Gratitude with the Stars and Moon

Note: Many of you know that I recently spent some time in the Carolinas helping a friend move his boat.  I am working on a full report of this epic trip. In the meantime, here is a reflection on life in the boatyard. 

Gratitude runs in surplus aboard sv Emma. Even as I lay a bit low this week, not wanting to spend much money for I have a bill of some unknown heft coming from the marina. Still, I sleep every night under Emma’s forward hatch. The stars peak from behind clouds in a nightly game of hide and seek with the moon. The summer heat and humidity have not yet come and each night a soft, cool seabreeze caresses my cheek. It is lovely. It is relaxing in a way that I cannot begin to describe. 
One of my favorite things is to leave the hatch open even as rain is due to approach overnight. I can’t remember a single instance of an abrupt downpour soaking me. Little, shy drops of rain, who seem embarassed to have to wake me, will drop one by one ahead of the storm. It only takes a few…


They parked a nice looking Westsail 32 right next to Emma and me last week. Today a marine surveyor showed up to do an inspection for the new owner's insurance.

“I don’t know if they set it right there to inspire me or to taunt me,” I said.

“Well, yes, she’s a pretty boat,” he replied, “She’s a Westsail 32.”

“Yeah,” I smiled, gesturing toward Emma, “ … same hull.”

“Oh my goodness! Would you look at that.”

Emma was neglected enough that I could afford her and lately I've been sanding 3 or 4 mysterious
layers of paint off her hull. I don’t blame him for not recognizing her. He went on to tell me what a solid ocean-capable design I had - very rugged boats he said. I explained that I had found her in Miami with no engine and brought her here because I knew the marina and the people who ran it.

“How did you get her up here,” he asked.

“We sailed her -- about 120 miles; overnight. It was a glorious sail.”

“With no engine! Gosh, that’s brave,” he exclaimed, “You’ve got to have a ce…

The venerable Perkins 4.108

Frank Perkins and Charles Chapman were working on a high speed, lightweight diesel engine at Aveling and Porter, a British agricultural engine and steamroller manufacturer when the company went out of business. The two engineers were convinced of the potential for diesel engines - a new technology in the early 1930s -- and started F. Perkins Limited in June 1932. The company became Perkins Engine Company Limited, is still producing diesel engines today and is now a subsidiary of Caterpillar.

After World War II, Perkins found they needed to make smaller engines to fit the smaller post-war cars of Great Britain. They successfully began a period of development and technical advancements in the 1950s that led to their engines running a variety of cars and delivery vans; even an Alfa Romeo. The venerable 4.108 engine came along in the latter part of that decade and found success in the agricultural equipment sector. At one point, a 4.108 was installed in a VW Transporter leading to a thre…

Positive Friction

My former self would just not understand. I used to be a Live Music Addict. My life was coordinated for maximum enjoyment of watching good people play good music. Many times, my pursuit of that rush of watching music made came at the expense of most everything else in my life -- budget, health, etc. I don’t regret any of it; it was almost always fantastic.

I had a ticket to see Donna the Buffalo last Friday night but decided not to go. DtB is on my see-before-you-die list, but I chose to go to bed early in order to get up Saturday morning and get back to my boatwork. My former self would be pissed.

The money I spent on the ticket was long gone; didn’t matter. I actually bought it months ago when the show was first announced (It was a band on my list playing just 45 minutes away). Yet, I had work to do and decided to keep at it. Surely, I didn’t need to spend more money on drinks and food at the venue.

Boatwork on Saturday was a little frustrating as I knew it would be. Part of my mot…

Better Than Homeless

Riverside Marina is really a boatyard. That sentence could have ended -- ‘really just a boatyard,’ but boatyards are important to sailors. For a vagabond like me, Riverside is an inexpensive place where I can do my own work. Often at a capital-M marina, there is only a small category of work that a skipper can do on his own. Most boatwork must be done by hiring marina staff or approved contractors.

There are a couple hundred boats here. Many are here for major refits like my Emma. Some, on a schedule, are here for a few short weeks of intense work and then go right back in the water. Many Canadians spend winters in the Bahamas and store their boats here each year for the summer hurricane season. The property used to be a cement plant and boats languish in the back of the lot, in the gravel, with fading For Sale signs swinging hopelessly from the lifelines. Many more poor, neglected boats here will never get back into the water. Some are literally rotting into the ground.

The “marina”…

Out of Gas

One day last week, I had gotten up early enough to make a big breakfast. Dispatch had flipped (flopped?) my schedule to afternoon. My start time was 11:45 AM, eight or ten hours later than usual. Breakfast was going to be one of my favorites; a chickpea scramble with a skillet full of veggies.

Every good day starts with coffee, but especially a big breakfast day. I poured four cups of water into the pot and lit the burner. Next I turned on the inverter and set up to grind my beans. After a couple of buzzing pulses in the coffee grinder (one that I had found on the boat when I bought her), I sloshed some water in the french press and dumped yesterday’s spent grounds into the chopped-open milk jug that serves as my sink -- sink drain actually. Finally the fresh ground beans went into the press to wait on hot water.

I got my veggies organized; onion, mushrooms, zucchini, poblano pepper. For some reason, the sight of a half zucchini on my cutting board prompted me to immediately chop it …

Rhymes with Part-Time

Man(!)  ...  it’s hard to break free of 'the system.' Just getting and maintaining a decent part-time job is not easy.  So it turns out that the dispatch office at my current gig and I were not using the phrase “part-time” in the same way. I’m a “lease driver,” basically like a temp; because I’m not guaranteed 40 hours a week, they call me “part-time.” Which would be OK, except in their minds, I am available to work as much as they need me to. I’ve been working 45 or 50 hours a week since Thanksgiving. It is a pretty lucrative gig for part-time, so I was hanging on, thinking that it would get back to part-time; my idea of part-time. I kept talking about wanting to get back to part-time, but they either didn’t understand or thought I was crazy. 
Finally, I got with the lease/temp company and re-asserted that I was only available three days a week. This created some confusion and consternation with my local dispatch. At first, I was told that part-time was not available. Neverthe…