Saturday, October 20, 2012

Plans are nothing.....Planning is everything!

As the walls of overwhelming were closing in, I realized again that I needed a plan.  I talked to some guys at the club, Dennis, Reese, Mark, Dave and Rick.  One of them mentioned that I should get a copy of the book This Old Boat.  I told them I already had and the contents stimulated me to develop a tool that I could use each season to help me plan and prioritize my projects.  I decided to call it the Master Maintenance Plan.  The plan would have to address three major areas of the Constance Marie: structure, features and finishes. According to This Old Boat it is helpful to remember these as layers of the boat:

STRUCTURE:  These are the hull and deck, hatches and portholes, bulkheads, rigging, sails and engine. These components are central to the boat's integrity and essential to her function

FEATURES: Anything that is bonded, bolted or screwed to the structure. These include built-in cabinets and accommodations, appliances, lights, cleats, winches, handrails, electronics and cushions. These features add comfort, versatility and perhaps security.

FINISHES:  This is the gelcoat or paint on the hull and deck, laminate on the bulkheads and counters, the oil or varnish on the teak, the fabric on the cushions.  This layer has two functions:
  1. Preserve whatever is underneath the surface of the decks.
  2. Improve the appearance of the boat.
Figure 5 - Master Maintenance Plan of the Constance Marie (click to enlarge)
Taking these three layers, I designed a Microsoft Excel-based spreadsheet that showed each of these layers in rows and and priorities in columns.  Priorities were deemed "Immediate", "Less Urgent" and "Someday". To these were added addtional columns for estimate and actual costs for parts and labor and the same for effort to complete.  A column to the left identifies the project number in the sequence in which the projects were to be completed.

The next step was to create a simple bill of material (BOM) for the first half-a-dozen projects that I thought I would soon be doing.  The purpose of the BOM is to list the name of the project, the parts and tools available or needed and the description of each.  See the example below:

Figure 6
Project Bill of Material (BOM)
Now, I live 10 minutes from our yacht club and its boatyard.  How many of you have traveled over an hour or more to get to that same boatyard and realized that you forgot a tool, a part, or some support equipment like a portable heater.  This BOM was designed to help plan out each of the projects listed on the aforementioned Master Maintenance Plan.

Lesson Learned: It's a good idea to have 5-6 BOMs completed and ready to go so that when you have the time to knock one off, you are all set.  You don't have to stay to a particular order as motivation to accomplish will vary over time.  

Keep the BOMs in a three ring notebook containing the Master Maintenance Plan so you can easily take them with you.  Of course, now that we have a list of the tools, parts and equipment we need for the project we need to determine what is already on-hand and what we need to buy.  Don't know about the rest of you, but as for me, I use any project to ask myself, "what new tool can I buy because I have this project(s) to do"?  Hey, a certain amount of toys is necessary to maintain a guys personna, and also to help the economy, right?   

The final tool in the plan, is the Procurement Master. The Procurement Master is also an excel-based tool and part of the Master Maintenance Plan.  It is basically a rolling spreadsheet listing all the parts, their description, date needed, estimated and actual costs, chosen supplier and their contact information and all this cross-walked to a particular project as listed on the Master Maintenance Plan.

How many times have I searched the internet for the likely vendors who might carry a part or a tool that is needed.  Many times those sources come from word of mouth from members of the club and many times it takes hours of conversation on the club's front porch to get to the subject matter.  So the Procurement Master is my respository for research done once and recorded so that when Peter, Paul or Pius sails again with me and steps on the solar exhaust fan, I don't have to worry about replacing it. Oh, hello Pius! :)

Figure 7 - Procurement Plan of the Constance Marie (Click to enlarge)

Well, thanks to these tools, I now know what needs to be done, in what priority, what I have on-hand to do the work and what I need to buy to complete the project.  Whew...I am exhausted!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Winter is coming.....the sky is falling

It's been a couple of weeks since putting the Constance Marie up on her boatstands.  The wooden footers were not in good shape but they are working to hold Her up.  I was beginning to realize that this was going to be more than a weekend workshop project. I have spent my earlier career as a logistician in the Fortune 1000 moving into Supply Chain Management as a Management Consulting and Technology in the 1990s and having started several small businesses.  What I learned about myself is that I hate to run things but love to start things and that I was gifted in bringing order from chaos. Once the chaos was gone, look out for the boredom. But I soon learned that for old boat owners, the chaos rolls like a wave...up and down, up and down!  Winter was fast approaching and common sense told me I needed to do some things to the boat to get Her ready for cold weather.  I received immediate help from a club member named Dale, soon to be a good friend,  who ran a trucking company most of his life and who knew diesel engines forwards and backwards.  His boat was stored only two postions from mine.  Dale helped me winterize the Constance Marie.  He didn't do it, as he instructed while I learned the ropes of winterization.

Figure 4 - Constance Marie second from the right
I was speaking a new language.  Pink Piss, raw water (like there is another kind?), impeller, sea cocks! Somehow we got the Constance Marie winterized despite me.  Anything that had water in it, including the bilge, got pink piss poured into it.  We ran the engine till pink piss was discharging from the exhaut. It looked like the Constance Marie was participating in a breast cancer regatta.  It would come to pass later on just how sick the old girl really was.  There were a lot of things that never got done that first winter like change the oil, all the filters, inspection of the belts and alternator, etc.  Up to now, it was react, react, react.  I did not feel in control.  They say that the word "BOAT" really means "BRING ON ANOTHER THOUSAND" like in bucks, moolah, greenbacks, dollar bills.  I did not want to see that happen without a plan as I had promised myself that all maintenance would be funded from monies made from extra sources of earned income and not from my full time job.  I needed a plan before the sky fell and crushed me.