I accidentally fell into the full time live aboard then cruising businesses when I decided to stay aboard the boat through the onset of the worst of the hay fever season because an unsympathetic partner would not practice mitigation strategies which interfered with her housekeeping routine. After a few months of living on the boat I discovered the partner was at the root of most of my physical and mental health
problems and decided to become a permanent live aboard.
The permanent cruising started after spending a winter aboard the boat in SW Australia
. I decided that I would sail N to warmer climes and during the voyage found that I did not need to work because I did not need much money
and was enjoying a life style which kept me out of contact with people I neither liked nor respected.
What does this have to do with floating machine shops?
Having pursued a very busy family
and professional life I found the cruising life style did not provide quiet enough intellectual stimulus. In addition I have always been one of those poor tormented souls who like to try out new ideas. Consequent to both these factors I started making modifications to things.
Things went OK for a few years as I could get by with hand tools and when I needed more facilities could generally wait until I visited my old land home (I had residual customer commitments I felt obliged had to still service) where I enjoyed fairly extensive workshop facilities. However as the service
obligations dwindled away and the modification bug bit deeper I discovered a need for more extensive engineering facilities aboard the boat.
The first acquisition was a mill/drill. This allowed me to start making my own sprockets which was more readily achieved with a rotary table and dividing head
- those of you who have experienced this type of curse know where it goes from there.
One of my projects was a wheel
drive unit to replace the plastic monstrosity which chewed up a $40 belt every time I was a bit slack with adjusting out excessive weather helm
. Although I could drill out the holes for the circular profile auto timing belt I could not machine the alloy billet back to the proper OD. An extensive search lead me to discover that the old small backyard shed machinist had all died off in regional Australia
and I had difficulty finding anyone to make the part I required. Consequently a small lathe was required.
I don't know how many of my fellow cruisers have tried to cohabit with a machine shop on a stretched 36' boat but it's not a pretty picture, particularly the swarf in bare feet bit.
Advancing age, a dampening of the over-adventurous spirit and the onset of extreme laziness has obliged me to change from the existing steel
boat to fibreglass. The new boat is an Island Packet
40 and the fit out is fairly nice and I am a bit reluctant to degrade it by installing a machine shop.
My questions are these:
Has anyone else out there gone through a deprivation such as this
and how extreme were the withdrawal symptoms??