It’s important that you always provide natural ventilation aboard any boat.
I thought it would be easy to remove the dead starter on the starboard engine. But when I crawled to the outboard flank, I saw rust covering the engine’s yellow paint. I looked around some more; the hull side air vent drain was clogged. Saltwater spray that should have gone overboard instead had helped the rust to set up shop.
The boat owner told me he never explored the outboard sides of the engines because he saw no reason to do so. He was lucky: The starter came out without too much effort, and I was able to install the rebuilt starter as well as unclog the vent drain. But the lesson is one for all boat owners to remember: It’s important that you always provide natural ventilation aboard any boat.
Growing up around wood boats, I was taught how natural ventilation combats the moisture that salt water leaves on cushions, caulk, anchor rodes and hard surfaces such as lockers. Good maintenance habits—such as soaping and rinsing with fresh water followed by adequate drying—go a long way toward keeping things aboard the boat in Bristol fashion. Ensuring adequate ventilation and making…