December 19, 2012

Boats Break; living on them is stupid


A walk in the woods
Last night while making dinner I switched on the light over the counter and got, nothing. No, there was a faint glow, and if I squinted, I could chop carrots. Then, when I went to rinse the beans, I had another problem, no water. Our water pump has been cycling for no reason—so we need to turn it off when not using it. So up I went, across the cabin, into the other hull to turn on the water, then back to the sink to rinse the beans, then back to the other hull to turn off the water, then back to the beans, only to realize I’d forgot to put water in the pot to cook them. I called to Ev to flip on the water but he and Maia were dealing with a deflating dinghy so back I went…

There does seem to be some sort of law on boats that when one thing goes on the fritz, several more follow suit. On our first boat we had it happen many times, but the most significant occasion (read costly) was when we reached Panama. First the rigging needed replacing, and then the depth sounder died, then the windlass—but my breaking point was when the stereo stopped working. Using a lead line to find the depth and pulling up an anchor by hand are two old-school sailing traditions I can cope with if required—but I’m wasn't quite up for listening to Evan singing sea shanties.
Afternoon entertainment--a play starring Charlie the Reluctant Reindeer
 Last night’s breakdowns were not in the same league as Panama—a new light fixture, tinkering with the water pump, slapping a patch on the dinghy (if we could find the leak) are all affordable—just time consuming. But it made me realize how much of our boat chore time is spent in triage. Even when were not actually going anywhere, most of our efforts are spent just trying to keep things functioning and afloat. While Evan worked on the inflatable he had to step over the carcass of one engine, past the brand new one that’s waiting to be installed and fish for tools in the projects-under-way pile.

It’s no wonder really that heavily cruised boats go into refit every few years (or every few oceans). And last night as we tinkered and fixed, while trying to catch up on each other's day and actually eat dinner, it all felt frustratingly endless.
Maia's school dance
But afterward when we turned on a Christmas movie (at least the computers still work), and started to hang up our lights and ornaments, and watched a quarter moon rise up over our current city, the small and not so small inconveniences began to feel manageable. The to-do list may grow at the same rate as mildew (time to add de-mildewing to the list again) and boat stuff may break at a rate that leaves us feeling we are always a few steps behind, but the reminders of why we live such a challenging life are always there: When we can stop fixing stuff long enough to lift our heads and look out past the bulkhead that needs painting and at the world we've made such an inconvenient journey to see…
Maia's class performing at the end of year concert

*the pictures obviously don't match the post, they are just a few from life lately

13 comments:

Jane Behr said...

best blog post title EVER. Thanks for making me laugh!

Charlotte said...

Yes, I LOVED the title. Laughed out loud when I read it! Thanks for sharing :)

Dan N Jaye said...

Woke up this morning and stepped in a puddle of water. Turned out to be minor, just a slow drip in the galley sink faucet. But your title just cracked me up, and today I needed the perspective. Well done!

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Ha! Glad you enjoyed the title. This whole liveaboard thing sure feels like a dumb idea some days, doesn't it?

Margaret said...

Mould killer for you to try, Dettol (get it at supermarket) mixed with water, not sure how strong, do a few test patches.
Old guy next street has pop top camper van and says this is the only thing that works for the vinyl pop up part which is usually MOULD CITY.
Scrub off mould,rinse, wipe dry..... then wipe over with fresh clean batch, don't rinse off.
Hope you all have a lovely Christmas ,if the humidity gets to you,remember up here on the mountain is always cooler :)

Victoria said...

Oh my, I hadn't read this post yet when you mentioned it. It's one thing after another here! I'm just going to go about my day pretending that we have electricity and the sink hasn't fallen in, not looking at the dodger....etc.etc.etc. and hopefully make it through to Christmas. At least our borrowed outboard propels the squishy dinghy.

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Good tip Margaret--thanks. And Ha! Victoria! Should I share the punchline? The bit about how you wrote your comment then noticed your dinghy had gone missing?

Dale said...

My first night aboard the lights went out, the electricity soon failed which made a January night on the water in San Francisco just lovely and then there was so much condensation that it literally rained on me all night. Best night of my life btw. Enjoying your blog, added it to the link-list on TheMarinersGuide.com.

Margaret said...

Happy New Year to you all, hope you enjoyed the firworks on the river !

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Happy New Year; boats are holes in the water surrounded by materials into which we pour heart, soul, and all we own. We've moved ashore in Atchison Village in Richmond CA. It's a super little co-op when you're ready to live ashore. If you ever are, that is...

Ormond Otvos said...

Have to chime in!

As the Fixer (my only good feature) I was drawing up plans for a ferrocement houseboat hull to put in at Eddo's Marina (q.v.) near Antioch when we fell into Atchison Village (see Wikipedia). After 30 years of marinas and soggy fittings, It's Pleasant to only have to pump out under the apartment!

We mostly travel by HDTV now, or by sailing by BART mass transit to festivals in the culture-rich SF bay area, a good final port...

Enjoy, but quit before it gets to you. Stinky old boat hermits are a bummer :-(

Dan said...

Good post.
Reminds me of when I bought my (first) boat earlier last year. I expected to be in the water in a few months but took just over a year because I would find some new project that *had* to be fixed before splashing.

centime said...

Great blog - Thank you!