It’s raining again and I’m trying to type without a middle finger. I still have one, it’s just out of commission. So not being able to play guitar very well because of the potato peeler incident, I thought I’d try to write something. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot on my mind besides finger pain of which Deb and my daughters think I’m exaggerating the seriousness of the peeled tip.
I have one hobby left and it’s guitar and now I’m bored so I’m going to ramble on about…stuff.
I was debating even talking about boats seeing I have no boat but friends of mine keep buying boats and some of them actually ask me for advice which is kind of funny. I suppose I have some experience after all this time and I’m willing to offer any sarcastic advice I can in order to have a laugh of course but I am serious about telling it straight and helping them out.
For those who don’t know me, I was a sailor and a licensed Captain (100 ton Master). I raced dinghy and larger yachts and never won anything but a few flags, plaque and a beer mug for last place. I was also a certified sailing instructor 😀 I can’t imagine me teaching kids how to sail. I’d be laughing too hard. You know how kids say shit that you’re not supposed to laugh at? Yea I laugh. Plus, if a kid jibes and dumps it I would most certainly laugh before and during rescue and there is nothing funnier than a cocky kid finishing early and forgetting the daggerboard as they speed for the beach. Aside from that stuff we did pilot a 44 ft chunk of fiberglass down to Trinidad and back over 6 yrs.
So now that I’m done tooting my own horn let me offer some advice to the new boat people. Take it as serious as you would like or discount it all as the incoherent ramblings of a retired old sailor and cruiser, Island Hopper, etc. I read a lot of blogs before we untied the lines and took a lot of advice from a lot of people. Most of it sucked. So my advice might, will suck as well.
Number 1. Don’t buy a boat! Kidding. Boats are cruel. Cool! I meant cool. Buy the best boat you can find at the price you can afford or buy the best boat you can’t afford and have no reason owning such a prize and sail it with the intention of selling it before you fuck it up. If you are going for the gold just be aware of current markets for selling and if you get a clue that the economy is going in the toilet just like your guests tampon, you should sell that big boat fast before the market grinds to a halt. Nothing kills a life of leisure (or marriage) on the water faster than a huge boat payment, slip fee, and maintenance on a floating condo stuck at the dock.
The opposite route is to buy a piece of shit that has no business being back on the water with the intent of refurbishing it to its former glory…or at least getting it to float again so you can live on it alone at anchor sending unanswered texts to your former girl.
Try to shoot for something in the middle. Maybe it needs a little work but it’s a sound vessel with a good track record. Solid decks would be great. NOthing worse than soft decks. It’s not the end of the world and it’s totally repairable but geez what a pain in the ass plus on windy days you will look down at your bulging genoa track and imagine the thing ripping out of the deck and hitting you in the face, creating a big hole where the big waves out there 50 miles from any island come pouring into the cabin and while you are floating in your life raft heading to Mexico you wonder what your face looks like and if it will scare children if you are rescued.
Good solid bulkheads. Not a floor pan that rides up the sides a bit. I know I’m a bit old school here but our Hunter 34 had a floor pan/grid whatever (not a naval architect) and in rough weather the hull would flex. I mean flex! The boat was fine but just the thought of the hull moving like that gave us the heeby jeebs. We had the Morgan in rough weather and it was a whole new world. Total confidence of a solid boat. We had warm fuzzies instead of heeby jeebies. Well except for that Toronto trip.
I got another cup of tea. Things are gonna get weird if I continue.
Don’t buy a boat for it’s electronics because it’s probably all old shit anyway and it’s been exposed to the sea air and maybe some water too and likely to be close to junk. Sometimes you get lucky and the owner kept things fairly modern but chances are it’s some old geezer set in his ways and didn’t want to learn new software so the chartplotter is likely outdated. Instruments are expensive and we do what we can to keep them running like replacing faded displays, cords, etc but sometimes we do a fucking hack job to keep things working and the hack job becomes permanent. I myself have revisited a display that died and wondered why it’s fucked up again but then saw the 5200 I gooped into the cracked housing had separated because I never really cleaned the housing of salt. Woops. More 5200!
Did I ever tell you that KN was basically stripped of electronics? Yea she came with nothing. Just basic shit. Just the way we wanted it. 🤔
Engines. Buy a boat with a Yanmar. I think they are the best. Everyone on the planet can work on them and there are parts everywhere. Well, everywhere we went. We only ever replaced belts. I had a spare starter, water pump, injectors, hoses, etc. Only replaced the belts. OK the alternator caught fire but that was a Balmar. Their regulator caught fire as well. Assholes. I replaced it all with Hitachi. Been fine. Doesn’t burn any belts either. I replaced one engine hose.
Yes the transmission killed a whole season of cruising but that was a…damn I forgot the name of the transmission already. Anyhow, a clutch cone gone bad but totally inept mechanics in Grenada kept us at anchor for almost a year. My blood pressure just kicked up a notch thinking about all that. I kept the cone as a trophy or paperweight. I had thoughts of sending a photo of it to our mechanics every year as a reminder that they SUCK BALLS.
So get an engine that everyone is familiar with and not some old British piece of shit that’s well known to all cruisers, their children and acquaintances that it is indeed a piece of shit and that mechanics around the world will laugh at you if you ask for spare parts. They don’t actually laugh but display sympathy with a smirk they fail to hide. Also they will love to take it apart and then wait for spares to never ship.
Don’t go all out trying to find a “blue water boat”. All that means is it’s a heavy boat that sails like shit and has no room. Granted, you will feel totally secure in that boat when the waves kick up to scary sizes but WTF are you doing out there anyway in that shit? You know if I was going to cross the Atlantic I would be looking at a “Blue Water Boat” or one that was a thick, heavy, slow, full keel, cutter rig, canoe stern (nah fuck that), small cockpit, skinny berth boat cause they’re safe. But, I wasn’t going to do that. Deb might have thought about it but she soon changed her tune after a few consecutive nights at sea. It’s rough out there! I have nothing but love for all the boats we all sail so don’t get a tight sphincter over all that I’m saying. I just think that some of us want something we don’t actually need…kind of like a Hummer. Remember those? Why would you buy that? It’s huge. Has no interior space relative to it’s bulk and looks ugly, like a lego car a 4 yr old would build. “It can go anywhere”. Cool, where do you go? Yea that’s what I thought. Guess you’re not climbing a snow covered mountain to shoot some wild Rams eh? Be realistic in your choice of boat.
With that said, we have friends with true blue water boats and they are gorgeous, solid and sail well. They cost way more than ours but they sail without a worry when it gets bad out there. We sailed in a lot of shit weather as well and our boat, though old was solid…mostly. I would never take our old boat across the ocean without some modifications whereas our friends would just stock up and go.
I have to tell you…there are all kinds of freaking boats out there. All types and if you saw what people sail back and forth across the Atlantic your jaw would drop. We were in St Martin and all these horns were sounding off and we came up wondering what the hell was going on and eventually from the radio traffic we figured out that a bunch of boats, quite a few, were leaving to cross the Atlantic! Holy crap that guy is going? I thought it was derelict! There were all kinds of boats and only a few I thought were “blue water”. Wow. Just shows you that it’s not the boat, it’s the balls, cohones, stones. You get the picture.
Lot’s of cats. Catamarans. Very popular. I say go for it if you can afford one. Roomy. If you and your partner like space then do it. Some days it would have been nice to have our own hulls. If we did this again, like if suddenly I was 50 again, I would buy a charter Cat down in the Islands. Fly down, buy cat, sail cat, sell cat, fly back. A lot of the new one’s are poor sailors and they look stupid but they are roomy and most of the time the motor is running anyway. One thing I never knew about cats, if one motor dies they have one hell of a time getting to a mooring or a dock. I went to help some dude who lost one engine and it took him fucking hours to get near me to tie him off. I think I missed lunch. Never even got a beer out of that. Cheap bastard. I hope he got my mechanic. Maybe it wasn’t a cat problem. Maybe the cheap bastard didn’t know what he was doing.
I was just thinking, if we had our own hulls I would make mine into a Tiki Bar! If you were a worthy friend I’d hand you a ticket for entry into the Tiki Hull portion of our boat. Like a cool man cave.
Let’s talk about toilets and then I will break for lunch. Maybe I should label this post part 1 and then continue on with more crap advice for losers who bought boats. You’re not losers. You are adventurers!
There are places to spend big bucks on a boat. Places where the money spent equates to future happiness. The Head is one of those places. Specifically, the toilet. If you have two heads on a boat then one of them should be the gold standard of waste removal.
A malfunctioning toilet is one of the worst problems to have on a cruising boat besides sinking. Actually depending on the age and condition of the boat sinking may not be the worst scenario. When the toilet doesn’t flush, your whole world will pause and you will stare into the void for a few seconds contemplating your choice of remote anchorages and owning a boat in general before you start the inventory of what you will need and the list of tasks required to make the shitter work again.
You will start with items needed to clean yourself. Gloves, paper towels and garbage bags. Lot’s of fucking paper towels! Extra gloves and put some fabric gloves you are willing to part with over the latex. The latex will rip on the fist hose clamp you encounter. Neosporin, hand sanitizer in pump bottle, pail of water, face mask, goggles, old clothes and hat. In fact don’t wear any clothes. Make sure the water tank is full for a good half hour shower and make sure the shower is ready to go. Also clear a path for a run and jump overboard. Another vomit bucket is a really good idea too.
All your tools should be in the head or close by. Every tool! OK not a belt sander but every possible tool you may need. We don’t need captain shitty hands roaming around the boat looking for the missing socket (10mm). Clorox! Clorox in a spray bottle! Any kind of spray cleaner. Sponges and rags and more plastic bags. Prayers. Pray to whoever just pray.
Some of our waste plumbing had to go up. Yes, upward. When pulling the joker valve ( a joker valve is a duckbill kind of looking rubber valve that only allows fluids to flow one way, until it doesn’t) we would encounter a column of “water” that was left in the upward run hose. This “water” would squirt out around the joker valve when I slowly pried it out. Just imagine. You want to scream but you can’t open your mouth so your scream is delayed until after the spray stops unless you got nailed, then you just moan a bit and sob while you feel around for the paper towels.
We bought a Raritan toilet which was pricey but somewhat simple to repair and had a macerator built in but everything was easy to get at. We could even install it so the joker valve access was facing you and not against the wall. The toilet only failed us once and the parts were ordered locally and arrived quickly. The macerator froze up. Not uncommon but like I said only once. We had the other head to use but it was a cheap ass Jabsco. Jabsco is junk but there are parts everywhere. I basically had three spare toilets in parts. I used the last of the spares our lat week as cruisers.
So, to summarize toilets, only buy a boat with two heads and make sure one of the toilets is first class. Also make sure one of the toilets remains manual in operation else you may find yourself doing aqua dumps off the stern with all the Germans. Not all the Germans and I’m sure some were just getting some morning exercise…
The last tea is wearing off and I ate lunch so now I’m getting sleepy plus it’s dark and stormy outside. A short nap sounds awesome but first I will add some pics to this post to make it pleasant to look at. These days if there is more than 3 consecutive paragraphs people lose interest. I wonder if I have any pics of German people doing water aerobics…
Wow, long nap. Might be time for a brewski. This started as a morning post. Stay tuned for part 2 maybe. Could happen.
Oh, I didn’t proof read. Sorry. Also sorry for the foul language. Ha, not really.
KANZAKI!! That was the transmission manufacturer. Also something I yelled whenever the engine gave me trouble.