We put over 60,000 miles on our Mason 43 Clover during an extended circumnavigation and during those years we had to repair just about everything on the boat at least once, if not three times. In that self-sufficient spirit, we are happy to bring you our annual Spring Commissioning special section starting on page 50.
On our boat’s engine, a Volvo that my Aussie friends used to call “the green death”, we always kept up the usual maintenance program and got excellent service for almost 4,000 hours. But, the raw water pump was a consistent headache. The main problem was that the engine was mounted below Clover’s floorboards and the water pump was tucked away out of sight beneath the heat exchanger. That meant I had to lie on top of the engine and use a mirror to see the pump. In the end, I got so I could remove the cover plate, change the impeller, replace the seals and reassemble the pump by Braille, although I invariably skinned a knuckle or two.
The pump’s stainless steel drive shaft was sealed with O-rings and had a tendency to wear in the middle where it passed through the pump housing to the engine. I carried a spare shaft and after two years and numerous repairs, I finally swapped out the old shaft for the new one. That stopped the small leak that dripped onto the engine mounted fridge compressor and I kept the old shaft tucked away, just in case.
Two years later and half way up the Red Sea the pump began leaking again so I pulled the new shaft out and compared it to the old one. The old one was less worn than the new one so I burnished it with Emory paper and replaced the newer shaft with the older one, which cut the leak by 80 percent. A few months later, I ended up replacing the whole pump but I kept the old one as a spare, in case the new one failed.
The slow leak from the water pump dripped onto the fridge compressor until it finally failed. It was a standard automotive type and I carried a spare with me, just in case. After two years, the first one failed and I replaced it with the spare and had a fridge expert come aboard to recharge the system. I had the old compressor refurbished by the same guy, so, two years later I was able to replace the new one with the old one when it too failed.
This recycling of spare parts became a running joke on the boat because we never could remember if we were talking about the new part or the old part or the old-new part or the new-old part.
But, aboard a cruising boat that is heading over the horizon, spare parts are the key to happy and successful sailing, and keeping used parts that have been replaced may give you the chance to make temporary repairs when nothing else can be done, like when you are half way up the Red Sea.
Things break and need to be repaired or replaced. And, more often than not, you have to do it yourself. So, here’s to spare parts, skinned knuckles, hammered thumbs and water pumps that don’t leak anymore.