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Old 04-03-2010, 13:44   #1
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pirate Challenge: Will this Really Ruin My Life?

OK...Not having the benefit from years of hands on data collected at my own expense, peril, lament and suffering I finally have to start a thread where every one who has had their life totally ruined or a cruise just completely and totally devastated because of some complex goodies either the Admiral or the Captain could not leave the dock without...Please this is your chance to warn us all of the inherent dangers we face.

Countless threads here and elsewhere bemoan the dangers of complexity and gadgets on a modern day cruising boat....So here is the gathering place is it fact or fiction...real world calamities or romantic delusions of a dreamy place in your mind.

Personally I just don't see it...Lets face it Things break, so do hulls, keels, masts and please enlighten us all with your tales of horror and discouragement...Bring forth the dangers awaiting those of us which might have A/C a Flat screen TV a Microwave, Generator, roller furler, electric winches,water maker or what ever your pet peeve is...Because I want to go on notice here and now that whatever you have decided is wicked and evil on board that you don't want any more that I may .. I will gladly relive you of for a small fee...Making you life so much the better.

This idea of simple cruising being the panacea of the a fallacy ...being poor, barely getting by or going simplistic has no bearing on happiness, land or sea..any more then Hollywood's self absorbed crazed life style...

No I can tell you it is a frustrating place to be for most people..myself included a long term life style anyway.

I Remember the suicide of the boat bum just a while back...why? he was depressed that he could not fix his what was it ..A Fridge..a engine...his rigging a hull? what ever it was it was LACK of being able to fix it as the story goes keeping him evidently stranded where he was and unable to shake off his disappointment and despair and continue on and enjoy life...It wasent the thing it was his thinking.

Sitting in one spot watching the sun go up and down no mater how many boat bucks are in my wallet or not, does not do it for me...I will be board stiff within a week... I need to tinker..I need to pull strings..I need to turn screws and get my hands dirty...lets face it I need SOMTHING TO FIX....there I have said it.

Im not content to sit idle and have perfect working harmony all around me 24/7..I need come chaos every once in a while to keep me sane, to tell me there is a purpose in my life , to be of value to someone by being their hero and rescuer....mighty fixer of this or that...Save the Queen!....................or at least provid her a working something to have her hot oatmeal in the morning.

To paint and hide your art is a wasted sing yet allow no one to hear is a wasted gift.. To set sail on a boat which demands no work is a wasted Voyage.

No... it matters not the complexity of your ship or the gadgets and gizmo's you take aboard...what matters is how you let them affect your life.

I await your tales...

"Go simple, go large!".

Relationships are everything to me...everything else in life is just a tool to enhance them.
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Old 04-03-2010, 13:53   #2
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I have no tales of complex systems breaking, and I want more of themon myboat.

Most people who talk of the complex "stuff" breaking I refer to as retro-ginches. Most wouldn't want to live in a wooden house with only a fireplace for heat and cooking, candles for light, a trip in the dark to the outhouse, a trip to the stream with a bucket to fetch water etc.

So heres my vote for complex systems for making life better. I would prefer to sit in a nice place fixing one of the systems 1% of the time instead of sufferring the other 99%.

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Old 04-03-2010, 14:50   #3
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I'm kinda feeling the same way with Oh Joy. Everybody says don't get a bunch of complicated systems 'cause they break. Hell, everything breaks sooner or later. I may as well get some enjoyment from these extra items while I wait for that terminal issue to rear it's head...
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Old 04-03-2010, 14:56   #4
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I have found a dividing line based mostly on my level of intimate knowledge regarding a system. The ones that bite me are the ones that I have just been taking on faith because they came with the boat, and that I have not yet reverse-engineered to figure out what's going on. Mystery cabling, random inline fuses in illogical places, bad crimps... these are the things that give me fits. The systems I have installed or rebuilt myself, however, are in my consciousness at a whole different level; if something signals a problem, I'm on it, and it's not intimidating.

In my case, the most mysterious thing is still the engine. Must take a class Real Soon Now and stop having that "out of sight, out of mind" attitude about it, for here there be dragons.

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Old 04-03-2010, 15:13   #5
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I think the simplicity thing comes from being in distant ports, or better yet someplace with no ports at all, and there ain't no West Marine from which to get your parts and tools.

If you're coastal cruising local waters, that's a different matter.

I have friends whose diesel died in the South Pacific. Rather than endure the time and cost to fix it in a remote location (think flying in parts which might or might not be the right ones), they just sailed on, a la Pardeys, sans use of the diesel. There's something to be said for having a boat set up to go sans diesel or electricity--if you are cruising remote locations.

Having started my cruising in Alaska, I can instantly relate. Me thinks that if all you have ever sailed are populated coastlines, the concept of self sufficiency never really sinks in.
John, sailing a custom 36' double-headed steel sloop--a 2001 derivation of a 1976 Ted Brewer design.
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Old 04-03-2010, 15:20   #6
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One simple example. I still carry onboard my multi-fuel climbing stove so if the propane stove goes out, I can cook on the backup stove burning diesel.

Oil lamps backing up electric lamps is another example.

My boat is complex, but I'm always thinking about how to keep her moving in the event I have no electricity or other major systems go bonkers. It's an engineering fact of life that simple systems can be made more dependable. When you're truly on your own that unfortunately can become very important.

I don't view it as an either/or decision. I have the complex systems for comfort. I need the simple systems for their dependability.

As it has been said, you're only one lightning bolt away from the age of sail, and it can be a long ways home.
John, sailing a custom 36' double-headed steel sloop--a 2001 derivation of a 1976 Ted Brewer design.
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Old 04-03-2010, 16:00   #7
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Please this is your chance to warn us all of the inherent dangers we face.
Surprisingly, I doubt the complex stuff will get you. I spent more years mountaineering than sailing but in both the stuff that really does you in is the stuff you already knew and took for granted. The light bulb goes off just after it is too late - every time it happens.

There are a million ways to get stuffed but you can't prepare for the things you don't know but you sure as anything need to mind the things you do know. Some of those include personal limits. Your mother was right and you should have known better. These are the keys to avoid real disaster.

I also find for a really bad time you need three things to fail. This usually requires at least two failures in judgment. You get a chance to save yourself at least once if not twice. Failure to do the things you actually know are the easiest things to miss.

Consider you could be hit by a large bolt of lightning and become a stain on the deck. Nothing you can do about that - really. You can however double check the navigation computation and not sail off the end of the world on purpose.

Some folks go for check lists and they can be good as a way to help captain and crew become mindful. Airplane pilots are in love with this approach. It is not all your own responsibility either. Helping others to do the same is insurance well purchased. Thinking about safety and practicing safe operations at times when perhaps being safe could be relaxed is a bad habit. Doing things in a proper way builds the memory of how they should be done. Going forward on the deck I always use the hand holds so in the dark in a rough situations I'll just know where they are with great certainty and without looking. Reliance on the automatic response will weaken over time if left to memories of long ago. Confidence fights doubt. Doubt is an enemy to avoid. It makes you do the worst possible thing at a time when doing the right thing would have avoided the bad result.

No one goes out on the water and comes back without learning something if they are any good at it. Expect to learn new things always and be watchful of the chance when it comes along. You can be prepared to notice things if you are not dwelling on things you should have already done.

From all this you know your own limits and those of the crew. You don't go places when you know you are not prepared because we all know the boat will easily out last us. We all can be better than we are.

You need a way of looking at things because you can't possibly know everything or even enough. You need to put two and two together and get six if the situation requires it. I find this way works.
Paul Blais
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Old 04-03-2010, 16:04   #8
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Great thread and really great replies. I personally like the comforts of life and so far have been able to fix almost anything in front of me. So, I'm looking forward to the hours of tinkering or all out repairing. The hope is that it doesn't happen as an emergency.
Not all who wander are lost
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Old 04-03-2010, 17:58   #9
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Originally Posted by Stillraining View Post
Sitting in one spot watching the sun go up and down no mater how many boat bucks are in my wallet or not, does not do it for me...I will be board stiff within a week... I need to tinker..I need to pull strings..I need to turn screws and get my hands dirty...lets face it I need SOMTHING TO FIX....there I have said it.

I got stuff you can fix - I won't even charge you!
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Old 04-03-2010, 18:05   #10
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I think that the only people that get marooned by some complex peice of high-tech gear are the ones who do not have any sort of low-tech backup.

The backup for your engine is your sailing rig, the backup for your chartplotter is paper charts, you get the idea. Heck the backup to your toilet is a bucket.

A lot of it depends on the quality of life you are willing to reduce yourself to for however long it takes to set things to rights.
Some people are like a slinky...

Not really good for anything, but fun to push down the stairs.
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Old 04-03-2010, 18:30   #11
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G'Day Stii,

A reasonable line of questioning!

I can't make statistically meaningful statements, but we've been cruising full time for 24 years now, and so far have never been really stuffed by something failing... but it has been close a couple of times. And really, what failed were not the razzle-dazzle things (some of those have failed, but we were not dependant on them). The two big failures were: a dismasting at sea (missing split pin at fault) and a broken forestay near Luganville in Vanuatu. We had sufficient fuel to reach land when dismasted, and so didn't attempt a jury rig, and we were able to reach a handy mooring in Vanuatu within minutes of the forestay breaking. From there we were able to remove the offending bits, order new wire from Sydney and reassemble the furler, etc on the lawn of a nearby resort. Pretty lucky, eh? But look, those are the only times in nearly 150k miles that we've been that close to disaster...

So, my general thoughts are to have all the bells and whistles that your lifestyle demands, but be prepared to do without them should they fail. A specific and simple example: most boats nowadays have a pressure water system. If the pump fails (and they are not known for great reliability), you should have an alternative means of extracting water from your tanks. A spare electric pump is not a bad idea either, but installing one at sea in rough weather might be tricky, so at least one manual pump is a good idea.

Finally, practicing the skills required for engineless operation is a really good plan -- sailing on and off the anchor, short tacking into constricted anchorages and so on. Engines can and do stop without warning, so preparedness is worthwhile.

Again, it is an interesting subject to kick about... thanks for bringing it up.


Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Church Point, NSW, Oz
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Old 04-03-2010, 19:04   #12
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I have to tell you StillRaining how my toilet blew up with 8 kids on board half way to Friday Harbor. Those electric-shock heads were not made for tourists. Got there and got help. He said "I charge 70 an hour for everything but poop- that's double" and then he said with a grin "and the wives gladly pay it!"
Now I have a dumbed-down Lavac head. And I couldn't be happier.
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Old 04-03-2010, 22:47   #13
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pirate Challenge: Will this Really Ruin My Life?

I'm a lot like you!
This is something that non-boaters do not understand. What I don't understand are the landlubbers that race home to watch TV, mow the lawn, walk in the park, go shopping, gett'n drunk or just outright waste time.

I have a need to be productive, to see progress in whatever I do. The time I like to waste is setting sail and manipulating the wind and water to get me to the next port alive. I guess it's a survival syndrome. Each time I can say 'I made it' now lets do it again but differently.

I consider working on boats a work of art. One designs something and is happy or tears it out and does it a different way until oneself is happy. And if someone else likes it too, all the mo' better.

My second boat probably cost me my first marriage. But if the lady of the house is not happy, nobody's happy. So, it probably wasn't just the boat.

The thing about cruising is one thinks they are wasting time but realistically one is moving forward making headway, sometimes to a new port.

The thing that bothers me are the hidden dangers (e.g. submerged rocks, sudden weather changes) but that's the price to pay for adventure and one has to deal with it and move on!
Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend, but the Kisses of the Enemy are Deceitful!
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Old 05-03-2010, 04:59   #14
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Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
My second boat probably cost me my first marriage. But if the lady of the house is not happy, nobody's happy. So, it probably wasn't just the boat.
Now on my third and final marriage, I can only comment here that in my experience it's not the boat, the airplane, the motorcycle, etc.

Those are not causes, they are only symptoms of something deeper. Which is a basic lifestyle incompatibility that only manifests itself sometimes after the initial euphoria.

Some people grow, some people do not, but all people change over time. If you and your partner are changing and growing in parallel, then you can stay happy with each other for a long time.

If your growth patterns intersect at sharp angles, you will only be in the same spot for a short while.

Kinda like two boats sailing in the same area.
Expat life in the Devil's Triangle:
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:53   #15
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Thumbs up Very Interesting Thread

Interesting thread SR,
From my experience it's not the gadgets that do you in, its the people. In over 50 years of sailing only three really bad experiences stand out in my mind and they all involve bringing the wrong people aboard for a cruise or even just a day sail.
Yeah, I agree that losing a mast will ruin anyone's day, but I've never had that happen. What we had was a couple who fought for an entire weekend and tried to get us to take sides -- was supposed to be a week-long cruise but two-days was all we could stand. Heard they later complained about how rude we were. The second experience involved neighbors who couldn't control their two boys. The boys, 7 and 10 were good friends of our boys and we liked their parents but once on the boat they just ran wild. Cut the daysail short cause they could have really hurt or killed themselves. Strange things was that on land these boys were very well behaved. Finally there was our daughter's fiance's mother. (Much to our relief the engagement was broken off and our dauigher eventually married someone else). But anyway the almost-mother-in-law was about the most selfish and self-centered woman I've every met. She expected that every activity would revolve around her, that she would be waited on hand and foot(whatever that means) and she never stopped complaining about everything.
As for gadgets, since we don't rely on them, if they stop working we just continue on as we were and either fix them or not depending on cost on how much convenience they provide. Don't want to hijack the thread, but I find it interesting that even the mention of a GPS can seem to ruin some people's entire day. I agree that boaters who rely on GPS for all navigational purposes, especially those who tie them into their auto pilots, turn the system ion and then go below to mix drinks, are going to run into trouble (and I hope it's not me). But used as a tool to get you to a place where you can navigate visually, it's incredibly convenient and more accurate than any other system I've ever used.


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