07 March 2012

Advice for trouble free travelling on a sailboat….

I know, I'm complaining very often that stuff breaks on the boat and you're under constant repair/maintenance pressure. After the fridge shows now some signs of problems I think it's time for a warning, or call it advice for all future wanna be sailors about technical stuff on a boat.
If you hate it (like me) to crawl into small lockers when it's 55 Celsius outside (and maybe 80 inside the locker) to fix some inaccessible stuff don’t buy a boat at all. It's much more convenient in a plane, not to mention the airport lounge before you even take off.  
In Summary: First of all don’t buy a boat!  If you insist to get from A to B in the slowest, most expensive and for sure most uncomfortable way – yes, then buy a sailboat.  But at least avoid technical stuff wherever possible. Less things that can break will make your life much more easier: How is the saying: If you can't fix it don’t bring it on the boat. Here is my top list of avoidable items:

Toilette: For most boaters this is the hassle number one: It's stinky, it's leaky and you're always scared that damn thing gets clogged (and I hate to instruct all guests about the proper usage – I mean this is somehow private. Isn’t it??). Guess I can say it this way: Same shit with the holding tank!  Avoid it! The perfect answer would be a bucket! Hassle free thing. Use it and wash it out – or better throw it overboard after use! 

Pressurized water: What’s about the neat freshwater system? I mean who really needs pressurized hot and cold water from a tap? Install a foot pump under each sink and save a bunch of money. No hassle with electric pumps, filters and pressure switches. And you will save a lot of water as well, people are lazy, they will not pump 20 liters for a shower by foot. I estimate the saving potential is 80% - per shower!. Less water need means you do not need the watermaker either. Life could be so simple!

Fridge/Freezer: Since we have the boat I have a constant battle with this system. We have a huge freezer and fridge. I guess I could store a 200-pound tuna in the freezer without cutting it. At least if I finally would catch one! But I'm drifting off…. this unit uses power like hell. It’s our biggest draw in the system. And from time to time it stops working – have still not figured out why. It's currently running on an emergency wiring and not that cold as it was before. I may have to get professional help as soon available ( yes my friends – Rahel keeps telling me that for months). So get rid of a freezer/fridge: You can drink your beer out of the bilge, this is the coolest place on a boat – currently around 48 Degrees Celsius or so. In summary without a fridge you save a lot of energy  = less batteries means less solar = less $$$! And you're right, less to break.

Electricity: Since we saved now 50% of the needed electricity – we should ask ourself why not getting completely rid of it. I mean candlelight is much more romantic anyway. You could use an oil lamp at night as navigation lights – it worked for centuries. There are probably 100 miles of cables in my boat with hundreds of fuses – let's get rid of that! Replace the electric autopilot with a wind steering, instead of GPS, Plotter and Computer use a sextant, compass and the good old paper charts for navigation. You can log the depth with a manual log – same for speed. Get a manual anchor windlass too. It's all you need – nothing will fail!

Engine: We have now an electricity less boat – lets think about the engine: For probably 10’000 years sailboats had no engines. Why now? It’s stinky, loud, complicated and expensive. You need diesel, oil and a closet full of spares. Damn it’s a sailboat – why the hell are you using the engine if you could use the wind to get from A to B? It’s free and no need for this complex mechanic monsters. Get rid of it and safe a fortune! If you really need to go into a harbor without any wind use the oars in your dinghy. Towing a sailboat is a very healthy exercise and people will be very astonished about your style of cruising each time you enter a port.

By now we have reduced the stuff, which can and will break by roughly 90% - the only thing you have to deal with is the sailing gear, the hull and some minor stuff. There will be still enough to make your days miserable. But since it's now just mechanical it will be an easy fix most of the time. 

Comfort? Yes, I admit, the boat is now slightly less comfortable as well. But instead bending in a locker, swearing, covered in sweat and grease you can spend now more quality time with your wife. If she’s still there of course! Mine would have left after the bucket proposal – so I guess it’s again a trade off. You have to live with this complicated stuff, or you may find yourself sailing alone…

And yes for the sharp thinkers among us, this may raise another question of going more towards simplicity: If your boat is now that simple and there is no Admiral anymore you could go a few feet smaller. This would save a lot of other hassle…….but that’s just a theory of course…

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant! you know this instantly reminds me of when you used to talk about IBM commission processes and requests from Schweiz to UAE and vice versa :) Greetings from the UK. Matt & Tanya (Walker)