Where we go from here.
About a million years ago when we were in Norwalk, Connecticut, I (James) noticed a little crack in the bulkhead between the main saloon and the head just under the mast. Well I’d better let Dena tell you about that…
Last summer, we pulled the mast to repair rot in the bulkhead James just told you about. I (Dena) patched the damn thing rather than tear it all out, because to do otherwise would require us moving off the boat. In that big ol’ job, one piece of rot was right under the mast.
This part of the bulkhead is thin because of the passageway cut through it. A crack developed where the weight stressed the rotten section. I cut and chiseled out the bad parts and beveled the edge of what remained. My repair looked like this after the new pieces were cut but before they were fiberglassed into place.
The process of working on the boat in Norwalk got us looking around at the boat, thinking critically about some things we hadn’t focused on. Like the doors getting out of whack, harder to close. And then James pointed out the crack.
We hoped that it wouldn’t matter much but as we made our way up the Eastern Seaboard the crack slowly widened from the stresses of being under sail all the fucking time. Last Friday after getting underway from Beverly, MA, just after we set sail, I (James) grabbed a couple of flat-head screwdrivers and tuned up the rig.
If you want your sailboat to point as high into the wind as it possibly can you have to tune the rig in a way that is tight, but not too tight. It has to be perfect. Each wire leading from the mast to the deck is tightened at the bottom by a turnbuckle so that the mast is supported from all angles equally and there is no slack on the leeward side of the mast (which doesn’t get any stress from the wind and sails). The best time to tune a rig is when underway but not under heavy stress. You can tell if there’s any slack on the leeward side and it’s easy to take out that slack without over-tightening the rig.
As the crack under the mast increased in size, the mast got lower and the rig loosened up. After tuning the rig twice in only a couple weeks, and sailing the boat harder on this last leg than we have the entire time we’ve been underway, the crack turned into a break and now, before we can sail any further, this part of the bulkhead has to be replaced.
Instead of leaving a seam in the weakest section, we’ll remove the entire top of the bulkhead and replace it. This will entail removing the mast again at great expense, but not nearly as great an expense as finding a slip in the only two months that keep these places in Maine profitable. They wanted to charge us more than we paid for an entire year in Baltimore to have a slip for one month in Portland, Maine. Even the service manager was shocked at the price, but he couldn’t get them to lower it.
Lo and behold, the answer is strange and awkward, as on-the-fly solutions often are.
In Maine, most boats are stored on land in the winter. They all get launched in the early summer and they all get pulled out of the water at the beginning of September. The best time to haul a boat is when the boatyard is empty and the marinas are full. Therefore, in order to save $1000, we have to haul our boat out of the water, have it set up on blocks, and then relaunched when we’re done with the project…all so that we won’t take up valuable real estate in the water.
Sound familiar? Yes, we just did this a month ago.
And we’re about to do it again.
No need to go into detail again about why living on a boat out of the water is not optimal. Not pleasant at all. No, we’ll focus on the job to be done.
One of the James specials that I picked up and used both at work and on the dock whenever someone complained about having to work on their boat. “It’s the only work worth doing.”
And it’s true.
We love to work on our boat. Working on it together, on our own schedule, with defined goals and a completely firm knowledge that it will be done soon – this is the good life. We are living the dream in every way.
We get to do the only work worth doing and then take the fruits of our work and sail off into the sunset…sunrise, whatever. It is a beautiful way to live. It’s not easy, but it is what we love to do. It is satisfying and fulfilling and promising.
So here we go again. Working and living and loving. No wonder we call ourselves Itinerant.