Sunday, August 14, 2011

Boat Work

My neighbour has been doing the bright work on his boat. Bright work is the sanding and varnishing.  We do it every year or two in Canada but in the tropics even 4 or 8 coats broke down in the sun every 4 to 6 months.  The marine environment is a harsh one indeed. Maintenance is an ongoing issues.  Those who think of owning boats are told to stand in a shower tearing up money and watching it go down the drain to see if they like the feeling before buying a boat.  The same can be said of houses these days though traditionally they appreciated.  Because of the marine environment, the corrosive salt air, sea, and such, the maintenance on a boat is such that you might paint a house every 10 to 20 years but a boat often requires paint in half that time if lucky.  Bottom painting is done every year or 2 and topsides every few years too.  I've a steel boat so I have to deal with 'rusting' whereas those with fiberglass have their own troubles whereas we all feel sorry for the wood boat owners as wood requires the greatest maintenance.
I pressure washed my boat this weekend.  Also I fixed the burners on my stove, repaired a wind vent and am planning on doing some touch up work painting today perhpas. The fact is, I enjoy, boat work.  My problem working is that any project requires time and once started often needs to be completed especially if you're wanting to use the boat.  In the Blue Water Crusing world we described 'cruising' as 'doing boat work in exotic places'.  Any passage usually results in the need for some repairs.  Crossing the Pacific my autopilot failed,, my dinghy was holed and my halyard broke just for starters.  All of that had to be addressed at first port.  Sailing south to Mexico I had to repair my Engine exhaust system and the antennae array at the top of the mast which had broken lose in a storm.  There is always something. In Mexico though I was puttering away fixing or improving some aspect of my boat most days.  There though the work day, a typical feature of cruising, was rarely more than a few hours at most.  I read that hunter gatherer tribes rarely 'work' more than 20 hours normally in a week and that's the kind of life of cruising I miss.
Right now the anchor chain needs to have the lengths painted, every 50 feet, some colour to show me how much chain I've let out. I'll eventually get to pulling it all out and laying it out on the dock and painting markers.  I haven't done that in 5 or 6 years but without the visual markers have depended on 'guessing' how much chain I've let out by the time I run the winch.  Such a project could take a few hours but a snag could cause me to need another day or so to do something that seems so simple.  I always fear starting something like that because if it weren't done by Monday it would need to wait till the following weekend and no one would be happy here with a pile of chain on the dock.
So often I'm hiring someone to do the work and happy these days that I've been fortunate to find those who can do the work. While I'm doing my speciality work they're doing this work.  The fact is I like doing the work myself.  A change is as good as a rest.  That's what cruising is about too. The attraction of retirement for so many people is the open space for 'projects'.  I'll probably get Jim one of these days to install a new wind generator but if I wasn't working and had the money to pay for the project I'd be happy as a clam doing the work myself.  I might not do as good a job as Tom or Jim, whose back grounds are engineering, but I'd certainly have the fun.  I liked repairing and mounting the wind scoop yesterday and getting the gas burner to work on the stove.  I don't know how many times I've repaired or replaced the toilet in the last 20 years.  They commonly break down every few years at best.  But if you come down to a dock there's usually a lot of 'boat work' happening and that's as much part of the pleasure of owning a boat as cruising.
It's good to have an 'attitude of gratitude' during the process as cursing doesn't seem to decrease the likelihood of skinned knuckles and the one screw that refuses to come out or go in.


Anonymous said...


haykind said...

I love my solar panels too but have an old wind generator post and wiring so would just have to add the new one. Not necessary right now but I'm always happy to have more power on my sailboat. I've got the generator, gasoline, 8 batteries, solar panels, and this poorly performing old wind generator. But there's the water maker, the gps, the radios, the hamm, the autopilot, computers and such.