Wednesday, May 20, 2020

We'll do it in our underwear then

The storms have been rolling through Oriental, NC. One right after another.

Half the folks we meet on the dock act surprised, and profess that it's highly unusual for May. The other half just roll their eyes and tell us this is the way May is around here.


The new switch on the old French bracket, after a brief polish. So shiny.

We received the chartplotter, radar, and VHS with AIS system, and installed them. When we went to connect them to the existing structure of the boat, though, that's when we encountered unexpected messes. The battery bank includes two different types of batteries wired together in parallel (Lance cursed out loud about that one), and the starting batteries were not segregated from the house batteries meaning we could possibly burn up every little bit of battery by leaving on an errant light somewhere, and then not have anything at all left to start the boat. Since we can't push-start Minerva it had to be fixed.

Opening the wall behind the navigation table revealed decades of wires from long-abandoned equipment, shady wire nuts and other dubious connections. Lastly, the main power switch was original French equipment, and the intermittent and cranky nature of it left us praying it would cooperate. Lance isn't a religious man, so his ultimate solution involved less praying and more tools.

He decided the best plan of attack was to trace every single wire, remove it if it was unnecessary and replace/repair its connections as needed. After that it would be necessary to segregate and re-cable the battery bank, and replace the main power switch. Doing this meant building some custom brackets, ordering some new tools, and...

Minerva would be without power from beginning to end.

So, coming back to the storms. At first we dodged them. As they rolled through and turned Minerva into a bucking bronco in her slip, we stayed in the peaceful RV planning, ordering and assembling what we could for delivery and installation in the calm windows. Whenever she stopped bucking we attacked it together, Lance with his head in the wall or sitting on the engine elbow deep in the battery compartment, me handing him tools, labels (yes he bought a special labelmaker to get it all perfect) and cold beverages. Some wires we pulled together with a combination of Lance's strength and my little hands in deep holes here and there. I always knew that skill of being able to fit my whole hand in a Pringles can would come in handy somewhere, sometime.

And then a surprise. Out of nowhere the first named storm popped up and headed right for us. Arthur.
A whole month ahead of the recognized hurricane season.
And Minerva had no power with which to escape.

Arthur ended up slipping past us as a non-event, but while spider-webbing Minerva into her slip in preparation we came to the conclusion that we must double-time this project. Storms or no storms, Minerva can't be sitting here like a lame duck waiting for the next one to hit.

But the storms never stopped. After Arthur they just got wetter. Buckets of rain, one storm after another.

So, a rainy Wednesday found us shuffling down the dock being pelted with fat sideways rain, arriving at Minerva soaked to the skin. I found and installed the bimini, giving Lance and the engine protection from the heavy rain (why hadn't I figured this out before?), and I settled in with the laptop to work. Every now and then Lance would call for tools or a label, and I would pause my client timer, deliver them to him and get back to work.

The second time I appeared at the companionway door and handed him a tool he did a double-take to see me standing there in my underwear. My clothes were all hanging up inside drip-drying. He laughed as he stripped off his soggy shirt to hang alongside them.

Ah yes, Flexibility. Your lessons have been well received.

We made good progress and she should be up and running soon. We're 70% of the way there now. Clothes or no clothes. Storm or no storm.

Standing on the step handing Lance yet another tool, I had this strange moment of... wonder? reality vs expectations met? It's hard to put a name on it. We have always been boaters and expected our boat life to look like this. Well, maybe with more sunshine but not necessarily with more clothes. The popular saying "owning a boat is fixing it in exotic places" is definitely true. We came in expecting that. There's a work/fun ratio I expect to meet, and as long as they remain in balance I'm content.

People ask us when we are leaving. We know better than to put a date on it. We'll go when she's ready, when we're comfortable with her, when the weather is right and when Loretta and Mr. Toad have been tucked away safely.

Tools loaned by a friend made short work of the bracket upgrade

I wonder about people that buy a boat and just go. Or are expecting the turquoise waters of the Bahamas and fail to fully consider the bumpy Gulf Stream on the way there. Endless instagrammers can be seen posing with surreal backdrops, but that life doesn't seem real to me. To me, standing in my underwear with wet hair stuck to my back, waving a tool at Lance who can't quite grasp it because the boat is getting tossed around and giggling while he misses it again, both of us soaked to the skin... this is the life.

This. This is truly what we signed up for.

Good times are coming soon. We'll find that magical turquoise water. There will be lots more days of tools coming too. And that's also pretty OK.

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