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
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
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 place.
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.