We Keep Breaking Stuff!

We were sound asleep when it happened.  We were just lucky our boat didn’t power right into the boat next to us.  Lying there, fast asleep in the v-berth, Rich and I were both suddenly awoken by a loud motor sound just a few inches below our heads.  The sound was unmistakable – the bow thruster.  It was 2AM.  Who the hell was in our cockpit running the bow thruster?!

I leaped out of bed and ran to the cockpit realizing that it probably wasn’t something running the thruster from the cockpit – it was the thruster itself.  During our Alaska cruise, we noticed that the controller for the thruster would sometimes turn itself on, and other times refuse to turn off.  After our experience with the autopilot controller suffering water intrusion and pushing its own buttons, it was pretty obvious that that’s exactly what our thruster was doing now.  At 2AM.  On a tight mooring in Avalon.

Luckily, Rich was thinking more clearly than I was, and he leaned over the side of the bed in the v-berth and turned off the battery to the thruster.  By that time, I was in the cockpit, getting ready to fend off the boat next to us – despite being firmly tied to our mooring ball, our bow was only feet from our neighbor.  Our adrenaline was racing, and neither of us could sleep for hours after that.  The thruster battery has remained off ever since.  It’s just the latest in a string of things we’ve managed to break while living on our boat.

You may have seen in some of our Costs of Cruising posts that a large portion of our expenses each month are for repairs and maintenance.  I had expected this cost to go down after we finished our first three-month “shakedown” period, but now, in our fifth month, I think the costs might only be going up.  We’ve averaged over$1,000/month in the repair/maintenance categories for July, August, and September:

Report from our awesome budgeting app, YNAB. Click the image above to check out YNAB.


September was the most expensive month so far, but costs are supposed to be going down!

So, what gives?  I know, I know, the definition of cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places, but does it never end?  And yes, our boat is now 11 years old, and most of these systems are coming due for replacement anyway.  But, we thought the boat projects we’d be spending time on were upgrades, not fixing all the things we broke, because of course we didn’t plan to break anything.  And yet, here we are, a day in port in beautiful Avalon, California, and Rich is spending his free time fixing watermakers, shower hoses, and a host of other things we’ve broken.

Just in the past two weeks, our fix-it list has gotten longer:

  • The watermaker boost pump broke, so yesterday Rich took out the old one and put in our spare.
  • The cockpit shower hose won’t stay attached to the shower head, so now we need to get a new hose.
  • Farkwar is apparently sending out location updates every time we post to FB, but the data it’s sending is two weeks old, so we have to disable it.
  • The 12V outlet in the cockpit crapped out, so we have to check the wiring on that, and possibly put in a new unit.
  • The engine coolant is leaking.  We haven’t yet figured out where that leak is coming from.
  • The bow thruster control on the starboard side went out, probably from water intrusion over the years, so a new unit is in order.  (It might not even be the joystick that’s the problem, and it might be the computer control unit itself; we’re still working to diagnose this.)
  • The connectors on the windlass controller keep corroding off, so we can’t plug in the controller to run it.  (Luckily, we have another hard-wired controller in the cockpit we can still use.)

Luckily, Rich did a great job of putting together our spares before we left, so we have most of the major parts that we need on board.  But a few things, like the autopilot controller and the bow thruster control, we just didn’t expect to go out, so we’re having to order new parts.

My cheap side (which is most of me) has to wonder what would happen if we just didn’t fix this stuff.  As one of our good friends on S/V Tuwamish pointed out, Slocum and even several modern cruisers have crossed the ocean without fancy electrical systems, showers, or even engines.  So, it’s not like they’re necessary.

But, I just hate having nice things and not maintaining them.  Our boat is definitely a nice thing, and we’d like to keep it nice.  So, letting systems break and just never fixing them isn’t something Rich or I could ever live with.

So, we will continue fixing things.  But once we’ve fixed it all, it’ll stop breaking, right?



2 thoughts on “We Keep Breaking Stuff!

  • November 10, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Welcome to the world of boat fixing. We have been doing that since we moved on board our 45 three years ago. Things seem to all wear out at the same time, which is not great for the bank balance. Just a thought re the coolant leak, we had same. It turned out to be the gasket on the back of the heat exchanger. We had the whole unit taken off and it was pretty gunked up. Some pictures on our blog. Not sure if I have used any of the spares we first envisaged we would need, so end up waiting weeks for parts. A little frustrating, but we love the Cruising life all the same. Hope you manage to get them all resolved. Cheers from Aztec Dream

    • November 14, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Our heat exchanger was gunked up on the freshwater/coolant side, resulting in a full replacement of the manifold/housing, exchanger, and the fresh water pump just back in May. I think it’s been leaking since the new parts were installed, but I can’t figure out exactly where it’s leaking from. There are small yellow/orange spots in various places (dried coolant).. My current task is to wipe those off cleanly and watch for new ones to see if I can trace it.

      In the meantime, it appears we broke the raw water cooling anti-siphon valve in the last run.. (there is a little drain hose at the top attached a hose barb, and the barb broke off.) So I need to source a new VETUS anti syphon valve, or some replacement parts for it.



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