I often read in other repair forums and listen to other boaters on the dock talk about doing things “the right way” and using only the best materials and construction methods. They are often very insistent that there is only one way to do things, “the right way.” (Which of course is their way.)
I am not opposed to doing things the “right way” but one has to keep things in perspective. It makes little sense to use only the finest marine plywood ordered in at $260 a sheet on a little 22 foot trailer sailor that is built using cheap plywood. As a friend once said “you have to honor the medium.” What he meant was there is little point in using materials and a level of quality that far exceeds the quality of the original build. You would not want to use nimonic alloys as an upgrade to aluminum if most of the boat is already outfitted with it. High end joinery in a cheaper production hull makes little sense unless your only goal is to show off your skills. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is good to want to do good work and be proud of your efforts. I just think it is silly how some people insist that everything has to be done to the highest standards. Don’t let perfection become the enemy of good. Sometimes good works just fine.
Of course there are always times you may want to improve on the original and there may be nothing wrong with this as long as you keep it in perspective. If you are working on a high end 50 footer you may want to stick to the best but if you are working on a small production coastal cruiser it makes more sense to scale the quality standard back a bit. I never advocate cutting corners on safety items but here too you have to keep things in perspective. If you only sail on a lake why would you want to do work on your boat as if you were doing an Atlantic crossing? An example of this is those that say you must use epoxy to repair a 30 year old fiberglass boat because it is stronger. Why repair something with a material that is stronger than the original part you are repairing?
Don’t get me wrong I am not suggesting everyone lower their standards and do lower quality work. I take pride in what I do and like to do a good job. But I try to keep things in perspective. I do not want to fall into the trap of always trying to do the best and never leaving the dock. Sometimes I am willing to just get it done so I can go sailing. I do long range cruising in my boat and take it offshore well beyond basic help so I want things to work. I also live on my boat and I do not want have be always fixing things (well it is a boat after all.) I maintain a level of quality that does keep things working but I am not so OCD that I never get away from the dock. Like many this there is a balance to be had. So for all those that insist there is only one way to do things I suggest that perhaps there is more than one and that lowing the standards a bit is not always a bad thing.
Would love to hear others thoughts on this so please leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Couldn’t agree more, Captain. As a relatively new boat owner/live-aboard/repairer I’ve found the internet invaluable….until you read how this or that will sink you if you don’t do this or that. Mechanical things just aren’t that picky about having only one solution to a problem.