Sunday, 30 October 2016

Annual Boat Maintenance Time – 2

It’s the creep up from power wash, paint, zinc to ‘maybe look at this or that’, that is the killer in annual maintenance. My experience is that horns, left out in the weather on the bow have a short life, as anything electric left in the rain has this habit of kicking the bucket before its time. And so I said to take a look at that and the creep began.

It crossed my mind that my GPS with the expanded chip from Puget Sound to Portland Canal, inside and out, was acquiring an odd habit: it wouldn’t go beyond the chart loading stage, so it fired up but wouldn’t work. I had to pull the plug from the back, insert it again, fire it up and the charts came on line and everything worked. That meant the problem was likely to be an electrical connection not sending complete juice that was causing an intermittent problem.

In boats, an intermittent electrical problem usually means there is corrosion (remember that salt) inside a wire lead somewhere in the system. Now, with a GPS, you don’t want to have a problem because if it doesn’t work, in fog, you have no chart in front of you to tell you where you are. And while running into a freighter that can’t see you is a serious problem, I once ended up in the States, Lopez Island, in the fog, then ran out of gas off Discovery, and needed rescuing, in the fog – one reason I never go anywhere without full tanks anymore – before I went out and bought a GPS with charts - $2500.

And from ongoing intermittent electrical errors, I got the wiring redone on my boat. Anyone who has done this knows that electrical wiring is the most expensive thing you can have done on your boat - $1500. Then I had a fuel gauge kick the bucket on the dash which would lead to running out of gas. So I got the other side of the electricals done – a new dash instrument panel, and a new switch panel, with all the double and triple wires back and forth. As in $1000. 

And, of course the gauge in the tanks kicked the bucket soon thereafter, and because the mentally-challenged boat designer had given me two 20 gallon tanks, one on port, one on starboard, rather than in the centre under the deck, and the tanks were a son of a bitch to fit under the gunwhales, so $600 for labour and then the gauges were replaced.

And then I noticed there was a container for antifreeze that had no top, so let’s look at that, too. Oh and how about giving the engine a once over? I had no reason to think there was anything wrong but since the boat was out of the water, it was the right time to get some peace of mind. And did I mention that my canvas top is starting to look like it was used on Noah’s arc – not to mention all the seagull ‘droppings’ and the zippers that have started ripping out? 

The canvas is so embarrassing that I did some looking into getting it redone only to find that not only did some canvas workers not even get back to me for an estimate, that others were booking six months in advance, and the only guy who was booking for early 2017, gave me an estimate of $4000 – to $6000, and it would be more if he made it into a bimini style – less work in my estimation.

I had been going to get a new boat, silly me, and let the top go, but had to finally decide that that was just not on the card$$ at the moment, as I had bought a new car, a Jeep. Its story makes even this boat story sound like child’s play, inexpensive, and I won’t get into that. Suffice it to say, Jeep = Kaching.
Oh and did I mention that someone ran into my boat while it was docked? That I ended up getting a new kicker, that I paid for, because I got fed up waiting, and losing income and etc. – I’d say $16,000 which I haven’t seen a penny from after two years. But that is a story that has another chapter to go and I’ll let you know the story then, when it is resolved.

Then there was that boat designer again who, instead of lifting the in-board engine above the abundant rain we get on the wet coast, he left the starter motor in the bilge, and then put the auto-pump switch a little forward of the starter. That meant I got to grow mushrooms on my boat, and change the starter more than once per year, because it was under water for more than 30 years, not to mention the battery, as in more than $500 each time. And then there was the kill switch, $250. And then there was the bus heater that got to sit in water, too, and needs changing every few years, as in…

And does it end there? No, as we boat owners know, it never ends. So a different kind of pump was installed, entailing a complete re-rig of the system including new hull drains, and $500 for the parts (not just a $50 new bilge pump). The good thing about this expenditure is that I now have a dry boat, and it sure is nice looking into the bilge and seeing it dry.

And, my boat is back in the water, and as yet, I have not had the bill sent to me, so I don’t know if those exhaust manifolds were replaced – you will remember that each one is $500 and there are two, and they have to be put into the boat – you will also remember that the structure that holds the inboard engine needs disassembly because said designer had built the cover in such a way as to prevent one getting a wrench on the bolts on the manifolds.

And does it end there? Not a chance. The next time I went down to go fishing, the engine would not start. Well, unbeknown to me, the bilge pump came on, would not stop, and killed the battery and presumably something is wrong with the bilge pump. A message was left for me, but I did not get it for two days, resulting in a dead boat. 

So I went back to talk with my good buddies at Gartside and was told the original pump was left in place and it was probably that one that caused the problem. And that the problem would be solved. 
Does annual maintenance end there? I have no idea because I haven’t got the bill yet. Happy boating.

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