Cleaning, Happiness, Maintenance, Organization

How Matthew McConaughey helped me manage projects

After having the heating replaced, I think we are starting to get the hang of how projects work on a boat. My phone ended up in the marina a few days into the project, so all most of pictures I had taken over the last months of our progress are gone. I thought I’d synched it but, alas. I even lost the one of me flipping off the old propane sensor when I ripped it out of the wall. Which is probably best, that was a little rude, even given the brain-melting hell that device put me through (RIP).

In this time of the great Heating Project of ’17, I came to three solid things I’ve learned.

1. Essentially, get your shit together

Clean and orderly stacks. Keep everything as clean and organized as you can (and backup photos!). Everything needs a place, and also a safe place to be when it can’t be in that place. That place might change three times during a project, so a third safe place might be needed. Just be ready to constantly move things. We DID save a lot of time by cleaning lockers up as we went installing the heat registers, so when we went back to run wire, we weren’t disgusted and therefore moved slower, we knew what we were in for and had a plan. Of course, that plan changed at times, but the pre-planning and cleaning set us up with essentially the right surface area to paint our vision. Of magical, 85-degree heat. Ahhhh…

Don’t get lazy, cocky, or assume anything. Anything that’s not put away or managed while out will get tripped over, moved, lost, possibly any number of those in a given hour or day. You don’t win at “stuff bingo” when all of these occur all in a day. You just lose…things, time, possibly sanity. Things that you think should be easy won’t. Some things that are hard just magically happen with ease. The moment you mix that time-sensitive pot of epoxy, it rains. The second you are done battening down hatches and checking lines for the storm, the sun comes out. You are pretty much run by nature’s whims, be a bit more in tune and you’ll fair better.

Manage tools & resources. We would have saved a lot of time if we’d had a little tool belt so Shayne wasn’t often asking where he’d put a tool (I do it too, not gonna lie).  We saved a ton of time by having one place for all random tools/bits, so they just aren’t sitting here or there. We were trained if we didn’t know what something was or couldn’t find it, look or put it there.

I saw one phone, four cotter pins, a few washers, and one tool charger go into the drink in the past month. The first three were my fault, the charger was Ev as he tried to toss it from the boat to the dock cart. It didn’t work.

I think I might start making a list of items into the drink. I feel like if we are going to contribute to Posieden, we should at least be organized about our offerings. That inventory must be nuts.

2. Be patient & chill

Flexibility is key. You might have to sleep with no water, no heat, a different bed, no electric. Who knows? It’s a boat. This is life, it’s all a toss-up.

Go into a project with a mindset that the scope will change, be as ready as possible for it to shift. Everything is so interconnected one project to clean out a cabinet could end up equalling taking off the entire deck if one really wants to be thorough. Projects escalate here like a paternity battle on Jerry Springer. There’s always one person that thinks they are going for a makeover. Never be that person.

3. Keep livin’.

For as many one-liners that Dazed and Confused had, Matthew McConaughey words are probably the most apt, “you gotta keep livin’, man. L-I-V-I-N.”

Keep in going. It may be that everything comfortable you had is now uncomfortable. So where exactly is your comfort? Comfort and security lie within. Make what you can of the situation, attitude is everything. There are still peals of laughter from our boat, regardless of whether it has heat, water, electric. We still have fun, no matter what.

As we head into Fall, I know that it’ll be a bit less jolly as the colder temperatures creep in. We made a great investment in the heating, as we already find ourselves curled in the U-shaped settee with it blasted, playing board games. It’s super cozy. Total hit with this crew.

Today, we have to get some extra diesel for the heater. We still can’t really leave the dock, so we have to throw the jerry can into the dinghy and take it over to the fuel dock. There are of course a few steps before we can get the dinghy started, so that’s pretty much today. Hopefully not all of today. I am looking forward to getting dog into dinghy. I’m certain there will be terrible jokes about the dingy dog in the dinghy.

Coffee, WTF moment

Unfixable or not trying hard enough

I awoke this morning to a day of nothing to do, since I’m in between contracts and waiting for work to start, it’s a hard way for me to awaken. I like waking with things to do. So, trying to be optimistic, I got up and started to make coffee, and clean up the galley a bit from the mess sitting in the sink that I’d ignored the night before.

I start the kettle going and think that I’ll just do dishes until the water boils, then chill out for a bit. So I start scrubbing away at the wooden plates and bowls. I check the water gauge and note that I’ll want to conserve, looks like we’ll have to fill up again soon.

Scrub, soapy, foamy, warmth for a few minutes takes my mind off of coffee. I glance at the little depressed orange button on the back of the pot, which says to the kettle ‘boil’. I heard nothing yet that sounded like the rumbling of the mechanics working, and it’s been a while.

I start doing what I normally do when something does not work – I turned it off and back on. Probably did that more times than I needed or should have, because I was starting to get sad about coffee. I unplugged it, plugged it back in.

I’ve heard of electronics randomly just not working after a time on boats, due to the salt, harsh environment, etc. I’m not entirely sure if this is the case here, it’s practically new (4 months, 5?). I’m not the biggest fan of this appliance, so seeing it stop working isn’t the worst thing in the world. I have a pot of water boiling on the now-working-stove, so all can be saved. If I didn’t have the stove, I’d probably hop in the car and get coffee, and probably end up finding a kettle at this hour to replace this sad little guy that barely had life.

I still want to figure out why it’s not working. I don’t want to go buy another and have the same thing happen.

I know this mystery will remain just that. Just once I wish the appliances could talk like the Brave Little Toaster. I want to know his story.

Why did you burn out so fast, little kettle? Did I put you with the wrong crowd? Did the grinder put bad thoughts in your head? Did I not give you enough attention? I’m sorry you are broken, I’m not sure how to fix you.

After fixing and making things work in the boat so often, it’s hard to let go when I cannot now fix something.

Should I get all Operation on this poor kettle and crack it open? Should I let it retire to the electronics retirement yard? I think it entirely depends on me finding a project after coffee how this story will end. I’m so glad we have a boat daily stand up and KanBan.

Yes, we are nerds, if you haven’t guessed. This little kettle might end up in the Backlog.

Boat, Happiness

The right decision

I keep seeing this floating around and it always makes me giggle. We made the right decision, the chart says so. I’m posting it here to make sure it’s saved. So when the inevitable upset that I have over something that just randomly stops working happens, I’m reminded of this chart.

I should print this and put it in the nav station. Perhaps paper the head with laminated jokes, like my old roommate did. There has to be a better way to preserve these.

A dishtowel, perhaps?



Boat yoga

The first night we were on the boat, I named the heater Jimmy Hendrix. The haze that came out of the ducts smelled like dirt and engine-like. The haze subsided, but the smell never truly did.

Shayne decided after talking to Ev about some engine matters that if we were going to move the hot water heater, now would be the time. This heating system is basically ripping apart the entire boat as we pull out ducting and install new ducts and wiring.

We scheduled the heater system and water heater to be replaced with a really awesome hydronic heating system. Of course, it started getting cold at night the past few nights, so we are all bundled in the master cabin, emerging in the morning to a pilot house and boat that could keep veggies crisp and has condensation on the windows. Couldn’t be better motivation to get this done.

Alex and Raquel from Seattle Boat Works installed the system itself, taking out the old Webasto heater and adding some squelches and yells to the wood grains of that particular part of the boat during install. He somehow folded his very large frame into a cabinet I got stuck in just yesterday near the new! amazing! Hurricane. He’s truly a superhero.

Shayne and I took it upon ourselves to pull the old ducts ourselves and install new smaller ones. Although the overall systems’ registers, main source, and ducting take more space, it’s being better distributed. I already got super excited that there will be one cabinet in the galley where I’ll win back a ton of space. I’ve yet to squirrel away food in this boat, so every time I find more space I get excited about a new place to stash things.

We gleefully pulled the first and probably cleanest diesel smelling blue ducting from the boat on Thursday. There was a discussion about reusing the ducting after a hard cleaning, but they all smelled like a truck stop. Not the area with the chicken dumplings and the Elvis music, but the area where everyone fills their tanks, cleans their boots, and drops long-hauled trash to be ground into bits by the passing of tons of trucks and time.

After pulling all of the ick soaked ducting on Friday and throwing it onto the dock, we’ve been racing against the clock, more particularly the weather, to get the new pretty red ducting in. It’s snaking pretty much all the way across and around the boat. We are getting an up close view of almost the entire boat, which is a great thing to do before winter and we won’t be cold. That’s what I say to myself when I’m wondering why we did this. We will be thankful later.

It’s been a few days of drilling holes and running heavy wiring. We learned a few things so far.

Buffer zone for scary cuts/drills: Shayne got a little nervous drilling toward the hull of the boat to run wiring, so I threw a piece of plywood between the boat and the area that the drill would go through as a buffer. Worked great.

Clean in prep for trashed: We are trying to always put everything away, realizing that we might have to take it all apart to do a project. The cleaner the overall boat, the easier it is to trash it quickly to get something done.

As it is in living on a dock, everyone knows what we are doing with the boat. This knowledge of your life increases of course, by how much you speak of it and how many people see the action. Shayne tends to be the talker, and we are at the end of the 1/4 mile pier to land. I try to factor in 2x for timing of an up and back trip since there will be a series of hellos and catching-ups along the way.

It’s not so fascinating here to see a small woman haul batteries or ducting a 1/4 mile, usually people are more intrigued by how you are installing it. There aren’t enough manuals in the boat world, apparently, so the villages just have to share this data. It’s, like, a community and stuff.

There are the typical responses of ‘I need to do that’, ‘I wish I could do that’, or ‘Oh, I did that. Have fun!’ when a project is going on. I’ve yet to run into a ‘I’d never do that’ or ‘that’s idiotic’. I’m sure it’s been thought, just not said. Unless it’s Ev, the awesome Russian guy that works on the engine.

Ev will call anyone an idiot, including you, while you are standing there. Because you probably were for making a bad decision about layout, air flow, or access points. He will explain your idiocy to you while waving his oil smudged hands about. He’s the brother I never had. I love him to pieces.

The world would be a better place if there were more people that pointed out idiocy in others and backed it up with data, particularly when delivered with an accent.

I’ve learned that there is a level of admiration and appreciation you must show to any work someone is doing on their boat. It’s like when you ask after a person’s mother in Nepal or Puerto Rico, or you bow in other cultures to greet and wish goodbye. It’s just what you do.

I realized you show admiration because it’s HARD WORK, regardless of whether you even understand what it is (me, most of the time). We have never really worked on the boat before now. We moved in, cleaned it, paired down. That was it until the last few days. We were still busy and tired.

This is a real project, though. I’ve been folded into the craziest situations to clean and move wiring. I’ve gotten stuck. I’ve had a few Indiana Jones moments where I had to stick my hand into places unknown. I know there aren’t tunnels of spiders on this boat, but I thought of it every time it happened. Stupid movie. Gah.

Any yoga teacher would be honestly amazed at my skills. It made me wonder why boat yoga is not something that’s taught up at our little yacht club.

I can totally see yoga made into boat projects.

Ok class good job, now we’re going to from a fuel tank painting squat post, back into instrument panel stretch, then into a downward facing engine hatch lift. I want you to breathe into the pose as you also lift up on leg to anchor yourself as some jackhole drives too fast in the no wake zone.



Cooking, Dog

At least the boat won’t melt

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything down about the boat. We’ve not gotten as far as we’d like on the basic checklist of things, but summer kinda got in the way and life and junk.

We’ve had a few more people over, I think the most we got in was 5 adults and a child in the pilot house. We’ve met a fair amount of the neighbors but I have to admit I still don’t know hardly any names. I had designs to have a marina map in the nav station that I could slowly fill out names. I’ve yet to do it, so I’m really behind.

Irie has gotten used to most parts of boat life however, she’s terrified of the master cabin toilet. It randomly will start pumping, which seems to her like the sound of a Death Eater hunting souls. She’ll crawl right up next to your face, into your lap and shake. It’s pitiful and sometimes annoying. Sometimes you just can’t quite deal with a 60 lb dog, all bony elbows and face right!here!here!hi! all in your grill. We’ve had many chats but nothing has sunk in with her.

There’s also slightly less terror around the master cabin door. Sometimes when I open the closet I forget to fasten it, so if the boat moves enough, it starts swinging. That is apparently a lot for the dog to handle.

The dog days of summer are upon us this week, it’s supposed to hit 100 today. I’m told it’s supposed to be cooler on the boat than other places, but still a little concerned to see how that shakes out. Seems like no matter where one is, it’s melting temp. Seattle doesn’t do well when it’s this hot. I expect email servers to overheat along with the people, and it’ll be a ripe hot mess. Last time it was this hot, Microsoft’s servers went down, people slept at work (not many have A/C, here), and you could just hear the cranky in people. I expect the same and will just lay low.

I will come out of hiding when it’s a reasonable temperature.


Scattered showers

Sometime in the middle of the night, I wondered who had dropped some water on one of the many pillows on the bed. I fell back asleep in the still, in the dark. I awoke to it being light out and noticed that the pillow was pretty well saturated. Too tired to really understand what was going on (or truly, to really care), I took another pillow and put it under the wet one, so the mattress wouldn’t get soaked. Seemed logical. I fell back asleep in the light, to the sounds of rain. Sort of. I didn’t sleep. I lay there, riddled with guilt for not getting up.

I knew what was going on, but ignored it. Pillows dry out. I was so tired. I flailed about in a tantrum-like, guilty sleep.

Finally, around 6am, I started getting really restless, knowing I’d have to eventually get up and deal with the hatch leak. It was mostly on my side, and Shayne was (seemingly) still asleep. I took the soaked body pillow and threw it on the floor, then started to look at the shelf above our heads. It was covered in water, I could just tell. I reached my hand up and felt a puddle.

Cccccrrrraaappp, I said silently, or I thought I did. Out I leapt from bed and brought back the amazing reusable paper towels that you can wring out like a towel. The rip of the fibers across the perforations as I tore them apart sounded alot like the craps I’d just said, so I felt like I didn’t need to verbalize any further as I wiped water.

Shayne is awake at this point and starts to inspect the situation. Coffee is needed for this level of awake, for me anyway, so I go to brew some bean while he takes over mopping shelf above the bed.

In the galley, I get pinged with a cold drop of water on my head from another leak as I fill the kettle and grind beans. With the grinder going, I managed to find ways to catch the water leaks, but not before getting pelted a few more times on my back while setting up the containment plan. Completely awake from the intermittent ceiling shower, the day can now begin. I make a mental note to always have a way to catch leaks, cause it’s a boat. Boats leak. It’s just the way it is.

I still love this boat, even if it wakes me up like this. I don’t know what warped world I’m in where I can awaken like this and be ok, but I’m pretty chill about it. I’ll take it.