If It Can Break It Will

Just recently we had a question from a friend who just purchased a Lagoon 440 in Florida and who is preparing his boat to sail to Australia.  He wanted to know what he should take with him in terms of spare parts.

As we set out sailing more than six years ago, we battled with what to take with us as spares as well.  A good friend who sailed around the world in the seventies, said to us:” Friends, if it can break, it will!”

So although our boat Impi, a Lagoon 440, was new and had just been rigged out for blue water cruising with upgraded electrical systems, sails and strengthened bulk heads, there were no guarantees that this meant that we would not have breakages. So we bought a huge amount of spare parts some of which we have actually not used.

We have indeed found that if it can break, it probably will at some point but there are certain secondary installations on a Lagoon 440, that have particular weak points. This needs to be catered for in the list of spares one takes on a round the world navigation.  This blog hopes to highlight the weak points in the systems on a Lagoon 440 and how we have gone about tackling these problems, as well as give a list of more generic items to put on board prior to heading out into the deep blue.

So during our first ocean crossing to Brazil, what were the items that broke?  Well very little actually, just the anti-syphon valve on the port engine. Our engines so far have continued to behave themselves.

On arrival in Brazil, we had impeller problems on the Onan generator, which is an age-old problem on this type of boat.

So rather than keeping on repairing the same thing there is something to be said for tackling the problem head on and repairing it once and for all. If you are interested in doing this, watch our movie below.

No Impeller, No Drama

After our arrival in the Caribbean Islands, we had on the whole very benign weather which helped with not needing spare parts.  There was however one main bug bear and this was the slippage on the cone clutches of the SD50 sail drives.  We wrote extensively about this on our blogs and warned people about some unscrupulous Yanmar agents in the Caribbean in our blog called Tough going thanks to Yanmar

These SD50 sail drives have been replaced two years ago in New Zealand with SD60 sail drives.  If you are interested in this please watch our movie here….

Watch our movie here

One of the first parts to give up the ghost totally, was the Balmar alternator on the port engine.  Luckily we did have this as a spare and were able to replace the item.  We have found that these alternators which retail around 1000US$ have a very short life and we have replaced them with Prestolite alternators that retail at 1/3 of the price and are much more robust.

Our spares list for engines, sail drives and generator:

Engines, sail drives and propulsion
cone clutches for SD50
engine mounts
fan belts
fuel filters
o rings
oil filters
propellers and nose cone kits
sail drive seals for SD50
spare anti syphon kit
spare raw water hose
starter motor
cooling elbow
emergency start
fan belts
fuel filters
fuel pump
oil filters

On our arrival in Florida we purchased AGM Lifeline batteries, but they were really of a very disappointing quality, either because some of the batteries in the set of 8 were not working properly or because they are simply not suitable for a cruising boat.  We found the manufacturer unhelpful in determining the problem, even after we commissioned an electrician to do a report on the faulty batteries. As a trend companies in the US have been less helpful in setting right faulty goods than we have found here in Australia where customer after care is excellent. Anyhow, we replaced these costly heavy batteries with lithium batteries that at a quarter of the weight of the Lifelines, are worth their weight in gold.  High performance with absolutely no issues in the year we have had them.  Watch out for our upcoming evaluation of the EV Power batteries and management system after using them one year.  Here is some initial information about our battery system.

On our way to Panama, our upstairs Raymarine E120 plotter decided it had enough.  These plotters were already taken out of production by Raymarine even though the boat was only three years old.  So we purchased as many as we could on Ebay and still carry two as spares.  We have had to replace one again by the time we got to Samoa.  Similarly we had to replace the Raymarine radios, the AIS  500(twice) and the Raymarine wind vane and cable.  We now carry a spare wind vane and of course have a HF marine radio. On the whole, we are not so impressed with Raymarine and when our AIS gave way a second time, we installed just recently a Vesper 8000 which has some very nice features. We are planning to upgrade the whole system this year, so watch this space.

During the long crossings it is sometimes unavoidable to have some lines and battens broken, so this table gives an idea of some of our sail and rigging spares.

Rigging and sails winch grease and tefgel
assortment of blocks and shackles
ball bearings for cars of Facnor mast track
batten boxes
clevis pins and locking rings
Harken snatch blocks
high load low friction rings
replacement lines, sheets and halyards
rope splicing kit
sail repair kit
second genoa/headsail
spare battens of different thickness
spare screws for forestay tubes (very short flat head screws)
Spectra loops
split pins
Tylaska T12 for assymetric or spinnaker sail

We have found that the plastic batten boxes which Ullman sails use snap too easily.  The Lagoon 440 comes normally out with Incidences sails that use different batten boxes.  These are not a problem.

Similarly the tubes of the forestay tend to separate after extensive use, which means that as an emergency repair you need to insert new screws.  You need to have taps and drills as well as short flat headed screws to repair this.  You can only re-drill so many times without endangering the cable within the tubes, so we had the tubes replaced last year in Australia.

The Facnor mast track can come loose and this happened to us in the Marquesas with hundreds of little ball bearings dancing over the deck.  Luckily these are manufactured very closely to my place of birth in Belgium and the manufacturers came to the rescue.  It is a good idea to carry these as a spare.

You can order them at a fraction of the normal price from https://drakeplastics.eu

We also had the original genoa track car on the starboard side explode on us and we were pleased that Harken replaced the track cars and the tracks with a new system at no cost.  It does seem that some countries are better at after sales support than others.  We have found that Harken South Africa comes right at the top in terms of customer care unlike their counterparts in the US and New Zealand.

You must be telling yourself, well is there anything else that can go wrong?  Well of course there is the age-old toilet story…. every skippers favourite, I’m sure. We just have a spare base that contains electric motor and macerator, which ensures we can do a quick replacement of the whole system especially important when guests are on board.  The Lagoon 440 comes out with Jabsco toilets and they are very expensive in Australia and New Zealand.  So if you are heading from the US into the Pacific get plenty of spare parts!  For ongoing maintenance of the pipes one can use the Commoderizer which also helps to dispel the smells of stale seawater.

It is a good idea to have a list of where you keep what spares so that in an emergency you can find what you need quickly.  I am sometimes surprised at what Brent decides to store in my underwear drawer….

So here’s the list which does not contain prescribed safety items, grab bag items or medicines.  We have also assumed you have a toolbox with general screw drivers, hammer, several sets of spanners etc.

Anchoring Dive tank
Lookie bucket
Snorkel and mask
Spare anchor and chain/rope
Dinghy Impeller
Carburetor kit
Hypalon patches and glue
Inflator pump
Propeller and nut
Spark plugs
Sheer pins
Spare fuel line and bulb
Electrical and electronics connectors
battery terminals
electrical tape
fuses of different sizes
marinised electrical wire
micro switches for winch/windlass operation
relay switches
rubber covers for micro switches of winches
spare alternator
electrical tape
spray insulation
spare light bulbs
contact spray
shrink tube
Plumbing connectors and hose, various tap fittings
complete toilet  base set for easy swop out
pump to chase air from lines
spare toilet motors
stainless steel hose-clamps
washers o-rings and connectors of various sizes
water pressure group pump and pressure control switch
emergency repair tape
assortment of flotation devices
back up for cooking on gas
bosun chair
emergency lithium battery for laptop/ipad
good torches and lanterns
handheld compass
immersible radios
jack lines
large mobile bilge pumps
long docking lines
manual water maker
paper charts
vacuum packed sleeping bags for blocking holes
Tools and sundries Shifting spanners
Aluminium glue stick
cable ties of different sizes
electric drill and screwdriver, grinder, sander, heatgun
epoxy glue mixes
Fiber glass and resin
diesel filtration funnel and strainer, diesel treatment water and fungus
gas bottle adaptors for foreing territories
hatch seal and sealant
heat resistant gaskit cement
heavy duty ratchets and straps
large shifting spanners to fit the rig turnbuckles
lifting block and chain tackle
oil pump
pneumatic cable cutter
rivet gun and stainless steel rivets
shock cord
soldering iron
spare perspex
stainless steel bolts, nuts, screws
super glue
taps and drills(include size for forestay tubes plus one up)
volt meter and crimper
greases, oils and lubricants
adhesives and sealants
paints and solvents
hoses and some marine ply or wooden blocks
Watermaker and dive kit replacement straps for masks and fins
carbon filter
Cruising kit
o-rings for dive tank


If you have found this to be useful, please make a small donation to our animal welfare program in New Caledonia.  All money raised goes towards the cause, we do not benefit.

Help Us to Help Animals

Happy sailing!

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