What has you bugged, bothered or just plain unsettled?
As we begin our fifth season aboard Voyager, it is time to open the blog. But it is a season unsettled. As in the past, I have looked forward to time on the water, away – that place of wellbeing. Voyager provides the means for us to make this a reality.
I came aboard about fifteen days ago to get ready for the season. There were a couple of projects that I developed over the off season (check out the Boat Page for the story and technical information). It is always satisfying to complete these even when every two steps forward results in one step back. These projects are a good example of bugged, bothered or just irritated at some detail on the boat that finally makes it to the top of the list. Here is the back story: Imagine being out for many days and heading in to a marina. There are anticipated amenities here – things like water and shore power. You tie up and plug in, only to trip the breaker. Not a problem, you say. But here (also in SE Alaska all last summer) they have upgraded their docks to the marine equivalent of GFI protected circuits, so the entire dock trips when Voyager shows up and plugs in. This makes for some bugged neighbors and no shore power for us. Boats all have an electrical ground that eventually is tied to the ground wire in the shore power receptacle. Some boats leak some current to ground and it can even find its way through any other boat in a marina back to the shore power. This problem is gradually being corrected as marinas upgrade their shore power. The very sensitive GFI-like circuits will trip off when this situation is detected. Individual boats like Voyager can trip entire docks with just a small ground fault. The solution is an isolation transformer that – you guessed it, isolates the boat from the shore power. I planned for the specifications, including size and capacity. I even had the wiring configured. But what I didn’t consider was the weight. It is a copper wound iron core that makes for a dense little package that felt like a 100 pounds. (It turned out to be 52 pounds – I read the specifications). When attempting the install under the vanity sink cabinet, I found out that it was beyond my ability. How long does it take before you ask for help? For me, it was several hours and many failed attempts to lift this heavy thing onto its bracket. At just the right moment (when I knew it was hopeless), Angus came to my rescue. I said that a really strong guy that is small enough to fit inside the cabinet would be what is required. Angus is 6’2” and nearly 275 lbs. (The word in the boatyard is that he competes in the Highland Games – you know these events where very strong Scotsmen throw boulders and telephone poles around for fun). He just smiled and said, “Let me take a look.” Before I could get the flashlight, he simply reached his massive right arm way into the tight space and plunked the transformer into place – under a minute. Wow, Thanks Angus! This one of those improvements that you don’t notice, but makes all the difference at the marina. The neighbors are happy too. One less buggy problem…
I came to the boat with a fairly high level of bothered. I believe we all carry a certain amount of this; call it imbalance. The world in which we find ourselves is in a state of upheaval. Pandemics and health uncertainties that are continuing, inflation concerns and instability in general are all contributing factors. People, in general, are not doing well – myself included. Once aboard, the influence of constant media ceases. My world shrinks to more immediate problems. Things like, ‘does the boat float?’ or ‘does the engine start?’ are the more pressing issues. These are things that I am able to remedy. I can do something to fix my smaller world. Questions like, ‘how can we run a diesel fueled boat when the cost is nearly $7. per gallon?’ These dilemmas all around us still exist, but the cost of fuel is not within my sphere of influence and neither are many of the things that are simply not as they used to be…
Do you see the bugs or the bigger picture?
Many, many things remain beautiful. Here is the view today.
We have been able to navigate poor circumstance to arrive where we find ourselves. I won’t try to fix what is beyond my ability – at least today, and I will enjoy the satisfaction of repairing the broken things I can fix. Here is a quote from Reinhold Niebuhr. Many people know the first three lines; I like the whole thing:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference. Living one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen”
Don’t be bugged.