Boat Work

Part of living on a sailboat is keeping up with all the regular maintenance and repair work needed to keep everything running. It’s like home repairs and car repairs and daily cleaning/maintenance all rolled into one. We were spoiled while living in the city. We rented our apartments, so rarely had to do any serious home maintenance – if something broke or went majorly wrong, we called the landlord to help take care of it. We didn’t use our car everyday (and therefore caused less wear and tear) and any repairs or servicing were done by our local mechanic. Now that we’re out on the water almost every day, there is a lot of maintenance to be done, and we need to do all of it ourselves.

Boaters (and RV-ers, apparently) often talk about a “shakedown” cruise. Basically, it’s what you call the first longer-term trip that you take on a new-to-you vessel, to get used to how the boat handles and make sure that everything is working properly. This first month of our trip has been our shakedown cruise – we did so many upgrades from January to July, and this was our time to test things out and correct any problems that might arise. We used the sail from Sidney to the Broughtons as our shakedown, and planned to come into Port Hardy to do any new repairs, and also finish the install of our watermaker/desalinator.

So far, most things have worked well. One of our deck hatches still leaks in the rain – despite our having re-bedded it in March – and our leaky port-side deck drain apparently leaks a little water when we’re at anchor (from rain), and even more water we’re heeled over and under sail (from waves that crash over the side of the boat). These are now on our list of repairs, in that category of “can’t ignore, but aren’t life-threateningly necessary.” What was more disturbing was when we tried to grease the sticky engine throttle handle and realized that one of the internal levers was cracked and likely to fail at any time. This one went on the “fix it right now” list of repairs.

You can see the crack on the lower lever. By the time we took it off to replace it, the crack had spread even wider.

We arrived in Port Hardy on Friday, and immediately went to the local marine store to order the new levers and buy new throttle cables (might as well upgrade everything while we’re at it…). Stryker Electronics, which is conveniently located 5 minutes from the dock, is a great store with amazing customer service – at one point they even let us borrow a car to go and provision at the local store, thereby saving us from a 20 minute walk home while carrying 2 weeks worth of food!

While waiting for the parts delivery (arriving Tuesday), we started work on the watermaker installation. Based on the size and number of components, we have decided to put the watermaker in a storage locker in the bow of the boat – a space that is under the anchor locker, and in front of our main hanging locker. We ran all the wires and water hoses to the area back in the spring, so now we need to install and assemble the main components.

First up was mounting the 48″ filter membrane that removes the salt from the seawater. A little boat yoga was required, but otherwise it went well. Next up were the pre-filters, which remove debris from the water before it goes through the membrane. We wanted to mount them in our hanging locker, which backs on to the anchor locker. We could see that there had been water damage on this wall – the wood was stained, and it looked like the screws for the washdown pump on the anchor locker side had allowed some water to leak through. When we looked closer, however, it turned out that small areas of the wall were rotten, and would need to be drilled out and replaced with wood and epoxy patches. 3 days of work later (including drying and curing times), we finished all the patches, but didn’t get around to mounting the pre-filters. Add that one back to the chore list…

Mike working in the soon-to-be watermaker locker

In the end, we spent 5 days in Port Hardy. In addition to fixing the throttle and the damaged wall, we installed a shelf above the watermaker to create extra storage space, solved a few minor leaks, repaired a tattered burgee flag, cleaned mould out from behind the drawers in the head (a great use of covid masks!), scrubbed a mattress, did laundry, re-provisioned, filled water tanks, and did many other chores I’ve now forgotten. When you’re at a dock and have access to supplies of all kinds, you have make the most of it – and we definitely managed that!

We are now heading further north, first around Cape Caution and then on towards Bella Bella and Ocean Falls. Sailing is all about balance, and I think we’ve earned a few days of ‘vacation’ sailing before we start checking off more items on that ‘can’t ignore’ list!