When Stuff Breaks

Repaired bracket

It’s bound to happen at some point.  A mysterious bolt or nut that shows up on deck or gauges that work and then they don’t.  We’ve been lucky so far on this trip with just a few minor repairs.

The most recent and most serious to date was the alternator bracket,  I guess after 40 years it decided it had enough. It started out as a belt squeal and while tightening the alternator I noticed that the base of the bracket, near the engine block, was broken.  We were out at Spirit Cay, about 40 miles from the nearest welder. I tried wedging it at a different angle against different parts of the engine block but none would hold once the engine started.  Luckily we had a large enough battery bank to get us back to Nassau.  The welder was able to repair it and we are once again able to charge the batteries away from shore.

The “chart plotter” on this boat is made by Nobletec. I am not a big fan.  It runs on an old Dell computer, not a laptop mind you, a desktop unit mounted under a berth in the aft cockpit. It’s a Windows XP computer with a second monitor mounted in the cockpit, complete with mouse that doesn’t like heeling.  Did I mention that I’m not a big fan of this arrangement.  It has a habit of locking up and, guess what?  You have to reboot it! Normally just when you are in a place where you actually need it.  Now, guess what? It’s coming up with serious windows errors, complete with the lovely windows blue screen. You guessed it, not a big fan.  But, we do have enough handheld GPS devices on the boat to get us where we’ve need to go.  Glenn also has an iPad with Navionics software that actually works without cell service. I guess those things do have a GPS in them after all.  I have joked that we have more electronics on this boat than they had on the first Apollo missions.

Things are going to break and the trick is to pack plenty of spares. Carry an assortment of tools and supplies like duct tape, gorilla glue and bailing wire. You can’t carry extra’s of everything so start thinking like MacGyver and exercise your problem solving skills whenever you get a chance.

Currently, I’m headed down to the engine room to track down a loose tachometer connection.  Then, maybe I’ll tackle that computer, literally.



2 comments for “When Stuff Breaks

  1. cory
    March 21, 2012 at 11:00 am

    I work in IT. I want to buy a boat to live on and maybe work from. Is there a great demand for computer servicing in the marines?

    • Captain
      March 21, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      Cory, from what I’ve seen, programers fair better actually working from the boat as long as they have internet access. There is a lot of demand for instrument technicians and installers for chart plotters and other electronics systems. If you have the troubleshooting background from computers and networks you should pick up the electronics troubleshooting pretty easy. Lots of people also work normal land based jobs and just live on their boat. Several of our dock family are nurses, programmers, jet pilots and college professors.


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