Monday, August 3, 2015

A (Bad) Day in the Life of a First Mate





posted by Ardys
The goal: to find a spot for everything
I have a friend who wants to know, but doesn't think she should ask me...... "What's it really like living on a sailboat?  Isn't it annoying sometimes? Isn't it hard to be with the same person all the time?"  I'll tell you what's annoying.  It's not the sailing. That's the best part.  As for being with the same person all the time....so far so good. 

I am a compulsive organizer.  And I don't want a cure.  I just want to know where everything goes, have it fit it in there safely and tidily and have it be there next time I want it.  Of course, that would require me to remember where that safely stored item was placed.  If I were to keep track (and I definitely will NOT) I'll bet I spend at least a half hour daily looking for something that "I thought I knew right where that was."  Another half hour looking for something that my husband can describe to me but cannot find.  I developed a spreadsheet system to correlate with each locker and cupboard on the boat before we left MN intending to document where every little thing is stored.  Haven't used it.........yet.  Why?  See paragraph 3 below. 

I spend, at minimum, an hour each day trying to figure out something that I think "I ought to know how to do this."  Sometimes I spend whole days trying to figure out how to make something work, or how to fit 10 things into a space for 7, or to make sense out of something new I'm trying to learn.  If you think that all of that has led to me becoming an incredibly learned person, that is not where I'm going with this.  I spend whole days because what I'm trying to figure out is hard for me to learn, apparently.  I have no better explanation for how time consuming it is.

A cool evening in spring using the MacBook.
Another thing--I have difficulty with technology.  Or rather, technology has issues with me.  Before we left Duluth, I paid a nice young man and his wife who run a business focusing on Apple products to teach me what I would need to know to operate our new MacBook so that I can manage our photos, write the blog, handle spreadsheets, and lots more.  Over the course of several weeks last winter, I went in there and learned good stuff to know so that I can functionally use our MacBook Pro.  Some of it stuck.  And my very worst day with technology that I have had since living onboard is the day I lost my new iPhone 6+ in the water.   I threw my leg over the lifeline and my phone in its' pouch which was hanging from my waist, caught on the lifeline and dumped itself out.  I saw the phone as if in slow-motion drop into 12' of water.   Carl fished it out but it could not be revived.  Salt water is not good for phones.

On a more positive note, while onboard, I have learned how to use my SailRite machine for all kinds of useful tasks. use special tools to apply snaps of all sorts, install grommets and repair things.  I have made shade panels to surround the cockpit and revived the bimini and connector (separate post about that) all of which turned out to be quite a lengthy project.  I've figured out ways to economize on water use on the boat.  I've figured out so many little things that I can't even begin to name them.  Meanwhile, my husband, who has figured out many more of the bigger things (like managing the energy systems and repairing mechanical things on the boat) has been also teaching me about what he's doing.  One might think that I have become quite knowledgeable by now.  One would be wrong. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface.
Jax spots a squirrel on a morning walk.

A portion of each day is, of course, spent walking Jax.  Carl and I take turns being the one to get up early with him to go for a long walk.  He's a pretty good alarm clock.  He usually starts making little whimpering noises around 6:30 or 7:00.  We know he's desperate if he plants a paw on Carl's chest.  He's a pretty respectful dog, so if he's getting right in our faces it's serious.   No more dawdling.  Actually, those early morning walks tend to be one of the most enjoyable times of the day for me. Depending upon where our boat is at the time,  I may be able to allow him to run off leash for a short time.  I'm pretty sure that's HIS favorite time of the day.  

The "obstacle course" between galley and stateroom
Space is at a premium, of course.  Carl's favorite spot to sit and read is next to the nav station which means that his legs tend to block the path from the galley to the stateroom.  Because Jax always wants to be right next to one of us, or preferably mid-way between the two of us, his furry body is also lying in the pathway between the galley and the stateroom.  On a good day, I'll do the obstacle course without complaint.  On a different kind of day, both of 'em better get out of my way because that little dodging and dancing routine that is required to pass through is more than I can tolerate. Those are days when nothing seems to go quite right.  

I have had no serious injuries since moving aboard.  The bloodiest injuries I have sustained have had to do with sharp knives or scissors that could just as easily have happened while living on land.  I tend to move around fairly deliberately and when we're under sail I'm always hanging onto some part of the boat for stability.  In spite of that, I have jammed every part of my body that has hard angles or protruding parts (elbows, knees, hips, head, feet, shoulders) against some unforgiving part of the boat that has caused bruises, minor cuts or at least a cuss word or two.  I think I understand now why sailors have been notorious for having foul language.  
The galley, an ongoing challenging organizational task

There are some things that are simply physically impossible to do.  It is not possible to stand up straight in the bow of the boat (the place we use as a workroom).   It is nearly impossible to exit the workroom without banging either my head or my shoulder or both like a 1-2 punch, into the door frame.  Carl avoids going in there at all.  Anything that is stored up there (and there is a LOT) in the bow of the boat is mine to find.  It is not possible to remove things from the bottom of the refrigerator without removing everything on top first.  It is not possible to get the larger pots and pans out from under the stove where they are stored without standing on my head and removing all the others first.  These are annoyances to me which I am learning to live with. 

So, the annoying things it seems are:  limited space, needing to learn new things all the time, limited space, losing things and limited space.  That's the long and short of it.   It's okay to ask me about boat life.     



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