The roundup of our current maintenance projects isn’t complete without a look at the work we’ve recently done. Totem is just one case, but a reasonable stand-in to consider the kind of work that a well used cruising boat goes through after five plus years in the tropics. It’s a different perspective than offered by the general rule of thumb, and that’s fine by us: we take good care of our baby.
1. Prop shaft and bearings. Looking good now, but turned out that it had a few kinks.
2. Bottom job. We won’t expect to get five years out of this one like we did the last, but we should be covered until at least South Africa now.
Totem is just a sample size of one, but it’s not a bad proxy for the maintenance you might expect on a well-found boat after a handful of years of tropical cruising. It’s one thing to talk in theory about how to account for the cost of maintenance while cruising; hopefully this look at what we’re addressing on Totem makes it a little more real.
These are the non-negotiables: the things that have to be addressed near term. They are safety essentials or gear we need to replace, and work that’s all planned for the next few months.
1. Battery bank.…
What does it cost to go cruising? Most of these discussions focus on month to month living expenses. Do you eat out in restaurants or stick to the boat? Do you stay in marinas or anchor out? Do you send out your laundry or wash it in a bucket? What’s easy to miss in the discussion, or not apparent in a month-to-month level examination, are maintenance costs. They get lost in the shuffle, but maintenance costs can bite you in the bum.
How can you ballpark annual maintenance costs? There are various “rules of thumb” and most of them put yearly maintenance costs at 10-20% of the boat’s value.…
I can’t explain it, but my sail covers have become too small over the years. Either they shrunk, or sails have become bulkier. (Do I sound like an aging man talking about his waistline?) It’s been a real stretch lately, and a ten minute job, to get the sail covers on, especially over my new-ish main, which is still stiff. They were also generally battered and had lots of rips to repair. I’ll say this much though: That Sunbrella is some tough stuff. Those sail covers date from long before I owned the boat, meaning they’ve stood up to at least twenty years in the sun.…
When Erik went back to work, Papillon became My Boat. By which I mean, Papillon became My Problem. With my resident handyman thousands of miles away, anything that broke was going to be my responsibility. And it was just a matter of time before something bad happened. This is a boat, after all. So when the generator died this week, I wasn’t surprised.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not very handy. As Erik kindly puts it, I’m not a natural tool user. No arguments here. But, being the big boss that I am now, I thought I could show some maturity and give this a whirl. …
It was a trio of unfortunate events on a day that began with a beautiful sail, after a day anchored off another stunning Thai island. Any one of these three could ruin your day, and even two out of three could cause serious problems. We managed to luck out with all three.
- Autopilot failed. Inconvenient, not serious.
- Steering cable broke. Getting serious now.
- Engine overheated. Trifecta of doom?
It was late morning and Totem was scooting along nicely, nearly 9 knots on a beam reach in 20 knots, stunning blue skies, and seas peaking out around two meters. It was glorious, if slightly rolly when the bigger waves gave Totem a shove.…
It was not one of our sunnier mornings.
Oh, the sun was up and blazing, but the utter lack of sleep the night before- when Totem sat beam onto a swell rolling in over a long stretch of the Indian Ocean- left us feeling a little dim.
Help was surely on the way, I thought, catching a whiff of propane as Jamie turned on the stove to make coffee. I turned a bleary eye and rolled over, and a few minutes later, caught the same odor again. This time it didn’t feel right, and snapped me to a consciousness. Any hint of propane only comes with lighting the stove, and it doesn’t stick around.…
I realize that interminable, frustrating boat projects are the low country of boating conversation, but bear with me.
My electric windlass stopped working four months ago. It would power down, but not up. Sure it was the windlass control box, I tore into the anchor locker, removed the control box, then tested the windlass directly by touching the live power cable to each of the leads on the windlass. Again, power down but no power up, and this showed it was something in the guts of the windlass.
If this were a job for a customer, I’d like to think I would have had the good sense to say, “Let me remove and disassemble the windlass, then we’ll talk about how much this is going to cost.” But I probably would have said, “This has gotta be something simple since the motor still works.…
If you have an electric windlass, eventually you will step on the foot switch, or flip the switch in the cockpit, and nothing will happen. Of course this can be caused by many problems, but the most common are corroded contacts on a solenoid. In a blog post a while back I discussed solenoids in general terms. If you don’t know what a solenoid is, or what it does, it would do you well to read this brief primer.
Here we’ll discuss windlass solenoids, or what they call a windlass control box, which is really just two solenoids in the same box and sharing some of the same circuitry.…
We look ahead at 2014 with great anticipation: Now that the Pacific Ocean, South China Sea, and Straits of Malacca are behind us, it’s inevitable that the eyes wander west towards the Indian Ocean. Even contemplating the next leap makes me a little giddy. Deceptively open on the map, there are myriad small corners to learn about, dots on the map that the line of our route may wind through and around. Like the South Pacific, many have names that feel entirely foreign, and it’s hard to imagine now how they will someday feel as familiar to me as those Pacific names like Vava’u, Raiatea, Suwarrow, Efate and others rang strangely before our crossing in 2010.…