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It is not really in my nature to ask for help. When running our business, I struggled to get over the shortsighted managerial mindset that it would take me less time to do a task myself than to teach someone else to do it. Rebecca would probably laugh at that and say that I most definitely did get over it, at least where our business was concerned. On the boat though, I really do still try to do all of the repair jobs myself. A wise man knows when he’s in over his head though.

For the last several passages we have been dealing with a port engine that refused to idle. It would only start up when given extra gas and while it would run OK at higher revs, it would die as soon as we slowed down. Unfortunately, slowing down to anchor or maneuver is exactly the time when we wanted both engines working! I was pretty convinced that the idle jets on the carb were dirty but my one attempt at taking the carburetor apart was not super successful. While I am pretty confident dealing with our 2-stroke engine’s carb now, the 4-stroke variant has a lot of extra bits and bobs to it. I was pretty sure that I’d have to seek help.

When we arrived here in Grenada, a friend of ours passed along the name of a mechanic who works for a local dive company fixing their engines. I won’t mention his name but it does rhyme with a common farm animal. Anyway, this guy may be awesome at what he does but we’ll never know because he totally jerked us around. Over the last 2 weeks I have phoned him no less than 5 times and each time he said that he would call us back to confirm a time to come help us. During the last conversation 3 days ago, he promised that he would call me back later that day. Guess what? Still no call. Am I pissed about that? Oh yeah. While previously I had weeks to get the engine fixed before having to maneuver our boat into a travel lift, I now had only days because of this guy wasting our time.

Still needing some help, I called another guy that I know of, Mike from Palm Tree Marine. As it turns out, Mike is who I should have called in the first place. After explaining the situation and when I needed to have it done, he told me he’d come to help. Mike arrived at our boat yesterday afternoon and in an hour and a half, had the engine purring. He arrived when he said he would, did a professional job and charged a fair price. Needless to say, if anyone asks me for a recommendation, Palm Tree Marine will get my vote. The other guy? Not freakin‘ likely!

Does all this repair stuff seem like fun to you? It’s not. It is, however, a part of the cruising lifestyle. While some people tend to focus on the glamourous aspects of what we do, those who are out here know that there are two sides to the coin. While we are quite content to pay that price for freedom and travel, others eventually find that it’s not their cup of tea. Take for example Jan and Ean from More Joy Everywhere. They recently posted a very honest entry in their blog explaining why they have decided to give up the cruising thing and sell the boat. I think that’s smart of them. If you don’t like something, change. Most times when I say that I’m talking about quitting a crappy job but if it’s cruising that doesn’t make you “joyful,” move on to something else.

The silver lining to their decision, of course, is that there is no doubt a couple of wannabe cruisers who will be extra happy to take that 42′ catamaran off their hands. I know that, if we were in a different situation, we sure would!

What price would you pay to wake up to this every day?


  1. Life is a series of tradeoffs. Everything that I have done in my life has involved good and bad. The trick is to finding what has more good and less bad. It sounds like you two have found a pretty good balance. In the long run, who knows? But for now you are in compliance with the happiness Gods. It really is a good lesson to learn that when you get out of balance, find some other path. Making the decision to move onto that other path is the difference between the smart and the not as smart. Some only take that other path when the pain gets way too much to handle. Other’s sense it before that point and move on. You see that all the time in relationships. You can see a couple at war and as much as every other person can see it’s time to move on, they keep battling. Some think that they will triumph in the end. Overcome the problems and find happiness. Others just decide that the pain is not worth it and hit the road. There are those that would call them quitters. Gave up too easy. Like digging for diamonds. You just have to hang in there and the gems will finally show themselves. Sometimes you just have to realize you are digging in the wrong place.

  2. You hit the “nail on the head” Mike! We are suffering with your scenario #1 down here in St Kitts. Glad your story had a happy ending!

  3. Mike,
    Thanks for the helpful info. I enjoy keeping up with your blog. It is very current and fun. I like the comment you made about its the fear of alreting ones course. Although, I don’t have a boat yet, I have always wanted to be a liveaboard. We may not do any cruising immediately, but We would live at the marina and get some bills paid so we could take the dive in!!!!
    Thanks again

  4. Awesome article Mike. Thanks for the insight and the

  5. Mike, a great blog! Iā€™m reading this blog for a long time. I am impressed with your journey. I love the sea and my dreams are sailing around the world too (maybe only to Caribbean) , but first I need to sole financial part of the trip. I hope that I will be soon an similar trip and maybe we will meet somewhere on the ocean. I’m sorry regarding mechanic, but my experience with them are bad too.
    Basic Sailor

  6. We are two years into some pretty heavy experience working on our boat and we still want to go cruising…hmmmm…what does that say about us? Gluttons for punishment? Countdown is 10 weeks. Yipeeee!

    Owing you a huge debt of gratitude for all your knowledge and experience passed down,

    S/V Kintala

  7. I’ve always felt that small boats are about sailing and big boats are about systems. I’ve gotten into kayaks in part because I love the simplicity, and I wish I had the time for a beach cat.

    And that from an engineer and tinkerer. I suspect the repair aspect overwhelms the vast majority of sailors, most of them long before they become cruisers. They had no idea what they were getting into.

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