As I’ve mentioned before, part of what we’re happy about in this stage of our lives is the refurbishing of the boat.
The s/v Excellent Adventure is not yet a classic; just over 21 years old, she’s just… an old plastic boat. She’s been run hard; two circumnavigations, plus 5000 miles of near-delivery along with five years of noodling around San Francisco Bay. And most of what’s on her is original.
Last night, Jason and I sat down with a nice glass of wine, after dinner had been cleared, to discuss priorities.
Doesn’t that sound awesome? It’s a total fantasy. The headliner in the galley was beginning to peel really badly, and there were three separate seams dumping horrid red backing material onto my primary cooking surface, so while I sat in the companionway passing tools through and juggling a pad of paper and a pen, Jason ripped down headliner panels and we discussed how tired we were and how putting a well-used boat back together is exhausting.
But you know, we love this boat. The guy next door to us has cancer, and is selling his 43′ cat (Built by Texas A&M, go figure). We both went over and took a look… and came back, reassured yet again, that this boat is the best possible boat for us, for how we live and what we want and how we sail and that she is utterly worth every ounce of work it’s going to take to get her back to looking like the spectacular vessel she truly is.
We trust her.
Even when we broached coming down a wave during a gale off of Point Conception, I knew we’d be OK. Even when surrounded by a thunderstorm so powerful that the sound of thunder rolling hadn’t stopped even for a second for a few hours, I knew she’d get us through. When planning to cross the Tehuantepec, I read stories of people abandoning ship, and I knew down in my guts that I could not abandon this boat unless there was something beyond believable going on.
And reading about insane restoration jobs and the amount of work people put into their project boats, I think that they must feel as we do about their vessels. It’s not for the money, and it’s not for the experience. I don’t think anyone ever actually profits from a refit. But there’s something deeply fulfilling about showing the depth of your commitment to your vessel by finding ways to improve, organize, clean, and just generally gussy her up.
It’s a relatively uncertain process. This is the first boat we’ve owned, and there is literally no agreement in the boating world about the vast majority of things related to boat refits. And you can’t always judge by appearances. For instance, before we left Emeryville, we did a haulout, and Jason discovered that the P.O. had never once ever sanded the bottom of this boat, but merely powerwashed and thrown another coat of, god help us, Trinidad paint on. He sanded 300 measurable pounds of paint off our hulls, uncovered blisters, yada yada yada. We replaced it with lovely orange Pettit copper ablative paint which attracted packs of feral ducks in Chula Vista, and they demolished the paint above the waterline. So the bottom is actually in far, far better shape than it was before, but it looks like hell.
Everything is kinda like that. And since the cash flow is a trickle, we have to do this very carefully and stepwise, with a great deal of elbow grease and not a lot of flash involved. While also, y’know, learning and living and growing and teaching and maybe actually sailing along the way. I want to get the salon insulated against the coming of the summer heat (because the A/C bill was insane just for the few months of summer we were here for), but before that can happen, we need to fix the starboard front window gasketing and repaint the window frame… and once that’s done we can redo the headliner panels and glue bubble wrap to the inside surfaces and get the outside window screens done… and once that’s done we can do the wall panels, but only half of them, because the other half will come down and be redone when we finish ripping the ceiling out of the galley…
Maybe she’ll be classic by the time we’re done. Or maybe not. But in any case, she’ll have been our home and our classroom and our base of operations and our little floating slice of opportunity. EA. And that is always classic.