We moved onboard last Wednesday, so we’ve lived aboard for a whole week. First impressions?
Summer livin’ in Nanaimo is easy. It’s about 23C all day, cooling into the teens at night. It drizzled once. I worried the entire time, but the boat appeared waterproof from above. That’s important, especially in a thirty year old vessel with wooden window frames and doors.
At this point, the boat is comfortable, if not entirely tidy, with the detritus of tools, wires and equipment everywhere. We have a nice bed, er berth, potties, lights, water, and a teensy galley. The V-berth is Nathanael’s domain for his gear for the duration of the refit. His capacity for “boat yoga” continues to astound me. Here he is, climbing into the anchor locker.
Domestic chores all seem to demand more time than amidst the conveniences of our former terrestrial domicile. In that sense, being a liveaboard is a bit like a camping trip. Without the bears. Oh, sorry Casper. I love it when he tries to look menacing.
The highlight of the week was our second successful sea trial, which included a quick stop for lunch at the locally-famous Dinghy Dock Pub on nearby Protection Island. I have always been a sucker for a nice lunch in a memorable locale. Over the years, my aviation flight plans have often taken a dog-leg route when a good meal was available, and especially in instances where we could taxi the airplane to the food. I have rediscovered this joy with a nautical twist.
It appears that fixing things on a boat involves breaking things in the process. Examples? Replacing the raw water inlet hose to the heat exchanger resulted in a fitting breaking off the engine. $110. Attempted replacement of the basin drain hose to the aft head caused the basin spout to break off in our hands. $45. I enjoyed calling Nathanael “Gorilla Fingers” for days, until the same thing happened to me in the forward head. Oh, and don’t even ask me about the windlass! Nathanael was putting sealant around the foot switches at the bow. I was below, but I heard swearing. Parts are on order. It happens, apparently.
Further to that theme, we’re “scuppered” from any further cruising for a few days due to a mechanical failure of the bow thruster that occurred whilst docking upon return from lunch.* It worked for a moment, then decided to make loud whirring noises, but decidedly refused to move water. Alas, those parts are below the water line, requiring us to haul-out the boat. Rats!
The bow thruster failure brought out another aspect of the nautical culture: opinions. Everybody has one:
“Single-engine boats are hard to dock. Don’t untie without a bow thruster!”
“The bow thruster was an afterthought. You need to learn to handle the boat without it!”
What to do? My aviation culture inclines me to stay tied up at the dock until it’s fixed. After all, I stayed alive in flight testing by never putting myself at a disadvantage before the flight. I have never regretted being an aeronautical “chicken shit”; making chilly, dispassionate decisions and then abiding by them. We’ll fix it first. We’ll learn to handle the boat without a bow thruster once we’ve learned to handle the boat with it! In flight testing we called that, “incremental build-up.”
Meanwhile, work goes on…
* Did you notice the subtle use of nautical diction? “Scuppered,” has a nice, salty ring to it, doesn’t it?