Saturday, October 10, 2015

Some questions...

Over a long period of time I've been troubled about some "truths" a lot of folks take as gospel...

Like this one.

"Boats break. A lot."
A phrase found a few times over at The Retirement Project (a blog you might want to check out from time to time) which I find somewhat problematic. Not because it is incorrect (boats and boat stuff do indeed break) but because folks mostly accept this as the way things are without questioning it. What we should be saying is...
Why do boats (and boat stuff) break? A lot.
Even more importantly maybe we should be asking..
Why the hell are we putting up with this sorry state of affairs?
Think about that for a bit...



  1. Been thinking on this and haven't really come up with a good answer.. I think if comparing to a land based house, part of the issue is that boats MOVE. With movement comes flexing and sometimes complexity in construction. With a land based house, things don't move and you can use a brute force (but wasteful) solution to many issues.

    Consider that an RV moves as well and they often have ongoing repairs as well. However, when comparing boats to RV's... Boats win hands down... All things being equal and ongoing maintenance kept up, when was the last time you saw a 1979 RV fit to live in without having basically rebuilt the whole thing a piece at a time... my 79 boat still has many original parts that are functioning just fine.

    Yes, they break more than a "house", but far less than an RV. Which was the deciding factor me.

  2. I would say mostly due to poor maintainability, arguably by design. I worked on a shrimp boat in high school and you could get to every part of the engine. You could see if something was leaking. You could get to it to fix it. Oil changes and filters were easy. Conduit and plumbing was exposed. Not a lot of stainless hardware that fails suddenly rather than the slow constant degradation of galvanized steel. Keel cooling and dry stack exhaust rather than pumping raw sea water through engines is about as trouble free as you can get. Put a lot of through holes to pump water in and out and you get more points of failure.

    Then you look at sailing rigs that are full of the same problem with stainless hardware and overly complex. Cabling and halyards run through masts where you can't inspect or get to them to fix. Look at how few boats even have steps to get up the mast. Instead of little maintenance jobs, you get to clean up catastrophic failures because you can't get to things to inspect and repair.

    Electrical systems on boats are nonsense. Would you live in a house where you had to go to the breaker box to turn everything off and on? Why isn't every connection potted in epoxy to keep it protected or sealed in waterproof enclosures? They make electrical systems for submarines and yet the systems that they put on boats can't withstand being at the surface.