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Old 09-11-2013, 10:17   #1
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Fixing things constantly--Is it true?

I know this has been discussed many, many times before, but I'm asking it this way:

ON THE WHOLE-IN GENERAL, if you get a used boat that had been well taken care of by PO, and lets say you come into a nice Western Caribbean harbor, stay for a few months at anchor, than sail to the next little spot on the next little Island and stay there for two months, and so on--It would seem to me there would be far less to break. I hope this is true. I want to live on a sailboat that I can sail when I want to, but the real goal is to live on the boat in nice places. The sailing part for me is almost an afterthought.

I'm not talking about maintenance, and I'm not talking about a knob that falls off the bathroom door, or all the little things that break. I'm talking about more major repairs that are mandatory to a safe boat and seem to take up soooooo much of everybody's time and money, and also, from what I've read on here and elsewhere, seems to happen every time people raise their sails. "Uh-Oh! There goes that damn rudder again!"

This is my Achilles Heal. If I can't figure out a way to reduce the time fixing pain in the ass things like toilets, or water-makers, or rudders on a boat, I'm going to have to face the sad fact, boats just are not for me!

What say you? Should I just give it up now, or might my intended style of "Cruising" probably lesson the pain?


“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your ****, then you deserve it.” ― Frank Zappa
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:27   #2
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Re: Fixing things constantly--Is it true?

New or old boats will consume your money and your time, 'Tis the reason they are referred to in a feminine manner...... 'she'

"Political correctness is a creeping sickness that knows no boundaries"
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:39   #3
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Re: Fixing things constantly--Is it true?

easy to understand = the more complex the boat, the more there is to break (Go bad) the simpler or basic the boat (Systems), less to go bad (Break) Every boat and owner different. If you want less to break think spartan and basic, will last with minimal interruptions otherwise = otherwise. The ocean feels No time or pain and WILL win ultimately on anything man made. jmho... GLTY
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:16   #4
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Re: Fixing things constantly--Is it true?

In July 2010 I raced from San Francisco to Hawaii and sailed back. In 2012 I raced from San Francisco to Hawaii and then to the Puget Sound area.

Repairs since July 2010:
* broken spinnaker pole (from racing hard)
* end-for-ended genoa sheets, cut off chafed ends
* replaced exhaust hose (leaking, 12 years old)
* replaced spinnaker pole attachment pin (attachment clip broke)
* replaced refrigerator thermostat (12 years old)

So, the damage after over 9000 miles of hard ocean sailing has been minimal. None of this was life-threatening.

Next year I will be again racing to Hawaii -- sailing from the PNW to San Francisco, racing to Hawaii, sailing back home to the PNW. I will be checking my rigging (and probably replacing some of it), painting the bottom, and possibly buyng a new genoa. If I were cruising, the genoa would be fine for a few more years.

Yes, you should expect things to break, but a well-prepared and maintained boat should get you where you want to go without it being a nightmare.
Paul Elliott, S/V VALIS - Pacific Seacraft 44 #16 - Friday Harbor, WA
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:16   #5
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If you can afford it, buy a very newish boat, all mechanical things, airplanes, boats, cars etc tend to not be as well maintained by a person prior to selling them, then there is a period by the new owner of bringing everything back up to spec, once there with regular maintenance, life isn't so bad, but it's bad until you bring her back. True of all mechanical things, as stated the more complex, the harder it will be, the older and more complex a boat is, the harder it will be "usually". There are exceptions of course, those are the ones we all want to buy.
Throw in of course that this mechanical thing is in salt water and that complicates things, even "stuff" in a beach house doesn't last nearly as long as "stuff" in a house in a dry arid climate.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:39   #6
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Re: Fixing things constantly--Is it true?

There will always be something broken on the boat. As soon as something is fixed, something else becomes broken.
Kar-KEEN-ez Koot
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:45   #7
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Re: Fixing things constantly--Is it true?

I have always looked upon fixing things as part of boat ownership....then again we have never owned a new boat so we are always upgrading, maintaining or repairing. When the DH wanted a cruising boat I did put my foot down and insist on a very well maintained one....and I did win out on that. Even then though we have had to replace a thermostat and hoses to the water heater, a toilet rebuild, and right now refrigerator re lining.
Even if you buy a brand new boat there are all those things you have to add to it like instruments, a/c, solar panels, extra batteries, etc.

Some people do like to work on boats....a lot. Others hate it. If you hate it you better save up and get the best of everything and have the money to have some things replaced or fixed every year.

We usually research the items we put on board both by checking recommendations of people we trust and looking at using manufacturers that have excellent customer service reputations. We are careful about buying used items unless we can check out that they are in fact as represented.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:37   #8
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A house on land requires just as much effort, time and money for maintenance, repairs, replacements and refitting. Sometimes a lot more so than most of the yachts out there.

I could never fathom how people can say "a boat is a hole on the water you throw money in" and not realize that "a house is hole on the dirt you throw money in."

Yes, traditionally houses are a better investment if that's what you are after. It's not true all the time or all over the world. The recent housing bubble (and the one 15 years before that and the one 15 years before that) proves this.

If you are a "sell my house and go cruise" sailor, your boat is your home and is as worthy of your effort as the pile of sticks you had on that pile of dirt.

If you plan on maintaining a house and a boat (and two cars and a vacation cabin), then the costs of both (all) should have been a reality to you long before you bought a boat. If you can afford it, go for it. If you can't, quit complaining and talking trash about the "money pits" you think boats are.

Those that complain are just naive people that want sympathy for their own mistakes.

If your boat is a money pit, you couldn't afford it in the first place. Sell it to someone a little more self-aware.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:57   #9
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Something breaks on
A cruising boat every day...
The key is to keep
Ahead of it!
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Old 09-11-2013, 13:04   #10
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I'm retired Military, so I've only owned a couple of boats so I can't speak to the "hole in the water in which you throw money", but I have a theory, My Brother when he was alive went in for bigger Sport Fishermen, he was a CPA and couldn't add a quart of oil in the engine if he had to, he paid people to do that. These type of peoples theory is they make x hundreds of dollars an hour, boat mechanics make 1/10X, so of course it's far smarter for them to work at the higher rate and pay a lower rate for boat maintenance. Now try to find a reputable, conciencious (sp?) boat mechanic in the Fl.Panhandle, that will work according to your schedule and is cheap. Your not going to pay Ring Power's rate.
So what you end up with is a bunch of hacks, that in all probability only work until they get enough money until they are out of the deepest debt, then they just quit work until they are deep in debt.. If you have ever had a house built, substitute plumber, electrician, or carpenter for boat mechanic. anyway you end up with cobbed together work, patches actually, especially in electrical work, that's hidden and most owners don't see the twisted connections covered in electrical tape, anyway as these repairs accumulate, the mechanic ends up with a steady income, continually repairing their patches.
So, I've got these two little boats, both trailerable and have had them for a few years, once I got them both back up to snuff as they were used boats, both have been as trouble free as any of the automobiles or airplanes that I own.
Lord please don't let me have angered Murphy by making that statement
So, I think it's also seen as displaying your wealth when you complain about how many thousands of dollars it cost you to keep that boat, beach house, new wife or whatever they can complain about to show off how much money they posess.
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Old 09-11-2013, 13:34   #11
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Re: Fixing things constantly--Is it true?

You've probably got the drift that fixing boats is part of cruising, that it's similar to maintaining houses or cars or planes.

Some boats sit on moorings or in marinas for years without being touched, though being well made and well set up is a big help.

But really, if you don't want to fix your boat there's no law that says you have to. There are houses, cars, planes and boats everywhere that don't get fixed.

Problem is, you're sitting on your boat in this idylic spot and looking round you realise that if you were to fix that little bit that just isn't perfect the spot is going to be just that little bit more idylic, then there's something else and then something else again and soon people are avoiding you because your boat's just too good...

Me, it's what I do. Wake up each morning and my SO asks what are you going to do today and the answer is always the same - try to fix the boat.

Rust never sleeps
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:22   #12
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If you are a live aboard you will know every inch of you home. The more stuff the more things there are to fix over time. The worst enemy is lack of use. I like the idea of backups. Two engines, two sails, two GPS's, emergency tiller, etc.
Read some of Lin Pardy's books. They sailed around the world without an engine. Main thing is to find a way to live your dream and not worry about tomorrow.
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Old 10-11-2013, 06:54   #13
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Re: Fixing things constantly--Is it true?

A boat owner who doesn't like to fix broken stuff is like a skydiver who won't pack a parachute. Some things you may farm out due to skills or tools ect but failure to be hands on is only going to end one way.
I was lucky this year every thing I fixed stayed fixed, but I have a huge list of stuff to accomplish before I head out again. Each year she is better and as a result I can do more, push harder, go further. Each year I am more free.
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Old 10-11-2013, 07:18   #14
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Re: Fixing things constantly--Is it true?

For the OP,

Here's a little example of how complex can sometimes equate constant working.

In 2006, we went to visit a couple, friends of ours for years, whose boat at that time was in Thailand (anchored off Ao Chalong, for those who know the place.) They have a complicated boat by our standards: the 20 gal./hr. watermaker, the refrigeration, and topping off their battery bank all operate off the genset. Of 14 days visit, which included sailing to Langkawi and to Penang, our host spent some part of each of 12 days working on the genset. These kinds of things do happen.

We do not have a genset, nor a water maker, and use solar and wind for most of our battery topping off, so our boat's simpler, but guests don't get unlimited length showers, either, or ice in their beverages. It's the old all boats are compromises story. You choose what you want, and then --hoist on your own petard, perhaps-- support it.

Ann & Jim, U.S. s/v Insatiable II, SE Qld, for a while
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Old 10-11-2013, 07:29   #15
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Re: Fixing things constantly--Is it true?

Originally Posted by ty.gregory View Post
What say you? Should I just give it up now, or might my intended style of "Cruising" probably lesson the pain?

Boats need constant maintenance and upkeep.
The ocean and elements is always trying to reclaim her.

You may want to stay a land lubber.

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