Port Credit Marine Survey
& Yacht Delivery
3. Boat Prep, Spares & Maintenance
Despite the sometimes petty antagonism between power & sailboats, for this trip there are only four major differences between them. In a survey of sailboats who kept a log I found that between the Great Lakes and Florida they had the sails up for 6-12 hours. Those that did not keep a log claimed they had sailed much more (not likely).
a.) Draught. powerboats heading south are of the trawler or motor yacht type with draughts between 3’ and 4’ ( I was raised in Scotland and can't bring myself to spell it "draft" ). Sailboats drawing 5’ 6” can do most of the inside route but kissing bottom somewhere between the Carolinas and the middle of Florida is a sure bet. Of course anyone drawing more than  3’ 6” ( I mean the boat ) should forget about the inside route from New York Harbour to Atlantic City and any drawing more than 4’ should bypass the inside route from Atlantic City to Cape May unless you are willing to run only with the tides. Don’t forget that most boat specifications were published before the first model hit the water and many changes were made throughout the production runs. Also remember the small type “subject to change without noticeprinted on most boats spec sheets. Do not trust the measurements on the literature…..measure it yourself. We met a couple in Wrightsville Beach SC who were waiting to have the keel on their recently purchased Bavaria 42 modified. The broker and the surveyor assured them that they had measured it and the boat did indeed have a 5’ 6” draught as per their requirement and according to the original spec sheet. After buying the boat they discovered it had a 6’ 10” draught. Someone is paying for a very expensive keel modification.
My Mom, little brother and I with Frazerburgh’s NorthSea trawler
fleet in the background.

Of all the boats I have surveyed in the
Great Lakes most have had 20-40 engine hours put on them each year. It is not therefore unusual to find a 20 year old Great Lakes boat with 400-500hrs on the engine(s). Now think about what has gone wrong on that boat in the last 20 years and realize that one round trip cruise to the Bahamas from Toronto will put the equivalent of 25 years use on your boat and prepare accordingly.

Raw water impellers are absolutely critical yet rather than put a new one in each year most people just drain the pump (if that) for winter storage. This will bite you big time ! You simply cannot afford an engine overheat in the middle of New York Harbour. Put in a new impeller and take a couple of spares as sand will wear them faster than you have experienced in the lakes.

Most manuals insist the injection pump be rebuilt about every 2000hrs and the injectors rebuilt or replaced . every 1000hrs. Twenty years of neglect easily equals 2000hrs. and most fuel systems I see have never been serviced at all. Believe me Bubba’s Fish Camp up Bigbutt Creek in the Georgia swamp does not have the injectors you need. Have them inspected before you cast off.

Gear reduction units don’t last forever. Have you ever changed the transmission fluid ? I had my Borg-Warner Velvet Drive rebuilt for $500.00 in Ontario and witnessed a fellow Canadian cruiser charged $2600.00US for the same job in Charleston SC. Invest a couple of hundred dollars in having a good mechanic go over your drive system before cast off.

When was the last time you repacked your stuffing box ?  The main shipping channel turning in to the
C&DCanal is not the place to learn how.
Think again of that 20year old
Great Lakes boat with 500hrs on it and then consider all that has come loose in the last 20years….. On this trip everything thing will start to come loose after a week or two. and I do mean everything !

Every gear clamp on your exhaust hose, engine mounts and shaft flange bolts, starter motor connections, battery terminals and alternator belts. When cruising we take ½ hour once a week and tighten every mechanical connection on the boat.

When electrical/electronic issues arise our first check is always for loose connections. Always look for the simplest solution first !
Isle of Skye's basement. Keeping it clean makes maintenance and repairs easy
Sailboaters take those tight fitting white vinyl tubes off your shrouds and you will be amazed at the wet dirt under there. Know  that stainless steel is not “stainless” but “stains less” and will corrode if you let salt pack in under those vinyl tubes. After a few days in salt water you will discover which of your stainless equipment is 316 grade and which is 304. Leave a wet towel on your rails and you’ll quickly see the difference. Rust stains will run from 304 grade fittings within a week in salt water.A good quality wax will help protect exposed stainless. Get a magnifying glass and inspect all swaged terminals on your standing rigging and while the 10-15 year life expectancy quoted by many riggers may seem low in view of the many lakes boats with 30yr. old rigging, nothing lasts forever.

Salt in the air invades electrical boxes, laptop computers, ignition systems and virtually everything electric. Dead laptops are a common cruising curse. Boeing Aircraft Corporation makes a product called Boeshields T-9 which comes in an aerosol can and sprays a waxy film that Boeing uses on all the electrical systems on their planes. We dismantle everything electrical on the boat from laptop, radar, GPS, autopilot, engine wiring harness, water pump to windlass and bow thruster motors and saturate all in T-9. We show absolutely zero salt corrosion anywhere we sprayed including the engine, fuel tanks and everything else in that we sprayed.  After opening up your wiring harness to spray the connections don’t be surprised to find the 20 year old connections are not healthy. New connectors are cheaper than a boat fire.

Go through your engine compartment and squeeze every hose you can find, you will find one or two in less than good condition. Pay special attention to exhaust hoses and pipes. While diesel engines do produce less CO than gasoline engines it must be remembered that CO poisoning is cumulative and that three or four days running a diesel with a leaky exhaust system is a very serious issue.

Check your impeller and carry spares.
If you are particular about which oil you put in your engine like I am, you may have to take a supply with you. “Isle of Skye” has never had anything but Rotella 30 weight in her but it can be hard to get especially when I need 13 liters and Wal-Mart has 2 or 3. After a recent bad experience with a private brand oil filter I refuse to put on anything but a Perkins oil filter so I must carry lots of these.
I carry spares for anything made of rubber…stuffing box hose, seals for the lift pump, diaphragms for all the various pumps, washers for the water taps and a whole slew of various plumbing and obscure electrical fittings. Dock mates at home make fun of me and call me “the parts department” but in over 12,000hrs of running there are few spare parts that I have not used and fewer still that I did not have when needed. One of the best deals on the water is the BoatUS unlimited towing insurance for about $120.00, check it out at  www.boatus.com and unless you are an electrical whiz, take along the “12volt Doctors Handbook” so you know what to do with that multi-meter.

Suggested reading ."Boat Maintenance For (non) Idiots" & Sailboat rigging inspections

Chapter 4. Preferred Equipment

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We took enough Folgers for a year and they turned out to be great small parts organizers.