The One Where We Open Up a Can of Worms

There were two appropriate titles for this post: one involved a can of worms and the other referenced the familiar book, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. Either works in our situation.

To avoid confusion that we possibly gained another unwanted stowaway, I steered clear of the mouse reference. (Yes, I said another. If you didn’t read about that adventure, check out my post: Not All Sunsets and Chardonnay.)

Both ideas imply the snowball effect of boat projects.

Before I officially open up the can of worms, let me give a little background on boat maintenance. Generally speaking, boats are like cars. They require routine oil changes and tune-ups based on the miles you’re putting on the engines. And then unlike most cars, boats just have issues. If you talk to any boat owners, there’s likely at least 1 boat project on their to-do list.

One of the biggest challenges to Great Loopers is finding good places to stop for maintenance.

For 5 to 6 thousand miles, you’re moving. We’ve learned (the hard way) that when mechanics find out you’re on the Great Loop, one of two things can happen: They either don’t prioritize the work because they know you won’t be a repeat customer. Or they do quick work with the theory that they get it done, get paid, and the boat will be long gone before realizing the work wasn’t done well.

In addition to all of the necessary maintenance that comes along with boat ownership, there’s also the “fun” projects. In our case we’ve done a few things along our Loop to improve Light & Salty. For example, we added several antennas to improve cell and internet signal. We also added underwater lights and a TV on the back porch. While not necessary, they’ve been welcome additions to our home.

All of this said, sometimes starting one boat project can lead to more. Hence the can of worms!

Brent manages all of our maintenance on the boat and he’s done a really nice job taking advantage of our schedule and logistics. When we purchased the boat, he insisted on performing some extra service on the engines as a preventative measure before we took off around the Loop.

He also used our extended stop in Chicago (3 weeks where we needed to be off the Great Lakes, but couldn’t yet transit the rivers due to closed locks) to have our boat hauled out of the water. This allowed a team the time to do a whole spreadsheet of projects from filter changes, to a new coat of bottom paint.

When we arrived in Fort Myers, Florida for a 5-week planned stay, Brent decided this would be a nice time to have a big service completed. Technically, it wasn’t really due for a couple hundred more miles. But since we had 5 weeks, it made sense to get this work out of the way.

And now watch while the can of worms opens…

I called the mechanic to schedule the service. Brent asked me to inquire about fuel polishing. This is something we’ve never done before, but thought it might be a good idea. Unfortunately, the fuel polishing equipment was in high demand and the first available appointment was 2 weeks after we were scheduled to leave Fort Myers.

After some debate we decided it would be worth the wait.

Spending extra time in Fort Myers wasn’t exactly going to be a hardship. Not to mention, paying for space at a marina is much less expensive when you do it by the month. Quickly 5 weeks in Fort Myers changed to 8.

Then Week 7 arrives and it’s our scheduled maintenance day. Our family checked into a hotel down the street since we knew it would be very hard to work with the mechanics on our boat. But due to a late start, one day of work turned into two. And then we got the call…

“One of the hoses on your exhaust has a small leak.”

It’s never fun to get a call that there’s something wrong with your boat; However, this didn’t seem like a terribly big deal in the bigger scheme of things. The biggest part of the problem is that the mechanic couldn’t fix it on the spot because he needed to order the part.

By this point our family had completely fallen in love with Fort Myers. Besides making friends at the marina, the area is a revolving door of Loopers passing through. We had already gotten to see so many boaters that we’d traveled with at one point or another. And more were on the way.

Although we had no intention of stopping in one place for so long, it didn’t make sense to leave Fort Myers with a maintenance problem that would need to be addressed soon.

So we asked the marina if we could stay a little longer.

The part got ordered. And we waited. And waited… (Here’s where the can of worms begins to burst wide open!)

Since our boat had been sitting still- with the exception of some weekend trips- it was time to get our bottom cleaned. For those who don’t know, when boats are in warmer water things begin to grow. The growth affects how your boat runs.

I called and scheduled a diver.

When the diver surfaced he had a big cord in one hand. It was wrapped around one of our props. This is actually a good thing because it means our line cutters are working. Somewhere along the way we hit a crab pot. The bad news is that unfortunately as the line cut, the pot likely swung up and dented the other prop.

The damage was minimal, but it was there.

In hindsight, I should have told the diver to pull the prop on the spot. But that seemed like a big decision to make without Brent (who was on a work call at the time.)

If you’re counting, we’re now up to about 10 weeks in Fort Myers and 2 small issues that should probably be addressed before we leave.

Then we went and anchored with our friends one weekend and a conversation about batteries ensued.

Converting Light & Salty to Battleborn lithium batteries was suddenly a hot topic AGAIN. (Much more on this detail in a future post, but it’s part of this story too.) What’s another couple weeks in Fort Myers?

With 3 outstanding projects on the table, I began to settle in. The marina even stopped asking me when we were leaving. Boat projects aside, none of us were eager to “finish” the Loop. And Fort Myers is not a terrible place to be stuck!

As we waited on the engine repair, prop repair and lithium battery install, the weather changed from perfect to hot. (For the record, we are NOT complaining. We’ll take hot any day over cold!) But it did make us realize why almost all the other boats in the marina had big screens over their windows.

Why not tack one more boat project onto the list? New canvas covers for the front of our boat seemed like a necessary addition to give our AC units a little help. We commissioned the work…

By this point we’d stopped living by the mentality of “we’ll leave as soon as the work is done.” We transitioned to telling people “this is when we’re leaving, all the work needs to be complete by this date.”

Brent and I’ve agreed that 4 outstanding projects is enough and we will resist the urge to continue allowing the can of worms to dictate our schedule. Fingers crossed that it all comes together in the next week or two!

Of course, this post only tells half the story of why we’ve been in Fort Myers so long. If we didn’t love it here, it would be easy to table some of these projects. I’ll share some of the fun side to this extra long stop in my next post.

Until then, you may enjoy reading:

Daufuskie Island: Where Professional Travelers Vacation

The One About Day To Day Life On A Boat

9 Days, 6 Hotel Nights and Only $100

*’The One Where We Open A Can of Worms’ may contain affiliate links. By making a purchase after clicking through a link, Mom With A Map may receive compensation.*

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9 Comments

  1. Amy on April 30, 2021 at 3:45 am

    Love all of these details!!!! Hope the battery & canvas cover installs go super smoothly! So many things I had NO idea about on a boat!

    • momwithamap on May 3, 2021 at 2:28 pm

      So many crazy moving parts to think about. It’s a good thing I didn’t have a clear picture when I signed up for this- haha!

  2. Karen on May 3, 2021 at 4:06 pm

    This is on our bucket list, thanks for all of the tips and ideas!

  3. Charlie. and Robin McVey on May 3, 2021 at 10:50 pm

    I love it. All the fun, friends, maintanence, and new parts. Fort Myers is a great place to be. I really believe y’all will be coming to Tennessee again one day soon. Gold doesn’t mean stop. Robin and I look forward to seeing y’all dock at Aqua and coming to visit.

    • momwithamap on May 8, 2021 at 6:09 pm

      Fort Myers was not the worst place to get “stuck” doing some maintenance. We sure do miss seeing you guys on the water, but you are right- aiming for Aqua now 😉

  4. Ellen on May 3, 2021 at 10:53 pm

    Wow! I’m kind of jealous of this boating life! My husband and I have talked several times if we could ever live on a boat. While I’m not so mechanically inclined and this ‘can of worms’ scares me a bit, this is pretty inspiring!

  5. Lex on May 4, 2021 at 3:43 am

    When we had a boat growing up same thing! Hope it all works out for you and you can enjoy the open water in peace!

  6. Mimi on May 4, 2021 at 7:07 am

    I had no idea all these things went into having a boat. Fort Myers sounds lovely!

  7. Nadalie Bardo on May 5, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    this is the one thing about having a boat, or even an RV that would stress me out. things break!

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