The Modular Approach?

Presumably, you have to replace an on-board pump, motor, or electrical component now and then. And just as presumably, said device (as well as the wires, fittings, or other paraphernalia associated with it) are salted away in a relatively tough-to-get-at spot.

Let’s face it, gentle boaters. Even today, with boatbuilding technology sniffing the heights of heretofore undreamt-of sophistication, manufacturers often seem to forget that stuff eventually needs replacement, an oversight that leads to installations that are exceptionally inconvenient if not darn near impossible to get at.

But here’s a work-around of sorts. Instead of doing a complex, piecemeal, hours-long replacement (with each of several parts going in, one at a time), while half of your torso is squeezed into a galley cabinet or stateroom hanging locker and the other half is suspended by your heels from a distant handrail, take a cheery detour into what we’ll call “the modular approach.”

The modular approach? It’s an easy concept to grasp and can be applied in varying degrees to lots of projects. To give it a go, you simply do at least some of the work that’s necessary to affect a component replacement at your home instead of on board your boat, where there may be considerably less elbow room, perhaps fewer tools, and maybe even poorer lighting. That’s the basic idea anyway.

Here’s an example, albeit a fairly complex one. Let’s say you need to replace the water pump that feeds one of your air-conditioning units, a job that requires you to address a related sea strainer, a couple of hoses, and some hose clamps as well as the pump itself. Instead of dealing with each item separately in its location onboard, start by removing the sea strainer, hoses, and clamps temporarily along with the pump and bringing the whole works home, after temporarily plugging the associated seacock of course and making sure you know what size hoses are needed if replacement’s called for in that area too.

The next step constitutes the crux of the matter. At your leisure, in your shop or garage, after you’ve done a little design work on some scratch paper perhaps and purchased and modified a nice piece of marine ply or King StarBoard, put together a “freshwater-pump module” that includes a new pump, a refurbished sea strainer (maybe with brand-new “in” and “out” fittings and gaskets), new hoses, and new hose clamps, all schematically organized and mounted on the piece of ply or StarBoard with the appropriate hardware. Then drill four or six countersunk holes in the ply or StarBoard so you can secure it to a bulkhead or wall.

The final step is the clincher. Once the module is complete, you simply install where necessary onboard your boat in one fell swoop with a few screws and then hook up a few hose connections. Sure, you’ll probably still have to squeeze half of your torso into a cabinet or locker, to secure things and do the hookup, but the suffering required—and the time the suffering must be endured—will be considerably diminished. And the quality of the job will likely be much improved.