Preparing Kandu over the past several years, vendors and boat owners have shared many negative (or “realistic,” if you’re a pessimist) expressions. Most common: “The best two days of boat ownership are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.” Second most common: “A boat is a hole in the water in which you throw money.” Third most common: “The definition of cruising—instead of everyday working on your boat in your home port, you work on it everyday in exotic ports.” Common: “Cruising is 99% boredom, 1% shear terror” and “No matter the perceived difficulty of a given task prior to its commencement, it will always turn out to be much more difficult in the end.” Not so common: “The skills required to maintain a boat are simple. The challenge is having to know all 10,000 of them.” Most painful: “BOAT is an acronym for ‘Break Out Another Thousand [$].’”
Truth lies in all these expressions. Worst is when they hit together like a shower of daggers attempting to assassinate your attitude, to weaken your will to press on with your goal to sail to foreign ports and adventures beyond. When preparing an older boat for long distance, long-term cruising, many disappointments strike each day, anything from “they don’t make these anymore,” to “you have to replace the whole thing/all of them”, to “but a professional installed it just last month,” and “how does hoisting my brand new $5000 sails break my professionally rebuilt $3000 furling systems and damage my sails?” (That was a bad day.)
In the morning, when a marine surveyor (a professional you pay to tell you what’s wrong with your boat) inspecting your boat tells you that you need to replace your manual bilge exhaust hose and your boat’s steering cable, he says it in a way that sounds like a boat owner can be done with it by day’s end. So when he leaves, you’re smiling and thanking him for finding the problems. After lunch, you call to order the parts. But it’s not easy. It winds up taking two days to research what is needed, another day to find and order the parts, two days to remove the dying unit, a half day to install what turns out to be the wrong part, a half day to order the right part, two days to receive it (that is if you paid the extra money to expedite shipping), and a day to install (note: it’s markedly faster the second time) and test/adjust/calibrate it. Don’t forget about the two new tools bought to do the job. And also don’t forget that the timeframe-equation is twice multiplied: firstly for the bilge hose and secondly for the steering cable. So two weeks and three thousand dollars later, you call the surveyor to tell him the things are done.
Were I to end the account here, the bleak comments about boat ownership hold true. Why then would anyone own a cruising boat? Well, hoses are important. Should one fail, your boat could sink. I knew this before I owned a boat, but after replacing them, I now have confidence in my bilge pump hose, and the other three hoses I replaced that the surveyor didn’t flag. I replaced the other hoses when, in removing the bilge hose, I saw that they were of similar type and poor condition. All the below-the-waterline hoses have now been replaced and tested with superior hose, new fittings, and the best hose clamps. Additionally, while fussing around to find the lay of the hoses’, I had the pleasure of peering into corners and recesses of my boat that I might never have otherwise (I ain’t scared).
Steering is also important (no, duh . . .). After removing the old and installing the new, I now know how my steering system works, every nook and cranny of it. I know how to find the part numbers and where to get parts (Edson). I installed and (4 times) adjusted the assembly myself. I improved the system by adding in-line grease points to the cable conduit to help better maintain the cable within, a feature absent from its previous installation. I learned, after some debate, which grease to use, for not only the steering cable, but for most of the boat’s moving mechanical parts (SuperLube Synthetic Grease). With all that I learned, I elected to create emergency spares. For bilge pump, I re-plumbed and re-wired a portable bilge pump (the fifth bilge pump on our boat). For the steering assembly, I put together a comprehensive kit. In the event that any of the steering components should fail, between the parts I set aside and the newly acquired knowledge on how to replace the parts, I feel confident that I could repair the steering, should the need arise.
So I come out of the ordeal with greater knowledge, greater skill (only 9,998 to go!), and greater confidence. Yeah, sure, I paid for it in money, time, sweat, and frustration. But there are worse ways to spend your time and money than on preparing your “space” ship for an extended world tour with your family. And in the end, I made several new relationships with really smart people. For me, BOAT now stands for, “Buying Our Adventure Time.”