The Snowball effect of boat repair and renovations

Just a heads up this post is less about progress and more about attitude. No pictures. Just me rambling. Enjoy!

This winter being as hard as it was has made a lot of people that have been putting off renovations on their boat re-evaluate their decision. Many of which have started doing serious repair on their boats. This is so widespread in our marina at current that there are STILL boats on the hard that people are working on. This isn’t unusual in and of itself. There’s always at least a few boats that are more or less “abandoned” for the season because people don’t have time to do boating, and just can’t part with their ship. But this year there are still at least a dozen to 2 dozen ships on the hard. Many of which are being worked on.

As a full time live aboard boat we don’t exactly have “seasons” where we work or don’t work. But I can honestly say that doing work is done more during summer than in winter where the game is typically stay warm and count the days until summer (side note it’s not as bad as it sounds. You just have to realize that you don’t have the freedom of space and movement that you do in warmer temperatures).

Now in saying that there is a snow ball effect with all projects and all I can say to other boaters is “Get ready for frustration” along with “Trust me. It DOES get better!”. Let me give you an example of a seemingly innocuous project that requires a lot more than anticipated. Installing a vent in our head to vent out steam from our shower. Sounds straight forward enough really. I mean… What’s to it? Run a duct to a fan and run it out somewhere right?


About that.

So our head is right below a small area we call our utility room which holds our water tanks, water pump, hot water heater, water manifolds, and the manifolds for our Webasto system. It also has a lot of storage space. PLUS it has an old vent that we can use for ducting out the steam.

“So what’s the issue?” I hear you ask.

Well if I run the duct right now I’ll lose most of the storage space since it’ll come up right in the middle of the utility room. So to pull this project off here’s what my check list looks like:

  1. Drain hot water tank
  2. Move hot water tank to new location further back in the space and mount it vertically instead of horizontally
  3. Make a new mounting point for the water pump close to the hot water tank
  4. Move the water pump to new location
  5. Tuck back all new piping and wiring to ensure it’s neat and tidy
  6. Cut hole for duct
  7. Attach vent pipes to fan
  8. Wire up fan to switch

Fun times right? But this is typical of refitting anything. You start with 1 thing and find another thing that’s an issue. Here’s even a smaller example.

Project: Remove random pipe that runs from the engine room to the bow along the deck head.

  1. Pick a good spot to start cutting with Sawzall
  2. Start cutting pipe
  3. Promptly have the pipe (which isn’t connected to anything on either end mind you) leak unidentified fuel of some sort on you while operating an electric death machine that has a red hot blade on it
  4. Use hand as a clamp on now hot metal
  5. Yell for help
  6. Have Jeannie grab some tape
  7. Tape pipe shut
  8. Go have a drink and calm down

See? Fun times had by all! HA HA! I was nearly set on fire!

Turns out that there was a diesel oven when my boat was built and the fuel line was just capped at either end and not drained. Also it’s been removed after it was drained.

Basically what I’m getting to is that there’ll be 1 project that you take on (or that will be forced upon you) that’ll make you re-evaluate your entire situation. 1 where the choice between continuing seems unbearable but giving up seems like quitting.

At the worst of the Hurricane Sandy¬†incident I was very close to just selling the boat and trying to recoup losses. But after working through it for so long we managed to forge on through it. Now it’s like getting your second wind in a marathon. It’s just easier now. Sure we do have our share of horrible experiences that are just hard to work through, tough projects, instances of rage where you swear you could snap a crowbar in half with your butt cheeks alone. But after the first TRULY bad one… things get easier.

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