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Old 01-20-2013
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Learning to maintain

Hey everyone,
I just bought Don Casey's sailboat maintenance manual and can't help but wonder where and how everyone else has learned to maintain their sailboats.

I'm thinking I'm about to go through a lot of trial and error with my first boat but hope to reduce a lot of the error with the book.
Also what would you have done differently early on if you could have. (I am just talking about the maintenance here)
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Old 01-20-2013
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Re: Learning to maintain

Hey! I spent to much time getting everything right,instead of getting in the water!....Dale
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Old 01-21-2013
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Re: Learning to maintain

PNW,

Read, read, plan, ask around, reread, then do. Repeat as necessary.

Casey's book is useful, but as with most things getting several different views is often useful.

A few other tomes you might consider:

- Nigel Calder's Electrical & Mechanical Handbook.
- Charlie Wing's Boatowner's Illustrated Electrical Handbook.
- Rebecca Whitman's Brightwork Companion.

Other resources:
- Sailing forums.
- MaineSail's on-line Compass Marine How-To articles.
- YouTube videos (evaluate carefully -- commercial outlets are usually pretty safe; private posters sometimes post some really bizarre and potentially damaging stuff.)
- Google for similar projects that owners sometimes post.
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Old 01-21-2013
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Re: Learning to maintain

Like learning all things, reading, asking questions, experience both good and bad - it all adds up. No-one is born knowing how to work on boats. There is a vast mine of information and experience on this forum.

Casey's books are very good but ignore his "gasket" method for bedding fittings - it is flat out wrong. Instead, countersink all boltholes so they retain an O-ring of your chosen goop. The consensus here seems to be that butyl tape is the best thing currently.

My copies of his books are a few years old so his advice on glass fabrics may have been updated but in mine he recommends roving and mat layups for glass work - patches and so forth. I have found that the current uncrimped biaxial fabrics are vastly better - wet out easier, drape better, don't require mat layers for good bonding, give higher glass to resin ratios - better in every way except rapid thickness building.
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Old 01-21-2013
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Re: Learning to maintain

Buy good tools and keep them in good condition.
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Old 01-21-2013
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Re: Learning to maintain

We had our boat yard do the winterizing and spring commissioning for the first few years. Each year we did a bit more ourselves until now we're down to just having the yard run the antifreeze through the engine. For us it was a matter of getting comfortable with our ability not to sink ourselves. We also have all the diesel and deck maintenance books.
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Old 01-21-2013
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Re: Learning to maintain

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lake Superior Sailor View Post
Hey! I spent to much time getting everything right,instead of getting in the water!....Dale
I'll second that one!

My first sailboat, a 23 footer spent the first season on a trailer in my driveway because I didn't have the sense to focus on the "must do's" to get it in the water, but got wrapped up in the "nice to do's". I could have (should have) been in the water in a couple of weeks but ended up missing the whole first season with the boat.

My current boat spent 4 weeks on the cradle 30 feet from the travelift at the marina before launching while I did three weekends worth of "must do" projects and the marina shop did a days worth of rigging work on the mast.

I now have the mindset to tackle all the nice to do projects over the winter (with projects that can be brought home) or while we're using and enjoying the boat after it's in the water. I have an unending list of nice to do's, but if I don't get them done this season . . . there's always next year.

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Old 01-21-2013
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Re: Learning to maintain

Membership in a boat club and one-design fleet provided a lot of technical support and expertise. Whenever I had a diesel mechanic work on my boat I watched and asked questions. Mack Boring diesel school; you take the head off, adjust the valve clearances, and don't get to go home until the engine is running. Educational programs at my boat club.

It's not rocket science.
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Old 01-21-2013
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Re: Learning to maintain

If I were to do this whole boat-ownership thing again I would definitely have started sooner and started smaller. My first boat was a 34-footer at the age of 33 (my age). The boat was too big and too complicated for level of skill. That said, I learned; not fast, but I learned. It's not rocket science, but neither are the skills and challenges negligible.

This bring up one issue which really irked me early on. The number of times I heard a fellow boat owner tell me, "it's easy, it's quite simple, it's basic ...". Well, let me tell you, It's Not That Easy!

It's easy if you already know what you're doing. It's easy if you come to the problem with a lot of previous experience or applicable skills. But if you've barely handled a wrench, let alone had any experience with engines, plumbing, electrical, or fibreglass, then it's not that easy.

Yes, get all the books. Yes, take all those courses (Mack Boring is terrific!), and most of all, ask fellow boaters for advice and help. Most are more than willing to lend advice and help if you show you're actually trying to learn. But don't tell someone their problem is easy. It may be easy for you, but clearly it isn't for them.
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Old 01-21-2013
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Re: Learning to maintain

Learn as much about your motor as you can especially your fuel delivery system.
Learn how to bleed motor, change filters. Carry spare belts and water pump impellor and know how to change. Great feeling when self sufficient.
Was a year before I knew my raw water cooled motor had internal zincs that needed to be changed. With fresh water systems, not all realized their heat exchangers have
to cleaned periodicly. Find out what is recommended as far as rpm's on your motor.
I learned that if I wanted to baby my motor, I should run her hard under load, not to build up carbon at low rpm's with no load.
Clubs, sailnet all great.
Asking questions also great, beware of experts with no 1st hand experience.
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