on the water

Everything floating

We are each, in our day, both consumers and creators. These two phases of our selves live in both flux and harmony; it is a curious interdependence.

In days past, my proudest moments have been as a creator. I have created objects, experiences, adventures, friendships, and follies. I have made music, made friends, made enemies (though not many), made money, and made love.

Still, of all the created things to have passed out of my self and into the world, the most remarkable -to me at least- have been the Monuments and the Relics. Some such creations have, in time, become both.

I was reminded of this on a recent trip back to BC. There, out back, across the field, in early-morning half-light, one of the finest monuments/relics ever devised lay waiting for my visitation. My father’s old housetruck, slowly becoming one with the landscape. It is so familiar to me and my past, and yet being just one step removed from me, allows me to breathe and move around it, observe it, and cherish the conflagration of emotion that bubbles up inside me at the sight, the smell, the sheer presence of it.

Of course, the similarity to my own abandoned housebus resonates mightily. In that, the difference between Monument and Relic is strictly a matter of perspective. My silently passionate father feels the same push and pull of history.

At our best, we each put something intangible and eternal into our creations. Only time and perspective will show them to be Monument, Relic, or anything worth remembering at all. Sometimes it is only some pervasive and phenomenal application of passionate energy that shifts the inevitable Relic towards Monumental status.

My bus is a Relic, for sure, but not so my boat. Yes, we were forced to abandon her mid-Atlantic, but she’s not a Relic for all that. Wherever she now sails or rests, she is undoubtedly a Monument.

Yesterday, a friend and I were discussing some aspect of sailing, and I contributed some anecdote about some feature of my boat something that I had long-labored upon.

He slowly smiled, and said, “You lost a lot…”.

I smiled back. “Yeah, I guess. But I learned a lot too.” It was a fair trade, a Monumental one.

Back at the housetruck, my sailing-companion and friend Cory and I shared a moment. Without much else to say on the matter, it is quickly agreed that friendships are greatest Monuments of all.

And so too, without much else to say on the matter, I agree with myself that many of the Relics of my past were once Monuments I had erected, and can be so once again. They should be.

In the meantime, I shall keep on creating.

Finally got the TriFoiler into the water today. Conditions were perfect, probably even better than we thought they were: NNW 10-15kts, light chop. Being a first sail, we erred on the side of caution and unzipped the reefing panels from the sails. The book suggests 16 kts as a reasonable reefing windspeed. In hindsight, I now feel that the boat can take much more, and that it would probably be easier to spill air from full sail rather than curse and fight and flail away with reefed sails when the windspeed is just a little light. Full sails would have made for a much more entertaining day, but safety first, right? Bill pushed me out into chest-deep water, I slid off with remarkable leeway on, and spent almost the entirety of the next 3 hours trying to beat back in to shore.

As it was, the wind fell through the day, and it became increasingly frustrating to sail in displacement mode, underpowered and dragging so much structure through the water. Impressions? Hideous to tack, the forward foil latches need reworking, low-speed steering like a shopping cart full of rocks… But just once, I wore ’round right into a puff, the sails popped over, the boat lurched off a wave, and the windward outrigger jumped out of the water, closely followed by the leeward one. I dumped the windward sensor line, and the boat leveled off. I sheeted in, as fast as I could, somehow managing to pop the leeward sensor line… and whoosh, the stern came up, the rigging shrieked, the unplugged pitot tube spurted a rooster-tail… Sheeting in nearly to the centerline on a broad reach and Oh. Sweet. Beard. Of. Zeus, acceleration like nothing I have ever felt on the water before. Full-on overblown powerboat acceleration! On foils, the boat was transformed; steering well-damped and precise, ride smooth as glass, zero fuss from the rig, completely dry.

The sailing season is winding down here, but I’m hooked. Gonna try to get as many sails in before the water cools down too much, then onto next summer!

I’m putting together a new website for dirty yardrat D.I.Y. sailors. The goal is to provide a community resource for experienced and inexperienced alike, a place to trade ideas, find help, and get motivated.

I started out being a boatyard pest myself, long on enthusiasm and short on experience. Now I’ve become one of those grubby jaded shipwrights who rolls his eyes when I see just such a greenhorn coming with questions of their own. The new website will, hopefully, be a forum to bridge that gap.

Leave a comment if you have ideas on how or if you think this might help you or your friends with their own projects.

I’ve finally gotten around to doing as I’ve often threatened myself to do, and tallied up all my receipts from Centaurea. I always supposed it would be of some use or interest to anyone else considering a boat-rebuild, not the least of which, myself! The breakdown goes like this:

Powertrain (engine rebuild, transmission, shaft/log, prop, fuel system, engine electrical) – $2550.15
Fasteners – $762.78
Paint (incl. sundries, prep, primers, pots, brushes, etc.) – $1759.88
Sanding (sandpaper, discs, grinding wheels, etc.) – $219.56
Electrical (wiring, panels, batteries, windgen) – $803.35
Rigging (running and standing, blocks – $1327.27
Plumbing (Hose, fittings, through-hulls, valves, pumps, head rebuild) – $1461.30
Metalwork (materials and labour on tanks and bowsprit/boomkin) – $1336
Gloops (sealants, bedding) – $262.66
Hardware (hinges, deck fittings – $330.76
Epoxy (resin, fillers, hardeners) – $1006.70
Materials (hardwood, plywood, glass cloth, lexan sheet, etc.) – $242
Sails (incl. repairs and one new/used purchase) – $720
Boat (Raw, tore down, as-is-where-is) – $3500
Total – $16,282.40

The Surprises: Plumbing accounts for about 9% of the total; more than the rigging, the sub-contracted metalwork, the tankage… Twice as much on hose and fittings than on wiring the whole boat!
I have long stated that the cheapest a person could get a boat usefully rebuilt and afloat for is approx. $1000/foot. Here, I far exceeded my own expectations and got myself sailing for $508.23/foot.
I’m still crunching the metatdata and looking at what else can be learned… for the next boat!

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