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Old 15-01-2014, 19:51   #1
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Essential Knowledge

We're going to be low budget liveaboard cruisers on a mid 30s foot monohull sailboat in about two years. Doing most of my own maintenance and repairs will be necessary to keep us cruising. What areas of knowledge would you rank most useful and most frequently needed when attempting to do most of your own work?

Diesel mechanics? Electrical? Plumbing? Instruments and navigation? Communications equipment and usage? Rigging? Fiberglass work? Something else?

I have two years to study so i need some topics of emphasis. I won't be able to learn it all before we depart, but I'm curious what your experiences have taught you. What types of issues seem to be the most frequently encountered for you? Which areas of knowledge will come in handy the most? Or a better way to ask it....which of these issues will cost me the most if I have to rely on someone else for help?
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Old 15-01-2014, 20:04   #2
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Jack of all.. master of none.. they're all expensive as its labour cost that's the killer.. and no way can you carry all the tools needed to do it all on a 30 odd ftr..
Keep the boat as simple as possible..
But then I'm European.. others may disagree
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Old 15-01-2014, 20:05   #3
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Re: Essential Knowledge

I was a liveaboard cruiser long before the internet was available, but for this time now, there is no better skill than being able to search technical manual sources, parts opportunities, wiring diagrams and services online. ...and then to follow through by doing it yourself!
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Old 15-01-2014, 20:14   #4
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Re: Essential Knowledge

Rigging and fiberglass work would be low on my must have first knowledge list. That stuff can be learned on the fly with an ipad an internet connection and google.Get don Casey's book on cruising sailboats theres a ton of good info there. Something you may not have considered yet is what are you going to keep. Living on a boat is nothing like living ashore. Everything requires more planning. If you are really serious about going cruising then I suggest you start getting rid of your material possessions that wont fit on your boat, and I mean soon. It takes allot longer than you think unless your just going to have it hauled away to the dump. Craigslist and ebay are your friends. Be careful about having so much stuff onboard that your boat is cluttered and weighed down. Everything on board should have a place while at the same time being relatively easy to retrieve. You will learn real quick that almost any mechanical issue will require everything near whatever you need to work on to move and on a boat that means in the way of something else you may need access to, Murphy's law!

Have fun
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Old 15-01-2014, 20:18   #5
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Re: Essential Knowledge

Shaktisboy, funny you mention that because my wife has been in purge mode for about a year now ever since we decided to move aboard. She uses a website called bookoo that is really similar to craigslist and has sold a bunch of stuff. Facebook has a bunch of pages for selling used items as well.
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Old 15-01-2014, 21:22   #6
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Re: Essential Knowledge

We Made the move a little over a year ago and still I find myself looking at stuff thinking "you know I don't need that" my weakness is tools. I do most of the work on our 2 boats and seem to need all of my tools from time to time.
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Old 15-01-2014, 22:59   #7
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Re: Essential Knowledge

Ensure a sound rig and hull, make sure your electrical system is safe, and then focus on the diesel. Basic know-how and confidence in a well-running diesel is a huge boon to start with. You don't have to be a mechanic, but know the FUEL SYSTEM inside and out!! 90% of diesel issues you'll likely run into will be between the tank and the injectors.
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Old 16-01-2014, 02:04   #8
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Re: Essential Knowledge

[QUOTE Snip... Keep the boat as simple as possible. Snip [/QUOTE]

That's probably the best advice ever been written on this forum. The more "toys" you have on board the more things to break.

As others have suggested, Jack of all- master of none. But sailing and seamanship skills keep you alive. If the plotter dies, you arent expected to fix it- so electronic skills are nice. . But you are expected to use the handheld GPS and a chart. Or the purists would say a compass and a chart. Yes, without a doubt seamanship.
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Old 16-01-2014, 09:00   #9
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Re: Essential Knowledge

Quote:
Originally Posted by laika View Post
...know the FUEL SYSTEM inside and out!! 90% of diesel issues you'll likely run into will be between the tank and the injectors.
This. Seems simple, doesn't it? Not if the engine dies right when you are counting on it. If you don't know how to prime a diesel fuel system at desperate, desperate speed, you soon will.
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Old 16-01-2014, 09:10   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mainebristol View Post
This. Seems simple, doesn't it? Not if the engine dies right when you are counting on it. If you don't know how to prime a diesel fuel system at desperate, desperate speed, you soon will.
Get a boat that 'Sails'.. then learn how to handle/sail it.. slow is often more important than fast.. anyone can push a boat..
I'd rather be up top managing the situation than down below scraping my knuckles, swearing and panicing...
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Old 16-01-2014, 09:43   #11
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Re: Essential Knowledge

Jack of all trades as mentioned, but the most necessary for more brain learning will be electrical and diesel I imagine.
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Old 16-01-2014, 09:54   #12
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Re: Essential Knowledge

I doubt you need to do study on any of the things mentioned. When the fall apart you learn how to fix them.

What i would study is the history and geography of the areas you are going to. No, its not good enough to learn the history once you get there as you wont have a broader framework of knowledge.

A boat is only a method of conveyance... Its the places one visits when cruising thats important.
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Old 16-01-2014, 10:05   #13
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Re: Essential Knowledge

Learn how to spot bad advice and ignore it.

Learn how to spot good advice and use it to it's fullest.

The rest just make up as you go along, just like everyone else!
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Old 16-01-2014, 10:27   #14
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pirate Re: Essential Knowledge

Some Spanish and French will come in mighty handy for real travelers.
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Old 16-01-2014, 10:49   #15
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pirate Re: Essential Knowledge

And an ability to improvise adds that touch off necessary genius.
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