Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The definition of cruising

Someone pointed out to me that our blog is mostly travelogue, with not much nitty gritty about the daily aspects of running a boat. I will attempt to rectify that oversight!

Cruising has been defined as "repairing your boat in exotic places." That is more or less accurate for every boat I've ever seen. Even the new ones are not immune to equipment failure. A 21-year-old boat like ours needs constant upkeep and attention.

Since leaving Newport, Oregon, I've changed the oil and filter, put new sacrificial zinc anodes on the propeller and shaft, cleaned the bottom, and tightened numerous loose screws. I've also varnished the dinghy oars, cabin sole (floor), handrails, and some of the interior trim. This is just normal maintenance and doesn't include constant cleaning of the topsides and interior.

We've also replaced two water pumps, and had the mainsail cover repaired after we blew out a zipper. Minor stuff, although not inexpensive. The water pumps were $350 a pop.

The autopilot had some problems, but we were able to patch it back together. We also found a similar used unit that we can scavenge for parts in the likely eventuality of more parts wearing out.

Today I'm up to my armpits in everybody's favorite type of repair, to the ship's sanitation system. Urine and saltwater combine to form a crystalline lining in the waste hoses. Its kinda like hardening of the arteries: over time, the buildup shrinks the size of the opening, and eventually nothing goes through the hose. So I've removed the hoses and valves between the toilet and the holding tank, and purchased replacement parts. The removal wasn't much fun because of the smell and cleanup, but the installation of the new parts is far worse, because of the small spaces I have to work in and the obduracy of the materials. Sanitary hose is incredibly stiff and unyielding. I'm worn out, and I've barely begun getting it back together. It'll have to wait til tomorrow.

These are the times I envy the simpler sailing craft: no engine, a bucket instead of a head, etc. Yeah, right, who am I kidding? The old salts had it far worse dealing with wooden hulls, cotton sails, and hemp ropes. At least today's materials are far more durable.

We're at the "police dock" in San Diego. There is a German boat, a Danish boat, and a US boat from Rhode Island. Tomorrow we're going to a cruiser's get-together at a local marine supply store. Then its back to wrestling hoses!

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