Stayin’ Alive

Mike and I were talking over a late breakfast this morning. I was explaining that I had gone to sleep last night considering how many thru hulls we could get away with filling in and fiberglassing over, planning in my mind the best approach to take on that project and wondering if I could handle some of that work myself since Mike is back to doing a full time job. The other part of my brain was consumed with choosing fabric for the salon, perseverating, as I am wont to do, over colors, patterns, textures and fiber contents. It’s the kind of decision I like to luxuriate over for weeks. While I ruminated about that, Mike began talking about replacing the steering pedestal and rebuilding the entire steering mechanism because it’s old and needs attention. This project would involve replacing the steering pedestal with something beefier that would allow the steering pump to be up close and personal in the cockpit so it could receive regular love and attention more easily. My contribution to that plan was that if we were going as far as replacing the pedestal, I would like a folding steering wheel, please. He agreed. Our voices droned on over eggs and sausage and suddenly I realized I was feeling better than I had in weeks. Yeah, I was HAPPY to be talking about boat projects, even though I regularly recognize that talking and doing are two different things, indeed. It felt really good to both of us to be back in the planning phase of big projects for Galapagos.

That’s right, this is a photo of our deck, which is not green. In the Pacific Northwest Winter, to have a green deck is normal due to the amount of rain. How do we keep our deck so clean when we are not power washing her weekly? The answer is in one of the photos below.

I’m not going to lie: coming back home has been very hard. Yes, we needed a break, and yes, we needed money and to be with our kids through the pandemic. Galapagos needs a lot of work and it’s easier to do this work here in the United States, at least so far. We speak the language and we have all the tools and supplies that capitalism offers right here. All this is true. But the reality is that we are very different people than we were when we left the dock the first time and finding contentment in this kind of life is a challenge. There is so much emotional adjustment, not to mention the physical adjustment, to going back to living the workday life where you have weekends off. We are grateful that both of our kids have traveled extensively and they know exactly what we are up against.

Since we docked the boat in Olympia we have had very little time to spend working on her. We feel, most days, like we kind of just walked away from the life we were living. Sometimes it’s hard to even feel connected to that couple we were out on the open ocean. In the salon today I came across an issue of 48North, the one with my article about stopping in Canada on the way home. It felt like someone else must have written that article, not me. Since September, Mike started a new job, we sold a house (which took a lot of time, energy, and money), we had the holidays, and the country has political chaos and violence which affect both of us deeply.  Covid-19 and the shutdowns and general sense of unrest and dis-ease in the very air we breathe underpins everything we do, just like I know they do for you.  We are also remembering in our very bones how dark it is here. And how wet.

It’s a strange life.  We know we are doing all the right things, and to be honest, all of what we have accomplished so far has gone incredibly smoothly. Amazingly so. Mike got a good job very close to home, I have a job starting this week. Our home sold very quickly for an amount we still have trouble believing. We have a lot to be grateful for and we know it. But still, most nights I dream of the boat in some way.

I brought some fabric samples to play with. I have about 40 more being delivered sometimes this week. These decisions are either really easy (like when I chose the Galapagos fabric because it was pretty and it was 5$per yard), or really hard. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. I like too many things. The truth is that all of these coloful fabrics make me feel happy.

So today the sun was shining and we were talking about plans and it seemed like just the right kind of day to go down and hang out at Galapagos, maybe do a little tidying up and preparing her for new salon cushions. Days like this make us feel better and keep me from being such an avid doom-scroller on my phone. We started her engine and tested Mike’s new noise-cancelling headphones. Game changer! The drone of the engine makes people very tired and is over stimulating lots of times, especially if you have to run the engine for many hours. We would have loved to have these when we were cruising so I imagine we’ll be getting a pair of them for our next trip.

I call this look “PNW Who-Gives-A-F*** Casual” Did I comb my hair today? I simply cannot be sure. The noise cancelling headphones are great, though.

I don’t really have a cohesive blogpost to put out there today, but I did feel the spirit move me to post something, anything, to get back into the groove. And it’s nice to feel that little nudge to write, even if it’s faint and unformed.  It’s hard to do decent posts without the use of my photos application, which is broken beyond repair. It’s only one of the many ways my poor Macbook Air, which is old by computer standards and has been used in a marine environment for 4 years, is breaking down on the inside. So the photos will be pitiful since I have to take them with my phone and do a workaround. Kind of pathetic, really. But these photos are of a few of the things going on aboard Galapagos right now. I will market these as ‘raw and unedited’ and that will make them more exciting for you.

And then there is this side panel for the dodger. Has it seen better days? Most assuredly. And I’m not even bothering to show you the other side, which is one that I did by hand when we were living aboard before we left the dock. It’s LONG past time for these to be replaced and I met with a woman this week who is making new ones for us. Tremors of excitement! We will have windows that zip open 3/4 of the way so we can get to the winches. We will have cockpit sides that fit correctly!  It’s very exciting because we used these, as bad as they are, all the time out on the open ocean until we got into seriously warm weather.  Up here, they protect the cockpit from being soaked all the time.

The answer to how our deck remains so clean is sitting right there in the cockpit. It’s a product called ‘Wet and Forget‘. We used this so much at the house during the winter and it kept algae from growing on all the cement patios and sidewalks around the house. It works. So one year when we still had the Cal 34, we decided to try spraying this stuff on the topside of the boat to see if it would control the green algae that takes over during the rainy season. It worked very well. Cleaning up the boat in the spring was a snap. And we also liked that the boat stayed pretty all during the worst part of the year. It’s safe to use on all kinds of things.

The days are getting longer. It’s the time of year when PNWers believe spring to be just around the corner (It’s not. But you cannot convince us of that. After all, the hardware stores are selling primroses in full bloom now. That’s the first sign.)  We talk about coming back home to Galapagos to live aboard, at least most of the time, in the spring when it’s warmer. Meanwhile, we are back to planning and preparing, just staying connected with our boat and keeping that dream of sailing off again alive.



17 thoughts on “Stayin’ Alive

    • I like that one, too. It’s really nice. We are also looking at some fabric called Crypton that is stain and wear resistant, which would be nice. “Haunt’ is a good word to describe the darkness here. It’s darker even than the middle of the ocean. But as always, the earth turns and the light returns. So we look forward to that.

    • Happy New year to you as well! I love the sample on the bottom left, but the pattern is apparently too large for the size of the cushions. If those medallions were smaller so that there could be at least two rows of pattern it would work. However, I do like the one above it (which is the same as another one on the right, they sent two of that one). That one is on the short list.

  1. I am trying to find fabric for a banquette in our kitchen. I feel your pain trying to choose. Where are you getting your samples from?

    We sold our condo; bought a house up north. I am commuting on the weekends and living with my Mom during the week while I work. Hubby is our man of all work up north. (permanently retired I think)

    I feel the disconnectedness. I will retire mid May. We will “move” onto the boat the beginning of June and go home for grass cutting, laundry and whatever else needs doing. 15 weeks till life changes yet again.

    • How exciting to be looking forward to retirement and boat living. It’s hard going back and forth between as house and a boat, as you’ll surely be aware. We are looking for a house to buy here, but frankly with all the upheaval in our country, It’s fine with me for that to take some time. I kind of like having the cash on hand. Anyhoo, I get fabric from FabricGuru (where these samples are from), and I also ordered from a site called 1502Fabrics which had a lot of really cool stuff. Then I found a seller on Ebay who had some stuff I liked called AffordableHomeFabrics. If you message them with a list of what you want, you can buy samples from them. I’ll probably do a post with all the new colors and pretty stuff I am playing with.

      • We are summer boaters. We live in Michigan. Our lives to this point have been every possible weekend on the boat and then a two week vacation in the summer. We look forward to being able to spend more than that in retirement. We hope to do some northern Great Lakes boating where we can anchor for a few days and not be at the mercy of the weather because, gulp, we have to go back to work. Our season is so short; like yours in the PNW. It will be so nice to be able to be more chill about our time on the boat. We hope to be able to spend most of the month of August on the water. I look forward to looking on those websites for fabric!

  2. I cannot tell you how comforting it is to read your words: “… the reality is that we are very different people than we were when we left the dock the first time and finding contentment in this kind of life is a challenge.”
    It doesn’t smooth our path since we left Sionna in June, but it sure does make a difference to my spirit, hearing someone else describe my experience in such clear, simple terms. Going forward, well, I’m still looking for the answers to “Who am I? Who are WE?”
    Thanks for writing your truth. It matters.

    Keith & Nicki, s/v Sionna, Rockland Maine

    • I know you get it, Keith. Many people would say we are just whiners because we have had experiences most people never have. But the truth is our brains have changed due to those experiences. Right now it feels like we are cheating ourselves a little bit. But in this life, we have to do things sometimes that we wish we didn’t have to do. And we will not cross another sea without a new rig and without stripping the mast and boom down to bare metal and going over every single piece. That costs money. We will also not spend our retirement savings on that. So something has to give. Once our kids are more settled from the giant curve ball the pandemic threw them both, we’ll be ready to set sail again as soon as we can.

  3. Wet and Forget… Brilliant! Why haven’t I thought of that ? I am gonna try it this weekend!
    Glad to hear all is well, albeit wierd…. I am looking forward to the day in the not so distant future when I get my new to me boat and start cruising myself!

  4. It sounds like you are both having fun [not to mention being productiive in several ways…] keeping one foot on land, the other on the water… Boat projects always help keep us reminded of where we are heded- and are usually much more readily accomplished when not living on the boat!

    The balancing act between the two lifestyles can sometimes get tricky for me… To resolve this, I think of it as two geographic locations: when on land, we are in the PN[N]W as landlubbers… However, on the water, there is no doubt we are in the NNE Pacific Ocean…

    Thanks for the hint re: Wet and Forget… we will see if we can get some shipped up here and give it a whirl… on the boat, car, truck, enclosed trailers, camper…

    Cheers! Bill

    • I think we will get back into our groove more as the weather improves. It’s just so darn cold on the boat right now. Meanwhile we are socking money away for the next trip and pulling the mast, buying a new dinghy, etc and looking at houses to replace the one we sold. It’s a tough market to be a buyer in so it’s nice we are not in a hurry. Today Mike is wiring in a new electrical outlet in the salon, and I’m working on those settee cushions. Hopefully we’ll have that all set to move back aboard, at least part time, in the late spring.

    • It is truly a balancing act. and it will be getting more so as we move into a new house and also begin serious boat work projects. but hey, we’ve been there before. We know how it goes.

  5. Mellisa, thanks for the info re: Wet and Forget. Picked a 1/2 gallon at the True Value Hdwe on Phinney Ridge. Just waiting for the rain to stop.

    By the way, how did the exhaust system hold up? I never saw any comments about it.

    Steve Hulsizer

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