Monday, September 8, 2014

Deadlines

Four nuts. Four hose connections. Four hours.

Working on things used to be enjoyable and rewarding; though it did help that someone was usually writing me a pretty big check to work on their thing. Working on most things is still often enjoyable and rewarding even though, these days, there are only outgoing checks for parts and materials, and no incoming checks. But when the thing being worked on is the WesterBeast shoehorned into our Tartan 42, it isn't likely that enjoyable or rewarding is going to be part of the equation. Today was no exception.

This engine has always run hotter than normal, and never seems to make much water. Two months ago we limped into Ft. Lauderdale nursing the temp gauge once again while dodging ugly weather, just to keep things interesting. Determined to get the thing running right once and for all (yeah, yeah, I know) we decided to pull the heat exchanger and have it checked, serviced or, depending on what the shop finds, replaced.

Four nuts. Four hose connections. Four hours.

And that's just to get it off the engine and out of the boat. Experience suggests that removing anything from anything is way less than half the job. So I am already feeling hard pressed to get Kintala ready to vacate this dock by the end of the month.

Part of going cruising was to get away from schedules and dead lines. So far it has not seemed to work that way. Some kind of deadline always seems poised just above our heads. We had to get the boat ready to go before the truck arrived. We had to get the boat ready to go into the water before the boat show; just barely made that one. We had to get the boat ready to head south before the ugly weather hit; didn't really make that one. Then the engine broke down in Oriental and shoved us way past the weather deadline. We paid the price by shivering our way down the ICW in a seemingly endless parade of long, cold, dark days.

Once south things got easier and, for a few weeks anyway, no schedules drove our decisions. But then we went to the Islands. While still deep in the north part of the Sea of Abaco, the day we needed to be back in the US started to press our decisions. Weeks out and we started thinking of when we needed to be through the Whale and into the southern part of the Abacos; then when we needed to be in Eleuthrea, then Nassau, Bimini, and the States. Once in the US we faced the hurricane deadline, one we missed because of The Thing and The Bear. The penalty was doubling our insurance premiums and spending the summer here, where the dock fees are way more than they would have been in Lady's Island. Now the impending 100% increase in dock fees is driving the need to move regardless of where we are on “the list”. So we are still working pretty close to full time days, seven days a week, driven by a deadline we can't afford to miss. (This deadline is due to cost, but the cost is going up because of the season change. So I am blaming it on the weather in a kind of indirect way. My blog, my rules.)

So far cruising deadlines have proved to be serious things and missing them costly. It is impossible to ignore them and “live without a schedule”. I think our problem with deadlines is the result of two conflicting needs. The first is one everyone faces, living with the weather. North in a hard winter or south in a hurricane is no one's idea of “cruising” or, at least, not my idea. Living on a boat means following the good stuff. Weather deadlines simply can't be ignored. Mother Earth will flat kick your ass.

The second serious thing is, simply, the boat. Nearly four years after buying this thing and there are still struggles with the engine, still adjustments being made to the rig so we feel comfortable as a short handed crew on big, open water. For example the roller went on the inner forestay. But we still have to find a sail that will work on the shortened foil and fit our deck. Another task that has to been done in the face of the impending deadline. The autopilot isn't installed, there are no solar panels, and the Bimini has yet to be touched. Some of this is simply not going to get done before the deadline forces us on our way.

That could be seen as a good thing, I guess. People keep telling me no boat is ever “done”. Waiting until it is would mean never leaving the dock. And I see their point. On the other hand, if there never comes a time when I don't have to balance out the cost and hazards of missing a deadline against the cost and hazards of heading out with the boat not “done” …? Sooner or later “not done” needs to be some bright work or dock lines needing spliced, not the autopilot or electrical system.

I can live with one set of deadlines. Living with two conflicting sets is getting old.

5 comments:

Alex Rooker said...

Tim,
I am already getting a sample of your deadline concerns. Diann and I have been hard at work on the initial checklist. Weather has been a factor. However,last night's heavy rain confirmed the butyl tape bedding of the four hatches has worked as planned.

Our much needed new toilet wasn't in stock and so is later coming than expected.

And.... unfinished business at home will pull us away for a week. Our October 15th target for departure continues to march toward us.

Like you, deadlines are keeping me from relaxing like I thought.

TJ said...

Truth is this first year out has been way more difficult than I would have imagined. Of the 11 months since we left Oak Harbor, 3 of them have been spent tied to docks working though, to be fair, 1 of those months was spent working on the Bear.

We made some progress today and we have 20 days left before we have to be out of here. Basically we are going to concentrate on finishing what has been started with no more projects this year. The Bimini, solar panels, and auto-pilot will simply have to wait. We are out of time and boat bucks. But we made it through last year without those things and they will be first on the list for next summer.

pfrymier1 said...

Oddly, I appreciate your writing about the more mundane tasks and the presence of "deadlines" when the conventional view of cruising to the uninitiated is endless days of blue skies, white sand, and tropical drinks. I'm still sailing a desk, but I have always said that I would like to go cruising for as long as it takes to get sick of it, be it a week or a lifetime. Trying to get spouse on board currently! Anyway, enjoy you day, whatever it brings.

S/V Island Bound said...

Tim and Deb,

Always enjoy your blog. Great insight and excellent rendition of the trials and emotions of the cruising lifestyle. You have been an inspiration to us as we set off on our extended voyage. Keep the faith!

Bill and Tricia on Island Bound

Zeb said...

Yes! Love the content you write.