40 Rules For A Reliable Sailboat

Chapter 1 of 4 in the Online Book How To Maintain an Offshore Voyaging Boat

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It seems like almost every cruiser I talk to has a tale of woe about all the problems they have had with their boat and how much those problems have screwed up their plans. For crying out loud, if cars were as unreliable as voyaging sailboats, we would have stuck with horses!

By now, most of you are probably saying, “John, tell us something we didn’t already know”.

But really, it does not have to be this way. How can I say that? We have had a twisted mast, a defective engine, and half a hundred other things go wrong on Morgan’s Cloud but, in the last 14 years, nothing has broken that has caused us to change our plans, or even delay us, in mid-voyage—touch wood. (Since we started cruising some 23 years ago, we have only had one such incident: a broken intermediate shroud necessitating replacement of all standing rigging.)

I don’t say this to boast. Undoubtedly there has been an element of luck in this record. But I also think that the boat maintenance rules that we have developed over many years of voyaging have helped too. Here they are:


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