We have a sneaking suspicion that all our friends back home are envisioning us out on the water, adventuring and having the time of our lives. Sorry to say, it just ain’t so, except for the having the time of our lives part. The reality of owning a boat is somewhat different than the romantic notion of arriving dockside, hopping aboard and sailing off into the sunset. The reality is that preparations are needed. The definition of preparation is: Hard work!
After driving 18 hours in one day to get to our destination, we fell into bed with relief. We awoke with exhaustion but excitement the next morning. We just had to see our boat! We drove the 25 minutes or so to the boat yard, to find Voyager propped on blocks and looking a bit forlorn. Our truck was filled with the supplies, tools and parts we had gathered, so getting those things onto the boat became our first challenge.
Carrying each box, we carefully threaded our way through the poles propping up our boat (they probably have a name, but we haven’t learned it yet). A kind fellow boat-owner named Rick offered us a sturdy ladder, and we began the task of hauling each box up the ladder and stacking it on the cockpit, or back deck, of the vessel. How in the world did we pack so much stuff, and where were we going to put it all? Somehow, we found places for everything. With each box we unpacked, we rejoiced at taking the empty box to the recycling area. It took a couple of days, but finally we were done. High fives and smiles abounded!
Hotel living becomes expensive in a hurry, so we were anxious to start living on board. Rick gave us tips about living aboard in the boat yard. In short, the yard master will turn a blind eye, if we are low impact tenants who don’t make it look as though we are living aboard. Just here to work, sir! We having been living aboard for a week now, and with each new system Mike gets in working order, our living becomes more comfortable.
Some of the systems are: electrical (shore power, battery power, generator, inverter); water (fresh water, heated water, waste water storage); computer navigational system; the anchor system and more… Even though the boat is in great shape generally, it has been sitting unused for a year. As each system was checked out, Mike found something that needed repair.
The first urgent need was the battery bank. There are 11 batteries that power the lights, washer and dryer, and other appliances on board. The batteries recharge when the engine is in use, but alas, the engine hadn’t been used for a very long time. No water had been added to the batteries and they would not dependably hold a charge. First task: Remove the old batteries. Easy, right? Well, maybe not quite as easy as changing your car battery. Marine batteries are very heavy. After disconnecting each one, Mike would have to lift it overhead out of the engine room. Then he would lug it down the ladder, and to the truck. Times 11. It took all day, and it wore him right out. The next day, we were off to Costco to buy new ones. Then each one got carried up the ladder and lowered into the engine compartment. He configured new connecting wires and cleaned up all the old battery residue as he went. That took another two days. It’s looking pretty nifty in the engine room these days. Mike is becoming increasingly nimble at maneuvering in tight spaces.
That’s the kind of thing we run into as we prepare the boat. A seemingly simple task can turn into a big project, and it usually does. Are we complaining? No! We are working together and checking things off the to-do list. We now have lights, water both hot and cold, and can even use the head (or toilet) sparingly. There are public restrooms, showers and a laundromat not too far away, so we have everything we need. Voyager has been scrubbed and polished, inside and out, including the rugs and upholstery. She’s starting to feel like home. We even baked chocolate chip cookies last night, to test the oven. It worked, and our first boat cookies were the best ever! Well all right, the only ever, but you get the picture.
At our current rate of progress, we are projecting a launch date of June 13 or 14. The 14th is our anniversary, so we’re hoping to be out of the boat yard and anchored someplace very special by then. We’ll let you know!