Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Unit of Boat Repair Time

It is traditional to talk of the unit of boat repair expense - the "Boat Buck", which used to represent $100 but perhaps now ought to be $1000. "Don't worry about that, it only cost 2 Boat Bucks" for example.

But there also seems to be a Unit of Time associated with repair and/or construction. John, the guy on the very large homebuilt sloop down the dock at Port Credit told me, "I figure how much time it should reasonably take to complete a task, then multiply by 5". I knew there was a multiplier, but kept telling myself it couldn't be that high. Since he said that though, I have been keeping track, in my mind, the estimates vs. the reality. I think he just about nailed it.

Everything you do on a boat takes longer. The tools are few and in the wrong place, space is cramped, there are no straight lines or square corners. I had a short list of things to accomplish before leaving port. 96 items, to be exact. And so there are things like "Fasten mast step". This seems like a simple enough thing, takes only a moment to write it and a second to cross it out once done. But the Boat Time spent inbetween is special.

There are 12 bolts requiring 12 nuts and washers that hold the mainmast up. They are in the forepeak, an awkwardly shaped space much smaller than a phone booth, accessed by climbing over the forward berth and through a small water tight door. The bolts cannot actually be seen, the are under the mast, and so the nuts must be installed by feel, leaning over in a small phone booth, having crawled over the berth through the door. The nuts need corrosion inhibitor on them, which is sticky and gets on everything. Once they are started by feel and fingertip, they must be tightened: not so hard on some of them, but they get harder around the back of the mast, the aft most one requires a stubby 15/16 box wrench purchased for just this purpose, and must be used 1/12 turn at a time. First you reach around one side of the mast (leaned over on your head in a phone booth) feel for the nut, turn it 1/12 turn. Then switch hands, reach around the other side of the mast, feel for the nut, turn 1/12 turn. 4 or 5 turns and Presto! you are done. Say 1/2 hour later.

It does not help to know why there are so many - I designed and engineered the parts myself. It does not help to know why there is so little space to accomplish the task - if there were, there would be more overturning force on the pedestal holding the mast, and more bolts would be required. So what would take 5 minutes on the workbench, takes an hour and about 3 ibuprofen on the boat.

Maybe a factor of 5 isn't enough.


  1. That's one beautiful looking boat. Perfectly understated, functional and state of the art.

  2. Repairing of boat is the toughest job as boat is to move in water. I searches online and found one of the best mechanics as repairs all kind of boat mainly like fishing boat. I am also having my own fishing work many people recommend me the boat repair mechanic with good experience.