An evening relaxing play, the gulls hover and twist over glowing condos. Invasion. Destruction and reconstruction. They should shit on your windows. Look out your window a minute and imagine yourself in the wind. Now fly.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
It finally felt like we were making good progress on the boat. The bottom paint was completed, the fresh water tanks were cleaned, and the the floor was put back in. We had been hopping from port to starboard with a two foot gap in the floor. The bilge was filled decomposing shower muck. For thirty years, the shower had drained into the bilge – dead skin cells, hair, and all. Rachel was kind enough to stick her head down there and shovel it out. I did the hoses for the head after all.
Yes, we were finally making progress. Almost finished it seemed. Then came the rain. Not a little bit of rain - but two weeks of rain. It almost set a record. The four windows in the main cabin were each leaking. The hatch in the main cabin was leaking. The two windows in the head - leaking. The forward cabin window - leaking. The v-birth was leaking from a badly sealed chain locker. All the spirit I had built up from completed projects was now dripping in cold Seattle rain. Literally, dark clouds hung above my head - and we can't live on a leaky boat.
We pulled out some sheets of plastic and covered everything up. Pulled the windows off and sent them in to get replacements. The replacements came back an eighth of an inch too small. We had to send them back, get a refund, and find a new vendor. Weeks went by with huge holes in the cabin covered with only a thin sheets of plastic. That's the way things go on a boat rebuild.
My new saying is that "nothing is done a boat until you do it twice." It's been proven itself true, time and time again. With it, I've learned to stopped expecting that things will be completed on the first attempt. It just doesn't happen that way - whether you expect it to or not. Expectations most often lead to disappointments. If there's one thing this boat has taught me it's to float free with the breeze. The wind may not blow where you wanted to go - you can fight it, or resist it, or be upset by it - but the wind is going to keep doing what it's going to do. What you need to do float free and let the wind be your guide.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The annual Fisheries Supply Swap meet is over. Sellers will setup the night before and camp out. Buyers will wake up before the sun rises, 4:00am or earlier, so they can grab the best deals. Rachel and I tried to get there around 7:00am - late enough to get some good sleep, but early enough to find some deals. It was a bright morning. One of those early Spring mornings where the sky is all blue, and the wind is still. The dew had yet to evaporate and the glare from the sun blinded us whichever way we looked. I love those mornings. I love the sun. I love the stillness.
We found some deals too. The first stand that we stopped at had some brand new marine speakers that I snagged for $15. Those will be great in the cockpit this summer. We found some recessed LED lights - regularly priced as "too expensive for me." For $40 I bought an old baby blue folding bicycle. The rubber tires were cracking a bit, it needed a new chain, and the gear shifting cable was stuck - but a new one can cost $1,000. A folding bike will allow me to through it below on the boat and easily bring it ashore to go exploring. Other things I bought: dehumidifier ($25), sewing palm for repairing sails ($5), a tether to keep me tied to the boat ($5), some tubes to re-plumb my manual bilge pump, and a half broken Autopilot for $20 (I have another half broken one that I'm hoping to Frankenstein into working).
Catch phrases like "the more I buy, the more I save" ran through my head. To balance that, the realization that the more I buy, the more boat projects that I acquire - meaning more work. If only you could buy more time at a swap meet. Fixing up the bike will take several hours. Who knows how long I'll spend trying to hack together those Autopilots. Projects are a good through - I need things to do. I just have to be careful.
Back a Rachel's Jeep, we stuffed everything in the back - and I mean stuffed. Mixed in with all the swap meet deals was the freshly cut foam that we had picked up a few days before. A whole Jeep full of projects for me. Even when I'm being careful the work piles up. I'll take a boat work over computer work any day though.
Monday, May 7, 2012
I'm an internet developer by trade. For ten years (since I was 16), I've been been tied to a keyboard and monitor, cranking out documents with an extremely limited vocabulary. If, then, while, else, and require is about all I get. Daily, I get lost in a giant logic story puzzle of code. The project I just started working on is already over 200 files with 6,800 lines of text. All interconnected, talking to each other, communicating - and when something doesn't work you have to go figure out why. Study it, solve it - and I add more and more to those numbers everyday.
People love to read because their focus can take them to other places. When I start my work, in just the same way, it very quickly pulls me out of the surrounding environment and into a narrowly focused world of code - existing only between what I see on the screen and what I think in my head. I am no longer present in my environment - I am pulled somewhere else. The world of software puzzles is far from the natural world that I'd rather be in. This is why I sail. My mind can be present - in a place full of sights and smells, and the sea and the sky.
Even if we're not lost in focus from working or reading, we are still lost in focus to something else. The never ending flood of thoughts that keeps us out of what is around us: what's for dinner, what am I doing this weekend, what time is it, why is that guy wearing that, do I look fat in this? That's a lot of noise - when do we ever live in the present and enjoy the world around us?
It is a hard thing to grab that knob and turn down the noise. I practice though - and I am learning what it feels like to have a still mind. A mind that is persistently "on the boat." I have seen what the world looks like when you can finally turn down the noise - and it is beautiful. It is inspiring. It is peaceful. It is the warmest, most fulfilling, and accepting place. It is a world that has been here all along - like the ketchup bottle in the fridge, starring at us, but we cannot see it. We don't need to go anywhere, be anything, or wait until our deathbed to find it. The garden is here - we live in it. It is our minds that pull us out - out of this beautiful, perfect place.
It is the biggest mistake we could ever make in our lives. This Earth, the people who live on it, the birds, the bees, the bugs, and the beasts - the infinite universe above us, and the smallest atoms we are made of, is all of unspeakable beauty. Instead, we ask what time it is? Who cares. Look around - this place is a magnificent creation. We walk through it every day and never see it's allure. What is our mind so focused on that we cannot see this, I ask? Consciousness, the ability to observe and comprehend this universe, is the greatest gift that we have ever received - use it. I wont make the mistake. The mistake of losing site of the world's brilliance. I see it now.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
|The head before starting the project.|
The bathroom on a boat is call the head. So called because they used to put it up in the front of the boat. When nature calls on the boat, you can't just throw it overboard. Here in the U.S. it is illegal to do within 3 miles of shore. In the Caribbean though, it all goes overboard. You can be snorkeling in crystal clear blue water and just 30 feet away, someone is flushing a log into the very water you are swimming in. Sounds gross huh?
Since you can't dump overboard here, it all goes into a holding tank under the v-birth in the bow of the boat. It goes from the toilet through a bunch of hoses and into the tank. When your tank starts to get full, you go to a marina and hook up a machine which suck it all out. When you stop seeing brown water coming out, you are done pumping.
On my boat, a 1978 Columbia 10.7, all the hoses are original equipment. That means, for 33 years, those hoses have been absorbing and releasing the smell of sewage. Even before I bought the boat, I knew I would have to replace those hoses. It flat out stunk in there.
I started by ripping out the counter top and sink - also needing replacement. My sailing buddy Nojan and I drove out Saturday morning to do the dirty work of ripping out the old hoses. We were in full body jump suites, respirators, goggles, rubber gloves, and we opened all the windows. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day - which means I was sweating like a pig in my rubber gloves. Even with the respirator I still got a few whiffs. It smelled like vinegar fermented from crap. We fill five black trash bags with hoses. It was a beautiful moment tossing those in the dumpster and seeing the all new shiny white hoses start to go in place.
Despite the stench I had to endure, it felt great to do the work. I knew when I was done, that things would be so much better. I would be free from the smell of thirty year old poo hoses. The same could be said for many of things we must do. Like a big decisions which will make things better - but comes with a giant leap. A leap off the high dive. Even though you know how to swim, and you know you wont die - it is still scary. Traveling the path of a difficult decision like this, sometimes only lead by blind faith that things will be better on the other side, is kind of like bush whacking through thick overgrown jungle. You have no idea where you're going or and only the slightest idea of where you will end up. It's easier to make the decision to travel knowing that cannot stay where you are - or continue down the same old pathways any longer.
|After ripping out the counter.|
We put off a lot of decisions. We'll even ignore obvious signs that change is needed so that we don't have to face a decision. I ask, is there even a decision to make when you fully understand that you can't keep things as they are? Not really - it's already been made for you. You're just waiting for the strength and courage to make the jump. To start your hero's journey. The brave and strong accept it start blazing a path. Arm themselves with a machete and understand they may get a few scratches along the way. The weak and meager continually try to find ways tolerate the way things are. Unfortunately, ignoring a decision doesn't make the problem go away - just as lighting a candle wasn't going get rid of smell in the boat. You have to face the shit at some point.
While there is still a lot of work to be done on the boat - I am doing the work - and it is coming along. I joyously rip out anything that stinks - but not all my decisions are so easy. I just take it one step at a time - and gradually, I learn the boat, I learn new skills, I learn to accept things as they are, and I learn to face difficult decisions.
Friday, April 13, 2012
I found a place in Tukwila that sells wholesale foam to replace the cushions. Even at wholesale prices it will be about $900 in foam. I paid $50 for a tiny LED light bulb the other day too. Needless to day, everything is more expensive on a boat. I was warned to get a second job when I bought the boat - I'm just now getting started with the first one.
We ripped off all the 1970's style fabric off to reveal some dark mold growing inside. Thirty years of dampness has its effects. The drip drip coming from the cabin top whenever it rains had a lot to do with it too. I knew the drip was there but mold never crossed my mind that we'd find mold. The smell certainly crossed my nose though.
Just as the stink of musty cushions warns that something isn't right under the layer of fabric, in our lives, the judgments we place upon other people warns us of something under the surface of our own self image.
Your "self" is who you think you are and who you think you should. There is no mold growing there. That part gets a lot of sunlight. You are outwardly yourself - but that sunlight creates a shadow. A shadow of self is filled with laws and rules that you place on yourself to uphold your self image. Just as you sit at a red stop light when no one is around, you follow your own rules, despite anyone there to judge. You follow these rules without ever knowing they're there - but you can feel your resistance to them. At times they can be like a drip drip in your head - and you can smell something stinky, but you never bother to pull off the covers.
When we see someone not conforming to our own self made laws, it makes us cringe. "How could they be that way?" is what we ask ourselves. They don't hold up to the self image that we created for ourselves - and we judge them for that. Just as our shadow keeps us from knowing and becoming our true self for fear of judgments, the shadow is a source of judgments that we project onto other people, preventing us from understanding the truth of our selves and the truth of the people we interact with.
People die everyday without knowing their full self - without ever learning to love and accept themselves. Never learning to live without placing judgments upon themselves. Having a little mold under the covers is one thing, but is knowing it, and not doing anything about it, while judging someone else for the smell, is quite another. I think if we can just start to question the judgments we placed on others, we can finally learn to fully love and accept ourselves, as we are right now, and also learn to fully love and accept the people we meet in our daily lives for who they are. Then, suddenly, everything will start to smell a whole lot better.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
What are the things in our lives that apply only a small amount of pressure yet create a large movement in our minds? It makes me wonder why the fulcrum is placed where it is.