A week ago I was out enjoying the warm weather on a sea trial verifying there were no mechanical problems on a 50-foot Hatteras Sportfisher that I maintain. The day before, the starboard engine was slow starting and smoked more than normal when starting. That night one of the owners called to say they wanted to go lobster trapping at Catalina the next evening and was everything okay on the yacht.
I mentioned the belt on the generator which was losing rubber and then we found an aging coolant hose that we replaced and was now “good to go.” We found these maintenance repairs were needed following an oil and filter change brought on by a faulty port engine oil gauge reading on the engine room panel.
While repairing the generator we made the oil gauge change and then verified through the mechanics personal gauge that all pressure gauges were good. This is good to know for the voyages planned this summer, and in October the planned Baja-Ha-Ha to Cabo San Lucas. One of the three brothers has spoken of his desire for the voyage, and when mentioned to a different brother whom I directly work for, he also said there’s merit for the trip.
The Baja-Ha-Ha is an annual armada of vessels which run from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas in an organized and a pre-determined path of yachts that run together. There will be a lead boat, another with an M.D. aboard and another with a diesel mechanic on board. They stop at pre-determined anchorages for fuel, exchanges and meals. They look out for each other and share experiences.
Everyone splits up in Cabo and goes about their personal ways and return on their own. Most yacht owners have their crew bring the boats back as the “uphill” return trip is quite bumpy and can be unpleasant. Usually all yachts are back for their normal summer use which also coincides with the Mexican hurricane season. The sailboats make the trip one year and the power boats venture on the following year.
My more than 50 years of boating experience have taught me a lot of lessons. As we’ve been sharing adverse winter weather my normal minimum once a month ocean trips haven’t been adhered to. If my maintenance programs for client’s yachts are followed, the boat owner is spared thousands of dollars of unnecessary expenses.
Some hired hands perform yacht maintenance systems checks and run the engines but never leave the dock. This minimizes the costs, but does little for proper care and maintenance.
Once I have the yachts fully operational, I take them outside the Harbor for a minimum of one hour at least once a month. This keeps all systems fully functional and greatly reduces breakage and unnecessary maintenance costs. If you own a yacht, it’s pennies on the dollar to have me or someone like me regularly maintain your yacht.
Yachts remind me of airplanes. If an airplane or yacht is being run all the time, your maintenance costs will be a small fraction of what it will be when you want to sell the boat or take an off-shore trip. If the vessel has been docked most of the time, or the surveyor for a buyer is noting the failures, it can be extremely frustrating and costly when you break down at sea or make drastic reductions in the sales price due to the survey.
Very few yacht owners will take the loss of income and spend the proper amount of time maintaining their yacht. Someone like myself receives a small fraction of the owners work income to properly maintain their yacht. We also pilot the yacht when the owners have clients on board to entertain or desire to imbibe a little and don’t want the liability of partying and driving.
Sunday the weather was post card perfect and warm. My oceanfront meeting showed many kayaks and paddleboards among schools of dolphins. Several boats were on course from Catalina to the jetty and several more venturing up and down the coast.
For this time of year the winter fish counts are above average. Don’t forget to purchase your new license–here’s to tight lines!
Steve Barrett has more than 50 years boating in Newport and performs systems checks, repairs and pilots yachts. Email him at [email protected]