In last week’s Just Cruising, I related a short tale of having to fix our GPS half way up the Red Sea and some 500 miles from the nearest marine electronics shop. We ended up taking the unit apart and drying it out in the oven. That worked, luckily. The tale prompted regular contributor and experienced cruiser Dick Stevenson to send us the note below based on an article he wrote on safety and making repairs for the Ocean Cruising Club. Enjoy. GD.
Do No Harm
It is in the nature of cruising widely that skippers occasionally have to repair a system about which they may have little knowledge. It has been my experience and observation that there are some skills which make it quite likely that one will succeed in the repair.
My first “rule” is taken right out of medical training: “Do No Harm”. The primary danger where experience and knowledge are limited is that, in the poking around searching for a solution, that matters are made worse. Next worry is that you do not document how items came apart.
Please! Do not rely on memory: your smart-phone camera is an impressive tool in this regard. The best insurance to doing no harm is to proceed slowly and thoughtfully: usually there is no rush. In addition to photos, take real-time notes: partly as the notes will be helpful, but also because the taking of notes is a marvelous stimulus to creative problem solving. It is far too easy to get stuck in a limited line of thinking.
The next and last tool to be mentioned is persistence. If one persists in poking around and resists doing harm, the problem is very likely to reveal itself. Give yourself the mind-set to persist: tell yourself that you are learning about the system at hand, rather than repairing it. Make it fun and feed your curiosity and you will very likely execute the repair. At worst, you will have a better knowledge of the problem and what the next step is.
Safe sailing, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy