Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Always Something

I wonder if Stephen King has written any stories about sailboats. The plot could be how a fleet of sailboats, rocking innocently at an anchorage, come to life and conspire to psychologically torment their owners. It would begin small. Boat gets bored during a passage and decides to mess with helmsman’s mind. Snickering, boat turns off the GPS at the helm. Helmsman looks puzzled, restarts the instrument, pulls out the manual in the dark and tries to find the “trouble shoot” section. Such section does not seem to exist. Helmsman wakes up mate who flips through the manual again, finding directions in German. Mate refers to backup ipad chart for navigation. IPad battery is dead (boat thinking ahead, had turned off inverter while ipad was charging earlier in the day). Mate defers to compass and paper chart. Storm sets in, mate has to read chart but gets violently sea sick, running to transom. Doesn’t make it. “Ewwww”, thinks boat with messy deck. Turns GPS back on while helmsman is still madly pushing buttons. Helmsman straightens up, puzzled but somewhat smug that she may have fixed it. Nagging doubt remains however and she wonders if she can ever trust GPS again. Boat plots next event - turn a bilge pump on and leave it running, even with no water to pump out. Perfect. 
Mysterious mechanical things happen on boats, and boatyards and marinas are filled with sailors trudging around trying to solve them. “It’s always something”, we recite to one another. At home, conversations begin with complaints about the weather. In the sailing community, it’s all about what we are trying to fix. Last week, we ran into our friend Jim who complained about all of his hull woes before he relaxed and told us about his month in an apartment in Paris last summer. “When I retire, that’s what I’d like to do.” Since he was already collecting a pension, he was envisioning retiring from retirement. 
Living on a boat is not a relaxing endeavour. If a boat senses that the to-do list is dwindling, it quickly sticks it to the owner by loosening a hose clamp so the fresh water pump loses its prime, or puts a vapour lock in the refrigerant line so the fridge doesn’t work. There goes the day at the beach while the owner tries to track down the mystery and the required parts which are never found at the first marine store if they are found at all. Installation of the part, when found, usually requires a trip back to the store for a new tool or an exchange because it’s the wrong one. It’s always something. That’s not a bad boat name. 
We are alone again after hosting Antares University and future Antares owners for the weekend. I must say that this boat attracts great people. At all stages from two years away to just-about-to-launch, it was fun to experience the nervous excitement that our co-cruisers are going through. We happily fielded questions about options to consider (anchor type, chart cabinet, to teak or not to teak), South American sail plans, and how to pack up one’s life. I appreciated participating and going through the boat again with Jeff and Rob. Our guests came from as far away as Malaysia and took advantage of our location with sight seeing and scuba diving. They are fascinating, courageous and generous, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with everyone. We learned, ate well, and laughed heartily. I really look forward to meeting them at sea. Check out facebook, Antares Yachts, for more photos.

We happened to have four doctors aboard, two of whom were around when Jeff stepped on a sea urchin that lodged a few quills into his foot. It looked and sounded like complicated surgery as Maite and Ed extracted the stinging barbs using a magnifying glass and tweezers. 

We continue to enjoy Grenada’s beauty and hospitality. Our neighbour stopped by last night asking us to dinner. He had picked up a fresh tuna from a fishing boat and we enjoyed tender steaks and stories of Atlantic passages. Not once did we talk about boat repairs. I hope our boats don’t think we’re ignoring them.

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