Lessons from the Haulout Yard

Isn’t it amazing that after 14 years, I am still learning things about my boat?!

One day Andrew casually asked when the last time was that I replaced the water hoses on the motor.

“Ummmmmm… hoses, what hoses?? Oh those black ones…? – nope never replaced them” I replied.

“Well you do know that if they are really old they could split, you know, like the diesel line just did, but instead of leaking diesel all through the bottom of the boat, she will fill up with water and sink…”


No matter I thought, it won’t be a difficult job. I’ll just get some new hose while we are in the haulout yard and then we can replace them. Simple…!


Lesson # 1  – Things are always 100% more complicated than you expect them to be

So I measure the hoses, I can’t find a ruler so I use my AFS Spanner and then measure that gap by drawing it on a scrappy bit of paper. Then I took some photos of the motor and the hoses, and made a note of how many hoses and roughly how many there were and how long etc, and I trot up to the local Yanmar dealer shop.

“Hi! Lovely to see you again, yes Wildy is in the haulout yard, can I have a sail drive anode please? Oh and I need some hoses for my motor. Here I took some photos and here are some scribbles on a bit of paper showing how big they are”

Lesson # 2 – Hoses are measured on the inside – not the outside

Who knew!? Anyway yes. Measure the inside gap not the outside diameter. Better still take the hose off the engine and take it to the shop!! Why did I not do that?

“What kind of water hose is it? Fresh water, raw water, sea water…???”

Me – trying to look like a very experienced and responsible boat owner: “Ummmmmm – its a Yanmar…. I took a photo! Does that help?”



“Damn – but check it out anyway – do you like my new sparkly diesel hose?”

Lesson # 3 – Shop Assistants will always as the question that you don’t know the answer to

Anyway it turns out that it doesn’t actually matter whether its fresh, raw, sea or whatever hose – they didn’t have it. They rolled their eyes and did come down and measure it for me and told me the size. Apparently you can get any old motor water hose and it should be all good.

Lesson # 4 – The thing you want will be almost impossible to find

Let your fingers do the walking and make some phone calls before you go traipsing all over town looking for random motor hoses as the shops you go in to will not have the one you think you want.

Lesson # 5 – Don’t believe everything you are told

So when I did eventually find what I thought I wanted, it turns out the hose wasn’t the right size after all.


Lesson # 6 – If the hose looks too big in the shop then it probably is – trust your instinct

Do not let the shop assistant cut the hose and sell it to you if you think it looks wrong…

Lesson # 7 – Take the fricken hose off the motor with you when you go shopping!!!

I cannot stress this lesson enough. Why did I not do this?!?

I didn’t even do it the second time I went back to the shop, and thank you Alister from Boat Shop for not charging me again for the second bit of hose I made you cut off… (By the way they have a very impressive selection of hoses in that shop, best selection in the whole of Christchurch – trust me I know…)

Lesson # 8 – Buy more hose than you think you will need. 

Because you can be sure that you haven’t bought enough of the frickin hose that you searched all over town, bought the wrong size of, drove back and forth way too many times because you were too preoccupied with other stuff to not take the old hose with you…!!!

(Tip: Or you can re-route the hose and avoid ANOTHER trip back to the shop…)

Lesson # 9 – Don’t expect that all the bits that you want to join your hose on to will be the same size.

Warning – this is the stage when you start to get quite grumpy because you have been folded up like a pocket knife in the quarter berth for far too long now, with your head in a slightly too small dark hole, getting covered in oily/diesely bilge crumbs, attempting to insert the frickin water strainer thing that won’t fit in the hose hole, and end up taking the skin off your knuckles trying to force the damn thing on!

Be prepared to need calming words, hot water (for supposedly marginally softening the hose ends) baby wipes, plasters, a torch and beer could also come in handy as well at this stage.


Lesson # 10 – Even though you eventually get the right size hose, your hose clamps won’t want to go over it.

Please – for the love of god – have a decent supply of different sized stainless steel hose clamps in your spare parts kit, and what you thought would be a 10 minute job and it has now taken about 4 hours…

Lesson # 11 – Check the hoses for any leaks when you relaunch, and make sure water is coming out the exhaust like it should be.

Check – yay! Thank goodness!

So these are just some of many lessons I have learned in the haulout yard the hard way this year. Please feel free to share your valuable lessons about anything below to save me having to go through this kind of torture ever again.


16 thoughts on “Lessons from the Haulout Yard

  1. Rule #1 of boat partnership: When you think of a new way the boat could sink, just as you’re about to fall asleep, DO NOT mention it to your partner until morning. That’s just cruel.
    Get up and write a note if you must, then go back to sleep.


  2. Your story brought back many repair memories for us and a smile as you nailed it on everything you should or should not do. Especially being all contorted up in a space way too small for you to be in the first place and wondering why at that moment you don’t have a third arm/hand to hold in place the dam thingie part you are trying to replace!

    Wait till you tackle re-building your water pumps!

    There are 3 things one must always have on a boat!
    Spares, Spares, and more spares. When we finally had all the spares we could possiably have we sold the boat. Eight years later.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good read, Viki! It tells me to keep searching for a boat with a motor that is easy to reach. At my age, contortions are a wee bit difficult! Ha! You sure make a lot of excellent points, #1 being take the hose with to the store. I’ll remember that. Thanks!


  4. Firstly, I would recommend giving your rubber pipes a squeeze. It wont find leaks but will tell you if they are getting soft or brittle. Also try annotating your users manual as the info could come in handy another time.


  5. We’re going through a similar process right now, but plumbing hoses as well. I’m amazed how many hose clips are on a boat! My mechanic who is very thorough, tells me he wants to see all salt water hoses double clipped with “Mikalor” brand clips or other brands which have a stamped rather than holes cut in the band on the clip. I discovered you can double clip an already clipped hose by fully unscrewing a Mikalor clip and then putting it back together around the hose


  6. Great Read – thanks Vicki.
    Here is a good reason why your work (and frustration) was well worth the effort:
    (This happened to a fellow yachtie)
    Motor into port, apparently all is fine, shut down engine, slight smell down below but nothing found.
    Next day, engine want start, 2 days and 3 diesel mechanics later (this problem needed a senior mechanic), discovered lack of coolant, engine is cactus, overheated, needs replacing.
    Why did nobody notice? No alarms went off?
    While underway, one of the hoses that goes to the hot water service, split and the coolant leaked out rapidly but was duly expelled into the ocean by the bilge doing it’s job.
    Ahh ….. the slight smell below …… it was coolant in the bilge!
    No over-temperature alarm? The temp gauge actually went DOWN!
    Here we learn another lesson: Temp sensors only work while submerged in liquid (i.e coolant).
    Once the coolant disappeared and the temp sensor is no longer in liquid but in air, all temp sensing is gone!

    I also note that the engine kept burning itself out while running without coolant but did not stop.

    Replacing ageing hoses is great idea ….. and much cheaper than replacing the whole engine.

    Long hoses running in hidden areas of the boat to/from the hot water service (often a fair distance away from engine) are too much risk for some conservative sailors as leaks or hose deterioration or chaffing remains hidden until the inevitable problem occurs. Their solution is a hot water service, disconnected form the engine, which runs off a genset or a portable generator; and all water hoses confined to the engine area where they are easy (comparatively) to access, monitor and replace.


      • I’m no authority on this subject but they tell me once the hose starts to look a bit swollen it’s time to replace.
        Rubber deteriorates with age, heat, pressure and exposure to gases (e.g. ozone), so the life expectancy may vary depending on those factors.
        Sorry, I don’t have enough experience with rubber hoses on boats to come up with a specific time frame but I will ask my Diesel Mechanic next time he’s on board.


  7. Very good advice Viki, I love your writing, these items have given me the most headaches over the years Each keeler I have owned needed a new engine or overhauled (as they were ‘bargains’ !!! – yea, right!)

    -engine alignments and engine mount issues
    -morse controllers coming loose
    -hoses failing or going hard
    -Exhaust coming loose / back filling
    -impellors failing
    -Block heat exchangers / intake pumps and sea valves
    -Fuel contamination / water in fuel tank / sediment in tank
    -starting issues when cold
    -battery charging issues

    Looks like a whole chapter for that next Book Viki 🙂



    • Thanks Dudley!
      Gosh – so much more to look forward to! I’ve had the diesel bug already as well as a broken impeller on a very rolly day off the heads after a Pigeon Bay race weekend – that was fun to change… all good lessons aren’t they!


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