Maintaining Fiddler takes a lot of time and requires an understanding of multiple systems. Unlike a car where the maintenance is related primarily to the engine and drive train (changing the oil and other fluids, spark plugs, brakes, and rotating the tires), Fiddler has two diesel engines, two drive trains, two propellers, two rudders, hydraulic steering, a generator, heating and air conditioning, roll stabilizers, fresh water system, watermaker, refrigeration, propane cooking, head and shower, inverter, battery banks, anchor and windlass, bow thruster, fire extinguishers, smoke and CO detectors, and dinghy and hydraulic crane.
Most maintenance can be done while Fiddler is in the water, but some can only be done when it is hauled out of the water every other year. I strive to do all of the maintenance myself, but occasionally there is something that is best left to the professional marine mechanic or electrician. I also have a diver scheduled every four months to inspect the underwater running gear, assess the state of the bottom paint, and change the zincs.
So how do I make sense out of the varying maintenance requirements? Different systems have different schedules. Some are based on hours of usage, others on the calendar. Fortunately I am not the first boat owner to encounter this. In this age of tech, there are numerous apps available that can keep track of these items. There are also commercial services that will do it for you and notify you when maintenance is due, for a fee. I don’t use the commercial products. Instead, I found a spreadsheet on another boater’s blog that he made available for others to download and use for free. He happens to be a IT executive at a large tech company so his spreadsheet is both comprehensive and easy to use.
Here are screenshots of the Excel spreadsheet that I use to track maintenance:
When an item is due it changes color on the spreadsheet. One month out, the line changes from black to yellow as an early warning. Then when it is actually due, or past due, it changes from yellow to red. I simply input the time interval (hours or months) per manufacturer recommendations and the hours on the engines and it does the rest. After I complete a task, I enter the date and it automatically starts over. It is very easy for me to use.
And there is always something that needs to be done. Cathleen wonders why I am always at the boat. This explains it.