The Headaches of Boat Ownership

Well, it looks like Typhoon Mindulle passed Chiba without too much damage. Winds were about 60 knots, which was likely only around half that in the protected harbour. I’m waiting to hear from the other pleasure boat owners if Watari suffered any visible damage. I won’t be able to go out and check for sure until Friday night after work. There was very heavy rain though, so I know for sure she’ll be partially flooded. Hopefully not too far over the floorboards. The floorboards can take it, they’re solid teak. A freshwater rinse will be good for them. But the new saloon bulkheads I’ve been constructing only have two days’ cure time on the last round of resin, so they might not be watertight yet. And of course I really hope no water got into the engine room.

Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, as the rising water level in the bilge would trigger the bilge pump float switch, which would pump out the water. However, the float switch burnt out and I haven’t had time to trace the problem yet. It’s only a couple of months old, so I hope it’s not the switch itself, but rather the wiring connections. I’m not positive I got a good connection and seal when I wired it in. Furthermore, I keep having battery issues, so there likely wouldn’t have been enough juice to keep her pumped out anyway. The Delco Voyager I scrounged at Velasis Marina is dying, and the small car battery I bought last week as a backup is having issues too. I expect it’s just bad wiring, and that I need to replace all the wiring and get a couple of new batteries, but I just don’t have the budget right now. The new VHF and shortwave HF radios on order (thanks Nick!), as well as Gennaker have cleaned me out.

Furthermore, there shouldn’t be any leaks in the boat to let in rain in the first place! But the previous owner’s modification to the companionway hatch, where he cut away the wall of the cockpit for easier access, left the hatch too short and it’s always leaked. Rebuilding this is the plan, but I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

All these little boat headaches are adding up. The interior saloon refit is taking much longer than I anticipated, I had to repair the head (marine toilet) this week, the battery and wiring issues, the fact that the paint I used on the topsides and interior is utter crap (soft as butter and has marked up so badly Watari looks terrible and needs repainting already), and the ongoing lack of budget to do all this work, has been adding up. Add to that the stress of worrying about typhoon damage and headaches are turning to heartache.

Why am I doing this? Why am I spending so much time and money on an old boat? Will it ever get to the point where I can stop worrying about it, stop looking at her and seeing nothing but a never ending project list, and actually enjoy sailing? I’ve had some great trips on her already this summer, but every one has been marred by something breaking, something not yet repaired, the realization that after all this work she’s still not ready for extended voyaging yet. I know I’ll get over this, and probably in a day or two I’ll post back here with all the reasons I’m inspired to keep working on Watari and all the benefits I’ve gained through doing all this work myself… but today I’m just tired and depressed. Boats are a real headache.

I’m trying to remember the white sand beaches and beautiful clear water from our trip to Okinawa last winter. Now that was good sailing!

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