Monday, September 7, 2015


About that whole, “working on the boat wherever the boat happens to be” thing...

Friend Stephen came over for dinner the other night. We chatted well into the evening catching up on sail stories and family stories. We talked about future plans and the things we had done, needed to do, and wanted to do to our Tartans. There was the comparing of notes about places we had been that all cruisers do. It was a fine evening.

Later I jumped in the shower. The water ran down the drain, through the lines, and filled up the gray water box. The float switch floated higher and higher, closed, and the pump came alive. Water flowed out the side of the boat, the water level went down, the switch closed and the pump went back to sleep. It had been a longish day. Running the Beast had filled our hot water tank with hot water. We are on a dock. A long shower was in the works. (Mind you, a long shower for a cruiser means using maybe 2 gallons of water rather than one.) So more water ran down the drain, through the lines, and filled the gray water box. The float switch floated higher and higher, closed, and the pump ground, howled, sputtered, and shrieked. No water flowed out the side of the boat.


In the morning Deb pulled the pump from under the sink and disassembled the thing. The inside was a powdered, corroded, mess; yet all the parts appeared to be – more or less – intact. She went about cleaning it up while I redid the wiring with quick-disconnects. Then I got in the way a bit and missed a thing on the reassembly. Which meant she had to take it out a second time. Oops. I might hear about that for a day or two.

Having a power and ground wire exposed during the pump work was, for Deb, the perfect opportunity to test run a fan that she wants installed. It was, for me, getting sidetracked from the job at hand. What does a fan have to do with the shower not working? But Multi-tasking is the holy grail of getting lots of things done as quickly as possible, and Deb is quite good at it.

It drives me insane. It is a fine line between multi-tasking and getting sidetracked, and I've never been very good at seeing it. I need to focus on a thing, get the thing done, and move on to the next thing. Being constantly distracted by other things just slows me down. It is a mental habit honed by years of flying and fixing airplanes. Getting distracted while shooting an ILS to minimums, or torquing up the rod bolts on an IO-540, was considered unprofessional at best, suicidal at worst. But, by the end of the day, the pump was pumping, the fan was checked – and installed – and there had been plenty of time left over for me to focus on an entirely different interior mod.

As the sun faded we took a walk around the docks. There are a bunch of beautifully maintained, older power boats in these parts, some of them made of wood. They have distinctly different lines than do the newer boats, lines that catch my eye as much more attractive and functional. The overall profile is lower, the decks appear less cluttered, and there is good visibility all around. They all seem to lack swim platforms and flying bridges, two of the uglier additions to more modern boats. Different strokes for different folks, and I suspect keeping one of them going is multi-tasking multiplied many times over. But they do class up the neighborhood.


Carl said...

We've been following your blog for sometime and truly enjoy it. We've been on a new to us Saga 43 in Annapolis for the summer and will be headed for points south in the next several weeks. This is our first trip down the east coast, we recently sold our home and other boat in Minnessota and moved aboard for this trip. I hope that we can share an anchorage some evening in the not too distant future.
S//V Northern Star

TJ said...

Carl, we are in the Kent Narrows with plans of heading to Chestertown tomorrow for a couple of days. After that we will be heading toward Annapolis ourselves so, if you let us know where you are, we could look you up.