There’s not much knitting to show you today. I’m working on that little sweater and It is some seriously slow going. A friend asked yesterday what I was working on, and when I said it was Minni, there was this terrible pause, and then she said “Still?” I sit down with it for an hour or two and when I get up there’s no visible progress. If the balls of yarn weren’t getting smaller I’d swear nothing was happening, but there’s less yarn, so no matter what it looks like, I guess I’m knitting.
Can I distract you from my appalling lack of knitted things by telling you more about the boat? Great. Back to the boat story. We got the boat earlier this year, and it was in dry dock. This is an elegant way of expressing that it was up on blocks in the back of the marina, and that it was unsailable.
Not only was it unsailable, it was pretty ugly, full of water, and most parts of it were broken.
At this point, we were all pretty sure that it might not even fit the definition of a boat, since there was no guarantee that it would float. Carlos took to calling it our boat shaped jacuzzi – that’s now much water was in it.
Now, let me be clear. This is neither a big boat (it’s a Sonic 23, which means it’s 23 feet long, pretty tiny for a sailboat – barely ranking above a dingy) nor was it a boat that seemed to have much potential. Let’s start with the name. When we got it, the boat was named “Clima”. Carlos didn’t mind this too much, since he’s Spanish, and that’s just Spanish for “Climate” but to the rest of us it seemed like a pretty dumb name. (Katie and I in particular though that all it needed was an “X” to make it worse.) Joe, Carlos and Old Joe started fixing the boat. Katie and I started trying to figure out what to do about the name. It’s bad luck to change a boat’s name, apparently – although Katie and I did point out that it looked to us like it was bad luck to get in that boat in the first place, so why not?
Now this was in April, and after a meeting or two, we all though we could get the boat in the water for the end of May. May 24th, we thought, would be just about perfect, and it would have been, if that hadn’t turned out to be absolutely made of crazy. The boat’s problems were addressed one by one. First, it leaked. The fiberglass was shot up around the top edge, and you’d think that would have been the end of it, with our know-how and our budget, but nope. Joe and Carlos learned how to do fiberglass and epoxy.
The inside was pretty bad, so that was scrubbed out, by hand, for hours and hours. The whole thing was complicated by this crazy midge outbreak in Toronto. There were billions of these little bugs, and for some reason, they loved our boat. Down at the dry dock, there was about 60 boats, and they would all have midges on them, but our boat would be covered. Cloaked in them. Joe and Carlos would have them in their hair, their mouths, up their noses, and the midges got in the way of the work – it was impossible to clear them all away, more would just fly in, and they’d get stuck in the fiberglass, in the epoxy… Joe came home one day and said that he was pretty sure that the boat was now about 80% midge – that’s how many had become permanently embedded in the thing.
They sanded the boat, painted the boat, re-did some of the rigging on the boat – took apart the motor, put the motor back together, took off the rub rail – that was a big deal. It’s this rubber bumper that encircles the boat, and when they took it off, it snapped down tiny, like an elastic band, and they couldn’t get it back on for love or money. They tried heat guns, soaking sections of it in a big bin full of hot water – finally Joe MacGyvered something with a crane he found nearby and some cement blocks. It was all he could talk about for days. The boat was seeming less free all the time, and it still had a bad name. Katie and I joked that we should put three XXXs after the Clima – or maybe add the word “Change”.
Months after we planned, the boat finally went into the water. We weren’t ready, but it went anyway. This crazy truck with a sling comes and gets it, and then trucks it down the road, and lowers it into the lake. We all held our breath as it went in.
Would it float?
The rudder went on – it like all the other wood on the boat had been taken off, sanded and refinished to gleaming – the motor went on,
and Joe and I somehow piloted the thing over to our slip. It wasn’t ready to sail, but it was ready to bob around a bit, and that we did – slinging Lou onto the boat and heading out to float for a little. It was a boat. It wasn’t a sailboat yet, but it was a boat.
Another month passed, while more happened to the boat. The rigging went on – that’s all the ropes and winches and cleats and pulleys – and Joe poured over books at night, trying to figure out the electrical system. (It didn’t have one.) Carlos and I studied hard – you need to pass a boater test and get your “proof of competency” to run a boat in Canada – and we had to learn all about buoys, and horns, and right-of-way, and distress calls. (Hey, did you know that you only radio “mayday mayday mayday” if it’s a real emergency? If you need help, but not urgently, it’s “pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan.” There you go. That will probably come in handy on a crossword some day. You’re welcome.) We learned our knots. (I am particularly good at the knots.)
The boat was finally rigged, and Carlos and I had been shoved down into the hull to help finish – we were thrilled about that part, let me tell you, and we were ready to sail, finally ready to sail, with our lifejackets on and everything, except for one thing.
This halyard (that’s a rope – everything on the boat has a name you’ve never heard before- even though it had a perfectly good name before, like “rope”) had to be replaced. It ran from the boat up the mast, through a block at the top (a block is a pulley. See what I mean?) and back down again. Joe carefully attached the new one to the end of the old one, and carefully, strategically started pulling. Down the
rope halyard came on one side, and up the new one went on the other. Up, up, up it went – the mast is about 8 metres tall (about 25 feet) and the join went all the way up, and there it got stuck. Joe wiggled it, he jiggled it, he ran it down a little and back up again, and then… he pulled. He pulled and the join came apart, and the old halyard fell down one side of the mast, and the new halyard fell down the other. After a brief conversation about how someone small (that’s me) could climb the mast (there is zero chance I am ever, ever climbing a freakin’ mast) we were screwed again. No halyard, no way to pull up a sail. We were back out of business.
The “free boat” then had to be de-masted. A big crane takes off the mast so that you can put your
rope halyard back through, and then the big crane puts it back on again. This took about a week. Still, we were pretty sure that we could sail then.
Sure enough, the boat was ready to sail. We piled on, me and Joe and Carlos, and motored out to where the wind was, and only then did we realize that we still had one big barrier to sailing. We don’t know how.
Joe knows how, but to say that his crew is inexperienced would be an understatement of the grossest nature. That first day, Joe yelled things like “Hoist the Jib” and “trim your sheet” and “JIBE HO” and Carlos looked at Joe and said “Que?” I cried. Twice. (It was actually three times, but I don’t think anyone heard the third one.) We’re learning though, and now when Joe says “prepare to jibe” or “Hard alee!” we mostly do the right things.
I know now when we’re “in irons” and I can tell the difference between a starboard or a port tack, and while you wouldn’t know it to look at me, I can flake a sail faster than a grown man. I can’t tell you yet if I like sailing yet, except for this part.
Joe, however, loves it. He adores it, and he’s already talking about how when we retire, we’ll sail all around the world. There will be room, he assures me, for enough yarn. I’m not so sure – about the sailing, or the room for the yarn.
One last thing – we did rename the boat, and nothing bad has happened.
We called her MIdge.