I Hate Boats!
Published: Thursday, February 1, 2018
By: Bob Bitchin
"I hate boats!" I shouted at no one in particular. But, since Jody was the only other person aboard the Lost Soul when I said it, she responded.
"Okay, what happened now?"
“That's it. We're selling this piece of junk! [I actually cleaned that up a bit for the wee ones who might be reading this!] After spending close to $200,000 fixing the silly boat, I just found some dry rot in the crew quarters!" And there it was… a small corner of the overhead, which we'd thought was in good shape, went to rot.
I stood there, poking my finger into the soft wood, and started to think about it. Life without the Lost Soul. What would it be like?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was a silly thing to contemplate. Oh, it wasn't the thought of not being able to sail into a tropical lagoon that made me laugh at the mere thought of selling her. Believe it or not, it was the thought that I'd never get to fix her again!
I walked up on deck and started to live the act of repairing the dry rot, and I realized how much I got from doing things like that. It's my therapy. It's what makes me feel like I am still a part of the boat, and therefore the sailing community.
After returning from sailing the world for 10 years and being “slip-tied,” I had started to feel left out of sailing. Oh, don't get me wrong. I was glad to get home but I was missing something that was once the reason for my existence; the "being one" with my boat.
Okay, so I know it sounds hokey, but it's true. On the refit of the boat when we returned, we found the majority of the work had to be done by others. I'm too busy making a living… yet, this was time that I used to enjoy working on the boat.
I can think back on times when Jody and I'd be laying on a couple coats of varnish while anchored in the northern Cook Islands, or on the island of Renia in Greece, and I can still feel the pride when the job was finished. We'd look back at the boat from the top of a hill, and you couldn't help filling with a feeling of real accomplishment.
Fixing dry rot falls into that category as well. You look at a small (or large!) imperfection, and then set about making it better. You gouge out all the old soggy wood. It takes awhile, and you have to trace the roots of the problem, but when it's done you have nothing but good, dry wood. Then you trim it and chisel it, and soon there is a place for some good new wood.
Cutting and sizing the fill piece can take a long time, but that's okay. Once it's trimmed and in place, you can see that what was once a source of displeasure will soon be like new, and all through the sweat of your own labor.
Once you have mixed the epoxy that will soon become an integral part of the boat, you clean the area with acetone. And then comes the real fun, sculpting the epoxy to allow the wood to fill in place, and then smoothing the epoxy over the wood to encapsulate it.
Once you've smoothed it as much as possible it's time for the real good times. You adjourn to the harbor lounge, where you sit with other boaters who are involved in various projects, grab a cold one, and enjoy the feeling of camaraderie.
When you return to the boat after the epoxy has set, you'll notice a new feeling replaced the one you had when you discovered the problem. Instead of being upset, that feeling has turned to pride in the knowledge that the area will never be a problem again.
As you take the surface down to a smooth finish, working your way from 40 grit to 220 grit paper, you lose yourself in the task. Then, it's time to hit it with a coat of primer. Then, check it out. Is it perfect? If not, maybe you'd better sand it a little more.
And then the paint. Smooth and soft, each stroke covers a little more, until there is just a beautiful white surface. Then, it's back up to the lounge while you wait for the paint to dry.
For the next few weeks, every time you go aboard, every time you pass that area, you will look at what was once a source of anxiety, only now it's a source of pride. That little area that once had you standing and shouting "I hate boats" is now filling you with a sense of pride.
As I am sure you are all aware, the opposite of love is not hate. It's indifference. The closest feeling to love? The intensity and the heart-beating-feeling that makes life worth living? That would be hate.
So, the next time you are standing on the deck screaming aloud to the gods, "I hate boats!”, just take a minute and reflect. Actually, boats make life worth living.