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.

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?


Cleaning, Happiness, Maintenance

Freshened Spirit

Sunday and Monday were a whirlwind of cleaning mixed with precious moments.

We’ve basically divided the livability of this boat into the three basic need groups: shelter, water, food. Step one right now is getting the master cabin safe and sleepable. It’s got a bit of mold. Two is getting the water tanks flushed and under control. These things do not include any of the other list of items that need to be fixed in the right now category. There’s always something to do on a boat. It’s ok. I know this. I’m a billion percent certain I’ll be ranting about it in short order, but it’s good for me. Keeps me young, or something.

After realizing for the thousandth time that I have to relearn a lot of cleaning habits and go simple, I did some research. I had to reconfirm my findings a few times. Really? Just vinegar kills 82% of mold species? Huh. So, took straight vinegar to the master cabin’s woodwork, particularly under the bed. There will be a couple of rounds of that, then we’ll switch to vinegar and baking soda. I’m thinking I might mess around with throwing some herbal tinctures in there for a nice smell, I just have to figure out what.

Lesson: Everything you use on the boat could potentially end up in water, for us that’s the Puget Sound. So, keep in mind the duck’s butt. Their butts wade through your Scrubbing Bubbles and magic purple goo with an exclamation point. Stick to biodegradable. Nobody likes a burning butthole.

There was that fun level of horror and elation wiping up the mold in large swathes. I was amazed at how well it worked. I handed Shayne a mask when we started and he laughed it off, and about a minute later his whole “vinegar isn’t that bad” crumbled. We are in this for the long haul, I see no reason to suffer or harm ourselves needlessly.

Lesson: Always have a mask when dealing with mold or harsh chemicals. Ain’t nobody here a superhero.

cleansplosionRight now, the mattress is in the pilot house, airing out with all the carpet. The curtains had to be taken down and laundered. Luckily, we have Shayne’s washer and dryer for a few more weeks until the house sells. A cushion bomb basically went off in the boat, we took them all off of their intended homes to circulate the air and get rid of the mold. It’s a jungle of foam.

cleaningmastercabinBut! After we sprayed down and came back to the boat an hour or so later, the smell totally changed.

It wasn’t very ‘boaty’ before, but it did smell slightly cleaner. I’m like a dog now, constantly sniffing the air for signs of mold, chemicals, anything that shouldn’t be. I wonder how many small things like that will change living in a space like this that requires a bit more attention.

We had our very first guests on board during the cushion bomb, which was lovely to have them, truly. I tried to quickly get over that I couldn’t receive them like I’d like. You know, having a place to sit. We made the boat home that evening having them be there, opening the first bottle of champagne with them and saying cheers to new adventures. They are moving to Japan, Tiberio leaves today, I believe. That will be the last time we see them for a long time, but the happy spirits and love they brought will live on in the boat. They are both kind of spirit and adventurous in heart, that’s the energy our home needs. We are both so happy they were the first people to see it. Yuriko’s face lit up, and it made me so happy someone else loved our home, too.

I have to believe the boat is starting to feel loved again, breathing in sighs of relief and anticipation. She was well loved before but has sat for a little while. She needs a style to fit Shayne and I. She’s basically getting a rebrand when we name her, and I’m excited to give her a new, fresh life.

I love this boat already so much.

Guests: 2 – Tiberio and Yuriko

*I know most things have the potential to go overboard, this visual just makes it easier for me to make the right decisions.

Happiness, Maintenance

Moving Forward

We arrived at the boat the afternoon before and quickly found the keys in the starboard lazarette next to the cockpit. I was happy I just knew what this all meant when Steve, the broker, told me. I did not show my intense joy of my heightened vocabulary in a flowery ceremony, just said to Shayne ‘yeah, I know where they are’ and grabbed them.

We ran into Steve as we walked to town to get early dinner and grab food for the next day’s journey to Ballard. Had a nice early dinner and cocktail at a waterfront place that was awesome until they did my cardinal sin of hospitality. They dropped a check off while Shayne still had a freshly delivered full drink and I was nursing mine, and were thinking we’d stay a while in the sun. It was a gorgeous day. It felt very abrupt. I was annoyed. I will stop my rant here after I say – if you work in hospitality, always ask first, please, before dropping a check – and always have one on you and ready to go always. /rant.

We wandered elsewhere to another bar where we chatted with the bartender we met when we looked at the boat. I remembered her name (April) and that her birthday was coming up. Something in my brain must have switched into memory gear today.

If you are ever in La Conner, Washington – go to the Oyster & Thistle, get a drink at the bar and talk to April. She’s just as cute as can be, super engaging and fun and makes some amazing drinks.

Back at the boat, we meet with Steve for a few minutes to figure out some buttons we cannot find. We chat with him for a while about the boat while we crank the heat. I start to get a bit tired, and notice a weird haze in the boat. After I while I comment on it and it’s not tiredness, but something the heater is coughing up (I’ve since named the heater Jimi Hendrix). We weren’t certain if it would kill us, so we shut it down for the night and bundled up.

Little did we know that all we’d do would line up for a pretty amazing journey.

I awoke to ducks swimming around the boat and quacking, it was lovely. I stuck a toe out of the covers. It was not as lovely. Shayne got up and blearily turned on the heater, and well, Jimi coughed out a bit more haze.

It was 6:03am. We walked to get coffee, since we had quite a while before the captain helping train us and take the boat down wouldn’t arrive until 8am.

As luck would have it, we wandered to three different places to find coffee. We were the only ones really in the sleepy town out and about, and ended up 20 minutes later at the grocery store, the only open that wasn’t a cafe. We ended up buying a case of water and two drip coffees.

As we walked down the dock, Mark, captain arrived. I let him in the gate and started going into my whole thing about how I don’t know how to sail yet, but I’m into tiny homes and projects. Like that will keep me alive on a sailboat, but it’s all I have right now so I offer it up as the ‘I’m not completely mental, no seriously’ explanation or schpiel.

Lesson: We go through WOBBS. Water, Oil, Belts, Bilge, Sea Strainer.

Everything checks out prior to leaving the dock and I nerd about all the checklists we’ll make. Shayne does a great job of getting the boat out of the marina and re-docking so we can refuel. In a channel with a current going totally against our plans, he really kicked ass on it.

I do an abysmal job of getting diesel on the boat and myself in my job refueling one tank. I really need to figure out how to better guess when it’s about to just be full. There’s no warning, but you can kinda hear it fill…this will take some practice, as well as diapers (cloths to absorb the diesel) and dish soap. The captain needed one wee little diaper to get himself set, I needed two and a wad of paper towels, soap and rinsing. Understandably, I’m learning to crawl here. Still, I got my boat icky. 🙁

We get underway, and through the channel to Skagit Bay. I re-learn a bit about bouy markers and navigation. I use words like ‘port’ and ‘starboard’ when the Mark starts with left/right. I’m feeling ok about this. We crack jokes and talk about life all is well.

About an hour in, Mark, the captain/trainer, says “I smell something”. I offer that it might still be the heat smell and go over to sniff. Smells the same. Then I see what looks like smoke. I lift up the panel to the engine and steam pours out, if it were smoke we would have been choked out. I immediately had a rush of nervous, then the ‘ok, what do we do’. We found that the radiator cap didn’t fit, so it had no water. THANKFULLY, in Shayne’s wisdom on picking up that case of water, we had some water. We also had a little bit of the boat’s domestic water, but not much. We started with two bottles of water for containers, then started to fill up with a back and forth from galley to pilot house with filled water bottles. It was then we realized that the water tanks also needed a clean out. The water had extra friends in it that I’m not sure were healthy, but it worked for the engine.

Lesson: Always bring more water than you’ll ever need. I KNEW this, but got excited. Also, don’t get so excited you skip any steps.

We get the jib up to maintain control of the boat during this time, which is as always needed move.

Lesson: you must always have control of the boat. Of vital importance.

We get the engine started after about 45 minutes of cool down, and start going again. Clipping along at somewhere close to 8 knots, we should have known better to make jokes in the beginning about ‘making good time’ and ‘don’t make me pull this boat over’.

The engine dies again, this time with full water and us checking it every ten minutes, giving thumbs up along the way and everyone highly tuned for a sound or jarring that would be a change to the engine’s hum. We hoist the jib again, I get to crank on the winch and feel like my arms are going to fall off. I mentally note that it’s no longer time to ignore that my shoulder hurts most days and I’ll get it looked at. I will need them both.

Lesson: listen to your body and be healthy.

Jib hoisted and underway. We heel hard to port while in the cockpit. I scramble up starboard like that cat in the ‘hang in there’ poster, or that’s what it felt like. I hug a wench (all wenches need hugs, at least I can do that right now) and say after some time to Shayne “this is making me nervous”. I see our house at an angle, and myself, that I’m not entirely comfortable with. I breathe through the nervous fear as Shayne says to Mark (damn it, Shayne) “this is making Jenn nervous”. Now I get to be that person. I shouted before he could stick his head out of the door “I’m ok if you guys are”. Mark looks at me with a slight grin, hugged to the wench and gives me that look like “it’s ok, this is your day, you do you”. I nod and smile at him, release the wench slightly and try to remember basic science and the fact that there are a ton of people doing this very thing and no one is hugging a wench but me. I imagined the huge keel that I’d seen when we took her out of the water, and how it was acting as a counterpoint (I was assuming this is how it worked since we’d just fall over otherwise). Thankfully, whatever I did learn from my droning science classes applied and I calmed down.

Lesson I keep having to remember: Trust your gear. Trust Science.

We get the engine started again after some time, Mark notices that the two fuel lines are of different colors, so there’s talk of maybe the diesel just being dirty/old/bad. We consider how much old fuel is in there.

We can now see Shilshole and are going over docking procedures quite a few times. The engine dies again. Sails up, again. We start to consider what is occuring, Mark offers that it might be the shifting mechanism that is shutting down the engine. Everything he’s said so far could be it: water, oil, shifting. Well, we knew this would be a learning thing. So, ok, we’ll figure out what’s wrong.

We go to the dinghy to use that engine as a tow/back up if we must to get into dock. Realized can’t get dinghy off of davits (holders) into the water without some extra part that I don’t remember the name of. So, that’s out. Either we go under engine and hope it holds, or sail in and…really not sure how that would even work.

Where our moorage on Shilshole lies is perfect for us, we can practically just pull straight in. But, with no engine that becomes hairy. We went over contingencies – if the engine dies while we are pulling in, amongst all these boats and a huge breakwater (rock wall), where would we want the current and wind to be?

Already home. Just need to park.


Lesson: Use the current in your favor, don’t try to work against nature.

Thankfully, the engine started up again. We went to the South end of Shilshole, engine still putting along at 2 knots. Chugging along slowly we see our dock. Shayne does a uturn (OMG does this boat turn! sexy!) and basically pulls right into the slip. The lines to the dock, however are a different story. Those are a bit hard to adjust since we have a slip for a larger boat. Some adjustment there, once again taking a minute to step back, consider all that could occur and how that would affect the movement of the boat.

Lesson: Slow down, panic and hurry breeds bad decisions

We made it from La Conner to Shilshole at about 4pm. We got off the boat and went back to Shayne’s house, ended up crashing there. After taking a shower, we both powered down so hard we lost the ability to articulate vowels. I fell asleep to the lovely feeling of dock rock, then slept like the dead and was wide awake at 6am or so ready for the next day, Sunday.

Engine hours: 7

Anxious Moments/F-Bombs in my head: 2

Rants: 1, unrelated to boats









Today, I awoke to some birds chirping and the normal ‘it’s FRIDAY!’ feeling. Then, realized that today is not any Friday. It’s boat Friday. Today is the day that will forever in my life be known as the first day. All days after, who knows what happiness and sorrows it will all bring. It think that’s pretty much life anyway, as soon as we walk out the door, it happens to us anyway.

I’ve been joking lately that this move is due to my doctor telling me that I need more salt in my diet. Most people do not laugh, which I find even funnier. I enjoy telling Dad jokes, although resent the idea that jokes of this nature can only be told by fathers.

We leave to take the car to the marina, then a taxi, train, and another taxi to the boat. Usually, when I move into a place, I have a truckload of things. For this one, I have to take as little as possible until we bring her down to Seattle. This home already has a life, and a story, she’s got a totally different setup than just being handed a key and walking in.

I have to sail my house home. I don’t know how to sail yet. I’ll be the babe in this scenario, everything will be new and exciting, there will probably be tears. There will also be laughter and learning. I need this in my life. Something that I can tinker with and explore the world with, something to push me.

It won’t be easy, but that’s what I like about it. I’ll come back and read that sentence in 90 days and see how I feel.

Right now, I’m just happy.