The Changing Face of Boat Maintenance
12 November 2014 | 20 41.82'N:105 17.68'W, Paradise Village Marina, Nuevo Vallarta
Boat projects have changed greatly over the years. Just ten years ago, my job list involved mostly replacing lines, changing a few burned out lightbulbs, or trying to get the alcohol stove to light.
Thirty years ago, I would find myself replacing rotting wood, varnishing wood, painting wood, and then starting all over again at step one.
Today, my boat has no external wood so varnishing or dealing with rot is a thing of the past. All of my lights are either led or cfl and will probably outlast me.
However, virtually every modern cruising boat has more integrated electronics and computer systems than the space shuttle. On Speakeasy, we have two separate wifi networks. One network connects to our high power external antenna and allows us to connect to very weak wifi stations that may be miles away. An absolutely essential tool for pulling a signal from a hotel on the beach who has forgotten to secure their net. This signal today is complements of the Hard Rock Hotel, for example.
Our second wifi network is for our satellite system. No matter where we are in the world, I can connect my laptop, iPad, or iPhone to this network to pick up email, weather reports, etc. I can even surf the net, but that would cost more than hiring a dozen Romanian lap dancers at Runway 66 - wink wink. In short, the satellite connection is fast, but downloading one movie would cost about $7000!
Sure, technology is great, but in the days of old you could see what was broken. If a line parted, it was visible. If a light didn't turn on you generally just replaced the bulb. Today, a whole new skill set is needed to deal with invisible tech problems on a boat.
In my case, a component of my satellite system failed the day before yesterday. With my tech background (no laughing from my CompuSmart & Tesseract colleagues pleaseÉ) I was able to troubleshoot the problem, find the defective component, in this case the satellite router, and order a replacement part.
Considering the pace of technological change, I can't even imagine how complicated my boat will be in twenty five years! Hopefully there will still be a few simple jobs that I can accomplish, like changing a light bulb.