“Invest in experiences, not things”
This was our family motto before we even decided to go cruising. It really fits in with the cruising lifestyle because we don’t have the space for all the extra stuff. With our mobile, floating home, we’re able to travel longer and do and see things we wouldn’t have been able to if we kept a house or an apartment full of stuff.
That was our initial motto, then we bought Astraea and found out that the liveaboard and cruising lifestyle isn’t as glamorous as it’s portrayed in the magazines. It takes lots of elbow grease or lots of money to keep a sailing yacht in pristine condition. That recently retired cruising couple in the boat ads – salt and pepper hair, holding hands on the bow of their beautiful, sparkly yacht must have millions in the bank and a full crew running the boat, because there’s not a drop of sweat, no ill fitting boat project clothes or grease stains on their shirts. Oh, and to complete the picture of this idyllic cruising couple, the jib is rolled up and the sail covers are on while underway because they motor everywhere. This leads to our next motto:
“Cruising boat, at least she floats”
This is what we say when we’re frustrated with Astraea. It’s been a lot of hard work to maintain the boat. Months of work went in to removing the teak decks, laying nonskid and painting topsides. We lived for two and a half years without the decorative ceiling headliner to conceal all the hardware mounted through the deck and cabin top. Astraea looks beautiful from the shore, but when you get up close you can see she’s aging. There’s always a list of things that are broken, dirty or need perfecting. We’re currently anchored in La Paz visiting with cruising friends old and new. La Paz is the perfect place to get replacement parts, consult with fellow cruisers and get expert technicians out to repair the boat’s critical systems. Here’s a list of things that have broken since we began our cruise about a month ago:
- Engine control panel gages, tachometer and hour meter read incorrectly (yeah, I shorted something terrible out while replacing the preheat solenoid before we left San Diego). The engine still runs and over temp/low oil pressure alarms work so we decided to leave without replacing it.
- Masthead anchor and navigation light bracket sheared. Light removed and requires remounting
- Engine glow plugs do not glow. Engine is hard to start – takes 3 tries of 20 seconds cranking to start
- Engine driven fridge compressor leaked all refrigerant and makes a terrible sound when running
- Boom vang and boom cleats ripped out. Holes require plugs and repainting
- Main mast paint worn from halyard slap at reef points
- Mizzen halyard getting chafed by something near the masthead
- Various gel coat chips
- Engine oil needs changed
- Propeller cone and bolt fell off some time before we hit Turtle Bay
- Galley oven wood handle broke, but still works
- Watermaker purity is at 550, not below 500. Still safe to drink, but not perfect. Need to replace the membranes if the purity goes above 750.
- Macerator was broke, but I replaced it and then it clogged and cleared the clog and now it’s better. Fingers crossed it’s better forever because I hate being covered in turdwater splashes (I need a poop suit)
- Main mast halyards need to be re routed. After 3 years I finally figured out the right way to route them, but the rig works well for now.
- All the wood needs another coat of varnish.
- Sully’s hatch and the companionway leaks
- We need a companionway hood or dodger if we ever go upwind or sail in the rain
- 6HP Johnson outboard does not pump cooling water
- Bottom needs to be cleaned
I’m sure there’s a bunch of little stuff about the boat that is broken I’m forgetting, but you get the idea.
Which leads me to our last cruising motto:
“If it’s not broke, it’s not Astraea”
Don’t think this post is a big downer, it’s just the reality of cruising on a limited budget. We’re taking our time in La Paz addressing the major comfort and safety items before we head out to the nearby islands to complete the projects (every cruiser’s motto – “Cruising: fixing you boat in exotic locations”) and have fun snorkeling, hiking and exploring.
Some of the best times Natalie, Sully and I have had as a family have been Aboard Astraea and we’re looking forward to many more!