Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Stop Blowing Holes in My Boat!!

“Stop blowing holes in my boat!” I scream at my otherwise innocent husband.*

Dr C looks over his shoulder where he is not blowing anything up but merely vigorously sawing through a bulkhead. “What?”

“You. You are a menance,” I inform him, complete with aggressive fists on hips and jutting chin. “You keep cutting holes in this boat and we're going to sink. SINK! I tell you.”

Dr C looks at his work in surprise, as if considering for the first time the connection between a hole in a boat and the basic principle of watertight integrity. “It's just a little hole to run wire to connect the blah blabity blah...” I lose the rest as it drifts into techno-babble and my temper starts to reach the point where little bees are buzzing around in my ears and the world is going a rosy red.

On every boat, there is a basic conflict between the need to improve its safety and functionality and the requirement to make it comfortable. This conflict is frequently gender based, with a sailor-guy installing gear, improving the running rigging, swapping out ground tackle, and the sailor-gal sweeping up fiberglass shavings, buffing gel coat, and recovering the salon cushions in child-proof material. If you don't own a boat, don't worry. The tension all this activity causes is precisely the same as a kitchen remodel. And we've all been there and done that.

I know of several cruising families in the preparatory phase who are in the midst of their “Boat Remodel.” Now of course the husbands call this “outfitting.” Outfitting, my ass. “Outfitting” is visiting R.E.I. and buying a sun hat, a hand crank blender, and new tent spikes. “Remodel” more closely reflects the sheer destructive power of a sailor bent on improving the seaworthiness of his boat. In the case of one family we know, we might as well call it a rebuild.

Note to sailor dreamers: Do NOT buy a “fixer upper” boat. This isn't a Victorian which you can live in in a tent in the backyard while you fix it up. Your floating fixer upper is a hazard to health and happiness. Spend the extra up front and get a boat that is basically ready to go.

On s/v Don Quixote, our remodel proceeds with Dr C's usual flare for the utilitarian. My husband is big on functional improvements and is completely oblivious to aesthetics. In our first house, we had a wall mounted air conditioner unit that leaked. Dr C was brilliant and handy. He fixed that right up with flashing and spackle; Leak all gone. All that was left was spackle, sandpaper, and paint. The tub of spackle along with the pan, spackle knife, sandpaper, and a paint brush sat next to the air conditioning unit until we moved out two years later.

Since then I have learned that Dr C never does the last dish. He never touches up the paint. It would never occur to him to plug the holes from the weather fax we removed and sold. So as Dr C ticks through his outfitting list, I am delighted with his handiness, ingenuity, and steady progress. I am also frustrated by the increasingly long list of holes in my boat.

Just sitting here in the salon I see:
  1. Two 6” holes from the old speakers
  2. An unvarnished wood panel taped with blue tape to cover the gaping hole on the navigation table
  3. Two round and two square openings where the old stereo system used to live
  4. A friggin enormous cavern under the helm seat where Dr C decided we need access to the rudder chain and throttle cables
I've learned. These are now my problem. Like the Scooper Clown that follows the Budweiser Clydesdales down the parade route, I will work through the boat adding the finishing touch and cleaning up. To the horse goes the glory, to the clown goes the spoils.

* Is there a cruising sailor out there that does not want to park like Cap'n Ron and knock folks off our boat with the boom like Cap'n Jack? So, I think it's acceptable for me to channel my inner Sparrow and steal from Warner Brothers for the theme of this article.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Is there a cruising sailor out there that does not want to park like Cap'n Ron and knock folks off our boat with the boom like Cap'n Jack?"

Hah! I just kayak, and Cap'n Sparrow makes me wish I had a boom with which I could perform some knocking... Alas, I'll have to settle for the simple joys of rum, sodomy, and the lash, sans boom.

(I like these less-polished pieces, BTW... They're a nice addition.)