The aim of this article is to hi light to the sailing fraternity ways to reduce the amount of money they spend on sailboat maintenance. It does involve rolling your sleeves up, but there are many benefits to be had from a little elbow grease. Mostly the pointers are aimed at a sailors organization. The article is not meant to cause offense, indeed I will try to inject a little humor in to it as we go along! It’s a British sense of humor and any feedback is welcome!
In order to stay in front of the sailboat maintenance game you need to be proactive. By waiting for stuff to break you are leaving yourself wide open to expense, ruined holiday plans and foul tempers! Let’s face it you don’t want to stuck on the pontoon during your precious holiday time – do you? So how to be proactive in this field? Happily there are lots of things you can do to make life easier.
Here are a few suggestions. In no particular order: Write down a weekly, monthly and seasonal check list of things to observe on board. Examples weekly – the engine oil, fuel filter and engine cooling unit. Monthly might be the navigation lights. Seasonal would be the condition of the hull. By having a list of things to check on a regular basis, you are covering yourself for any nasty surprises.
Have a reliable set of tools to cover the jobs that need attention. By investing in your tool kit you will have peace of mind that you’ve got the correct wrench, pliers and hack saw. Buying cheaply is not advisable, materials used are not as strong under pressure or as durable. Why buy two sets of tools over five years rather than one? Another straight forward concept is having a range of spare parts for jobs that need attention frequently. For example – spark plugs, spark socket, shear pins, starter cord, plug leads, filters, sail tape.
Set aside time before a trip to plan your route and plug way points in to your GPS in advance. You could even get an idea of over night coves or fun places to stop at to give your holiday a loose plan. This also helps with refilling the water tank or engine fuel. Before your trip you should check you have the correct safety gear and look over the emergency kit – it should be on your monthly check list!
Keeping your boat ship shape is important! How much time is wasted looking for stuff in lockers? You can even list the contents of each one written on a sticky label on the lid! Get rid of junk! It clutters and makes the boat untidy and heavier! OK not everyone is a racer but it all adds to a simpler life. Cleanliness is next to godliness. If you regularly wash the decks of grim you will enhance the life of your deck and cockpit. Why? This is because you can spot trouble before it gets a hold. If you have a teak deck you can monitor the rate at which the deck dries. The patches that dry more slowly could mean the caulk is broken, so allowing water in. Again with fiberglass decks, you can spot crazed glass or voids when the surface is clean.
Learning is the key to improvement on board. Perhaps your methods have not allowed for improvements in technology. Watching the market and asking questions is a great way to absorb these updates. If your buddy has a new gadget and your curious to know its in and out – ask to borrow it for a weekend. Then your getting a practical trial, before you reach in to your pocket! There maybe a vibrant second hand market, or a unit in your local shop that’s been a display model – did anyone say discounted?
Not everyone is a whizz at repair though. There maybe jobs you don’t want to go near, as you don’t understand every aspect. There could be a technical aspect to the repair of your outboard or hull. It’s normal to be unsettled by the unknown. However with the right knowledge, tools and materials, it is realistic to gradually incorporate more of your own repair work to your beloved vessel. By becoming more involved with the practical sailboat maintenance aspect of your vessel enhances the bond. So take your interest further and get more for less from your hobby!