Maintenance Inversion

Believe it or not spring is right around the corner and we’ll all get out our varnish, wax and polish and do our spring cleaning. The winter winds and rain have taken their toll on the old girl’s shine and we need to spruce her back up. The canvas bimini needs to be re-stitched because the UV has slayed the stitches. Those ten coats of varnish we were shooting for last year only amounted to four and it’s lifting and we face yet another strip and recoat. The mildew has got a grip on the freeboard and it’s once again time to do battle with that green beast. Our stainless steel rails are starting to bleed a bit around the welds and polish and clean we must. Our once pristine little packet needs a spring face lift!

I love the atmosphere of clean around the marina in the spring. All those pale bodies emerge from their winter hibernation below decks and growl around the deck looking for jobs to do. If there was just a way to convince those flying things to just fly away, the spring clean would be blissful, despite the grim cosmetic reality before us.

I’m optimistic that clean can be done like a fast passage; vigilance, attention to detail, perseverance and we make the blessed landfall of a ship shape vessel once again.

Many times while inspecting a vessel, the external cosmetics are great, but below the moor boards tell a different story. I call it maintenance inversion. The pretty looks pretty but the systems that are really vital are out of sight, somewhat neglected and out of mind. To reach equilibrium of boat maintenance demands a bit of hard discipline on our parts. I would much rather skylark sandpaper in hand than dive into that cramped engine space, stand on my head and have a look at bolts, belts, hoses, clamps and fuel lines. And once the culprit is spotted we must now work folded up like a jack knife with hard sharp objects poking us in the most uncomfortable anatomical places. I don’t know about you, but I’m really thankful when I depart one of those boat holes satisfied that the job is proper and done! Over the winter I went on a hose and clamp campaign and replaced all my salt water delivery hoses and clamps so when spring came, I could enjoy inhaling all that wonderful spring air mixed with hoards of sand gnats.

When we were cruising, our boat was in great shape. Our motto was, one half day for the boat and one half day for us. Maybe a good maintenance program would be one half day above decks and one half day below. There’s still time to get the jump on spring by attacking that job we know needs doing. It is written: He who is without sin cast the first stone. Excuse me, I’m going to check on that stuffing box. Wish me luck. Happy spring maintenance.

© Neil K. Haynes January 30, 1998

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