Captains Log


I don’t know about you, but I can’t work on my cars’ engines anymore. I open the hood and all I recognize are the caps for topping up fluids and checking the oil. The rest of the engine is encased in covers and linked with forbidding looking wire harnesses. My ignorance of how the engines actually operate makes me completely dependent on technicians with computers and advanced training and that means I can’t stray too far from the places where these experts work.

On my 45-foot cruising boat, it is a different story. With the exception of the insides of the marine electronics—those control heads and black boxes—I pretty well know how everything aboard works. And I can fix just about all of it, too. Rebuild the winches? No problem. Mend a sail. I can do that. Install and repair electrical things like the refrigeration, inverter, battery charger and so forth? I’ve been there and done that.

The point is that our boats are still essentially simpler than our cars. And, we have learned that if we want to sail far from the land of experts and specialized technicians—i.e., to the world’s best cruising grounds—then we need to become more self-reliant than we are ashore. A big part of that self-reliance is knowing what you know and what you don’t, and fairly assessing how capable you are at dealing with complex devices and systems.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a car mechanic) to figure out that the more complex any device, machine or system is, the more maintenance it will require and the more skilled the maintainer will have to be. That’s why truly experienced offshore sailors and cruisers will advise you to keep your boat as simple as possible.

So what is off the list of gear, equipment and systems that are hard to repair and maintain and generally unnecessary for leading the cruising life? How about things like electric wine coolers, dishwashers and trash compacters? A washer-drier might be nice but do you really need it and could you repair it? Or, that elaborate home entertainment system that needs 110-volts? And, do you really need a watermaker or air conditioning? Having cruised more than 100,000 miles without them, I don’t think so.

Keeping it simple means you will spend less time bound to your creature comforts and more time enjoying the cruising life. The old joke is that cruising is the act of moving a yacht from one exotic repair location to another. It doesn’t have to be that way.









Author: Blue Water Sailing