Please. Stop. Breaking.

Mark breaking down the engine to figure out why it wouldn't start...

There are a million sayings to describe what "Cruising" really is:
  • Cruising = Fixing your boat in exotic locations
  • B.O.A.T. - Break Out Another Thousand 
  • 1 Boat Dollar = $1000
  • If you wait until your boat is ready, you'll never leave the dock!
We thought we were ahead of the game on this.  Our plan was to buy a boat that didn't really need a lot of work and then make some improvements to make it comfortable for us to live on. And, you know, maintain some stuff along the way. 

We bought our boat for a bit more than we could've gotten a "fixer-upper" - but way less than most people spend on their homes.  So she was affordable for us.  And she's pretty.
Guess we need to go on a trip so we can get new pics with the hardtop!
 Some of the things we've done so far:

  • We opted to add our hard top and are working on an enclosure, so that we basically double our living space by creating a sand-gnat-free back porch.  In the long-term this solution is actually cheaper than paying someone to replace our canvas every 5 years or so.  I will have to maintain the enclosure, of course, but that's much less work than a bimini, dodger and enclosure combined.
  • We've replaced our salon cushions and modified our table so that we can convert to some serious couch-potato relaxation below decks. It's also really comfortable when underway in crazy seas. And yes, we added a 12v (thus battery/solar powered) tv/dvd player for those rainy couch-potato days. 
  • We replaced the a/c in our salon rather than try to rebuild the original unit. (Trust me, you need a/c when living in Savannah!)  The cost was similar, so we opted for the "long-term fix"
  • We cut-to-fit a real mattress for our aft cabin, so we can truly sleep/live on our boat. 
  • We replaced our really old life raft with a much smaller, modern valaise version that saves a ton of space (and will hopefully never be needed). It also cleared up our line of sight above decks, as the original one was right in front of the dodger. This also frees up a possible deck location for SCUBA tank storage 
  • We completely stripped the bottom paint and repainted with CopperCoat - a long-term solution of epoxy filled with copper dust.  We will let you know how long it lasts...
  • We bought a new Hypalon inflatable lightweight dinghy with an aluminum bottom, to reduce risk/occurrence of leaks/repairs. And a new outboard motor for that dinghy. (it will basically become our car once we leave land-life)
  • We replaced 4 of our 9 seacocks/thru-hulls, and re-bedded all 9 of our keel bolts to keep water out and the boat upright.
  • We replaced our raggedyass original laminate countertops with Corain.  This was undeniably cosmetic, but it sure is a nice change.
  • We will have all rigging and sails inspected/repaired/replaced as necessary before we shove off long-term.
Shiny new copper bottom paint
Each project we plan/complete is done with long-term maintenance cost in mind.  We plan to be unemployed as long as possible - unless we find somewhere we want to really hang out for an extended period of time.  So we want to spend as little as possible on the standard upkeep and maintenance of our boat.  We're trying to keep it fairly simple - yet not so simplistic as to feel like we're roughing it.  We are not planning a year cruising - we are looking at a potential lifetime of exploration.

Things that went wrong when we went back in the water after completing most of these projects:
  • The new dinghy leaked a considerable amount of air. But we still haven't found a hole...  Possibly due to severe temperature swings that are happening at the moment?
  • The dinghy motor Would. Not. Start.  Turns out the carburetor was just gummed up.  Today I get a lesson on how to clean a carburetor.  Good to know, right?
  • The a/c in the aft cabin would not turn on.  That's the old unit. Thankfully it was just a "trigger" that failed and was easily ($60!) swapped out. Research suggests this is a common occurrence.  Maybe we need to keep a spare while we are still working on land.  Of course, we won't have much use for the A/C's when we are no longer connected to shore power at the dock!
  • The smell in the heads (aka toilets) was awful.  Turns out, we left some water in the lines.  Oops. We flush with river water.  Lots of living things are in the water - and apparently they died in the lines.  Mmmmmm.  Delicious.  
So for the most part, all of these repairs were due to lack of use.  I can accept that.  Our boat really prefers to be in the water, doing her thing in her natural habitat.  But man, that first week back in the water sure seemed like the boat was going to shit.  Non-stop trouble-shooting and repairs were really taking a toll on morale.

On the plus side, the house batteries held up incredibly well in the yard.  While most things were turned off, we still used the radio frequently - and never charged the batteries, as the solar was disconnected the entire time. We are researching lithium ion batteries, in order to replace our house bank before we leave.  But there's no rush, since the current batteries seem to be doing alright.

The new seacocks/thru hulls don't leak, the keel didn't fall off when we went sailing the last two weekends and the hard top did not wreak any havoc. This was actually a concern, as we both had questions about how she would handle with that giant hard sail overhead.  

All systems pretty much started up on demand and are working perfectly. How often do you hear that from a boat owner? Crazy. 

We are officially out of our condo.  The boat is a mess.  We're reorganizing and cosolidating.  More "stuff" leaves the boat almost daily.  With the giant storage unit of a condo on the market, we were forced to get everything in order.  And we're getting there.  Slowly.  One project at a time.

Keep an eye out - as we continue to clean and store stuff, I will take pictures of the completed boat.  Eventually I hope to even get a video posted so you can do a virtual tour.  In the meantime, we'll just keep making progress and work on setting a date for hitting the watery road.  Know anybody that needs a condo and 3 rental houses...?


  1. Head smells. Don Casey's "This Old Boat" has a lot of good info. Take a Kleenex and swipe the outlet hoses. If they "smell" bad, replace the hoses is the only option. Hoses will absorb smells. Those hoses are a pain in the backside to replace. Fittings just don't fit easily. Heat gun helps a lot. On house batteries two trains of thought I have found. One, cheap way. Sam's or Costco golf cart 6V batteries. They last and last and with simple maintenance (monthly water checks). They are durable and forgiving. Second is expensive. Rolls batteries. They are very good quality and last and last. Also durable and forgiving. But VERY expensive. The "other" methods don't work so well. I bought glass matt (900 EACH- its been a while so they were new tech). They did not fair well on the boat. They require careful management and won't tolerate problems commonly found on boats. I then got Wally deep cycle. Not nearly as good as friends with the Rolls/golf carts. Doing it again, I would go golf cart, 6 or 8. The A/C will be a treat for those times you do go dockside. I would alarm on the inflatable. It should not go down that much. Ken (formerly aboard Westsail 32 Satori)

    1. Thanks Ken! We have the book, and new hoses. The smell was just from leaving water in the intake lines when we hauled the boat.
      We just heard about the Rolls batteries this afternoon and will definitely be adding those to our research list.
      Oddly enough, we checked the dinghy pressure today and its perfect - after several days. Wondering if maybe we had one of the caps cross threaded... Will certainly be keeping an eye on it.

  2. What kind of 12v TV did you get? How are you liking it? We've toyed with the idea of getting one so that we can watch movies on it instead of using our laptop. Cheers - Ellen

    1. Check Wal-Mart or costco. Most tv now come with a power adaptor (like a computer). They are usually labeled as 14v but will work fine off 12v. I bet you can find one for under $100.

    2. Ellen,
      We went with an RCA with a built in DVD player. We absolutely love it. However, the audio is crap - and the reviews on all the 12volt TVs stated this clearly. We plug it into our radio system, which results in surround sound. We ordered it online.


We ♥ hearing your thoughts! ⚓️

Popular Posts