Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Belay That...

belay |biˈlā|verb [ trans. ]fix (a running rope) around a cleat, pin, rock, or other object, to secure it.• secure (a mountaineer) in this way he belayed his partner across the ice[ intrans. it is possible to belay here.[usu. in imperative Nautical slang stop; enough! “Belay that, mister. Man your post.”
I've had experience with addictions, and one feature of the addict's landscape is that after a length of time in recovery, the horror of addiction and toxic living doesn't seem so bad after all. For the unsuspecting, the unexperienced or the uneducated it leads back to another round of temporary joy, then indulgence, misery, wreckage, loss and finally if one is lucky, recovery. If unlucky, death, imprisonment, permanent disability, and/or complete poverty.

Nothing to mess with.

"My name is Jim. I'm a boataholic...."
Is my relationship with boats the same thing as an addiction to say, drugs or alcohol? I don't know. Though I find that after several months ashore, living in relative comfort, with an abundance of all the things not provided while aboard (unlimited food and fresh water, electric power, space, security, stability, companionship, communication, tools and equipment, easy and fast transportation, replacement parts, professional assistance, entertainment, medical help and supplies, etc), I want to go sailing.

Boating is expensive, and I attenuate the costs by doing most of my own work. It enables me to understand the systems that I might have to repair while underway. And repairing those things without anything on that long list in the preceding paragraph.

It has made me competent in a number of things, and has illuminated my shortcomings. (The repair of electronics and things that require welding and/or machining go to the shop.) I also do my own installations and I have completely rewired BLISS and will rewire her again now that I know a few more things... It's more work than I want to do though. It seems that the ratio between enjoyment of the vessel and the work to keep her fully functional has shifted out of balance. Way out of balance.

It's my fault. Rather than accept the limitations imposed by the nature of sailing a small yacht, I have added a lot things that I thought would make life aboard more pleasurable. I've increased the load on the electrical system with all my gadgets that I now need to have 500 pounds of batteries, a backup generator, fancy regulators and meters, inverters (convert battery voltage to household current), solar panels and wind generators (and their structures) and miles of additional wiring throughout the boat. All this stuff wears out or breaks down and costs money to fix or replace, and all of it requires my time and labor to install and uninstall, to run it out to a repair shop or sit down with my tools and soldering gun and an internet connection to find the repair info if I can't figure it out myself.

Gone is the serenity and happy-go-lucky joy of my first boat.

I'm reminded of a time I spent with my brother back in Pennsylvania in the early 70s. He was buying high quality surplus electrical cords with a good standard grounded plug on one end and some obsolete, funny connection on the other. He would take a hatchet and chop off the obsolete connector and then sell the perfectly functional cord to a company that needed them for a 300% markup. He called it de-manufacturing.

I need to apply that same logic here.

There may still be joy left in the old girl yet, after I wipe off all the make-up and lipstick, and remove the implants and tummy-tucks.

1 comment:

1st Mate said...

It's hard to imagine you without your gadgets, but I applaud the idea of simplifying to the point where you don't have to spend 90% of your time fixing things. Maybe you'll find time to paint.