A boat is a complex assembly of manufactured systems, operating in an environment
more inhospitable to systems than the surface of the moon. So, in answer to the question of how to survive with less maintenance, as someone has already suggested, sell the boat.
If you want to retain this "space vehicle" in a dependable and life-saving manner, you have to create a preventive maintenance program that you will actually use regularly, or don't, and accept the responsibility for the consequences.
Airlines, the military, nuclear plants and other institutions that appreciate having stuff work relatively predictably use PM programs religiously. You can too. In the long run, it costs less, both in bucks and bodies, but it consumes time and some materials.
First, make a drawing of your boat's interior
plan. Name each major compartment. Identify each unit in that space that needs even the simplest maintenance: portlight latches
, light switches, drawer hardware
, etc. Write it down (I use Excel spreadsheets). For the bigger units (engine, mast
systems, etc.) break it down into those items that require more frequent checking, or require taking stuff apart to inspect. Assign a maintenance interval to these, say every six months or ten years.
Print the items, in a checklist form, based on location. Here's how I use mine: I start by checking the docklines and especially the springlines. I check the engine fluids and battery
levels. I start the engine and let it warm while I collect my inspection
materials in a bucket: rag, flashlight clip board and list, WD-40 and sponge. When the engine is warm, I put the boat in gear
at the dock
and bring it up to a low cruising RPM
, churning the water behind the boat. Then I go below, forward to the furthest compartment forward, stick my head
in that space, wave the flashlight around and take a look and a whiff. I confirm that I have looked at the bolts on the underside of the deck
holding stuff above and that no rust or mold
is there. I note that it's been several months since I pulled all the anchor
chain out to inspect the bitter end, but note that it will come up at its PM service
date in two months. I work my way aft, opening the floorboards, sticking my head
down there to look for surprises, I open and close, several times, any thruhull valves, I stand up and check the overhead lights, portlights
, pull any drawers completely out and look behind, I open and close any faucets, operate the toilet, and note if anything needs better cleaning
(at another time). I continue this process until I run out of compartments (and systems) below decks. Then I go on deck
, shut down the engine (having noted the hour meter, oil
pressure, water temperature, fuel
vacuum and voltmeter readings), and contiue the inspection
, per the check list, from the bow to the stern, using the binos to check the mast
. By this time the engine compartment has cooled down and I give it the final looksee. This takes one hour, once a month. There are fewer surprise issues. I use it to introduce a new crew member
to what is on the boat, and allows them an opportunity to become a knowledgeable mate.
Or, you can ignore this stuff and then enjoy the joyful sense of surprise and whimsy that results when the engine conks out as you are threading your way through some lobster pots in a tight channel, or that faint scent of something burning isn't associated with lunch.