What do you do when you discover problems on a boat?
Uggh! I’m about two hours late in even sitting down at the computer today. As I was starting to make coffee this morning, I detected just a hint of a funky smell. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s:
Problems don’t cure themselves. They just get worse.
And that’s doubly true of problems on a boat.
When we started cruising Que Tal, we knew this. But we didn’t KNOW it. A tiny problem didn’t necessarily give us a sense of urgency. It was something that went on the “to do” list. Before the first month was out, we’d changed the way we did things.
See a drop of water in an unexpected place? Used to be we’d just wipe it up. We learned to find out why it was there. Hmm, those couple of drops under the watermaker might have been a hint that a connector was about to break in two and put a steady stream of salt water on the settee.
A funky whiff coming from the hammock of veggies should have been investigated before the flying insects found the rotten potatoes.
Finding a Gatorade bottle with a loose cap should have encouraged me to check the bottom of the refrigerator before the goo became moldy.
Enough examples — you get the picture. And sometimes you can’t totally fix the problem immediately, particularly if you need parts that aren’t in your spares. But if you know about the problem, you can take steps to prevent it from getting worse or having a domino effect.
Admittedly, it’s usually not convenient to investigate the cause of a problem immediately. It wasn’t for me this morning — I had emails to reply to, a post to write, and I really just wanted to sit outside and watch the water and the birds with my cup of coffee. I didn’t feel like taking everything out of a cupboard and cleaning something up. It turned out to be a potato that was bad. Very bad.
But if I hadn’t dealt with it, the bugs would have. And they would have told all their little bug friends about it. And in a day or two, we would have had an infestation — little flying bugs, ants, cockroaches and other ickies. Yeah, that would have been a lot worse to deal with.
So we have a rule: when one of us sees/smells/senses something off, it gets investigated immediately. Once we know what it is, we can decide if it has to be corrected immediately (usually yes) or if something else has priority. Problems that could cause fire, sinking or collision call for immediate action.