By Barb Hansen
Vic and I were working on the boat recently. My job was
to reach deep into a dark access hole and blindly hold lock washers and nuts in
place while Vic twisted in three screws from the other side.
Physically, it was agreed, I was more suited to reaching
around and holding them in place. Vic said my arms were thinner and I was more
flexible. This is true.
Successful boating requires diligent boat maintenance. If
you are going to do this yourself you should be no more than four feet tall.
Your arms need to be six feet long and elbows should be double-jointed so you
can reach and hold fasteners, filters and fittings.
It helps if you are a circus acrobat who can twist
yourself into a pretzel shape. Or, you could marry one.
Boat maintenance and auto maintenance are different. Most
of us don't get to use our boats as often as we use our cars so we don't get as
much warning when something is about to break. Also, unlike car shops, boat
repair shops are few and far between.
Some boaters actually enjoy working on their boats. Most
don't. Time is short. We'd rather be out on the water. But, maintenance is
necessary. The old saw is, Take care of your boat and it will take care of you.
I interpret that to mean take care of it or it will break down when you're out
on the water.
Better safe than sorry, of course. One of our
responsibilities at Southwest Florida Yachts is to maintain our charter fleet.
Since we don't want our charter customers to break down on the water, we follow
a simple rule: Repair and replace things on a schedule. If we wait for them to
break they will break at a time and place not of our choosing.
Vic and I are licensed boat brokers and we help buyers
find boats. Right on the front end we tell them to consider the long-term cost
of maintenance. For example, twin engines are nice for docking and maneuvering
but engine maintenance expense is twice that of a single-engine vessel.
We have managed yachts with every whistle and bell
imaginable – high tech electronics, multiple battery banks, electric dinghy
lifts, complex entertainment systems. A couple even had trash compactors. We
call that "stuff." It's okay to have lots of stuff on the boat but
remember, more maintenance will be required. Eventually, everything needs
repair or replacing.
Our tilt is always toward the
boat that is equipped with what is necessary, but otherwise simple. When
outfitting a new boat or retrofitting an older one, choose quality. You'll be
happier. Quality lasts longer and lowers maintenance costs and aggravation,
especially on a boat that (unlike your living room) is exposed to the elements.
If survival of the fittest theory is correct some day all
boaters will be short, long armed, double-joined, and have an extra set of eyes
on their fingertips so they can see exactly where to hold lock washers in
Until then we will have to use our inflexible bodies or
get somebody else to do it.
It's one thing to be stuck at the dock and quite another
to be adrift on the open sea. Take care of your boat. Maintain it on a
schedule. It will give you more time on the water and peace of mind, too. And
that's a bargain.