Boat Maintenance, for the Alberg 30 and other boats

One of the finer pleasures of owning a boat is that of maintaining, repairing and upgrading it. That's something that you don't get by chartering. Sailors who only charter may think they're taking the easy route, and they are, but they don't know what they're missing.

Oh, I've cursed at many inanimate objects that have stubbornly defied me. I've lamented having to work on the boat when there was a good sailing breeze. I've scraped knuckles on raw fiberglass, gotten stuck in inaccessible places and gotten stuck trying to solve difficult problems. I know the down sides of boat maintenance, too.

Still, I think the balance tips toward pleasure. There's the sense of accomplishment when you finish a job. There's the sense of independence at knowing you can do it. There's the sense of confidence in knowing that if you break down out on the water, there's options other than calling the towboat. It's boat maintenance that makes boating more than a pastime — it's a way of life.

It's also a bond of brotherhood. The sailors that I've known have been more than willing to share advice and the benefit of their experiences. Many have also been willing to jump in and help with the job. In turn, this web site is my way of sharing back — of doing my small part in making the world of boat ownership more enjoyable and less worrisome.

But you must remember, you are still the master of your own boat. Advice is often worth what you pay for it, sometimes less. Situations may be different and the advice may not be applicable. Or the advice may be one way of approaching a problem, but others may be better. It may even be bad advice. Just as the prudent mariner does not rely on a single aid to navigation, the prudent boat maintainer does not blindly follow the advice of others. You must question the advice, convince yourself of its worth, and proceed with your eyes open to possible problems or complications. Ultimately, you are responsible for your vessel, whether on the sea or in the boatyard.

Offshore Sailing book cover Offshore Sailing by Bill Seifert with Daniel Spurr

We went to a Windjammers lecture to hear Bill Seifert and I was impressed enough to buy the book on the spot. I've heard a lot of people talk about ways to improve a boat, but I've never heard one person suggest so many good ideas that I hadn't considered. Part of the charm is the specificity of the suggestions. Everyone says you should secure your floorboards, hatchboards and batteries. Bill shows good suggestions on how to do so.

The suggestions are very practical for the do-it-yourselfer, too. Many show how to make or adapt inexpensive solutions. Tip #12 on closing the deck blower vents is one that will pay off for me without ever going offshore. I'll implement that one to stop the wintertime storms from finding their way belowdecks.

Besides modifications, the book also includes advice for operating offshore, cooking, boat selection, dealing with bureaucracy, and more.

Bill Seifert has worked at Tartan, TPI, and Alden Yachts. He's a veteran of many Marion-Bermuda races and now runs his own yacht management company. His tips are born of experience--not of book-learning--and it shows. He obviously knows his stuff.

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Last modified: Saturday 29-Jun-2013