Good help on the boat

There are lots of ups and downs in raising a child, but there are some moments, for whatever reason, that stick in your mind. Nothing sappy like her first step or first words, those things seem to morph over time, but little snippets where her personality starts to show.

After what feels like forever of sanding and fiberglass work and more sanding and more fiberglass work, Geoff declared the holes patched, the filler flat, and it to be time to start with gel coat. Gel coat is basically a sunscreen that goes over and protects the fiberglass from the sun.

2016-04-11 13.58.02It was a beautiful afternoon to gel coat (my job). Geoff was watching Skye as she ran around, up and down the stairs, and out and about. We’d given her a clean painters rag to play with that she was carrying with her everywhere. She loves to carry blankets and a painters rag seemed appropriate in the situation.

First, I have to wash the places we’re painting with gel coat down with Acetone. Each spot gets rubbed down pretty thoroughly with a rag I’ve soaked in Acetone. Skye is running around the boat while I’m doing this, getting underfoot, so I suggest Geoff take her elsewhere while I do the actual painting.

Geoff took her on a walk while I mixed the gel coat. It’s a two-part epoxy paint that I mix into a cup, just as much as I can paint on in ten minutes. Mix, then start at the bow. I slowly work my way from bow to keel on the first side then start again on the second. I’d just finished a huge section on the port keel and was working on the port side when I hear the patter of Skye’s sandals as she runs up.

She’s holding her painter’s rag out in two hands and runs right to the fresh paint on the keel, holding her rag against the keel as though she’s washing that spot down just as I was doing earlier. She turns back and looks at me for approval. My heart melts and I smile at my little girl who wants nothing more than to be helpful and do her part. She smiles back at me and turns around, leaning her back against the edge of the keel and getting still-wet paint all down the back of her shirt and all in the golden curls of her hair.

Geoff walks up and just starts laughing, seeing what’s going on and I’m glad he has a good sense of humor about the situation. She has the toddler’s desire to be just like us, to do whatever it is we’re doing, to help and participate. I have to acknowledge that she’s a growing little girl and in the future, I’m going to have to find ways for her to help.

I thought we were done with this…

2016-04-05 18.05.38“I found another blister.” Geoff is gesturing at me with the side-grinder from where I am at the bow, sanding filler flatter and flatter and bored out of my mind….

“Seriously?!” I thought we were done with glass work.

“Yea, come look,” he picks up a drill and drills into the hole he made. Water comes shooting out. And keeps coming and coming and coming. “But it’s a small hole, so once it drains, it won’t be hard to fix.”

“I know, but that means we can’t move forward until we’ve got it filled and gel coated.” Two steps forward, one step back. Someone remind me again why we always buy boats that need work? Or is the problem that we know they need work and so feel compelled to do it?

I was on the phone yesterday morning with the boat insurance people trying to make sure I understood the quote and what they needed. Most of their questions were along the lines of “do you have…” and my responses were along the lines of “yes, we’ve bought that, but it isn’t installed yet.” So much to do yet. We have a launch date, a marina that’s expecting us, and hopefully all the paperwork will fall in place by then. And hopefully we’ll actually have this bottom done by then. All the pieces need to fall into place and it is hard to be patient while they do.


In some ways, it’s been a long time since Geoff and I could work on a boat project together. For a while it was because I was pregnant. Even though at 7-months pregnant I squeezed myself into the refrigerator hole to pull wires and at 8-months pregnant I did….other things that a pregnant woman probably shouldn’t, I was mainly lending a hand only when two people where absolutely necessary. I wasn’t working alongside Geoff.

2016-03-26 20.31.49And then, of course, Skye was born and I was on baby duty most of the time. Didn’t mean I stopped boat work, of course, just changed what I could do. I could scrub interiors over nap time, or do light work with the baby in her wrap. I cleaned the interior of the new boat while pulling Skye off the ladder a hundred times a day. But we hired help to sand the bottom because it just didn’t seem like a good idea for me (much less Skye) to get into fiberglass dust.

But last night, something surprisingly fun happened. Mom agreed to watch Skye so Geoff and I could work. Geoff had the side-grinder out preparing the boat to start fiber glass work. The boat had seven thru hulls under the water-line, we’re going down to four. Less holes in the bottom of the boat seems like a good idea, no?

While Geoff was making a dusty mess with the side grinder, I was inside the boat prepping the thru hull holes for glass work with an orbital sander. We finished up work at about 9:30pm, both dusty and dirty, grabbed some food, and came on home for a shower.

But it was nice.”I liked having you work with me,” Geoff said. He knows I’ve been working as much as I can, but having help always makes the job go faster and it’s nice to have help on the hard (or tedious) jobs. Plus, it was rewarding to make good progress together. Rinsed of dust and standing by the light, we took turns scraping at the letters on the side of the boat, just because working at it together was fun.

Tomorrow we start laying glass over the holes and after that it’s coat after coat of fillers, gel coat, barrier coat, and bottom paint. Then the thru hulls we’re keeping have to be re-installed, the rudder and prop shaft fixed and installed, and then finally, the boat will be ready to go in the water. And yet another round of project will start.

I miss my floating home, I miss having my own space, where everything is in it’s place and I know where it all goes. I miss waking up to the gentle rocking of the boat, dinners out in the cockpit, watching the sun rise and set over the water. I miss the simplicity and minimalist aspects of the lifestyle. Especially when it comes to having a kid in tow (how many toys does one child really need?). And I miss being on our adventure, even if we’re moving slowly by sail, I still love being on the water and exploring new places.