Almost Perfect

One fantasy of cruising is that once you leave the dock, life will be “perfect”. You’ll have quiet anchorages, find a lot of new friends, and the boat and all the needed gear will perform flawlessly. Living in paradise is not quite that way.

I know, I know, there is the saying that cruising is working on your boat in exotic places and often that isn’t far from the truth. It depends on how new your boat is and how good the materials that went into the building of your boat are.

For example, a friend has a Fischer Panda generator.  The maintenance for the generator says that a bearing in the alternator should be replaced every 1,000 hours of run time.  For a boat heavy on AC power that could be every 6 months or less.  And some boats have the generator so tucked in that replacing that one part will be quite a chore.  Our small Kubota engine manual  says that we should clean and check the cylinder and piston every 1,000 hours. Not going to happen. I can’t find anything in the manual on how to “clean” the cylinder.

On our generator I have replaced the top plate for the coolant and changed out the coolant flow fittings, I’ve replaced the impeller driven raw water pump with an electric pump, I’ve replaced the muffler and have the current muffler off and ready to send back for replacement, I’ve replaced the cup seals in the High Pressure water pump (normal wear and tear), I’ve replaced the plate that the whole system sits on (design flaw), I’ve replaced the clutch for the High Pressure pump (a result of the original plate bending, removing and reinstalling parts), I’ve replaced  the Aluminum bracket off the alternator twice and on the third replacement put on a SS bracket (IMHO a design flaw but I’m not sure Aquamarine would say the same). The bracket that holds the alternator is being sent back to Aquamarine to be upgraded as it’s a little light and one weld was cracking, I’ve replaced the heat exchanger (my fault), I’ve replaced the exhaust elbow and it’s fittings (a problem with SS in an exhaust elbow).  That’s just on the generator.

On the refrigeration side we are still trying to perfect the system. I’ve done an ice melt test for the freezer and we melt approx 8 lbs in 24 hours. The TVX valve on the freezer is sticking  and I need to replace it. We’re not getting the holdover I would have expected and so I’m considering upsizing  the plates. It will be the seventh time we have evacuated and recharged the  12 volt system in 4 years. I’ve had to recharge the engine driven compressor side 3 times.  I’ve added a 12 volt fan to keep the motor and compressor cooler on the DC5000 compressor.

We’ve varnished every year for seven years with Honey Teak. That takes about a week’s time and for two years we were able to hire someone at a fair rate to prep it. Of course washing the boat and awnings is a chore and done several times / year; the boat the most often.  We’ve hired someone to wash and wax the hull 3 times in the last year.

We’ve pulled up and trimmed and revarnished 6 floor boards that had decided to become sticky because of life in the 9 month rainy season here.

We’ve ordered and replaced literally hundreds of boat parts and added to our spares inventory.

If this seems like I’m complaining; I’m not.  Much of this work would have had to be done anyway had we simply owned a boat in the states and sailed once a month.  But when one lives on a boat and cruises to foreign shores the need for due diligance increases exponentially. If one cruises their boat in home waters one weekend per month and takes a two week trip once per year that comes out to about 6 weeks worth of boat time. In one year we’ve between 9 and 10 times more use of the boat than the high usage boater in the US. In 4 years of cruising we’ve equaled about 40 years of boat use for a boat just hanging out at a marina. That usage takes it’s toll on the boat.

A Lazy Day
A Lazy Day

To continue a successful cruise we keep to a rough schedule of boat care. When I say rough I mean rough. The order things are completed in is as important as what we work on.  Critical items are attended to immediately if not sooner. A marina affords us the luxury of taking time to make things right.  To receive orders and not have to jury rig a part of a system to limp along till we can do it right. Fortunately we rarely have a finite time schedule where we have to be anywhere.  The exceptions are that we do need to keep current our cruising permit for the country we’re in and we have to know when our immigration visa is due but other than that we keep plugging away on our list of things to do.  Some days are  slower, and some days faster because we’re well into a project and want to finish. And there are days where we are just hanging out in paradise; trying to figure out what next to do on our list. I think today is most likely one of those days!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long