Maintenance

Repairing Your Boat in Exotic Places

26 Apr
books

The definition of cruising as repairing your boat in exotic places entered the realm of clichés long ago, but that doesn’t make it any less true. There’s no end of irony in the fact that while you can pay $20,000 for a new car and be shocked and upset if it breaks down a few days later, no one is really surprised that a boat that costs as much as a house, in some cases a mansion, can have technicians swarming over it for weeks after it’s launched.

The aptly named punch list—so called because an owner feels like he’s been punched several times in the wallet after reading it—can be dauntingly long, especially in today’s systems-heavy boats.…

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Slowly Waking Up

4 Feb

What is this delicious piece of gorgeousness? A blocked toilet hose? I don’t know about you, but this puts me in mind of arterial plaques and makes me want to treat my circulatory system with gentle kindness.

More importantly, does this mean that things are afoot aboard the Good Ship Papillon? Indeed it does! Erik is tearing through our to-do list like a lion taking down a zebra. The girls and I are waiting out the worst of the destruction from afar. If all goes well, the four of us will move back into our floating home in another month, and this blog will emerge from hibernation.…

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Passage prep: getting ready to depart South Africa

3 Feb

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As our time in South Africa draws to a close, we’re focused on preparing for the big miles ahead to cross the Atlantic. Although I felt like we spent a lot of last year preparing for passages, given the significant legs crossing the Indian Ocean, there’s a lot to inspect, and re-inspect. This is the time to catch up on anything that might have slipped on the “routine maintenance” schedule.

One of the first jobs was replacing the impeller Totem’s Yanmar (a decision typically guided by engine hours). And…good timing! Jamie found a wear point along the blades that prompted a further internal fix.…

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Dock walk:  rigging fails

6 Jan

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We’re rarely in marinas, but in South Africa’s harbors tying up is the norm. Jamie and I have fun walking the docks, checking out other boats; I always have something to learn from the critical eye of my sailmaker/rigging-savvy husband. Most often, it’s the condition of sails; on a blustery day in Durban, rigging mishaps were the theme.

-stanchion bent-lifelines stretchedThe first one that stood out was just across the dock from Totem. It’s a perfect example of why sailors shouldn’t be tempted to tie fenders to the lifelines, although many persist in the habit or don’t seem to know it’s a bad one.…

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Sailcloth 102: a primer for cruisers

30 Oct

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Jamie is a sailmaker; he periodically shares his knowledge on the blog, and those posts are under the Sailmaker tag. This is the second post in a two-part series to demystify some of the woo around sailcloth material; you can read the first post here. Anyone with questions about sails is invited to get in touch; Jamie enjoys sharing from his depth of experience as a sailmaker and a cruiser. 

Sailcloth comes in so many forms, each exhibiting unique characteristics. It’s easy to see, and understand differences between a Carbon fiber “string” sail and one made from Dacron with crosscut construction.…

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Sailcloth 101: a primer for cruisers

26 Oct

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Jamie is a sailmaker; he periodically shares his knowledge on the blog, and those posts are under the Sailmaker tag here. In this first post of a two-part series, he hopes to demystify some of the woo around sailcloth material. Anyone with questions about sails is invited to get in touch; Jamie enjoys sharing from his depth of experience as a sailmaker and a cruiser.

We gifted Totem’s old Dacron mainsail to a family on Ninigo atoll in Papua New Guinea. There, the fatigued sail that pushed and pulled us over thousands of sea miles found a new life as a tarp.…

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Inspect your sails: identifying UV damaged cloth

20 Nov

sunset
A dependable suit of sails to carry you towards the horizon is the basic tool of every cruiser. I’m sharing more of Jamie’s expertise as a sailmaker on the blog: most recently, about how to check the stitching in sails for UV damage.  This time- he’s going to tell you how to evaluate the cloth.

Jamie often checks sails on the boats we’re with. The cruising boats we meet in Southeast Asia have often done hard miles, but you don’t have to cross an ocean to have sailcloth damaged by UV exposure. He’d like to empower sailors with the right information to check their own to avoid an unpleasant days on the water, or worse.…

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Nearing the end of the shipyard grind

19 Nov

ladder looking down

We’re in the back half of our stay at Phithak Shipyard (PSS) near Satun, Thailand, and it’s pretty exciting to see work progressing on Totem.

As soon as we arrived, we went through our required projects and the wish list with the yard management. Based on their estimates and some help from home, we decided to go forward… with all of it. I might have had some happy tears at the prospect of these improvements to our Totem! So the plan changed from “a couple of weeks” to as long as our visas allow, keeping an eye on the costs, and getting as much done as possible within time/budget limits.…

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Inspect your sails: how to find UV damage in stitching

10 Nov

sail evalCruisers flock towards the tropics, where all that sun exposure can be tough on sails. Short of alien ships on a bad landing approach, UV damage is the biggest culprit in ending the useful life of a sail. Jamie often checks sails on the boats we’re with, like Papa Djo next to us in the shipyard: in the last few months, a spate of them had no idea their sails suffered from moderate to severe damage.

It’s not difficult for cruisers to inspect their own sails and have a good pulse on the condition, so compromised integrity doesn’t unexpectedly turn a nice day on the water into a mess.…

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Welcome to the shipyard

22 Oct

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PSS Satun, a Thai shipyard just a hop over the southern border with Malaysia, sits at the edge of a small village up a winding muddy river. Because we can only enter the river at high tide, we spend the night before our haulout at a bend where the depth drops enough to keep water under the keel through a full swing. Surrounded by mangroves, we watch fishermen wade knee-deep in the mud at low tide, pushing boxes and collecting something- crabs?- from the flats.

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Crossing into Thailand to this spot retraces the same route that brought us here nearly a year ago.…

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