Saturday, December 8, 2012

There's Just Never Enough Space!

This month’s Raft-Up topic is about what you wish you had on board or had left behind, and what is your biggest space splurge.

Unfortunately, since we’ve only been out for a short time it’s hard to know yet what I wish we had or hadn’t brought.  So instead I’m going to modify the topic slightly and talk about why we actually brought so much damn stuff with us.  Hopefully this will help non-cruising family and friends understand our thinking a little better, especially since I know some of them wonder if we’ve completely lost our minds!

While I definitely went overboard with provisioning (which I’ve discussed in a previous post) there is no doubt that the largest amount of space on our boat is devoted to boat parts.  Before our departure our friends will testify to the fact that we spent endless hours trying to get the boat “ready to go” in as many ways as we could think of.  That list was seemingly endless – always growing and hardly ever shrinking. 

As we got closer to our departure and time was running out, we focused instead on critical systems on the boat (water maker, engine, generator, water system, toilets, etc.) that might break and the parts we would need to fix them.  When you are hoping to be gone for 5-7 years you have to assume that almost everything will break at some point – no matter how much you take care of your boat.  The days before our departure were a mad chase for parts we had forgotten while we still had direct contact with Fisheries Supply and a car.

After making our way down the coast we were very happy to have some of those parts as we already had need for them!  The biggest surprise was having to replace our alternator – a major part of our charging system – which unfortunately also meant sourcing another backup (also in a prior post!). 

So with a little more actual experience under our belts and a clearer picture of what might break or items we hadn’t thought about, the race was on again to source those items before leaving for Mexico.  We had heard plenty of nightmare stories about getting parts shipped to Mexico and about how expensive parts were to BUY in Mexico – so we really wanted to get everything we could NOW think of prior to departing the US.

Flash forward 3 ½ months of using the boat fairly hard 24/7 – not tied up at a dock with a constant source of power and water, but rather at anchor – running every system daily.  Using the boat like this brings a whole new set of issues – some of which you can’t possibly anticipate having never done it before.  What items you may ask?  Well, our recent order (which we’re hoping a family member will be willing to bring down at Christmas!) included the following: 
  • A fuel pump for the generator (already lost one in just 3 months – a seriously critical system!);
  • A dual-swivel for our main halyard (recommended during our rig survey to prolong the life of our halyard – which is high tech line and VERY expensive to replace);
  • Some water filter cartridges (for taking on water in Mexico);
  • A 2-prong electrical connector (these corrode incredibly fast in salt and sun since they’re not stainless);
  • A BUNCH more tubes of adhesive sealant (it’s incredible how fast the sun breaks down sealant - we’ve sprung two major leaks since we’ve left!);
  • Rolls of blue tape (needed for masking when resealing),
  • A low-draw DC fan (you can NEVER have too many fans – especially low draw fans so that they can run all night);
  • 20 feet of tubular webbing (to protect lines in high-friction areas);
  • A shorter flag staff (our current one is too tall and interferes with the dingy when it’s on the davits)
  • And last but not least – a collapsible salad spinner (I can’t believe I didn’t think about the fact that pre-washed lettuce would be a thing of the past once I left the states – duh!)
Just this morning we blew a fuse on our generator (we’ll be adding that to our order!) and we found out that possibly the only way to fix our on-going issue with our engine-driven refrigeration system is to somehow find and install a belt tensioner that will work with our system.  Try doing that in Spanish – not to mention having to walk to the distant places that MIGHT have the parts! 

Suffice it to say that there is a never ending stream of items that break down on a boat that is being used every day.  Add to that the difficulty and expense of securing parts outside of the US and I’m guessing our readers can understand why we would want to take advantage of visits from home to help get additional parts here.  Am I right?

Soooooooo…….do we have a ridiculous array of parts to fix the boat?  Yes!  Will we need every one of them?  I sure as hell hope not!  Have we thought of everything?  Definitely NOT! 

However, I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to fix many of the systems that are certain to break over the next few years – systems that have become pretty important to our survival and comfort when we are VERY far from any parts store and no longer have loved ones coming to visit.  And perhaps what I have failed to convey until now is that having those parts on board make ME feel significantly more comfortable when I am living a life that is basically 100% outside of my “normal” comfort zone.  

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