Largest Spanner in the world
The largest spanner in North America, possibly.

We’ve been boat owners for over 1o years now, our old boat was a J-35. If you don’t know J-35’s very well, they are wonderful, fun, fast boats. They are also very simple boats. Our refrigeration was powered by a block of ice. Our water was pumped by foot pumps, the shower was up on the dock somewhere, the auto helm never was a problem so long as he didn’t fall asleep.The new boat is fancy, it has hot and cold running water, a real fridge, electrical panels gleaming with LED lights, 2 (two!) onboard showers and lots of other wonderful accoutrements. It also has, as my husband points out “Systems”. Lots of them. We have a manual crammed with incomprehensible diagrams of each system in French, German, Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese …apparently we got two German pages in lieu of an English page.The boat is also 9 years old this year, which means that all those systems are now 9 years old. Have you figured out where I’m going with this yet?Last season the auto helm broke as did the shower pump. We paid $500 to have the auto helm fixed but are still waiting to get around to fixing the shower pump.On day 2 of living on the boat this spring the water heater broke. As the boat was built in Europe we are discovering that fixing the boat involves sourcing replacements parts from across the EU. The water heater was from the UK. We paid for a new element and had it shipped over in a remarkably short time, only to discover that we needed a wrench or ‘spanner’ that is a special ‘UK only’ size. This of course was out of stock so took 3 weeks to arrive before it could be shipped. Once it came, hubby fixed the water heater and now we are the proud owners of what I honestly believe to be the largest spanner in North America, I’m pretty sure it could be used to remove a small child’s head if necessary. (If you’d like to come visit it, we only charge a small viewing fee.)

So to be clear, as of Thursday the list of things that needed to be fixed on the boat was as follows: Fix shower pump.

As we left the dock on Friday I had a funny feeling that the fridge didn’t seem cold. “Not to worry” I thought as I idly flipped the auto helm on. ‘BEEP BEEP BEEP’ it sung out in a particularly smug kind of way. “Not to worry” I thought as I tried it again and again ….and again.


Upon arriving at the dock I tested my refrigeration concerns by using  scientific method. I handed my husband a beer, and waited to see if a complaint was lodged.


On further investigation, we’ve discovered that the fridge motor is Italian and all the manufacturer’s fridge gut models are named after the beautiful Italian islands. We have Elba.

The rest of the weekend passed merrily in a blur of island exploration, kayaking and spirited auto helm/ refrigeration repairing debates.

Until Sunday morning, when, during a rain squall we noticed a drip.

On closer examination we discovered the drip was not simply a lone drip… It had friends. The tell tale sign of a window that had started to leak.

‘Darn’ is not working for me any more

Ok, I know that this is what boat ownership is really about. Only the deluded think it’s about surging through the water filled with champagne sparkles and a bracing breeze on a sunny day. My frustration lies in the speed that things are being added to the ‘to do’ list…. And that things that have already been fixed are coming back on the list! The new boat honeymoon is officially over. She held off telling us about her aches and pains long enough to give us nearly one season with out too many reality cheques. (yes, I spelled that as intended.) My biggest (and most deluded) wish that we can fix these things before the next things go on the list.

As my husband puts it “This boat is going to teach us about every one of her systems… Whether we like it or not.” To which, I pointed out that I heard that the ‘duct tape on the windows’ look is in this year.

Is that gallows humour? Or perhaps we should just call it boaters humour.

This is, for sure – ‘to be continued’…

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