Boats are very complex with many different kinds of systems. Some sailor/owners compare being a skipper to more like being a mayor. You essentially are managing the equivalent of a small city. Our boat has: a sewage system, water system (water maker, water heater, pipes, and tanks), electrical power systems (two engines, batteries, a generator and solar panels), telecommunications (we have two VHF radios, an SSB, satellite phone, and cell phones), department of transportation (sails, two engines and propellers for the main boat, kayak, and a dinghy with a motor), we have a propane gas system, emergency systems (EPIRBS, life raft, PFDs, radios, etc.), computer network and systems, and we have a heat and air conditioning system. About the only thing we don’t have is a landscape/lawn care program, and – thank God! – no lawyers or politicians! We also have a hotel (our extra staterooms), we have a restaurant (our galley), we have a movie theater, a video game arcade (our Wii), camera shop, our own office equipment (printer, scanner, computers, fax), and even a scuba shop.
With all of these complex systems on board, you can bet that something is going to break. In fact, because we live on the ocean – a very corrosive environment thanks to salt water and salt-enriched air – things are much more likely to go bad sooner than normal. We constantly have to rinse the boat in fresh water, and polish the metals on our boat to remove rust that inevitably forms. We also have a running list of things that need fixing as we go along. But, we try to make sure all the critical systems are running at all times.
Right now, part of Tahina’s fix-it list includes: replacing some lines that are starting to show wear (we have spares), replacing a control box for one of our electric winches that has failed, fixing some scratches and cracks in the fiberglass (normal wear and tear except for the scratches on our keel), chart light is burned out, get our spinnaker repaired (it had a major failure on the trip to Niue), make several repairs to wear and tear on other sails, finish cleaning our water-line, wax the entire boat, and perform maintenance on several of the engines.
Maintaining all these systems and keeping things in working order is just part of the price we pay to enjoy all these wonderful places we are going. An old sailor saying is: “cruising means working on your boat in exotic locations“.