A Hard Day At Boat University

So I did it. I opened the floor up. Took the pipes apart. Figured, refigured, attached, detached, pumped, drained, and still couldn’t get the head to work. Amazing, right? Now it’s a little better than it was. I’m a lot grumpier. Elia not happy that  I was washing off toilet parts in the kitchen sink. Rough day at boat school.

I knew when I got this boat that I wasn’t getting the off the shelf model, and that it might need some work to get her into a “seaworthy” state. It was going to take a lot of love and attention. Cruising is going from exotic port to exotic port and fixing your boat. That’s what they say.

view-from-st-john
From high atop St. John

Part of getting the deep discount on the original purchase is knowing that the price will be paid somewhere. Either to somebody in the boat yard to get it fixed, or by fixing it myself. And as my cousin Clint so eloquently puts it. All Boatyards Suck! I was excited to learn about the systems. I like to fix things. And I realized that the only way I was going to learn about how things work was by fixing them when they broke. Be careful what you wish for at Boat University.

My usual method for fixing something is to break out the screw driver and vice grips and take it apart to see if I can figure it out. There is something inherently masculine about not needing help, not asking for advice. Head down, dive in, take it apart, and try not to drop anything in the bilge. When it goes back together hope that there aren’t any leftover parts.  In an amazing number of times I’ve found that this actually succeeds.

But I’ve been introduced to another way.  (Thanks Capt’n John) Turns out, there are manuals, where people that actually know how the thing works, describe in detail, sometimes with pictures and diagrams how it comes apart and goes back together. There are troubleshooting sections, FAQs. One can delve even deeper over the internet and find on youtube videos of people dealing with exactly that same problem who are excited to show you step by step how to fix it for free. And how about channel 68 on the VHF for a call out to other nearby sailors, for a part, for some advice. Professors are everywhere at Boat U if you know where to look for them.

behind-the-electric-panel
Behind the electrical panel

Yesterday when trying to figure out the auto pilot after pushing all of the buttons and feeling like it must be time to call in the $95 an hour guys as a last resort I opened  the book. On page 17 it said, make sure that the unit is grounded. I looked and found that old Bob hadn’t bothered to hook up that particular wire.  No wonder it has been squirrelly for the last 2,500 miles. I ran the wire, butt crimped on both ends, shrink wrapped it, hooked it to the bonding plate.  Took it out for a test run. And miracle of miracles, it’s working great. Cheap day at Boat University!!!

I change my oil. Slowly the old used up sludge is drained away. Close the valve. Into the system comes the new lubricant. Fresh, untainted. As I am reluctantly learning, fixing the mechanicals can at times be much simpler than changing the thinking on the 58 year old male brain.

2 thoughts on “A Hard Day At Boat University

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