Staying motivated with all the projects

Howdy Folks,

My wife and I just got back from another boat weekend and I'm a bit frustrated with my own laziness and thought I'd share. We've owned the boat for a little less than a year and overall she's in excellent shape. No glaring immediate issues but like any 16 year old boat there are things to do. My problem seems to be that our time on the boat is so limited that I tend to get lazy and just want to enjoy myself when we're there....or gasp...go sailing. But I know there are things I need to take care of while we're there too and I try to balance the chores with something fun too.

For instance, Saturday was a bit of a rain out for us. So we spent the day inside taking care of a few minor interior projects. I fixed a few sticking doors with a small hand plane and some sand paper...will varnish once I know the problem is solved. IP builds a great boat but they fit everything so tightly that things like humidity make a big difference. Our boat lived 15 years on the Chesapeake and when we hit the Bahamas and then Kemah, a few of the doors got a bit tricky to close...not a tough fix.

So then on Sunday the weather was nice and we opted to take the boat out rather than stay at the dock and do the winch maintenance that's also staring us in the face. It was the first time we've been out just the two of us since the Bahamas and I'm glad we went though we did run into a slight issue with our in mast furling system. Evidently when we put the sail away last time it must have been a bit slack because it jammed on us pulling it out. First time ever in 1500sh nm of sailing her and I know we caused the issue. Fortunately it jammed going out and we where able to furl it back in with no problem. So we messed with it for a while but as the wind and rain where once again picking up. We decided to just furl it and head back to the dock to sort things out. Which I still think was the right decision for us, since we got back to the dock and where able to free up the sail with no problem. Once I worked through the process I'm sure I could have done it easily "out there" and part of me wishes I had so we could have enjoyed some time in the bay. I just keep remembering all the stories about a chain of poor decisions leading to a major problem and that's why we decided that the first time clearing a jammed sail it was probably better to just sort it out safely back at the dock. Next time we'll work to avoid it all together by avoiding a jam, but I'm confident I can clear it if it happens again while we're out and about. But man...I'm digressing big time.

So once we where tucked back into our slip, we went ahead and doubled up on our dock lines since Kemah is in the path of a tropical storm later this week and we'll be away from the boat. Once that was done and the main was sorted out, we SHOULD have tackled those winch rebuilds. But I was hot, sweaty and the marina pool and a couple cold beverages where calling, so we just opted to go relax for a bit. Next time we're at the boat we'll be rebuilding winches (first time for us) before we do anything fun but I'm just curious. How do you balance your time when living away from the boat and relegated to a couple weekends a month? We could afford to have someone do a lot of this for us, but that defeats the purpose of buying the boat when we did. Which was to learn everything inside and out before heading out for some extended cruising. We want to learn how to do everything and that definitely includes the maintenance but of equal importance is actually leaving the dock as often as possible and being comfortable sailing/motoring in a variety of conditions.

On a side note, I realized after this trip that this was the first time we've taken the boat out where I wasn't nervous about bringing her back in to the dock. I'm not saying I'm an expert by any means but have done it enough now to know that as long as we take it slow, I have a pretty good feel for how the boat will handle at the dock...so I know the plan is working.


Anyway, hope everyone enjoyed their weekends and hope some of you where a bit more productive than we where.

-EB
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Old 15-06-2015, 08:39   #2
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

You did the right thing. Enjoy your weekend with your wife. You will always have projects and will never get done. Just make a list as you find them and do them as you can. But enjoyment comes first, weather the contentment of a job well done or the or the satisfaction of a day well spent. Enjoy
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Old 15-06-2015, 08:42   #3
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

Hi EB, you sound like me. I know you're not really looking for the Right Answer, but I think your situation is quite common. I've just learned to love who I am, and accept the fact that:
  1. I bought the boat to use, not just to work on.
  2. Everything takes me three times longer than what others claim.
  3. If boat ownership stops being fun, there's no point to owning one, so enjoy her when you can.
Go sailing when you can. Fix and maintain what is necessary, but embrace the fact that the jobs never end, so you might as well sail and cruise as much as you can.

BTW, I have this belief that once we're living on our boat full-time that the "to-do" list will actually start to shrink. I know ... it's irrational. But I live in hope .
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Old 15-06-2015, 09:45   #4
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

You're already doing it the right way. If you do nothing but play the boat will fal apart around you. If you do nothing but work that is what you associate with the boat and your spare time and money. That is no fun. Depending on what needs to be done, we allocate a few hours per day to chores, or one day if the project is large. Anything that prevents us from safely floating or running takes all priority. If there is a suitable workaround already in place, that project takes a backseat for the time being.
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Old 15-06-2015, 10:22   #5
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

You are doing what so many of us do all the time. There is never a shortage of projects and maintenance. One of the things I do is mix up the big (or little) ugly projects that I have to force myself to do with the "fun" projects that I like to do. Many times the fun projects are those that are easy but have lots of psychic payback. Like something I can make look better that has annoyed me forever. Then I find I walk by and am happy I made the boat a little bit better.

If you have a boat because you like to work on boats, you are not alone because I know lots of "sailors" who do exactly that. The boat work is their hobby, more than sailing is. Others only want to sail and do zero boat work. They had best be able to hire the work done, or make peace with the idea that sailing is not "free" and they'll have to pay the piper one way or the other.

I work on our boat much like you do, but I truly enjoy making major improvements that I can be proud of many times over. It's the little constant cleaning, polishing, routine stuff that I get tired of since it never goes away. But I have to mix that in with the other or pretty soon I will hate the slum my boat has become.

I don't think you are looking for a real answer. It seems to me you already have it and you know you already have it. Enjoy your sails and take pride in the maintenance you do. BTW - for me, learning how to do something brand new, like winch rebuilding, keeps it interesting.
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Old 15-06-2015, 10:35   #6
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

What's that saying, don't mix business with pleasure. I separate boat work maintenance days from pleasure days. If I am working I have heaps of tools and bits etc. If for pleasure ivwill have the kayak and lots of food etc. Keep the two separate and you will enjoy both.

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Old 15-06-2015, 11:10   #7
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

I sail when I can sail, and fix when the boat can't sail or when the weather is bad. There's never any end of projects and maintenance, don't let it keep you from sailing.
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Old 15-06-2015, 11:23   #8
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

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Originally Posted by mstrebe View Post
I sail when I can sail, and fix when the boat can't sail or when the weather is bad. There's never any end of projects and maintenance, don't let it keep you from sailing.
This is what we do. On the days where there's no wind (or it's raining) we'll work on projects. If it's nice out, we're going sailing.
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Old 15-06-2015, 12:00   #9
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

If it's broke and NEEDS to be fixed or it will get worst if used, you fix it! Other that everything falls into "when I get around to it"
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Old 15-06-2015, 13:40   #10
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

We do the same. When the weather is bad, we do inside stuff. When the weather is nice we sail, or do outside stuff. Believe it or not, it works out to be a nice balance. One thing I will mention, though. Take those winches home, take them apart, and clean them there. If you check online with the manufacturer, there should be diagrams for all the parts. Be sure and wrap a plastic bag around the post, though.

Before we moved our IP to Florida, we sailed on Flathead Lake in Montana. Our sailing season was so short that we had to bring as much stuff home to putter with as we could. We even did some brightwork at home over winter. I do admit that Florida does give us a lot more time to work on things and the sailing is wonderful!
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Old 15-06-2015, 14:53   #11
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
Hi EB, you sound like me. I know you're not really looking for the Right Answer, but I think your situation is quite common. I've just learned to love who I am, and accept the fact that:
  1. I bought the boat to use, not just to work on.
  2. Everything takes me three times longer than what others claim.
  3. If boat ownership stops being fun, there's no point to owning one, so enjoy her when you can.
Go sailing when you can. Fix and maintain what is necessary, but embrace the fact that the jobs never end, so you might as well sail and cruise as much as you can.

BTW, I have this belief that once we're living on our boat full-time that the "to-do" list will actually start to shrink. I know ... it's irrational. But I live in hope .
Mike addressed the larger issue with his lovely post above.

Now for the nitty gritty. How did the winches let you know it was time to strip them down and lube them? It is one thing if you have noticed they are not working right, vs. scheduled maintenance. If you've postponed the job because of being unsure of yourself, that is again a different issue. I'm sure some of the guys here would be glad to talk you through it if that is the problem.

Generally speaking, you should do the winches before they need it. Have you ever done them? If not, they're overdue. Make them a priority, and then go sail the boat and have fun. Reward yourselves for the work done.

Does your wife like to do that kind of work? No reason she can't learn if she wants to, and you'd trust her work. [Was it her idea to go play or yours? Would she like more of your energy spent on her or on the boat?]

Just throwing out some ideas here for you to play with.

Ann
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Old 16-06-2015, 10:32   #12
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

We bought our current boat in Kemah and kept it there for a year and a half and drove down from Dallas to Kemah twice a month.

Had the exact same problem. A garage full of shinny new things to install on the boat, a 10 page list of projects when we bought this boat and many times Friday night to Sunday trips down to the boat. Not much got done. But we really enjoyed it once we were there.

Enjoy the boat and the time as a short vacation. We are counting the days (412) before we get the boat back to the ocean and start our sabatical and cruising again. And even debating on whether to move the boat now and worry about the big projects once we leave our jobs.
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Old 16-06-2015, 10:56   #13
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

Now that we've returned to the Midwest and are not full-time cruisers, we normally don't launch until late June. We use that extra time in the Spring to do the more labor intensive projects: fiberglass, mechanical, rigging, structural, etc., that improve the quality of the vessel. Once in the water, we devote our mornings to smaller projects: normally cosmetic and minor mechanical and then sail after lunch. We have found that this concept keeps "the list" from becoming overwhelming and stills allows us to sail on a regular basis. When we lived aboard full time for ten years, we followed the same daily regimen and also worked on the boat, at least a month, on the hard. We have had only 2 breakdowns in 17,000 plus miles--both of which were unpredictable. Of course, when passage-making, this regimen would be interrupted until we reached our destination but we still managed to so some small repairs/improvements while under sail. A boat is never finished. Maintenance is an integral part of ownership. If working on the boat is no longer enjoyable, your options are simple: pay someone to do the work or sell the boat. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 16-06-2015, 11:09   #14
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

ER, after 46 years of boat ownership I've learned to do, maintain, repair many thing myself. But I've also learned there are things I choose not to do myself. Somethings require expertise and/or tools I don't have. When I have a marine pro work on the boat I always watch every step of the way over his shoulder and learn as much as I can (I'm paying for it so I might as well get educated at the same time). Others are too toxic for my liking. Something's are just too uncomfortable to reach at my age. You have to find the right balance for you between working and enjoying, learning boat repair skills and paying for technical expertise. Most of all you have to reserve enough of your boat time for the pleasure of sailing.


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Old 16-06-2015, 11:10   #15
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Re: Staying motivated with all the projects

I understand exactly what you're saying, even though you said it in a long winded way, because I'm going through the same process right now.

Boat projects compete with sailing time. Yet sailing time is very important - otherwise what did you buy a boat for? If you just want to work on boats, you can work in a boatyard and get paid for doing it!

Yet boat projects are important too. They improve the boat, make it more comfortable, and teach you all the quirks, strengths, and shortcomings of your boat, which may come in handy later. To motivate myself I try to look at projects as a fun challenge - they're all learning experiences, and I love learning.
  • The #1 thing I find helps for having more time (for both projects + sailing): having your boat close to where you live or work.
    If you can move to a closer marina, or even move your home closer to the marina, or sleep one or two nights a week on the boat, it's worth it - even if it means making some changes. Ex, my boat is a 10 minute bike ride from my work, and a 30 minute bike ride from home. This means I can do projects 1-2 days / week and sail 1-2 days / week, and occasionally work 7 nights in a week.

  • Another rule we have is no working through the project list on a sail or cruise. Cruising time is sacred, and it should be relaxing and fun. Of course, if we have to fix a critical issue we will, and may do some small quick fixes or cleaning, but if we're using the weekend for an overnighter to a local anchorage we don't work through the project list during that time.

Scheduling project days and planning your project priorities help, especially if your partner is helping - you want to be on the same page about when you're working and when you're relaxing and drinking beers.

Don't drink on project days, or at least not till the day is done. For me at least it decreases energy level (and your energy level dropping will be the main thing cutting your project time short! At least until project stamina / experience goes up) and increases chance of mistakes.
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