Why Does Everything Keep Breaking?

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I woke up to half a dozen emails today with basically the same question; so instead of copying and pasting the same answer half a dozen times, I thought to myself, “self, why don’t you create a singular place, where you can share your thoughts on the matter and maybe tell some stories about how we’ve handled certain situations over the last three years of our sailing adventures.” Thus, the birth of this blog! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BLOG!

Kim R. writes:

While this has been my husband’s dream for so long, now that we are out with our five kids, my husband (who assumes so all the rolls for maintenance and captaining) is so stressed and worried all the time. Did Keith ever go through this? If so does it get better? How do you deal with the fear of something breaking

 It’s been difficult. He feels he can never relax... even when we are on land exploring, his mind is racing with the responsibilities that face him when he gets back on the boat.

Hey Kim! Thanks for writing in. You are NOT alone! I guarantee there are thousands of other folks who have decided to embark on this adventure only to discover it’s not all cocktails and sunny skies.

We set sail three years ago having next to no sailing experience. Even though he was completely capable and we had plenty of funds and resources, Keith was still so very nervous about the whole thing. We all were. Probably for the first entire year none of us were really able to relax.


You WILL be stuck somewhere at some point waiting on a part or trying to jimmy-rig something just to get to the next major city.

Recently, we ended up having to leave American Samoa after waiting three weeks for Amazon to deliver a new handheld VHF radio. Keith had dropped our main radio in the water while climbing out of the dinghy because he didn’t listen to me and put it in a waterproof bag. Did he learn a lesson? Probably not. We placed the order before we set sail to AmSamoa, and expected it to arrive within a week. It got lost and never arrived, even though we walked all the way to the Post Office every day to check. (Luckily, Amazon refunded us for the lost packages; but we are stuck with our old backup VHF for now.) Reminding yourself that it’s a matter of WHEN they break, not IF they break, might help you both to relax a little. 



You’ve got to have at least a bit of mechanical and electrical knowledge, and plenty of common sense to work a problem. The sailing community is AMAZING and you have to learn to rely on your buddies and other sailors if you come across a problem you can’t handle on your own.

We installed all our solar panels ourselves back in Turkey; however, we did have a fellow sailor friend nearby who’s also an electrical engineer by trade, and Keith enlisted his help quite a bit, which helped our installation to be a lot smoother than if he hadn’t been around. Keith has offered up some of our spare parts to others’ who are in dire need of something; and vice versa. I think, in addition to Google, you MUST rely on the sailing community and be willing to ask for help or advice.

This same friend’s water maker crapped out during their Pacific Ocean crossing recently. He had to finagle a fix by using a peanut butter lid and some other random parts. They have a kid on board and only one water maker, so it was a scary time but they made it through. We were less than a day away from them so had they needed assistance we weren’t too far away.


I’ve learned that my husband’s attitude drives the entire mood of the boat. And sometimes that is a terrible thing! So I have to control my mood and maintain a sense of peace and joy, especially around the kids, (and sometimes through gritted teeth) to help shift a negative environment into a more positive one. Eventually it may stick. Kill him with kindness. Otherwise, just kill him.

I hope this helps a bit. Please leave a comment on your perspective on being MacGyver on the water, and share your stories with me how you have had to overcome the same fears that Kim has.

 Cheers! ~ Renee