Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Don't Hide From The Problem

This is a piece of our hull.  Looks a little on the thin side, wouldn't you say?  Not quite as much meat as you might like between you and the deep blue sea?  Well, you're right.  And that is why that delicate piece of Aluminum is in Erik's hand instead of on the port side of the hull.

One of the first things you learn as a boatowner is not to wait.  This is funny, because most of cruising is about waiting: for weather, for customs officials, for provisions, for Godot.  Patience is a virtue.

Except when it isn't.  When you start to think, "Hmm, the wind is coming up, maybe I should reef the main," you don't ponder or debate further - you reef the main.  And when a funny noise crops up, or you see a blister in your paint, or something sticks, you don't decide to leave it for another day.  You track it down right now.  Because little problems become catastrophic problems very, very quickly.

Months ago, Erik tracked down an issue to a weeping exhaust hose.  The hose was buried behind the head in the aft cabin, and whoever built that cabinetry didn't leave any access panels.  This is the other side of "don't hide": if you can't find the problem, you can't fix it.  You cannot have any dead corners or hidden places on a boat.  It is begging for trouble.

Erik got back there and we fixed the issue (over several iterations.)  But the weeping had done its job, and we wondered what that salt water had done to our hull.  Trying to stay ahead of the game, we decided to ultrasound the hull at the next opportunity.

That turned out to be in New Zealand.  And lucky we did, because our hull was down to a couple of millimeters in that spot.
Better I make a hole now than you get one later.
The rest of the hull looked good, and now we have a shiny new patch on our bad spot.

Will this keep us problem-free for the next year?  Ha, ha, of course not!  We will have different issues to contend with.  But, hopefully, we won't sink because of a hidden, preventable problem.


Paul in Iowa said...

Amy & Eric, thanks for the interesting update. Preventive maintenance - what an often despised chore, but what a fulfillment to find a potential problem before it is a fulfilled problem! I realize your hull issue was not found by preventive maintenance, but good job on being willing to dig into the small symptom to determine the cause while it was most convenient. God's grace being manifested again.

When do you plan to rejoin Eric in the southern hemisphere?

Amy Schaefer said...

@Paul in Iowa: Preventive maintenance is the greatest. I can't think of a time when it hasn't been worth it. Finding a tiny problem and fixing it in ten minutes is so satisfying when you consider the alternative.

We fly home tomorrow... and yet I am replying to blog comments instead of packing. But I have lots of hours left, right?

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