I can finally start working on the boat. Where to start?

First thing’s first for a new boat owner: crank up the Jimmy Buffett & Bob Marley playlist, and dive straight into a six-pack of warm Bud Light.

I was forced to decide between buying a cheap boat that I could spend hours and hours (read: money) fixing up, or spend a little more money on a sound boat that would only require minor modifications.  Wanting to spend a lot of my time on the boat sailing and not cursing, I chose the latter.  This still doesn’t mean that there’s no work to do.

Deciding which projects to conquer for any sailboat can be somewhat overwhelming.  Fortunately, with my copy of “This Old Boat” by my side, I was able to prioritize.

First are the all-important safety issues.  The ones that, if neglected, would directly result in loss of life, limb, or boat (CO detector, dysfunctional fire extinguisher, rotting thru-hull fitting, etc).

The hard part comes next, where you must put all of the projects into categories by type of modification, such as structural, features, or cosmetic.

Once you have the projects categorized by type of modification, then you have to prioritize each one and the urgency required such as “Now!”, “Later”, or “Maybe Someday”.

Then you can just go through all of the “Now!” projects until you realize that they’re too much work and remember that you have another six-pack of warm beer squirreled away behind a bulkhead.

Record-keeping is vital too.  Fortunately (or unfortunately?), my OCD-ness combined with years of military training have instilled super-packrat-record-keeping tendencies.  In the military, everything must have a quantifiable metric associated with it so that when it comes time for someone to get promoted, they can prove that they increased water cooler usage from 69% to 92% – however that’s measured – thus demonstrating their leadership abilities and promotion worthiness.  I digress.

This record-keeping fetish should work in my favor with regards to tracking serial numbers of parts, costs, sources, time required for repair, etc.

So with this in mind, it’s time to start on some projects.

Safety-wise, I need to add fire extinguishers and a carbon-monoxide detector.  And I don’t trust the bilge pump, so I’ll be installing proper switches and wiring to make sure that it’ll clear the boat of any water it might take on in an emergency.

Structurally, the only thing preventing me from going sailing is the boom vang, rotted to the point of falling apart if I attempt to raise the mainsail.  An easy fix with a new length of line.

For the features, I’ll need to rebuild the engine water pump to prevent some overheating problems after prolonged operation at low RPM settings (I know this is a sailboat, but the engine has other uses too).  Also, the water heater hoses rest right up against the pulleys and are getting chafed – I don’t want these hoses chafed through all the way with the amount of pressurized hot engine water going through!  I’ll be relocating the water heater altogether (if I still want it?).

And the water tank…oh, the water tank.  Algae and funk.  But I need a useable water tank.  This will be cleaned ASAP.

Cosmetically, I can’t stand a dirty boat.  The cabin received an initial cleaning so that I could stay there without cringing, but there’s still some polishing and oiling to do when I have the time.  The little work I did in this regard was already a HUGE improvement and it’s already starting to look like home!

A lot more to get done, but there’s always next weekend!  And the next, and the next…!

Looking out one of the starboard portlights. The chunk of wood in the water was the piling that this boat was tied up to before Irene ravaged North Carolina.

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