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Saturday, April 30, 2011

The DIY advantage

One day while sailing out in the Gulf of Mexico, the whole electrical system on my boat went dead. In a powerboat, that can be crisis. On a sunny day on a sailboat, the first temptation was to not even bother with it. The wind was still working. However, I did want to at least listen to the VHF radio, so down into the little cabin I went. It took less than 15 minutes to diagnose and fix the problem.

The boat didn't have an electrical system when I bought it. It's nav lights were those cheap flashlight types that I didn't even bother taking home. Now the little boat has proper navigation lights, a cabin light, radio, and a 12 volt power outlet with a 200 watt inverter. Pretty basic and simple, but easy to fix. Since I am a do it yourself kind of guy, there's a multimeter and a fair assortment of wire, connectors and fuses on the boat.

When I got home and turned the water back on, there were some leaks. Nothing too terrible, but I did have to go to town to get a T connector. Since I did most of the plumbing on the house myself, I knew how to fix any problems. One thing I'd done is put a number of shut off valves to isolate parts of the system. That proved very useful as I have the cold water side up and running fairly quickly. Being able to flush the toilets is a huge plus. The hot water side had to wait until I came back from town with the proper parts.

The point is, one you build something yourself, you pretty much know how to fix it. It's a huge time saver too. For example, a professional plumber could have sorted out the plumbing problems, but it would have taken longer. Much of his time would have been tracing pipes and figuring out how the heck the place was plumbed. Since my hot water system is set up for alternative energy inputs, it would have been a head scratcher for him.

Of course, the downside of being a DIY guy, is that I'm pretty much stuck maintaining the systems I put in.



  1. yes; it is a simple idea; if I built it I can fix it...


  2. Once had the entire electrical system fry on my sailboat,no motor, no lights, no GPS, and 80 miles to the nearest land.
    Turned out to be one of the best evenings of my life, sailing by the stars. Still managed to get to that little speck of land called Walkers Cay. Big smile on my face

  3. Darn . . . my sailboat was too easy to fix. Handheld GPS with a bag of spare batteries. Of course, used the compass 99% of the time. So far the earth's magnetic field is working well enough.

    Lucky you Spud.