One of the most expensive mistakes ever

Published on September 2nd, 2022

Renee D. Petrillo’s A Sail of Two Idiots is the story about novice sailors who sold their home, bought a boat, grabbed their cat and a few belongings and set sail. Here’s an excerpt provided by Practical Sailor:


While on Grenada, we discovered that our boat insurance was coming due and that the company would require an out-of-water survey this time around. We would need to haul out the boat.

Well, if we were going to do that, we’d also make sure the surveyor we hired looked at the boat from a sales standpoint. We knew we were near the end of our journey. We had seen most of the islands and had no desire to go to the western South/Central American coast, and we’d had it with those conditions.

More important though, we had only enough money for maybe another year. We needed to start thinking about which island could provide a place we wanted to live on and a job to let us stay there.

Assuming we’d sell the boat within the next year, and knowing we had to haul it out anyway, we figured we might as well see what our surveyor had to say about the boat, so we wouldn’t have surprises during a survey with a buyer’s surveyor later. (Ha! Boy did that not work, but you have to admit, it seemed logical.)

Just as in the Bahamas, we had a narrow canal to squeeze through to reach the Travelift. Then we were strapped into it and hoisted out of the water. We then made one of the most expensive mistakes ever. We were asked if we wanted the bottom pressure-washed or to just give it a quick rinse. Because Americans often think that more is better, we went for the most powerful option.

Our bottom paint had held up well from the Bahamas application, but with the pressure-washing, we watched $3,500 of liquid gold (or blue antifouling paint, in this case) wash into the boatyard. The boat bottom was now nice and clean, all right, but it would need repainting. You do not want to make this mistake.

Lesson 91: Just Say “No!”
If your bottom looks good, and there’s a lot of antifouling paint on it, when someone asks if you want it pressure washed — say it with me now — “NO!!!!!” A light washing with a garden hose will do just nicely, thank you.

For more cruising tips from sailors who’ve been there, Renee D. Petrillo’s A Sail of Two Idiots is in the Practical Sailor online bookstore.

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