Cruising is fixing your boat in exotic locations

By Kevin


The title of this post is a well-known cruising witticism. When I would hear it in the past, I would laugh and think that surely this was part of some negative propaganda campaign that was meant to deter flocks of would-be sailors from crowding beautiful tropical anchorages.

Now, a few months into our journey, I see glimpses of truth in the saying. We’ve had broken stuff. And, I spend a lot of time researching, troubleshooting, fixing. Google is my friend, at least when WIFI is available. When not, I lean on more experienced cruisers for tips.

Here are the things that have broken so far, just off the top of my head:

  • We had our brand new Garmin GPS unit replaced in Miami.
  • We had our GPS unit reinstalled in Bimini and then again in Nassau. Now it works beautifully.
  • Our low pressure hose blew off our engine-driven refrigeration compressor, creating a smoky mess in our engine room when we were 20 miles from the nearest land.
  • We destroyed the bearings in our refrigeration compressor. It is dead.
  • We ordered a Honda 2000i gas powered generator to run our AC refrigeration unit until we get back to Florida. It should arrive on a flight from the U.S. tomorrow.
  • Both heads (toilets) clogged badly. (Marine toilets cannot be unclogged with a plunger. You must disassemble them and take out whatever is causing the blockage.) Not fun but I got stuff flowing again.
  • We (okay, I) broke the pump handle in the forward head. Well, technically, it was the little bracket that the pump handle fits into.
  • We ordered a new pump assembly for the aft head. It will arrive on the flight tomorrow.
  • I rebuilt the floorboard hatch in the galley. It needed new plywood supports.
  • I re-inforced the plywood divider that separates our anchor chain from our anchor rode in the anchor locker.  I screwed in an aluminum bracket to give it strength. 
  • Our new LED anchor light on the top of the mast stopped working a few weeks ago. I had to go up to the top of the mast twice to try to fix it. Unfortunately it is still kaput so for an anchor light, we are using a lightbulb that we hoist up the mast 15 feet. 
  • Our saltwater washdown pump stopped working. I need to find where it is located and figure out if it is a pump or electrical issue. That can wait–I need a beer.

Of course, when we aren’t fixing broken things, we can spend quality family time cleaning and polishing stainless steel fixtures, sanding and varnishing teak, and of course, washing and waxing the boat.

2 thoughts on “Cruising is fixing your boat in exotic locations

  1. I kinda love it that things are always breaking on boats, but hate it when I have to fix something when I would rather be doing something else. Are you pleased with the manual heads or would you rather electric?

    • Hi Gareth,

      If you like broken equipment, you’ll love cruising.

      Pumping the manual heads are a pain in the you-know-what but I haven’t yet had a desire to switch to electric. If I did, I would probably do a dual electric/manual so that when the electric motor breaks, they could still be operated. Especially if my boat only had one head.

      Both our heads have the Raritan PHII, which is a very reliable system. We replaced the pump housing on the aft toilet and it was very easy to do. For maintenance, I’ve been adding a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and vinegar (salad dressing!) to each toilet on the first of each month. The vinegar helps clean the lines and the oil lubricates the pump housing.


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