BOAT PROJECTS brilliant idea

"Cruising is Boat Repair in Exotic Locations" (Scorpio's Law #3),

but, on the other hand,

"Real happiness lies in the completion of work using your own brains and skills"
(according to Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motor Corporation)


Skip philosophy and go directly to THE PROJECTS.

An essential element of deep water cruising is the continuing repair, maintenance and upgrading of the systems aboard. General maintenance and upgrading can usually be performed and scheduled to take place by professionals when you are in suitable locations. However, that costs a lot of money and professional services are not common in the developing world and last but not least the quality of workmanship often leaves much to desire all over the world. On the other hand, the cruiser himself is the guy who is most familiar with his ship, he is always around and he does not cost anything (except of course a few extra beers). I regard it as insurance for life and property for any live-aboard cruiser to arm himself with good tools, a well planned collection of spare parts and the critical reference books and I think we should know every inch of our boats better than our pockets. After all, we've got to pass the time also.


Here I'm trying to repair a cracked
toilet bowl in Honduras the evening
before our guests are flying in from Europe.

(Click on photo for a blow up)

During the years I have learned the hard way to be almost self sufficient. In the beginning I gave most work aboard to more or less professional guys along the harbors and shores.  I was quite green then and therefore some tasks obviously needed to be taken care of by more experienced people. But because we did not live permanently aboard at that time, and I didn't want to spend my time fiddling on the servicing points when I could go snorkeling instead and therefore I also bought the labor for jobs that I would have been able handle myself.  It did not take me many years, however, to realize that I had to take over more of the responsibilities of keeping the systems running. I could not afford to continue cruising if I would have to pay these exorbitant fees and, to add insult to injury, the work you have paid for surprisingly often proves to be an extremely sloppy performance.

My cruising life discoveries confirm my earlier experiences of the Marine business, where I was professionally engaged for a few years, when I was part of the working class (meaning when I got paid for it). People are drawn to the Maritime enterprises because it is a "cool" environment, but very few have a serious approach. The quality of the services is often so bad, that it would never be accepted in any other industry. Little by little I have taken over almost all general maintenance and repair as well as most up-grading installations. Obviously there are still some projects that call for the involvement, in whole or in part, of competent outsiders possessing specialist knowledge. There are, of course, exceptions in the Marine Services Society – brilliant, service minded professionals out there - if you can find them, if they have the time for you and if you can afford them. We, the nomad cruisers, unfortunately seldom stay long enough in any area to be able to benefit from long relationships with these wonder people.


Sometimes when a project is about to get out of control
it may be time for a break. However, I swear that the
Denatured Alcohol in the photo was not used for toasting
(although it certainly looks suspect).

(Click on photo for a blow up)

In my experience, most problems in the yachting repair field can be solved by your self and it helps to approach them from unconventional angles. Some skills in trouble shooting are required. When you've kicked the problem and ideas around at some length and in some detail you should eventually get to the solution. To me that frequently happens at 3 o'clock in the morning and I suddenly wake up. Although many projects involve some mean language before you are through, I usually try to remind myself that I'm sailing all the time (even though the yacht would be high and dry on a ship yard).  And there are few things more rewarding for a person with a non-craftsman and non-technical background than solving these problems using your own brain and your own hands.

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Many of the projects were performed by people in the Marine Business, many of which have failed. Many others have been taken care of by me, either alone or with support from experts. Some of these cases involve stories about failures or success, but some of them are just notes for the Records.

ball The already active links are indicated by a blinking green ball.


AKA, There's no quick an easy job - they all escalate:

ball Stuffing box, propeller shaft, cutless bearing.

A supposedly straight forward project, done in September 2004 by myself, turned in to a week long performance involving getting out a propeller SHAFT stuck in the coupling, breaking loose the STUFFING BOX and sawing out the CUTLESS BEARING and having the PROPELLER sent for inspection getting somebody else's propeller in return.

Changings of the shaft.
Observe the plural form "changes". An expensive installation of a new SHAFT had to be corrected by an other expensive installation in 2000 - 2001. The first new shaft had not been manufactured in accordance with the drawing I had provided! And really insulting was all the anxiety, trouble and danger that this sloppy job caused us, partly under way between Spain and the New World. Obviously, manufacturing a shaft is beyond my own capabilities and in cases like this you are in the hands of outsiders. This horrifying experience is part of the larger story "Beware of the Cowboys" (which is still under construction).

Installing a Bow Thruster
One of our best investments. The installation was obviously done by an outsider. A successful project, despite the initially broken oil seal. Scorpio is not very well maneuvered going backwards. The thruster made all the difference.

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Corrosion on mast between stainless and aluminium

The corroded mast step

Complete service of the rigging (involves a lot of corrosion fixing)


Keeping the bilge dry

Hoses and jugs

Seacocks and thru-hulls (Corrosion again).


Fooling a broken down autopilot to steer. (This is part of the story below).

Installing a second, hydraulic, autopilot on the quadrant.


The Freezer Blues.

This happening is included also in the Stories-section.

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Fending off the dock


The neglected services - Replacing the raw water impeller

Fire in the engine room


New teak decks

Replacing acrylics of skylights (deck hatches)
Installing Solar Panels
Grab Rail for the Steering Pedestal
Hoisting Crane for Outboard


Combining NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 - Upgrading from Seatalk to Sea Talk NG.
Hooking up the GPS to the laptop

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