Friday, September 14, 2012

More Is Never Enough

" ... a little less fun things, and a little more maintenance, repairs and attention to properly securing things IMO ..."

As it turned out more maintenance
caused more maintenance.
That comment, written by a reader of a cruising blog, has been echoing in my thoughts. Point well taken. It is an appealing idea that a little more effort and attention would prevent cruising mishaps like steering gear failure, dragging anchor at night and having a dinghy come loose. So really, is cruising's to-do list finite or infinite?

IMO the comment is symptomatic of dreaming near the dock rather than living that dream beyond the horizon. More maintenance, repairs, and attention might change what happens, but out there, stuff happens. More is never enough, not even close. The list is infinite.

Quixotically, more maintenance and repairs can lead straight to even more maintenance and repairs. I may adopt the mantra: if it ain't broke, don't fix it and if it is broke, leave it alone unless there's water over the floor boards.

I recently had professionals replace an aging cutlass bearing and subsequently had the propeller shaft try to jump ship. Had it been successful, the resultant hole would have quickly sunk Sweet Pea. More maintenance might have revealed a hidden bolt that had been sheared, but I doubt it. Stuff happens to the pros and certainly to me.

Of course, the mantra doesn't apply to things like adding oil to the engine and replacing a defective bilge pump. That type maintenance is de rigueur. But, sometimes going looking for trouble can be counterproductive.

Prior to my departing for the Bahamas a couple of years ago, the insurance company required a survey. The surveyer reminded me of myself. Washed up old dude with little hair and an air of expertise. The only major finding was the rigging had to be replaced. Not because there were any flaws but because it was 20 years old and near the end of its servicable life. 

This led to a discussion about how that would apply to him and me. We were both near the end of serviceable life and clearly need to be replaced. He tacked away from that lee shore and amended the finding to recommend a rigging inspection prior to any major ocean voyage. Point well taken. But I feared the potential failure cascade of untested new rigging or, for that matter, a new skipper. Both the rigging and I made it back intact, which proves nothing, I suppose. The Bahamas is hardly a major ocean voyage.

I would agree that most of the stuff that happens out there could have been avoided by more maintenance, repairs and attention, but only in retrospect. It requires the unique perspective of hindsight to re-prioritize an infinite to-do list.

Good enough to go
Now that I have maintained my drinking water filter so coffee doesn't taste uukk, repaired my teak by slapping on a new coat of magic juice and paid more attention to securing my button box, I think I'm ready to take off for Cape May. Perhaps I always worry about the wrong things, but I do love the way that teak shines, if only for a couple of days.

I also rigged the jack lines so I can clip in and packed an abandon ship bag -- thanks,Anita, for making me promise.

Everything else I'll leave to fate, plan, or Pachinko, though I do wonder about that rigging.

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