sailboatbliss

Cruising by sail in the Pacific NW


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Other People’s Problems or Why Boat Maintenance Means More Than Changing The Oil

Campania Island

Yes, the work is all worth it.

The guy who owned our boat for the 9 years before us either didn’t know or didn’t care. There are so many things – simple things – that went undone.    One of our talking points during the sales negotiations was the lack of cruising gear aboard – no solar power, watermaker, self-steering etc.   Based on the condition of the gear that was on the boat, this lack of fancy toys was a good thing – it means the list of things we’ve fixed or thrown away and replaced is relatively short.

garbage windlassTake our windlass.  We left it by the dumpster so it wasn’t hard to find.  It was a good piece of kit in its day, but we knew it had to go when we first saw it.  Our biggest complaint?  The lack of an integral hawse pipe; while the windlass seemed to work fine, the thing just dumped the chain onto the deck.  It had to go.

Then we took it off.  It’s surprising that it even worked.  We’re definitely very happy that we didn’t settle with the minor inconvenience the lack of a hawse pipe represented and dug further.  Starting at the top:

  • the capstan was seized to the shaft.
  • 6 of the 8 fasteners holding the contraption to the deck were broken.  Yes that’s right, it mostly stayed put because of caulking and gravity.
  • the gearbox was full of water.
  • a heavily corroded casting – part of the deck attachment assembly.
  • heavy corrosion on the entire motor housing.
  • An unsealed deck core that required replacement – I’ve been to this dance before and didn’t like it much.

In short, unless you are one of those people you enjoys bringing uncared for equipment back from the dead, it was garbage.

And then there was our headliner under our port-side deck.  Much like the windlass, it looked OK.   On our first viewing, there was evidence of a small leak below a window, and we just assumed that the drip coming from the headliner was a bad window seal. Wrong.

rotten headlinerThe leak took a break for a couple of months during a cold snap, but when it came back, it came back big.   Dogging the window tighter made no difference; it wasn’t a bad seal.   So I pulled the headliner down.   It’s didn’t go back up.

Why do people let things go?  Both of these issues – just a couple in a long list – are simple routine maintenance.  A windlass only needs some love once or twice a year.  Take it apart and grease it – 15 minutes if you’re wearing a blindfold.  The windows – all of them – needed to be caulked.  This took half a day and stopped the leak.  The damage from not doing these things is just under $2000 IF you can do all the work yourself.  The previous owner went on at some length about the frequency of his oil changes, but clearly, did nothing else.  Thank goodness the boat wasn’t filled with neglected cruising goodies; I’m not a big fan of fixing other people’s problems.