Thursday, July 17, 2014

Yin and Yang

Photo courtesy of Brian Prugh
The repair / modification / refit of The Floating Bear has flung me into a yin / yang world. Taking this abused, neglected, poorly built Papa Oscar Sierra of a sailboat and turning it into a safe, more comfortable home for Daughter Eldest and Family is a really worthwhile project. It is also kind of fun, and more than a bit of a challenge.

Then again, we did not go cruising to spend 10 – 12 hours a day of a Southern Florida summer trying to salvage a disaster boat and turn it into something useful. Killer restraints on budgets and time don't add anything to the experience. Every dime spent has to be squeezed out of an already thin account somewhere. Until The Floating Bear is habitable some of the people I love most in the world are basically homeless.

So sometimes I can be found humming and content as I tear up rotten floorboards and tear down equally rotten headliners. Just hours later I can be found groaning in pain as badly fiberglass burned arms torture me through yet another sleepless night. The dink commute to work is normally the hardest part of the day with me at my lowest. There is so much to do and so many disasters to avoid. Glass work outside in Florida heat and humidity, grinding and laying, fairing and sanding, in full tyvek gear and full face breathing mask, ranks near the top of the miserable job list. Crawling down into a sun-baked lazarette to work on a totally screwed up drive train may rank even higher. Florida thunderstorms pop up and undo hours of prep work. It is hard to look forward to a day like that.

The dink ride home is the highlight of the day. Decisions got made. Work got done. The Floating Bear is just a little bit less of a disaster. (Though that would be hard to tell from looking at her unless one has been involved in projects like this before.) My old body is sore, hands chafed and often bleeding at bit, but that is what happens when one wrangles bad stuff into good. And I have to admit I enjoy the camaraderie of tough men doing hard work, something completely lost to the white collar, air conditioned crowd.

Dennis Carter is from Nicaragua. He laughs at my Spanish and lays down some of the prettiest glass work you will ever see. Freddy is rumored to be a crack addict trying to keep it together. But he would work any CEO in the country into the cardiac ICU if they tried to match him grinder for grinder. He doesn't talk much and is surprised that I treat him as an equal.

For it seems I have become a bit of a story. This is a yard of mega yachts and 80' sport fishing boats. Owners step out of air conditioned BMW's and Mercedes to complain to managers. The skilled people actually doing the work rate hardly a glance. Then there is me. The word is out that I used to fly jets, that this is my "other" boat, and that I am paying serious bucks to sweat and grind.
Which, to the skilled, makes me either bat-shit crazy or just plain stupid. They haven't decided which yet and, truth be told, neither have I. But this is a thing that has to be done and maybe being a little of both is the secret to making it to the end.

For now though, it doesn't feel like there is an end. Just another day, another task, a dink ride in and a dink ride home when the day finally ends. Each day has some yin and some yang. Some tasks go well. The keel repair is nearly done, the rudder work is forging ahead with parts arriving, old thru hulls are sealed, the compression post step is repaired. The old floor is gone and most of a new one is fitted.

Other tasks are still an uphill slog. Removing the worn shaft coupler was a monster and the new stuffing box is going to be a couple of days late. We still await word on the usability of the old shaft. No decision has been made on the new prop. Work has yet to commence on the wiring / bilge pumps / gray water tank / new head and holding tank install. Only half the cabin overhead is ground and ready for paint. There is still some deck hardware to remove, one exterior grab rail broke and will have to be repaired; there is soft and rotten wood everywhere. The spot where the old mast step folded down the cabin top is going to be more of a task than hoped.

 Another dink ride. Another day  Yin and yang.

1 comment:

S/V Island Bound said...

Wow...after all that all I can say is....Tim, you are the man!