A Summary — after revisiting our boat for the first time
We landed in YVR and took a cab to the South Terminal and Seair’s docks. The only real excitement was that I had stowed my reader laxly in the front pouch of my backpack and after it toppled off the pile of luggage, I no longer had a functional ereader. Luckily I have all the books stored on both my phone and laptop, so recovery would be easy.
A 15-minute flight across a glassy calm Strait of Georgia and we had landed in Nanaimo where it was raining intermittently. We humped our luggage the two hundred yards to Stones Marina and went searching for our keys. The folks at Nanaimo Yacht Charters have opened up a chandlery on site in addition to their boat yard, and the keys were waiting at the front counter. Then, after a little less than a year, we were back aboard Never for Ever.
It was weird. Lovely, but weird. The boat seemed barren: missing all the small comforts with the enclosure packed away and small reminders of her long winter sleep everywhere. She was “ready” to go but not for us.
As we hauled our bags in and started poking around, one thing became pretty obvious. She wasn’t same boat we had left behind. It was the small things like a different winch handle, a new fender, new cutlery and even new garbage cans that soon started to irritate us. After living aboard for a year we had grown accustomed to a certain routine and the small things were going to dictate that these routines would have to change or adapt. There was no logical reason to change out our small, squat bathroom garbage container that wouldn’t tip for a tall, unwieldy one that didn’t fit anywhere in the head. Was there?
It didn’t last long—the irritation, that is. We just need to make the mental shift from boat owners to charter boat owners. While Never for Ever is still ultimately “our” boat, she is no longer our boat. She belongs to a wider community now and has more than one set of caretakers making decisions based on a broader set of criteria. I’ve run into this at jobs a lot; as long as I’m the sole decision maker, things get done my way. As soon as there is a team, I have to make allowances for how things get done and base my definition of success on whether the team accomplishes the goal, not how. I can do that. Eventually.
The boat was prepped for charter so there was a full set of sheets and towels aboard. We decided to forgo immediately hitting our storage locker and instead go buy some provisions.
Two things. We didn’t check what was already supplied and we didn’t check our (deliberately extensive) lists of what was in storage. My excuse is we were tired and just wanted to get it done. So we hopped in the courtesy car and headed out. Unbeknownst to me L’s intention was to hit a Chapters first so I could replace my ereader. We ended up driving a few miles further down the Island Highway than I had intended, passing a SaveOn, a Thrifty Foods and yet another SaveOn before we reached our destination. A hundred dollars or so later we were finally wandering up and down the aisles looking for the perfect size package of rice— not so small that we would run out early, not so big that we would have too much left over after two months.
As I mentioned our failure to follow the “prior planning prevents…” maxim I so enjoy spouting meant that I didn’t realize we had tons of foil and ziplock bags aboard and things like salt and pepper and cling wrap — and more foil — in storage. We didn’t waste that much money, but it is a bit irritating to make mistakes you had gone out of your way to try to prevent. C’est la vie, I guess.
Back on board we stowed our purchases, desperately trying to remember where things went and failing. We knew the brown sugar was in the wrong place but neither of us could remember where the right place actually was. This happened again and again until we gave up and just started stuffing things in lockers. Which, now that I look back, is pretty close to what we did the first time we provisioned the boat.
Then we stowed most of our gear, stuck the rest in the garage (v-berth), made the bed and crashed for the night.
The next morning started with a lot of running around and by the time we knew it we were needed at the head of the dock to go have lunch with L’s parents.
Eventually we made it back the dock and grabbed a cart. Time to start hauling. We had both silently decided not to bring most of the stuff back on to the boat and then be both not so silently reneged on those intentions. Every bin contained something that would make the boat a little bit more homey — a little bit more ours — and so it all made its way down. The only things we left behind were spare pillows, the blue-and-gold duvet, the set of fleece sheets and the other sets of extra sheets.
Down at the boat we unpacked each bin — we’d been diligent and efficient last spring and they were all labeled. I think maybe four or five items went back into the bins to head back up. As we unpacked we stowed the gear, trying to remember where everything went. Over the next few days a lot of stuff shuffled as we slowly remembered where we had stowed things…usually when we unconsciously went to grab something and it wasn’t where it seemed it should be.
And we did go back and grab the fleece and cotton sheets a bit later, leaving the locker essentially empty.
And after all that the boat slowly transformed from a strange and slightly alien environment to once again take on the warmth and familiarity of home. It’s weird how a glass jar of pens or a shelf of books can redefine your space. By the end of the day we were home…mostly.
Whose Stuff Is It?
As soon as we arrived I started going through lockers to see what was what. I found a couple of new buckets, then found the old ones crammed way back in the transom locker. The bits and pieces of random line I had left behind were gone and replaced with new and different bits and pieces of random line. Half our kitchenware had been replaced with new substitutes (like our lovely red kettle), and the safety gear that had been stuffed in one locker was scattered among many. The silverware was new as were the trays it was stowed in, our cheap 4-slice Coleman toaster was gone, replaced by one of those lovely compact single-slice toasters (while we appreciated the “upgrade,” who wants to make one slice of toast at a time?), and our two glass and four plastic wine goblets had been replaced by a matching set of — smaller— plastic wine glasses. All in all it was an improvement over what we had left behind but, in another way, it was just not what we had left behind. And that was something akin to irritating.
As time wears on you notice more and more. Our low profile Camfano heater was replaced by a smaller yet taller model. I liked the Camfano :-(
And the small things get under your skin more. The properly sized frypan had been replaced by a larger and more cumbersome (albeit more practical for larger groups) frying pan that negated the ability to use all three burners. And our dish rack was missing, which changed the ritual of doing dishes. And the rituals are important and change is bad and well…
All this pettiness really did have the potential to start to sour. I was actually surprised how much I cared. But in the end, a deep breath or two, and actual conversation reminding ourselves of the difference between expectations and perceived reality, we started to settle. The boat was ours. But it was obvious the the stuff was not, and could not be, ours any longer. Not if the charter company was going to be able to provide consistent and quality service to their (and I suppose our) customers.
Some of this extended to larger boat systems as well. A winch handle had been changed out, one of our propane tanks was different, the tie down for the outboard was missing and we’d acquired an extra fender. They had even repainted the measurements on the anchor rode, but used a different system.
Over the few days at the base we kept bumping into things that weren’t quite right and kept reminding ourselves that the wrongness resided in our viewpoint and not the reality we were struggling against. It mostly worked and we mostly got used to it. And of course the people at NYCSS are great and never once looked askance at our constant notes and emails enquiring into this, that and the other thing.
Like all boats, some things needed to be fixed. It’s interesting to note that while all the big systems had been well maintained, a lot of smaller items had escaped notice. For example, the corroded seal in the windlass had been dealt with (saving me a few boat bucks since the parts for the old Simpson Lawrence were hard to get and I’d been afraid we would have to replace the whole thing), a few leaks (which had apparently been a bigger problem than usual with the unusually wet winter) had been fixed, the cushions were cleaned and all the mechanicals serviced and maintained. But we noted right away that the dinghy painter was worn in the centre, two of the bungie cords for holding locker lines were frayed and worn, the tether for the water filler cap was broken off and the knob on the BBQ regulator was stuffed in a cockpit locker and cracked in half.
It makes sense. All of those little items were either too small to attract attention or not likely to be noticed unless you were using the associated system. We’ve spent four days settling in so far and I am still coming across small things like this. The only real issue was a white-and-black wire that had snapped off the ring connector on the buss bar in the aft cockpit locker. I have no idea what it did as everything seemed to be working, but I had them recrimp a new connector anyway. And now the shower drips annoyingly when there is pressure in the line—I guess I will have to fix that. Not having my tools (see previous post) is totally annoying.
I bought 40 feet of floating poly line and replaced the dinghy painter, replaced one of the fender lines and screwed back on a panel that had been missed. NYCSS dropped off a new outboard lock, a replacement winch handle and a new knob for the BBQ. We took a look at the filler cap tether and decided it would take too much effort to fix so tabled it for now, and they dug up the missing cushions for the settee after we noticed they weren’t aboard.
The List Continues
We finally cast off for the short trip down the channel to anchor in Nanaimo Harbour. The sun came out and the winds died and it was a beautiful day. And the list of things that had changed continued to morph. The smoke detector was missing. Granted, it was irritatingly sensitive, but was it missing because it was broken or because they just forgot about it when repairing the leaks? The engine alarm didn’t sound when I shut down the engine, which is a bit worrisome. And my funnel for refilling engine oil was gone. That’s annoying.
But we are off. And it’s aboard our very own boat that is now messily cluttered with our stuff and frankly, who cares what toaster we use. What’s important is what we bring with us in our souls and minds and what we leave behind as we move forward.
The conclusion? I’m satisfied and so’s my perennially sensitive co-skipper. We are declaring our charter partnership a success for now and are just happy to go sailing.