Doing It Ourselves Will Make Us Stronger

Here it is mid-April and I still have to send our commissioning list to the marina. The list, largely based on the survey we had done before we purchased Halcyon, shrinks and grows as my comfort level rises and falls.

I bought the Venture knowing it was going to be a project boat. One of the few times (maybe the only time?) John has said no to me was when I asked him if he wanted another project boat when we started our boat search. I mentioned the potential savings in the initial cost. It was a very emphatic NO.

We bought the Catalina knowing that there would be ongoing projects but that we could also continue sailing in comfort. We have three major fixes at the top of the list: the well-known “Catalina smile,” a leak (trickle, really) that only occurs at full throttle, and a bent bobstay turnbuckle. When discussing the leak with the boat yard manager he said that it sounded like the engine vibration causes the prop shaft to vibrate and should be addressed first.

There’s a sort of safety net for Catalina owners in the form of the Catalina 30 Yahoo group, the International Catalina 30 Owner’s Association and the Chesapeake Catalina Yacht Club to which we belong. Catalina owners are more than willing to share experiences, advice, and even a few have driven to help perfect strangers make repairs.

So, what to put on the commissioning form? We want to start poking around and learning more about the engine, a Universal Atomic Diesel 5411. The more I think about it, the more I convince myself that John’s six years of engine room experience on Coast Guard cutters should somehow translate to at least trying to work on an 11 horsepower engine. The owner’s association’s website has more than enough information from other owners who repaired their own bobstay.

That leaves the smile. Based on the immense amount of information available, we’ll hand this one over to professionals.

Finally (for now), the steaming light needs a replacement bulb. That means sending John up the mast with his still-in-the-original-wrapper boson’s chair. Unless I somehow manage to drop him 45 feet onto the deck, doing it ourselves will make us stronger…as long as it doesn’t maim us.

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