Why not…”From The Crow’s Nest”?

The other day someone asked me, “Shouldn’t this be titled ’From The Crow’s Nest‘, after all don’t you have a bird’s eye view?” I thought this was a great question. While there’s no doubt my job is to help steer KKMI in a positive direction and I’m always trying to look ahead, the view is not always clear. Even with the best “nav” tools available, we all can get off course…but hopefully not run aground.

More to the point, while it’s vital to know where you’re going, it’s equally if not more important to know everything is shipshape before you leave the dock, that is why “From the Bilge” seems appropriate. Allow me to share a story with you.

Any time we took our family’s 1935 schooner Santana out for a sail, I’d check the bilge. I’d be looking for excess water for sure, but I’d be also keeping an eye out for a great many other things. I was looking for the little stuff that left unattended could become big issues, possibly even compromise the safety of my family and guests. So, when I think about what it is we do at KKMI, it’s much the same. Sure, KKMI needs to have the long view of where we are headed but the value we deliver to our clients is the knowledge we have about the little stuff that could become a big problem if left unattended.

As we know, our boats inhabit a hostile environment that’s trying to compromise just about every construction material and piece of equipment. Saltwater is highly corrosive. We find electrical current trying to ground itself through any available metal. We know that freshwater can accumulate in areas and lead to decay. The list of things that can be compromised by these factors is as long as the total number of items aboard your vessel. Hardly anything onboard is immune.

One also knows that independent of the corrosive environment, there’s a given life-cycle for just about every component aboard your vessel as well. For example, just about every new yacht today comes with a “dripless” stuffing box. I’ve heard some tell me they are “maintenance free”…this is not true. One of the most popular brands for “dripless” glands is a company called PYI, which recommends that every 6 years the rubber bellows be changed. It doesn’t matter how many hours you’ve run the engine; over time the rubber can become stiff and prone to cracking or worse yet, complete failure. It’s not my intention to single this product out but to illustrate the point that boat owners need to pay attention to a broad spectrum of details such as this.

Typically, when a client brings their vessel to KKMI they have a punch list of what they’d like us to do. Unless the client specifically asks us to “go through the boat and see if there’s anything that’s in need of service”, we focus on addressing the client’s punch list. Of course, during that process, if we observe something that we feel needs to be addressed, we’ll bring this to the owner’s attention. But in general, we don’t go looking for things to fix aboard a client’s vessel.

So, that’s why “From the Bilge” is so important to me. It’s a reminder that as boat owners we all have a role to play in looking after our craft. And, if looking into the bilge isn’t your thing, you’d be well advised to have someone knowledgeable do to this for you. Not only will your vessel be more reliable but it could also keep you from getting your feet wet…or worse.

Looking forward to seeing you on the waterfront!

Paul Kaplan and the KKMI Family