cut the list, not the corners
Boat projects are endless and if you're not careful you can miss an entire cruising season adding on to the ever growing to-do list or cutting off essential to-do items that will leave you stranded in a foreign port waiting for a part. I think, after 8 years of owning boats, we may have found a happy medium.
Especially when you first buy a boat, there is a lot to do and it can be a challenge to decipher what is essential before setting out for the cruising season and what can wait for the next "down season." When we bought our Tartan 34c, recently renamed Flapjack Octopus, we didn't think there was much to do in order to get her in the water. I mean, there wasn't a giant hole in it, like our last boat! We figured we had 2 weeks of work and since we were already 2 months into the cruising season, we were excited that we'd be getting off the hard sooner rather than later.
5 weeks later, and we are ready for splash day! So our estimate was off base...by, more than twice the duration! It seems that the more boats we buy, the more areas we cruise, and the more we learn about sailing the more we feel we need to do to prepare for passages. I think our lists of repairs and inspections has increased but I also think our time frame for doing repairs has decreased.
Meaning, as we've cruised we've run into different problems on each trip; Lorax was a bent rudder stock, Cambio was a terrible engine, Hedgehog was capacity levels for water and fuel, Paper Mate was sail construction and Millennial Falcon was hull integrity and safety (I know what you're saying, "You learned safety was important on your 5th boat!?!?" and the answer is yes. We are finally taking safety seriously.) As we learn each thing it makes us better at picking out boats, but it also causes us, in the yard, to say "You know, maybe we should just get that done now, when we have a car, money and stores around us."
With Flapjack Octopus, although it has taken us much longer than anticipated, we really learned the lesson of cutting aesthetic upgrades and adding or completing the projects that make life easier once on the water and in a foreign port. Redoing the exhaust, upgrading all the wiring, installing foot pumps for fresh and salt water, installing a composting head, etc. are all things that are easier on the hard and essential for a successful cruising season but not so fun to take care of when the Bahamian blue water is calling your name.
Things like adding new cushions inside, building some cabinets for storage, or adding an oven are things that can wait. We will sleep in the fold out dinette for a season, use totes for storage, and cook on the 2 burner alcohol stove. For now, those things wont stop our trip, but an exhaust leak could. So, I think we have finally figured out what is worth extending our time in the yard for and what we can do without for a cruising season. Making these calculations have caused us to work tirelessly for 5 weeks, but they also mean we didn't add too much on to our list, so we can still go cruising! Bahamas, here we come!!