When we left to cruise the Western Caribbean for six years, we had the boat stock full of spare parts – engine parts including a spare mixing or exhaust elbow, rebuild parts for the head, an entire new wheel pilot autopilot, a spare regulator, tools for every conceivable use, and lots more. By the time we got to Belize, anytime we were near a hardware store (which was not often), we longingly looked at all the stuff and said “wish we knew what would break next, we’d buy the stuff to fix it today!”. Unfortunately, we could never predict what would be next.
We left the boat in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala that summer and flew back to the US for hurricane season. When we returned, we took spares we never thought we’d need. Maybe some of them will be helpful for your cruising plans!
1. Grill Burner & later radiant plate – both rusted out. We had the ignitor/propane thingy aboard as a spare, but didn’t anticipate the burner rusting out after a few years. In some cases West Marine had a better selection of parts online.
2. Block & tackle to rig our dinghy hanging harness (we hang the dinghy from the “hip” of the boat on an extra halyard for security purposes).
3. Zippers for canvas. It was relatively easy to find someone to replace the zippers, but often they didn’t have zippers long enough for our canvas enclosure. Take your own replacement zippers!
4. Honda 2000 extra air filter, carburetor and rubber feet. Also, a note on the rubber feet — we would recommend taking the rubber feet off annually — ours rusted on so that when we needed to replace them, we couldn’t get them off — to this day duct tape is holding one of the feet in place … well, more or less…
5. Oven lighter … ours melted the 2nd year out. Turned out not to be a big deal to replace. Also, our burners rusted out and we replaced them as well. Not spares we anticipated. You’ll have to track down your oven manufacturer to get these parts, but we had no problem even though our stove is at least 15 years old.
6. The porthole rubber screw down things that hold the portholes securely shut. Every one of ours has disintegrated and been replaced. Luckily, when we ordered replacements (Bomars worked on our old Manship portholes), we ordered enough for the entire boat, not just the ones we needed.
7. Rivets & a rivet gun to replace the rivets in our porthole screen handles which fall off regularly. Also, a hog ring pliar tool and hog rings.
8. Hatch gasket replacements – we took some with us, but used them almost immediately. From then on, it seemed like we were bringing replacements with us every year when we returned to the boat. We also had trouble with our Atkins & Hoyle hatches staying up – we replaced the assembly to hold the hatch up.
9. Thru hull – one of ours wouldn’t close properly and to replace it we had to bring one back from the US because it wasn’t available in the Western Caribbean.
10. Any specialized sparkplugs — like the ones in our Honda 2000 and our Tohatsu outboard. There were LOTS of sparkplugs in the hardware or automotive stores, but none fit our needs and after we used the one spare we had for each, we were SOL.
11. Alternators … we took a brand new spare. Which we used in the first couple of years and from then on, we were constantly on the lookout for replacements. Unfortunately our alternator had an external regulator, but all the new ones had an internal regulator. We finally found someone who explained that if we didn’t connect the wire, the replacement would work fine. And we also found that since most places have to fix things rather than replace, we could get one rebuilt rather than brand new. Regardless, we always have a spare alternator aboard, even now. Likewise with a spare salt-water pump for the diesel.
12. The cords to both our VHF and SSB mikes and it seems like we have to replace the entire mike because of the way it’s designed. We’ve replaced them several times and the rubber on the coil just keeps deteriorating and flaking off. You’d think ICOM could figure out a way to make a mike coil that wouldn’t disintegrate in a couple of years, but apparently not. (NOTE: Icom has since acknowledged this problem and will replace the cords, read this post if you have the same problem.)
13. Replacement shackles and other stainless that wasn’t manufactured in China. For whatever reason, the stuff manufactured in China didn’t last, rusted quickly. Here’s some info on stainless if you’re not familiar with the differences – maybe a bit technical, but illustrates the differences.
And, of course, don’t forget when you use a spare, to replace it! Otherwise the next time, you won’t have that spare. And keep a list of spares and where they are so you can easily go to the spare and get another.
Anyone else with needed spares they didn’t anticipate? Please leave a comment and share! Cheers! Jan