Summer always goes too fast in the sun-starved Northwest, but this year it’s whizzing by at a blur.
That’s because as soon as we bought our 1985 Passport 40, Meridian, in early April, we were immediately sucked into the boat project vortex. We’ve barely come up for air since.
We managed to get out on the boat for a 10-day shakedown cruise in July (when we discovered more things to fix, naturally), but other than that it’s been at the dock, where we’ve been spending almost all of our spare time sanding and cetoling, rebedding and replacing.
Last summer was all about watching sunsets from the cockpit and walking the docks looking at other boats. That now seems like a distant, lovely memory, all soft focus and blurred pink-orange around the edges.
This year, we’re boring boat slaves without social lives. We’ve gone AWOL on our friends. We’ve missed birthday parties, barbecues and rendezvous. Emails go unreturned for days. Dinner gets eaten around 9:00. I haven’t seen my in-laws, who I really do like, in months.
We’ve passed up racing, crabbing, sunny afternoon sails and other fun that people with boats should be having, or what’s the point in having a boat at all?
Of course, this is all self-imposed. And obviously anyone fortunate enough to live in this beautiful part of the world (which in itself would be enough) and have a great partner and family and friends and own a sailboat, to boot, should drink a large cup of STFU instead of complaining.
So I don’t mean to whinge. I’m just saying it’s been a stupidly busy few months. Stopping to smell the roses is a rare event these days that feels like forced frivolity. I want authentic frivolity, not the type I have to remind myself to make time for.
I also realize that Marty and I could be less ambitious about the number of projects we want to get done this year. But we knew when we bought Meridian that it was a project boat, and the more items we can knock off the list this summer, the less daunting the list will seem.
And neither of us — especially Marty, who’s duty-bound to a fault — can’t stand half-finished projects. I suppose that’s better than the opposite extreme.
Also, there’s a window of momentum after buying a boat when you’re extra-motivated to get projects done. By next spring, after we’ve moved back into our townhouse for the fall and winter and not been working on the boat nights and weekends, we’ll have fallen out of the routine. So it’s just easier to get things done now.
It seems like much longer than four and a half months ago when we sold our old boat, an Island Packet 38, and bought Meridian. When I stop and think about it, we’ve gotten a lot done during that time. That includes:
- Ripping up the old teak decks and replacing them with non-skid ones (hired a shipwright and worked alongside him)
- Rebedding much of the deck hardware
- Installing a hydronic heater (hired someone; way too complex for us to tackle)
- Replacing the lenses on two overhead hatches
- Rebedding all of the exterior rings on our bronze portholes and replacing the lenses on two fixed portlights
- Refinishing and reinstalling teak and bronze handholds
- Switching lights from incandescant to LEDs (ongoing)
- Installing a new stove (yippee!)
- Installing a new water heater
- Sanitizing our freshwater system
- Intalling a vented loop for the head
Installing a long-distance WiFi antenna (we are a website, after all)
- Stripping the toerail, rubrail and eyebrows and applying five coats of Cetol
- Stripping, reoiling and greasing the main winches
- Removing seams from cockpit teak pads and redoing them (ongoing)
- Cleaning up some wire runs
- Draining, flushing and replacing engine coolant
- Replacing leaking locker-drain thruhull
- Rewiring navigation lights in the forepeak
- Removing, rebedding and replacing the seals on our Lighthouse windlass
- Regalvanzing and marking 300 feet of anchor chain
- Installing a new Rocna main anchor
- Replacing the hose and fixing the deck washdown pump
- Replacing fresh and saltwater foot pumps and their faucets in the galley
- Rebuilding the turning blocks that run lines back to the cockpit
- Fixing the dinghy davits
- Replacing battery isolator
- Refinishing the shower stall and the revarnishing the shower seat (with help)
- Having new cushions made (hurray!)
All of this was on top of an extensive list of projects the previous had completed at the Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-op, including: replacing most of the underwater thruhulls and hoses; rebuilding the aft starbord engine mount; installing a new prop shaft and cutlass bearing; installing new propane tanks and hose; servicing the Max-Prop; installing new dual Racor fuel filters; and installing a new bilge pump, among other improvements.
We have a list of projects to work on over the winter, but I’ll save that for another post.
Having owned and worked on boats before, we know what the payoff is. We have to believe that the work we’re doing now will get us there and protect the investment we’ve made in this boat. Next summer, I’m envisioning more time spent in beautiful anchorages, getting together with friends and goofing off more often. Goofing off is definitely on the agenda.
In the meantime, we hope our friends and family will forgive the long absence. It’s not you. Really. It’s just the boat.