Meet the Chief Maintenance Officer and The RAIIT – The man in charge of Research Aquisition Installation Integration and Testing and the guy who keeps all things mechanical aboard our vessels “shipshape”.
Capt. Rob is knowledgeable and skilled in the maintenance of all onboard systems. If it’s an engine problem, a rigging problem or backed up plumbing, he knows what the next step is to setting it right. Most of the stuff he does himself, but he’s got a battery of factory-trained experts to do “depot-level” maintenance when the job is just too big or requires specialized equipment. More important, I believe, is his dedication to preventive maintenance. His methods for keeping track of all systems ensure that our yachts are ready to sail when our clients say.
The guy has got a passion for this sport and is the best-read sailor of any of my acquaintances. There’s not much plot to the stuff he reads, just books, journals, evaluations, blogs, forums and anything in English that deals with yacht equippage.
Some people rely on Practical Sailor and I would too … except that Rob has read all of the technical reviews and visited all of the places on the web where he has found reports from folks who have installed (and sometimes invented) the gear they’ve used for extended periods at sea in some pretty hostile environments.
He also keeps track of our neighbors and friends who have gone cruising, learning more about what works, what causes problems and what decisions lead to catastrophe, fear or just long-term discomfort. He has learned that man is no match for entropy, yet he perseveres.
Rob’s boat, R Escape, is tricked out with some very, very cool stuff. Everyone on the surrounding docks now has dodger envy since he installed his fiberglass model with honest-to-god-real-windows. But it’s not all big, expensive stuff that he has. I’ve learned the most about more minor equipment and tricks that we can all use. Like the way he secures his lines, the bungee on his up wind docklines, the clever plumbing fix that keeps the head on R Escape from smelling like a head.
I met Rob several years ago, when Michelle took him for a birthday cruise on Sancerre. He was upset that she’d spent so much for a sailboat ride. I think he was afraid, afraid that he’d like it too much. And it was true. Michelle couldn’t have given anything more addictive if she’d bought him a crack pipe.
He was well and truly hooked, but I couldn’t fit him into the lesson schedule right away, so he started studying, read the preliminary texts, then the mid-level stuff, was into hydrodynamics before the first lesson. By the time we’d finished the second set of lessons on Wiley, he’d read everything I had plus a couple of books beyond my comprehension.
Rob is an autodidact and has made himself the smartest guy on the docks. He may not know everything, but he knows how to find out what to buy, what the physics and econonomics of the acquisition are, how to install it, how to maintain it, how to use it to best effect and when it’s time for a newer, better model.
I buy nothing without his approval, and now I’m smart enough to
know not to share what I’m thinking (which is what the guy at West Marine told me) because he’ll explain – fairly gently – why that is soooooooo wrong and how my “hot setup” will eventually, sink, stain, mar, delaminate, bifurcate, salivate on the boat or just obliterate my life’s savings.
You can always find Rob on R Escape. If he’s not there physically, he’s always there mentally. Michelle is one of the three great wives of boaters. Otherwise, this just wouldn’t work out.
Other facts: Rob is the inventor of the Stealth Scotch Glass(tm). And, if you hear him humming or actually singing, the song is “I’m on a Boat.” It is where he is happiest. Ask Michelle, she’s right there with him.