We’ve been on a boat yard diet this summer. Between Billings Diesel in Maine and Atlantic Yacht Basin in Virginia, BEOWULF has spent three weeks of the summer undergoing various changes and maintenance procedures-it’s been a little over two years since we’ve done any real work to the boat, so this isn’t too bad.
Our approach in boat yards has always been to stay actively involved. We do as much of the prep work for any operation as possible, try to be a pleasant albeit persistent advocate for getting things moving along quickly, and mix in our own maintenance projects which might require technical help at the same time.
There are several benefits from this process. One is the costs are invariably much, much lower. If the yard guys see you doing your own work at a fast clip, they will work a little harder too, and of course, you save on the billable man hours (prep work often takes more time than actual repairs or maintenance procedures). The other advantage is on the crew’s waistline-you are burning a lot of calories trotting back and forth, climbing up and down, hauling stuff off and back aboard-with less time for snacks in between. Bottom line here is that BEOWULF’s crew is more trim right now than at any time since we were involved in her building.
One way of looking at this is a week at a high end fat farm, like Canyon Ranch here in Tucson, would pay our two yard bills!
But the diets have not all been on our end. BEOWULF has been on her own diet. The longer we’ve cruised, the less stuff we’ve found we need-and the less we have onboard. The issue of what you need to carry “just in case” and what you can do without is one we’ve wrestled with for years. When we started cruising we had literally tons of unnecessary gear and stores aboard. These took space, cost us lots of money, and were often done in by life aboard before they had a chance to be used.
Today, in most of the cruising world you can find a way to make a jury rig of whatever goes down, or get the required parts sent in by courier in a few days to a week. Even if there is a premium on these costs, we feel they end up being a lot less than the cost of investing, storing, and then carting around gear that has little probability of being needed.
But this doesn’t mean we don’t gradually accumulate a lot of un- or under-used “things”. So, we’ve gone through every locker on the boat to vet its contents and ended up sending 17 boxes to the garage in Arizona. That’s a huge storage and weight bonus.
In addition, we’ve made some fairly significant changes in the engine room in the interest of comfort and performance. Our wonderful 4-cylinder Yanmar DC genset and watermaker is now in storage (at a total weight savings of close to 800 lbs when you add up all the wire, hose, and brackets). Our 17-gallon hot water tank is also in storage, as is the stationary exercise bike that resided in the engine room, and the large, heavy (over 100 lbs empty) tool chest. In addition, we’ve drained half the water out of the fridge compressor cooling tank (it still works fine when the boat is out of the water). All heavy spares from the engine room have been moved amidships, now that we have space under the saloon seats.
We’re going back to the old system of using the engine for a genset. As we have only 700 hours on the genset in 5 years-this is not going to make much difference the life of the propulsion engine, especially considering that we can load it up with the Hundested controllable pitch prop. Domestic hot water is being provided in two ways. First, with a four-gallon 30,000-btu heat exchanger plumbed into the diesel boiler; and second with a smaller heat exchanger on the main engine.
To replace the 50-gallon-per-hour water maker on the genset we’ll now use our Village Marine 24V Little Wonder, with a second system running at the same time (about 15gallons/hour).
Net result of all this engine room diet is a weight savings of 1500 pounds! Overall, BEOWULF is a little over a ton lighter. This may not sound like much in the context of a 78-foot sailing vessel, but it represents a weight reduction of over 3.5%, most of which is well above the center of gravity of the boat and/or located in the ends.
And if we don’t like the results, we can always bring the genset and heater back on board.