We fight against our weaker selves and our beliefs. And we take the next step in one of our most important projects. Not without a few shock moments. But we also experience some moments on the sunny side of life.
“Do something you love and you’ll never have to work again.” “If you do something for yourself, it’s easy to get up in the morning.” That may be true, but it hasn’t always been that way since we returned to the yard. Unfortunately, freedom doesn’t mean you don’t “have to” anymore. We have all the time in the world, but we don’t want to live in the dusty boatyard forever. We would love to get out of here right away. At least into the water – away from the dirt, away from the noise. But that’s not possible, because our boat is not ready yet. And we still have a lot of work to do.
Sometimes we just don’t feel like doing some of the work. Because boat work isn’t always as much fun as you might expect. Even if we like our new lifestyle, that doesn’t automatically mean we enjoy every aspect of it. If a stuck screw can’t be loosened even after the fifth time of hitting it and greasing it, then enough is enough. Climbing into long-sleeved clothes at over 30 degrees (despite air conditioning) to cut out a water tank – not subject to pleasure tax.
And then crawl into the bilge to undo a tank bracket, which of course is attached at the other end. Get umpteen quotes for the new rigging and compare them. Sand down the hull for what feels like the hundredth time.
Well, sometimes we just have to do the work listlessly. The heat, the dust, the lack of experience, the many options, the dependencies on other people – all this makes our work even more difficult. We have started to concentrate on projects that can only be done properly in the yard. Everything else is put to the back of the list(s).
Could vs. should
With our freedom comes responsibility. For we alone are responsible for the planning, the execution and the result. If we skip work, it won’t do itself. Could, want, may, should, must – that’s what it’s all about. We could work 12+ hours a day, finish faster, but would probably be mentally and physically drained. We could only work 5 hours, everything would take twice as long, but we might be more relaxed. No one tells us how many hours a day we should work. We have to decide for ourselves how much is okay. And accept that, too.
However, this is where the influence of our previous life comes into play and then sometimes leads to a guilty conscience – completely inappropriately so. I know that I could work more. But am I here to maximise? Isn’t it also the reason for our journey not to have to follow such thought patterns? To be able to take the time to do nothing? To take a break because we simply feel like it? To decide for yourself when and how to do something? Further, faster, higher is not necessary. But then there is the deadline (which we set ourselves after all). We want to be in the water in September. And the thoughts start spiralling all over again.
Why are we doing this to ourselves?
We no longer have bosses telling us what to do – we now have Milagros setting the pace. And we shouldn’t ignore her. We could, but we would only buy happiness from tomorrow. A small, neglected maintenance job can turn into a disaster. Something like the compound interest effect also exists with boats. Here is a small example from Milagros and deferred maintenance on her chain plates.
We voluntarily dismast the boat
The big day finally arrived and we had our mast un-stepped. To do this, the workers of Cabrales Boatyard brought a crane, which they attached around the middle of the mast. With the mast now stabilised, we were able to unscrew the stays (wire ropes that hold the mast in place) on deck. Luckily Marc from SV Liquid came to our aid (physically and mentally), because the 18-metre aluminium giant is very impressive. And a lot can quickly go wrong and become quite expensive.
We were warned by Marga, the owner of our sister ship Dogfish, that our masts are pretty wobbly. But when we loosened the stays and shrouds and the mast bent to one side, even the experienced workers felt uncomfortable. After this moment of shock, we hurried to lower the mast onto prepared sawhorses. The crane was a bit too close, so everybody had to carefully manoeuvre the spreaders (the deflection points for the shrouds) between Milagros, the neighbouring boat and the crane itself. Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures of the action, as all available hands were needed.
Now we were able to remove and inspect the chain plates. The chain plates are there to attach the stays to the boat. So, there are enormous forces acting on them when the boat is sailing. The wind pushes the sails, which in turn puts pressure on the mast, which transfers the forces via the stays to the chain plates. The chain plates are attached to the boat with several large screws. And some of these screws made us shudder.
Maintenance would not be difficult
On Milagros, the chain plates go through the deck and are bolted on the inside. It’s not a big deal to disassemble the wall covering from time to time (note 4-8 screws per chain plate) and take a look at the condition of the chain plates. We realised, for example, that rust had formed in some places. Water must have penetrated through the deck. Ergo, some of the screws were rusted.
Now imagine that all 5 screws of a chain plate are rusted. And then, while sailing, there is an unforeseen gust of wind, perhaps with too much sail up, which puts lot of pressure on the rigging. These screws could break, the chain plate would be damaged, broken into pieces or torn out – the boat would be dismasted in no time. You could have just taken the time and looked at the screws and replaced them for about $1 each. Not a difficult choice there, is it?
Maintenance of the mast
So, we could start with the maintenance of the mast. Everything that was attached to it had to be removed: Spreaders, shrouds, stays, lights, etc. This is easier said than done. The mast is made of aluminium, and everything else is made of stainless steel. If the two metals are not insulated against each other or if the insulation has dissolved over the years (as it has in our case), the aluminium reacts with corrosion. And then the stuff gets really stuck. We always try it the nice way first: spray on rust remover and let it work overnight.
If that doesn’t help either, we use the Bunsen burner. The two metals behave differently when heated. Therefore, in combination with a well-aimed hammer blow, this can help to separate the two. And of course – if possible – we also work with brute force. Spoiler: We still couldn’t remove everything … In some places the paint was flaking off, especially in places that came into contact with other metals and thus corroded the aluminium underneath. We scraped off these spots with a spatula so that we could sand them down and repaint them.
Escaping the heat
When it’s too hot outside – say between 10am and 6pm – we take a siesta or work inside. For example, Dave has been cutting out one of our leaking stainless steel tanks piece by piece with the angle grinder. We depend on our two air conditioners. We can’t do without them. And we found that out for ourselves recently because of a power cut in the yard. At 2 pm. Almost immediately, beads of sweat formed on our foreheads. We first fled to the shops for groceries and hoped that the power would be back when we were. Unfortunately, no. So, we did an emergency installation of some fans. We were already prepared for an uncomfortable night when the power came back at 7pm. Phew!
Even more luck
Shortly after our return to the boatyard, a stomach bug spread through the yard. While we were mainly affected by lack of energy, others were pretty miserable. It turned out to be the norovirus that was raging in Puerto Peñasco. The local newspapers reported that it was carried over by the dust and faeces that were in it. *bwargh*
As reported in previous posts, we were in Covid vaccine limbo. It was on a Sunday when Marc from SV Liquid discovered on Facebook that there was a Covid vaccination possibility for 18- to 35-year-olds in Puerto Peñasco the following week. Unfortunately, our euphoria was immediately curbed when it turned out that the Mexican personal identification number, something like the Swiss AHV number, was required for online registration. We don’t have that. Salvador, the yard manager, then called some people and sent us to the vaccination centre with the name of a doctor and the utility bill from Cabrales Boatyard to confirm residency.
The big surprise
SV Pablo‘s crew went ahead as guinea pigs and were successful! Vaccine euphoria! From no hope of vaccination to a real chance within 24 hours – lucky us! So, we joined the queue in front of the vaccination centre outside of town. When we couldn’t show a reservation, we were directed to a table where our personal details were taken. A short time and a few signatures later, we were in the queue for the single shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. We could hardly believe our luck. We gladly accepted the side effects such as headaches, aching limbs and chills. Because the vaccination opened up new possibilities for us. Most important of all: we will be able to travel back to Switzerland without quarantine for my brother’s wedding. Mexico, you are incredible!
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