We usually try to get our boat projects done in the morning so we can play the rest of the day. It’s just no fun to be working on the boat every waking hour, although we’ve had days like that. These days we try our best not to forget the FUN factor, but periodically we have to remind ourselves. Last winter during our mini-refit, we had so many projects that often we’d spend entire days, and then entire weeks without doing a single fun thing. Fun for us isn’t extravagant, it’s simply not working on the boat. And if you’re commuter cruisers, the week before you leave the boat and the week you return to the boat, it’s particularly important to remind yourself to take a bit of time out for FUN – take a hike in the jungle, a swim in the pool, walk the docks and talk to other cruisers, anything but slaving over boat projects for every daylight hour!
Don’t get me wrong, there is validity to the “messin’ around in boats” theory … what is that quote? “There is nothing … absolutely nothing … half worth doing as simply messing around in boats” from The Wind in the Willows by Grahame. It’s just that our definition is different. Messin’ around in boats should be off sailing, playing with the sails, or at anchor somewhere piddling with who knows what just before taking a long walk on the beach… or zipping off in the dinghy for hours of lounging in the water watching unbelievably graceful and colorful fishies … otherwise known as snorkeling.
It doesn’t seem like anyone should have to think about the FUN factor in boats. But sometimes the reality sets in. For us with our “boat projects” in the morning theory, why is it that sometimes it’s after dark before we can put the boat back together?
Hmmmm…. First of all, every boat project is not just a boat project. It’s an exercise in finding whatever you need to complete the project. For example a simple XYZ. If we remember where XYZ is located, we may only have to tear apart one compartment. For example, if XYZ happens to be a seldom used tool or a spare part, it could be in storage under our pullman berth. In order to get to it, we’ll spend 10 minutes standing in the hallway with the mattress wedged atop my shoulders holding it up so David can lift the boards topping the three storage compartments under the bed. He can then fling out all the stuff on top of where we think XYZ is located, pull it out, stuff all the stuff back, lower the board topping the compartment, then reposition the styrofoam pieces that fit under the mattress to prevent condensation and then I can lower the mattress. But what happens if the spare part we’re searching for isn’t there. Then we’ve wasted 10 minutes and on to the next inconvenient location to retrieve stuff.
By the time we finally find the parts, we could have had the project completed. Or so one would think in a perfect world. But this is not a perfect world, it’s a B-O-A-T! Invariably there’s a snag with the project. To remove the refrigeration condenser, we had to first dismantle and remove the manual bilge pump. Good thing though, that manual bilge pump hadn’t worked quite right for years. Now we discover there’s a hole in the diaphram. No wonder it wouldn’t pump water efficiently. But WAIT, we’ve been diverted from our original project. And so it goes. There are always more projects found than completed results.
This is what evolved into my FUN Factor theory. At some point, it’s imperative to call a halt if only to allow time to retrieve your sanity and sense of humor. We need time to take a walk or to paddle our kayaks or even just lay in the hammock on the bow for a little while.
An extreme example of what can happen if you don’t take the time for the FUN factor was the week following our week’s passage from hell from Providencia, Columbia (a tiny jewel off of the Nicaraguan coast) to Roatan, Honduras. The weather prediction was great, the weather that materialized was right on our nose with bigger waves than forecast and our little putt-putt 30 hp engine (on an 13 ton boat) just didn’t push very fast. So we plodded along. By the time we reached Roatan, we had to replace our salt water pump on the diesel and a laundry list of other boat projects including replacing the bearings that burnt out in the outer bands of Hurricane Ida when we didn’t get the blades off fast enough.
As we worked and worked and worked, after a week of no sleep, we pretty much decided that if we could sell the boat right then and there, it was a done deal. Both of us were done cruising, this was just no FUN. But, of course, cruising friends pitched in to help solve all the dilemmas we couldn’t quite figure out and after a week in torrential rains over Thanksgiving in Port Royal, Roatan, the boat was almost as good as new and both of us had enough sleep to put our perspective back in order. Of course, we were still going to sell the boat, just not then and there.
Luckily the rest of the cruising season was a bit better and 18 months later, we still own Winterlude.
So the old proverb still applies … all work and no play makes Jan & David dull people …. or maybe we should re-write the proverb … all work and no play makes for no fun and increases the tendency to want to sell the boat! So don’t allow it to happen to you! Make sure to factor in the fun factor every day!
If you’d like to leave a comment, please share in the comments section below! THANKS! Jan