Friday, May 31, 2013

All hail....THE BOY

This is a post to give massive credit to all men, and mine in particular. 

Living on a sailboat sounds very romantic.  Sure, we've sailed into the sunset, and we've had nightly cocktails on the poop deck, surrounded by the gentle lapping of the ocean against our hull, and we've explored places that one can only get to by boat.  We've smiled indulgently when people dinghy or kayak up to us, exclaiming about how much they like the look of our ketch.  We shake our heads when we read Facebook postings about snowstorms in May where we used to live.  We wonder at some of our friends plowing through the dreaded 16 hour workday, and if they think it's still worth it.  However......

When I was in school, primarily junior and senior high, while the boys had their noses into batteries, and science experiments, and shop classes disassembling and then reassembling engines, and mechanical "stuff", I was learning useful things like how to poach an egg (I'm not sure it warranted an entire day), how to sew a button on by hand (really?!?! that needs a class?!?!) and how to type, because as I was a girl, if I was so unfortunate as to have to enter the work force, I at least could then type a letter, and do a bit of steno work.  One semester I learned how to use a sewing machine.  I think it was the most useful thing I learned in school. 

Meanwhile, the boys were standing at their fathers' elbows handing them tools, learning how to cuss, and how to fix a car with a piece of duct tape, a bit of bailing wire, and a hammer.  They took shop class, and it actually seemed like it was required for a guy to spend at least one or two years up to their elbows in grease.  Most teenaged boys would go through a few cars, working their way up from the $500 beater, fixing it, trading it up, and onto their next challenge.  They'd get enough money to buy the "cool" body, never minding that the engine and systems might be compromised.  That, they knew they could fix.  The look of the thing tho - that you had to buy.  I am so grateful that Ron, my able and trusty captain on the boat, and in life, was one of those boys that didn't get the car given to them, that he learned how a battery worked, and that he's not afraid to get dirty.

The last week has been a challenge.  Our new solar panels arrived from Florida, as did our new radar.  Fellow boaters will know that just because you spent the money to get some new cool gear for your vessel, the easy work, paying for it, has been done.  The hard work is just beginning.  Installing the new panels was an exercise in patience.  Headliners had to come down, wiring had to be fed throughout the boat, new charge controllers needed to be hooked up, and then the boat had to be put back together.  The radar entailed more wiring, climbing up the mast in a pitching and rolling anchorage, securing the mount so it wouldn't, YET AGAIN, come undone and fall into the ocean while underway.  Drilling through decks, punching holes in the mast, it all takes time, effort, patience, knowledge, and a willingness to know that it's done right by doing it yourself.  All the while, envision being in a wet sauna.  You know, the one you pay big bucks for each time you're in a resort or at the gym.  The kind that people willing sit in in their homes, or hotels.  We get to do it for free, except we don't get to open the door and walk out.  Drinking gallons of water each day, without having to go to the head, refutes Newton's "for each action, there is an opposite, and equal, reaction".

So the above is the fun stuff.

In the midst of all this positive change, ongoing is our !@#$%!@#$% generator.  I have extolled the virtues of my sewing machine, made by Sears, but here I DO endorse Newton......for my positive action towards the Kenmore brand, I have an opposite and equally negative reaction to Entec and their piece of shit generators.  There is not one week that goes by that Ron does not have to work on that thing.  This last month has seen him rebuild the fuel pump, both water pumps, and the starter motor.  Hoses for both the coolant and fuel started leaking.....requiring more time with his hands in the grease, and covered in sweat. We know several other boats with these types of generators.  One pitched it overboard in a fit of pique, and one spends several hundred dollars every month or so to get it worked on.  Each morning, when we're ready to fire up the thing, I hold my breath to see if it will start, and if it does, how long it will keep going.  With the money we've spent on new parts, we could have purchased a new Honda 2000 and probably would have come out even.
If his head isn't in the toilet, it's in the generator
A few years ago, I decided that I needed to be a part of the smooth operation of our systems onboard.  We had an interesting battery monitor, one that Ron wasn't familiar with.  I thought I'd take this on, learn about it, read the instruction manual and really get to know how it worked.  Not only could I not figure the first paragraph out, I had to ask Ron for definitions of 9 out of 10 of the words in the very first sentence and what they meant.  I don't have the patience that my man does, (good thing I was never a mother!) and threw the booklet aside in disgust.

For those of you contemplating this lifestyle, it has it's wonderful moments.  But make sure that SOMEONE on the boat knows about mechanical stuff, how to fix a pump or two, and how to do a bit of wiring.  If no one does, YESTERDAY is the time to enroll in a class or two.  Forget about taking a sailing course - that's the easy part.  Anyone can's the other systems maintenance that is crucial to your life and wellbeing of the boat, and all aboard.

Either that, or bring lots of cash, cuz you're going to need it! 

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