The Voyage to Nowhere
Summary of Boat Problems
First of all, let me say right away that this information should not be taken as a complaint or a whine, merely as a brief technical description of all the boat problems we've had to deal with during my stay on Nine of Cups. I list both major and minor problems, but I don't list any regular maintenance items—all the items on the list were unexpected. The information is intended to educate and enlighten the reader as to the amount of boat work a typical voyager might encounter during a three-month cruise. David and Marcie have a somewhat sophisticated boat, with lots of gear and gadgets, but it's certainly no more sophisticated or complicated than a typical live-aboard long-distance cruising boat. And with their high standards, they keep the boat in pretty good shape and are diligent about fixing problems—less well-tended boats could have many more problems.
Electrical System (including electronics)
- Autopilot linear drive motor burned out - caused by an alignment screw coming loose allowing the motor to run the gear train past the mechanical stop. Repaired by cannibalizing parts from another motor.
- Autopilot interconnection wiring flaky - cause unknown. Repaired by temporarily rewiring autopilot.
- Wind generator slip-ring contacts corroded - caused multiple times by moisture and salt getting on slip rings. Repaired by sanding slip rings.
- Wind generator blade shaft bent - caused by spinning blade tangling in feathering rope. Repair attempted but existing spares incompatible, awaiting new spares.
- Wind generator blade tape loose - caused by wind peeling off red tape on windgen blade. Repaired by pulling off loose tape, further repairs TBD.
- Engine control panel wiring corroded - caused by moisture and salt getting into wiring. Repaired temporarily by crimping new connections.
- Battery bank loses charge too quickly - caused by insufficient recharging. "Repaired" by adjusting regulator and adding switch to re-enable absorption mode.
- GPS power connector failure - caused twice by excessive flexing and flimsy wire. Repaired by soldering wires.
- GPS backup battery failure - caused by design problem in GPS. Repaired by cracking open GPS unit and replacing battery.
- Handheld VHF failure - caused by being immersed in seawater. Does not appear to be repairable.
- Bow light fixture damaged - caused by being knocked loose by a wave. Repaired by changing bulb and reattaching fixture.
- Masthead anchor light inoperative - problem compounded by wire falling down inside mast. Not yet repaired.
- Spreader light problem - caused by part being dropped allowing fixture to remain loose, I think bulb was out, too. Not yet repaired.
- Forward head light fixture flaky - cause by oxidized bulb/socket contacts. Repaired by sanding contact surfaces.
- 12v outlet getting hot - caused by poor connection. Temporarily repaired by replacing wire (problem recurred).
- Laptop computer sound failed - cause unknown. Not yet repaired.
- Weatherfax program not working - caused by file missing from installation package. Not yet repaired.
- Corroded knotmeter connector - caused by moisture and salt. Repaired by removing connector and soldering wires together.
- Wind speed sensor not working - I forget what the problem was. Parts available but repair too difficult while cruising (requires climbing to masthead).
- Cabin fan stopped working - caused by dirt and dried bearings. Repaired by cleaning and lubing.
- Aft head pump jammed - caused by part coming loose and jamming mechanism. Repaired by disassembling and removing jam.
- Aft head pump lost prime - cause unknown, perhaps wear and tear. Not yet repaired.
- Fresh water foot pump not working - caused by metal part cracking, disabling mechanism. Not yet repaired.
- Freshwater electric pump doesn't draw - I don't remember what caused this or if the problem was repaired.
- Bilge sensor not working - perhaps caused by defective device or installation problem. Repaired by replacing with conventional float switch.
- Bilge float switch not working - cause unknown. Not yet repaired (bilge pump is operated manually using on/off switch).
- Loose hose under galley sink - caused by loose clamp. Repaired by tightening clamp.
- Watermaker lost prime - caused by high angle of heel allowing air into through-hull. Repaired by repriming to release air.
- Forward head sink loose - cause unknown. Repaired by regluing.
Propulsion System (Engine and Drive Train)
- Propeller fouled - caused by running over submerged fishing line. Repaired by diving and removing line.
- Propeller shaft pulled out - caused directly by prop being fouled, but indirectly by incorrect assembly by boatyard crew. Temporarily repaired by retightening setscrews.
- Propeller shaft setscrews not working properly - caused by setscrews not fitting in shaft dimples, perhaps indirectly caused by incorrect assembly by boatyard crew. Repaired by grinding points on setscrews and assembling correctly.
- Propeller shaft coupling out of alignment - perhaps caused by loose engine mount bolts. Repaired by tightening engine mount bolts and realigning shaft coupling.
- Engine mount bolts loose - perhaps caused by vibration loosening bolts that weren't fully tightened. Repaired by tightening bolts securely.
- Engine coolant hose ruptured - caused by invisible internal abrasion. Repaired by replacing hose and refilling coolant.
- Engine stopped due to fuel starvation - caused by loss of power to electric fuel pump. Repaired by fixing electrical connection and bleeding engine fuel system.
- Throttle/shift handles loose - perhaps caused by vibration. Repaired by tightening screws.
- Fuel tank leak - perhaps caused by vigorous fuel sloshing finding a weakness in the tank. Not yet repaired.
- Fuel filter clogged - perhaps caused by storm stirring up sediment in fuel tank. Repaired by changing filter.
- Fuel pump lost prime - caused by fuel leaking out of tank. Repaired by switching tanks and repriming fuel system.
- Water contamination in fuel - caused by tank-filling accident. Repaired by polishing fuel in external filter.
- Helm squeaks and is hard to turn - I don't remember what caused this but David fixed the problem.
- Autopilot release mechanism control loose - perhaps caused by vibration. Repaired by tightening.
- Snubber lines broke - caused by unusual chafe against anchor chain. Repaired by replacing lines.
- Chain stopper bent and loose - caused by excessive anchor chain loads. Not yet repaired, chain stopper bypassed.
- Bow roller frame slightly skewed and loose - caused by excessive anchor chain loads and side loads. Temporarily repaired by tightening attachment bolts.
- Teak toe rail cracked - caused by bow roller frame becoming skewed. Not yet repaired.
- Chain shackle jammed in anchor stock - caused by unusual chain orientation. Repaired by whacking it with a hammer.
Dinghy and Outboard
- Outboard motor submerged in seawater - caused by dinghy being flipped by a breaking wave. Repaired by flushing and lubing motor and rebuilding carburetor.
- Outboard motor ran poorly - caused by dirt or water clogging carburetor float valve. Repaired by cleaning carburetor.
- Outboard motor ran poorly - caused by fouled spark plug. Repaired by replacing spark plug.
- Outboard motor clamp bolts corroded - caused by moisture and salt. Repaired by cleaning and lubing.
- Dinghy leaks air slowly - perhaps caused by normal wear and tear. Not yet repaired.
Sails and Rigging System
- Third reefing line chafed through - caused by slipping off unguarded sheave. Repaired by installing new temporary reefing line.
- UV fabric came loose on jib - perhaps caused by inadequate stitching or thread. Repaired by restitching.
- Furler extrusion pulled out of drum - caused by loose setscrew. Repaired by tightening setscrew.
- Furler drum ran out of line - caused by very tight furling. Repaired by adding more line.
- Furler drum keeps hitting bow pulpit - caused by side forces on jib. Temporary workaround by tying it off with a line.
- Headstay loosened - cause unknown. Repaired by tightening headstay.
- Inner forestay loosened - cause unknown. Repaired by tightening inner forestay.
- Intermediate shroud for staysail loosened - cause unknown. Repaired by tightening intermediate shroud.
- Winches and blocks squeaking - caused by grease washing out. Repaired by regreasing.
Deck, Coachroof, Hull
- Lifeline stanchion loose - caused by stripped screws. Not yet repaired.
- Bimini seam ripped - caused by gusty winds. Not yet repaired.
- Dodger strap loose - caused by flexing and wind loads. Repaired by tightening.
- Deck box has broken hinge - cause unknown. Not yet repaired.
- Goalpost screws loose - perhaps caused by vibration. Repaired by tightening screws.
- Boom gallows bolts loose - perhaps caused by vibration. Repaired by tightening bolts.
- Hatch dog chipped (saloon hatch) - caused unknown. Not yet repaired.
- Hatch dogs loose (forward cabin hatch) - caused by corroded rivets. Repaired by replacing rivets.
- Cockpit drink holder loose - perhaps caused by vibration. Repaired by tightening screws.
- Cockpit table loose - perhaps caused by vibration. Repaired by tightening screws.
- Cockpit drink holder cracked - caused by me bumping into it. Repaired by gluing.
- Coachroof grab rails chafed - caused by lines and blocks chafing. Repaired by making chafe guard patches.
- Rub rail brass rub strip broken - caused by panga impact. Not yet repaired.
- Interior handhold pulled loose - caused by excessive loads. Not yet repaired.
- Forward head light fixture screw fell out - cause by stripped screw hole. Repaired with toothpick.
- Propane fitting leaked and tank emptied - caused by improperly sealed joint. Not yet repaired.
- Propane locker drain clogged - caused by dirt. Repaired by removing tanks and cleaning locker.
- Propane solenoid not shutting off completely - cause unknown. I don't remember how this was repaired.
- Reefer runs too much - cause unknown. Temporary workaround by adding insulation on top.
- Freezer ices up quickly - perhaps caused by air infiltration. Not yet repaired.
- Binoculars fogged up internally - caused by moisture infiltration. Not yet repaired.
- Arrow on autopilot heading knob wore away - caused by wear and tear. Repaired by repainting.