If all good things must come to an end, then it had to happen sooner or later. After 7 years and nearly 400 tips, DIY projects, yarns, and wordy expressions of opinion, we have decided to end our Monday posts and shut down the website. We will still be sharing tips and great information on our facebook page, and pictures of both the practical and eye candy variety on Instagram. So as we and technology move along, please move with us and like and follow us at either or both of those locations. And as always, feel free to swing by and say hi when you share an anchorage with Eurisko. Thanks for all the support. See you out there.

A Boat is Never Finished

December 19, 2016

When I was young, I used to watch my grandmother paint. She created amazing portraits of family members, wild jungle scenes with jaguars, underwater worlds, a family of geese, and gardens of flowers. As I got older I realized that a few paintings had a signature, but most of them were conspicuously lacking this feature. When I asked her about it her response so puzzled me that I still think about it 40 years later. "Oh, those aren't done yet. I only sign them when I'm finished with them." Now, long after her death, many family members still have her gorgeous paintings. With no signature.

There are many situations in my life that cause me to recall my grandmother's words, but none so vividly as being around boats. And just last week a house Dave was working on brought it to the front of our minds, too. While I was reminded of my grandmother, Dave used a different analogy, "It's like getting a pet. You can't just get the thing, bring it home, love on it for a while and then forget about it. You still have to feed it EVERY DAY. You have to entertain it, make sure it has water and a healthy environment, play with it, keep it happy." We've compared boats to pets before, but here's a different approach to the same theme.

As beautiful as it is, it's not done.

Let's look at the new boat owner (not necessarily of a new boat) who wants to go cruising. If he is typical (not being gender specific, I just hate writing "he/she") he starts by ripping out everything he doesn't like about the boat. Then, he makes a list of things to buy, goes crazy in the local marine store, amasses a pile of materials for various projects. If he's lucky, he doesn't run out of steam and motivation before he completes all of these projects. Even more rare is the boat that the owner finally quits working on long enough to go sailing. Now then, all of this sounds like a success story, were it not for what frequently happens after they sail away from the dock.

Some boat owners are fastidious about maintaining a boat in ship shape. Many, however, are more likely to be reactive than pro-active. When it breaks, they fix it, buy a new one, or hire a technician. But what we don't see a lot of is the love that a boat requires BEFORE something breaks. Like a pet, you can't just buy it, play with it for a while, then forget about it. Many times, a little maintenance while the offending broken bit was working perfectly could have prevented the boat being stuck in port while the owner fixes, replaces, or hires someone. Only by giving everything a little attention, a little love, petting it on the head, can you prevent small maintenance issues from becoming detrimental equipment failures.

Too pretty to neglect

Lanolin is our favorite way of taking care of Eurisko. All electrical fittings, rigging, any time metal touches metal, all of these bits get some loving, just like a pet. Smear a little lanolin on it, keep your pet happy.

Varnish is another area where boats become like neglected pets. Dave once built a beautiful iroko toe rail around a 53-foot boat in the Florida Keys. Because the wood arrived as dimensional lumber, Dave had to hand craft each piece. They fit perfectly, and the end result was amazing! But because of the cost involved, when it came time to varnish it, the owner wasn't willing to pay for more than two coats. Dave warned him, "If I only put two coats on this, you have six months to get someone else to put at least two more coats on. Two coats of varnish will NOT protect this wood for long in the tropics." (At the time I was working on the 12 coats of varnish that I put on our Sharpie's rig.) Anything to shut Dave up, the owner agreed. About 9 months later we sailed back into town, and the same boat owner was ready for a custom master's suite. When Dave went to survey the boat to offer some ideas, he saw his once beautiful toe rail. It hadn't been touched in 9 months, and the varnish was predictably peeling. Water had seeped under it where it lifted, discoloring the wood, and the entire surface needed stripped and recovered with several coats of varnish. All because the owner "finished" the project, marked it off his list, and went on to the next thing. But you can never write off a project on a boat. It is never "done." A boat and all of its components (mechanical, electrical, and all of her pretty bits) need love and attention. The more you give it early on, the less of a catastrophe it will be when things start to go wrong. And they always go wrong on a boat.

Those of you who read my ramblings or know us personally realize that we're not huge proponents of exterior varnish. That's not my point at all. My message this week is that you can't complete a boat project and say that it's done, sail off into the sunset, and never touch it again. A boat is NEVER done. It will always require just a little more. Much like my grandmother's paintings.

MONDAY we'll share a little island-style party.


Connie McBride's work has been published in Good Old Boat, Sail Magazine, Small Craft Advisor, Cruising World, All at Sea, and Blue Water Sailing. As a full-time liveaboard cruiser for over 15 years, she has written several books and in her spare time, well, who has spare time?

It's here! My latest book, Years of Ideas from a Simple Sailor is now available on Amazon.

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