It appeared to be just a myth when I first bought my boat. I was warned by others that I shouldn’t fall into the trap of just tinkering on the boat the rest of my life and never going anywhere. Ha! Right…how could anyone possibly buy a sailboat and then only work on projects, never actually taking her anywhere? I had big plans. It wasn’t going to happen to me.
And then I started making lists. Lists are good. Lists with things like “check mail, buy beer”. Boat project lists have good intentions like that, but are a different animal. Boat project lists are corrupting, unless you store them in hidden locations where you won’t be tempted to stare at them all day long. I’ve done nothing but stare at them these last few months I’ve been “on the hard” refitting my boat. I could easily see myself here for months – nay, years – if I allowed myself to just work on projects all the time.
No more! Time to go see the world! I took this boat out of the water mainly to do a tiller conversion. That project has just been completed and I had to tell myself “get your stubborn ass back in the water”. I folded up the list and hid it in a Bahamas cruising book so that I might find the list again in a few months while looking for information on anchorages at my next island.
“Oh, there’s that list. ‘Polish interior side of portlights.’ Okay, I’ll get around to that on a rainy day.”
Owning a cruising boat is a full-time job, so I know the work will never end. It’s just a matter of putting aside the “nice-to-do’s” until I cross the Gulf Stream. I can think of places worse than the Caribbean to work on a boat…like way upriver in North Carolina at a place that’s hot, humid, mosquito-ridden, and without wind or nice scenery…
This boat is also a business investment, and I’m losing money in that sense. I’m relying on my world cruising and the photos & stories I’ll share as my income, meager as it may be, to sustain myself while doing this. I’ve had great interest from a variety of editorial & commercial clients, but they don’t care about a guy stuck on land. I need to get moving to ensure they don’t leave me. My boat is safe to sail now, has what’s needed to sustain myself for long periods of time without any outside help, and that is all that really matters.
So after doing the things that I absolutely couldn’t do in the water, or that would be exponentially easier out of the water, I did one final sweep. Check all electrical circuits, look for stray current loss. Check all thru-hulls and plumbing. Check all rigging and cotter pins in all turnbuckles, clevis pins & toggles. Did I finish putting the engine back together and are there any tools in the engine compartment? Check that all ground tackle (anchors & chain) are ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. Ready to go. Back in the water October 1st.
Projects that were a significant amount of work and might interest others (probably a very small population) will get their own posts in the near future, to include converting from a wheel to tiller, installing solar panels, installing Cape Horn self steering, and sewing new cushions. Here’s a list of everything I’ve done since I’ve been in the yard, in no particular order:
- Removed wheel, helm, engine controls, instruments, and all gearing. Extended rudder stock and reinstalled with ash & mahogany tiller. Installed side-mount engine controls in cockpit.
- Replaced foot pump faucet in galley.
- Installed fans in forecastle and cabin.
- Unstepped mast. Inspected all hardware, replaced deck light & anchor/steam light with LED lighting, replaced wiring, and polished & waxed mast. Replaced all standing rigging. Installed lazy jacks.
- Removed bowsprit platform and refinished it. Added heavy-duty anchor roller. Painted bowsprit spar.
- Removed battery charger and added 2 x 25W solar panels on stern rail mounts and 1 x 50W “portable” panel.
- Removed old engine-driven refrigeration and replaced with new air-cooled 12V system.
- Polished & waxed entire hull.
- Painted bottom.
- Refinished all topside teak trim.
- Installed 12V socket under navigation table & added portable inverter.
- Replaced engine stuffing box packing.
- Repaired rot in port samson post and filled with penetrating epoxy then thickened epoxy.
- Installed new VHF radio with AIS receiver.
- Installed gimbaled backstay-mounted Furuno radar.
- Installed Cape Horn wind vane self-steering.
- Replaced all interior cushions & cushion covers with 2.8 density open-cell foam.
- Replaced head pump.
- And a number of other small miscellaneous projects.