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Old 24-08-2010, 09:18   #1
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I Am NOT Handy !

I'm not the first guy you would ask to fix something. I am the very last guy. I want to buy a boat and live on it cruising. I have maybe 80 -100K usd I could spend on buying the boat. I will not have the funds to always pay a professional to fix things that break, so I will have to learn a good deal in this regard. Because I read so much about so many that seem to spend their days fixing things on their boats it has me worried. Does anybody actually go sailing on these things??? Can you go a few months without something like the "Packing Gland" failing? I have no idea whata packing gland is, and quite honestly, I am not sure I want to find out. So, is this very sincere dream of mine a very bad idea?
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Old 24-08-2010, 09:26   #2
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Perhaps a trip to the local libary (or book store) for a copy of Nigel Calders book "Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual" is in order. It will provide a good primer on the mechanical tasks necessary, with simple descriptive steps.

A packing gland is what seals the propellor shaft and keeps the water out. There are several types of designs, the older ones actually leaked a very little bit to keep the stuff inside the packing glad (called, appropriately, 'stuffing') lubricated from the friction of the turning shaft. A failure can be a big problem, they are well understood however, and maintenance is trivial (access may not be). There are also dripless models.

And no, it's NOT a bad dream. But if you want to cruise beyond the coast, a basic mechanical understanding is a good thing to acquire. And you can.
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Old 24-08-2010, 09:26   #3
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A new boat will need minor things fixed almost right out of the gate. A well aged boat will need things fixed in waves. A simplier boat will need fewer and less costly things fixed and less often. A larger boat outfitted like a condo will require constant maintainence. To put it in perspective, imagine what would happen to your house if you sprayed it with one of the most corossive fluids on the face of the earth while pumping the same fluid through all the pipe in it, and shaking and twisting it constantly.
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Old 24-08-2010, 09:29   #4
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Boats = work. someone has to do it. Whether it is you or someone you pay to do it. Boats = work.
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Old 24-08-2010, 09:33   #5
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What you don't want is to find out what a "packing gland" is the hard way. I would look for the simplest vessel possible and in the best condition possible from the get-go. Pay a premium for a good boat. Maintenance work is easier than fixing things. Maintain and maintain again.

And find yourself a girlfriend that knows how to fix things. They're out there, really. You will just have to learn some tricks and keep your itinerary consistent with your abilities. Finally, if you've useful, non-mechanical skills, you may be able to swap work with others. No need to give up hope.
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Old 24-08-2010, 10:03   #6
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The ocean is a harsh environment and boats are semi-complex devices with many mechanical systems. You can go several months without having "serious" mechanical issues. This year (since January) on my 26 footer:

- Hauled out and painted the bottom (~$500 including yard labor)
- Servce/replace the anodes and cleaned up the prop (~$10)
- Painted the cockpit (~$300 plus me labor)
- Did a temporary refurbishment of the tiller hoping to get a couple more seasons out of it. (~$0 plus me labor)
- Replaced the depth and speed instruments. (~$250 plus me labor)
- Replaced failed autopilot (~$400)
- Replaced various deck hardware (~$150)
- Troubleshoot and fix alternator problem ($0 plus me labor)

It's been a very good year...

Becoming urgent and important

- Remove, clean and reinstall mixing elbow - or replace with new ($100-$400)
- Remove & overhaul injectors (~$100)
- Remove clean and reinstall fresh/raw water heat exchanger (~free plus me labor)

You either learn to fix stuff or you pay someone.

In the 5 years of ownership I have spent approximately 2X the purchase price in maintenance and running costs, including insurance and mooring. Probably 1.6X the purchase price in pure maintenance.

In cash flow terms the boat costs $500 per month to keep.
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Old 24-08-2010, 10:06   #7
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Fantastic posts Guys!

Not much to add...except if you can buy a guys boat by the name of Mainesail that would be a good start!..

That thing is kept so meticulous I would not set foot on it if he asked me.

But to answer you questionpoint blank....There are SOOOOO many boats out there that as neglected beyond belief that are still floating and believe it or not still used.

These bats are what i cal catastrophic repair only...in other words the owners do zilch to them unless it breaks.....so No you do not have to spend 8 hours a day working on ANY boat....but....its your bacon and who ever else's bacon that's with you if you don't know how to at least keep the water on the outside.

What makes water or air sports different then land sports is we are out of our natural element being there so to stay alive its a good Idea to be some what prepared.

People have way different levels of risk thresh holds...and I truly believe some have no clue as to the risks by the things i see some people do...but just about ANY boat will take care of you if you take care of it...as least give it some attention now and then.

Not everyone is into keeping up a "Bristol" Im not!...but I don't want a dump either.

I Buy boats to use...they get dinged up with use so "Bristol" for me is a worthless endeavor...I admire those that can do both but I have other things to do in my life as well ,other then tinker on boats.

The advice about buying the best condition boat in your class is very sound...for you...I would suggest a smaller boat that is in Bristol condition just for that reason....Your dollar wont go as far initially but you should have pretty smooth sailing because of it.

None of the things on a boat are rocket science...you can and WILL learn them just by being around them...we are here to help as well....Im still learning every day..
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Old 24-08-2010, 10:08   #8
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ty.gregory, I have a friend who is truly mechanically impaired. I have been called upon to help him change the license plate on his car and if he holds a hammer he is at risk of personal injury. Although he is a brilliant statistician, he has some incapacity not unlike dyslexia that prevents him from using or understanding tools. This may not be the case for you. As for myself, I had none of the typical interest of my teenage friends in tinkering with car engines, but as a boat owner and valuing my independance for cruising, I have been doing my own maintenance and repairs aboard for many years. You will not need any intrinsic skill to look at some mechanical device and begin dismantling it to diagnos problems. More problems are solved by reading manuals and internet searches with technical representatives than laying hands on technical equipment. Many of the complex pieces of equipment on board can have modules removed, replaced or sent out for repair at half the price of having someone come to your vessel for repair. Some tasks such as the stuffing replacement, you mentioned or adjusting engine valves or changing your oil are skills that require a series of simple steps that are easily followed in books or with internet site advice. 98 PERCENT! of all work required to maintanin a vessel is not technically difficult. It is follwing a wire to find a disconnect, following a hose to find a leak, sealing rain leaks, polishing, painting, rebedding fittings, changing filters, cleaning filter baskets and removing marine growth, wasp nests, bird crap, dirt, corrosion, dust and spider webs! Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 24-08-2010, 10:14   #9
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I had no handy skills when I started. No one is born "handy", you just keep doing terrible jobs over and over again until you eventually get better at them. Some people start this young so they (and others) don't see the original attempts but take them from their current discipline (carpentry, say) and put them in another one (like glassblowing) and you'll watch them start from zero. Having some basic knowledge of tools and good hand eye coordination can help but you can learn it quickly.

Not being overly blunt, but the guys fixing boats in harbors around the world aren't molecular biologists. They're just people who've practiced a lot (the good ones anyway).

It took me three years of working on teak decks to get it right. I tried to do fiberglass repairs on wood, I just broke one of my butterfly hatch windows two months ago, and I've spilled more paint than I've applied correctly.

Just know that your first few attempts will be garbage, but that's not the point. By version five or ten (which might take you a couple of years to get there) you'll have a fairly good idea what you're doing.
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Old 24-08-2010, 10:16   #10
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Also, the knowledge and confidence you'll gain from really understanding how your boat works is invaluable. When it's been less than a week since you've been at the masthead inspecting the rigging and staring up at the bottom of the keel with scuba gear on, you know your boat.
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Old 24-08-2010, 11:36   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew13440 View Post
What you don't want is to find out what a "packing gland" is the hard way. I would look for the simplest vessel possible and in the best condition possible from the get-go. Pay a premium for a good boat. Maintenance work is easier than fixing things. Maintain and maintain again.

And find yourself a girlfriend that knows how to fix things. They're out there, really. You will just have to learn some tricks and keep your itinerary consistent with your abilities. Finally, if you've useful, non-mechanical skills, you may be able to swap work with others. No need to give up hope.
Excellent advice from everyone, Thank You! Okay, small, simple, and in great shape for the boat, and I suppose the girlfriend too! And the GF has to know how to fix things... I was just hoping for one that wanted to go sailing. Nobody ever said this was going to be easy. I think I feel a bit more confident persuing this, except now I need help finding one of them thar girly-friends. I'd probably take a BIG, simple girl if she knew how to fix things!!!!
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Old 24-08-2010, 11:36   #12
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And find yourself a girlfriend that knows how to fix things. They're out there, really. .
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Old 24-08-2010, 12:26   #13
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Originally Posted by ty.gregory View Post
I'm not the first guy you would ask to fix something. I am the very last guy. I want to buy a boat and live on it cruising. I have maybe 80 -100K usd I could spend on buying the boat. I will not have the funds to always pay a professional to fix things that break, so I will have to learn a good deal in this regard. Because I read so much about so many that seem to spend their days fixing things on their boats it has me worried. Does anybody actually go sailing on these things??? Can you go a few months without something like the "Packing Gland" failing? I have no idea whata packing gland is, and quite honestly, I am not sure I want to find out. So, is this very sincere dream of mine a very bad idea?
I find it's easy to learn about things that interest me. I sometimes get as much enjoyment from going to my boat and completing a mechanical task or maybe even just cleaning the boat on a nice day as I sometimes do going for a sail, because the boat itself is my hobbie.

What part of sailing attracts you?

If it's not the boat itself, you might find chartering a yacht in an exotic location every now again could be very satisfying without having to address the maintenance side at all. You can do a lot of chartering for 80 - 100K.

Greg
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Old 24-08-2010, 12:38   #14
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Fix the easy / non essential stuff yourself and watch someone that really knows what they are doing fix the critical things...... it actually works out cheaper the first time round. Stay away from things that are below the waterline and the engine...except for basic stuff.. oil changes filters belts etc....

1 little note... if you have a boat.... you have a list of things that need to be fixed, a list of things that should be fixed, a list of things that will need fixing soon, a list of things that it would be nice to fix, a list of things that MUST be fixed, a list of things that could be fixed if you only had time....... I could go on and on and on here,,,,,,....... but if you're not that handy these lists tend to get longer fast instead of shorter.
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Old 24-08-2010, 13:20   #15
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No one is born "handy", you just keep doing terrible jobs over and over again until you eventually get better at them.
I agree completely with this, which is why I went the opposite direction as the one advised. Rather than get something small, simple, and in great shape, I got something small, simple, and in really rough shape, and then spent several months fixing the previous owner's mistakes, and then fixing the mistakes I made when I was fixing things the first time. Working for the better part of a year on a 45-year-old boat is a great way to get a basic education on a lot of maintenance and repair jobs, and given that I spent about a grand on the boat, and maybe twice that on materials, I think the lessons were pretty cheap.

I wouldn't recommend this for everyone, but in my case, it worked out pretty well. It helps that I had other outlets for daysailing while I worked on my boat, so it's not like I was completely landbound. It also helps that I went into the process with the mindset that this was a "practice boat," and that mistakes were inevitable. Of course, now that I have so many hours, and so much blood and sweat into the project, it's a lot harder to keep that sort of emotional detachment.

We launched her on Sunday, by the way. I gotta say that the sight of her bobbing at her buoy is mighty fine indeed!
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