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 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.




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.

Maintenance, WTF moment

End of the rainbow

I was trying to vacuum, which always seems to throw off the balance of the tiny universe, here. It tends to trip the electrical system, so it’s best to shut some things off before starting. The electrical math to equal things not getting totally irked has not been established yet.

I’d not figured out where Lights 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the electrical panel actually go to. I found out pretty quickly this morning when flipping everything back on after the vac tripped one.

Light 4 goes to the internet, which means it’s the mother of all switches, other than the refrigerator. Along that panel, it seemed, was also the malfunctioning propane sensor. The propane sensor goes off when reset, and normally you just hit ‘alarm silence’ and it’s good. It doesn’t work like it should, but it’s quiet.

This morning, when it reset, that button didn’t work. No amount of pushing it with a thumb or sharper object would make it stop. I put the dog on the deck. She wanted to be in the way to help, which was not helpful because she just whines about how horrible it is. Yes, I know, dog. This sucks. It painfully sucks.

I went back to the source of the beeping. After a few minutes, the beeping was penetrating every sense I had. It was peeling back the all the layers of my brain, getting into the wee spaces. I could see flashes of purple as it shrilled, while also making me jump. Beeeep. I wondered if I’d end up seeing into the future if I endured it past ten minutes. Beeeep. Would I become a wizard? What happens to a person when they experience this…BEeeEEEp….level of pain? I hope my retinas don’t

I could see flashes of purple as it shrilled, while also making me jump. I pulled everything out from under the sink. Beeeep. I wondered if I’d end up seeing into the future if I endured it past ten minutes, while trying to get a view of the panel. Beeeep. Would I become a wizard? What happens to a person when they experience this…BEeeEEEp….level of pain? I hope my retinas don’t detatch or something insane. BeeeePPP.  I couldn’t see anything well enough.

As it continued to emit a practically vomit-inducing pitch, I tried to pry it from the wall. Tears started somewhere in there. Then, I finally found the right wee screwdriver and started to take it off from the wall. Still beeping. I began to frantically dig under the sink to get to the wires of the sensor as I felt my sanity melt. Everything felt warped like a Dali painting.

I went to turn off electrical at the panel. It stopped. Yeah. That dead simple.

I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier, I thought perhaps it would just magically shut off by doing things that weren’t working. Everything around me began to unmelt and resume a normal form.

Well, that was really &*@#&!^ stupid, I said to an empty boat. I bet the neighbors heard that.

Back at the galley, with sweet, sweet quiet around me, I felt myself get slightly calmer. Cleaners, rags, bottles pretty much covered the galley floor. Tripping around it into the sink and around the bend of plumbing, this time armed with light, I found only two wires were connected, black and white, to the outlet. I presumed if I just cut those then there’d be no power. The rainbow of other wires wasn’t connected to anything. So it’s just connected to electrical to trip itself, it wasn’t actually reading anything. Awesome. I looked at it again and said that out loud.

I was nervous cutting up the galley wires, even though I didn’t think I’d hit anything that would kill me. I knew that there was propane over there and other electrical that I probably needed. I did a quadruple check of the wires I needed to cut. Then I grasp hold of one and clip! I’d actually in my nervousness grabbed the completely wrong wire.

Of course, I thought ‘here it is, this is how I die’. As I stared at it for a few seconds, then back at the source, like a dog watching and hoping something will fall from table to floor.

Thankfully, it was connected to the sensor part of the system, and needed to be cut anyway. I made a mental note to perhaps tape or label the wires in prep to cut, always.

I gleefully yanked the propane sensor out of the wall, threw it on the floor and yelled slightly, since sound carries, “I have vanquished my enemy!”. Then for good measure, I kicked it into the salon while giving it the finger. There is a picture somewhere of my finger and the sensor in a pile. I was pretty worked up at that point and had lost exactly too much sleep and sanity over it already. That compiled with the fact that I’d left the thing beeping when I didn’t need to and that it wasn’t even hooked up to a sensor, just the electrical, probably didn’t help.

It’s been in a plastic bag in the car slowly heating up and cooling off as the days go on. I didn’t really realize how torturous that must be if that machine were real. I should get on that and do something with it. I’d like to recycle the rainbow wires somehow, they’re kinda pretty.



Maintenance, Storage

A gamer’s approach to storage

That storage space idea is looking more and more brilliant by the day, now that we are settling in. When I move into a place, I know I tend to shuffle things around a lot to make them work and function with how people live in the space. Sometimes the introduction of just one new item can throw off a closet, a piece of luggage can be tripped over for days. I don’t want to do that here at all. I’d rather only bring in what I need when I need it. There are so many odd angles in drawers and closets in a boat. The best closet math I can manage with any consistency I can think of so far is to roll everything. If I imagine the storages spaces kind of like grids on Civilization V, rolling will fit the most in the curved-back spaces. Granted, I’m still living out of my two piles of clothing. I’ve not gotten to clean out the wardrobe area yet, that’s not been the priority. Hopefully this week. I’m a poster child for merino wool now. I’m trying really hard to not look like I just fell out of an L.L. Bean catalog.

We moved in with a fair amount of hatches reserved for engine parts, oil, cleaners, etc. so space is filling up fast. I’m going to try to have all the storage spaces labeled/named, and an actual inventory of goods in the house in the database with bin # and storage space name so we can find things and be intentional about where things go. We’ve already lost some bilge cleaner so I need to get on that. I haven’t even used the label maker, really. THAT is occupied, for real.


Hygiene, Maintenance, WTF moment

Timing is everything

Much like other adventures in life, there have been lots of conversations about poop aboard. I learned from times when you are stressing yourself physically, speaking to some detail about your leavings becomes the way of things whether you like it or not. It’s a really easy way to understand stress and poor hydration. One could say if the subject matter at hand is not solid, neither is the rest of you and you should take care. I didn’t realize it would become a normal topic in a stress-free, everyday existence.

As a dog caretaker, I already have a fair amount of this to deal with, to be fair. Now, I contend with not only picking it up for dog, but pumping it out for ourselves.

You can go to a pumping area and empty your holding tank. We aren’t ready to move yet. We either treat the boat like a fancy tent or figure something out.

This community at the marina is full of information – everytime you even mention a need at the coffee shop, package office, or to a neighbor. I don’t recall where or who we got the tip from, but there’s a company that will come pump out your holding tank for you. While you are at work. Yet another little industry that is so random and yet so amazingly genius. I swear I heard angels sing when I heard this news.

So, this magical little boat comes by once a week and pumps out the holding tank. Shayne waved them down as they cruised to service other customers two weeks ago. They’d been tough to get ahold of, and were apparently crazy busy. Needless to say, we were both elated that they were taking on other customers. Perhaps because we were close to others, perhaps because we’d pay in cash. We were happy to sign up whatever the reason in their packed agenda.

That done, we got soft. Normally, in a land-based toilet, you flush it and it goes away and doesn’t smell. Here, well not so much. The super friendly and knowledgeable girl at the marine sanitation store (aka the poo store) informed me that our toilet is comprised of three chambers. So when you flush it, it is vacuumed into one chamber, then another, then the final one. I feel like I should buy her a drink after we’ve had such conversations.

But I digress, you want to make certain the timing is right on that final chamber. It’s essential to not cut the army off at the pass. That must have not happened at one point. I think we have a crushed soldier, perhaps. Efforts to clear the pass have not happened. We will inquire within the community.

Our other toilet, next to the galley, has a holding tank that can only be treated and dumped overboard outside of the Puget Sound-ish area. So, we’d have to go pretty far to make that work. That’s going to have to be a while.

In the meantime, timing is everything.