Haven't read every word posted here, but am I the only one to posit that, if the Reavers themselves are too aggressive to maintain their own ships, might they use that same aggression to subjugate captives from the ships they raid and force them
to maintain the ships? We haven't seen the inner workings of a Reaver ship, have we? Maybe they don't
kill, eat and rape (order interchangeable) all
of their victims - at least not at first. They could be like the Pakleds ("We look for things - things to make our ships go, and then we eat and rape them").
I would think that the biggest plothole in the movie is actually Simon's intimate involvement with River's escape, when the series seemed to establish that he only received
her after she was sprung from da joint by his 'associates' ...
(And I look at the mule the same way I looked at the Klingons' foreheads in later Trek
- screw ENT's 'explanation'