For three and a half years, with the help of Uncle Bill, we’ve been refurbishing and preparing Kandu for our trip. As the departure date approaches, pressure to finish multiple projects increases. The family is tired of hearing me say, “I need to work on the boat.” Actually, until recently, Uncle Bill and Nick, our excellent youthful laborer, have been doing the bulk of hands-on work. I provided the direction, did research, made purchases, guided the process: in short, managed. Since my time at Sony came to a close 6 weeks ago, I’m very hands on now. Nick comes and goes engaged with other work outside Kandu, but Uncle Bill continues to support the effort in large ways, almost daily. He wants us to get Kandu sailing in a couple weeks so we can work during the week and sail the weekends, locally. I hope to have Kandu mostly ready for offshore sailing before Bryce and Trent finish school, June 12. We’ll still need the months up to October to finish moving on board and organizing the boat, as well as training (first aid, weather, email, navigation, videography, etc.). There’s a lot still to do and a lot to learn, but getting her moving again, after 18 months of hibernation, will feel good.
An interesting awareness is developing. Living on the boat, I’m literally living in my job; thus little time “away” from work. I’m usually only a step away from a project that beckons attention, and each step draws attention to a different task. It’s easy to get side tracked from one task to another. Uncle Bill has learned to finish tasks as soon as possible before starting another, offering a sense of accomplishment and relieving the burden rather than piling up the to-do list and adding stress. My challenge is that it often takes much effort to unbury a problem, preparing it for resolution. Once arrived, other problems are inevitably discovered, usually significant once that, taking advantage of their opportune exposure, are more easily addressed while accessible. This adds to the list and the cost of completion, but I think the proactive nature of such an approach is an investment in relief, in future problem prevention, while at the same time gaining greater awareness and knowledge of (and confidence in) the boat’s systems. I’m not expecting complete satisfaction, that is, I’m not expecting to have every inch of Kandu perfect before leaving. I strive to minimize potentially labor intensive or discouraging repairs that not only take time away from visiting the countries where we make port, but that also minimize incidences that might demoralize crew spirit. I want to see the countries we visit, not just Kandu’s engine room and local hardware stores. And I don’t want Leslie or the boys to think that cruising aboard a 42-foot sailboat is a big mistake. Of course there will always be issues that arise that need our attention, but I want to minimize issues related to the age of Kandu’s infrastructure. We are making significant progress toward completion. The list of what’s needed to be completed is dwindling.
Here are a couple examples from last week how tasks crop up. On Tuesday, while replacing the inverter (the $1200 device that converts 12 volt battery electricity (direct current) that’s in your car into the 110 volt outlet electricity that you plug things into at your house (alternating current)), the normally inaccessible water heater was nearly exposed. Even though it was not yet a problem, its age put into question whether or not to take advantage of its current access. Leslie and I decided to spend the $700 to replace the 6-gallon unit with an all-stainless steal 10.5-gallon model. Wednesday, after removing the current water heater, we found the plywood floor supporting it was soft and delaminating, indicating rot. So we added repairing or replacing it to our to-do list, pushing back by at least a week our original intention, a 2hr. inverter installation. And then Friday, while installing a folding step to allow us to exit the boat’s interior when the ship’s steps are temporarily relocated, I inadvertently drilled through the large portside cockpit drain hose in the engine room. On closer inspection of the hose, its wall seemed deteriorated enough to preemptively suggest its replace as well, an arduous job, that while we’re doing that suggests we might as well replace any other similar type hoses, like the one under the deteriorating water heater floor. So that’s how it goes. That’s why a completion date can be elusive.
Circumstances, not excuses; that’s what I’m facing—at least that’s my perception. Now add to these “circumstances” the stressful element that all this is occurs within the small space within which we actively live. The water heater described above resides under Leslie’s and my bed. Every evening, the home has to be put together (mostly), and every morning, it gets pulled back apart. It’s like converting your garage into your bedroom/kitchen/living room at night and back into a garage during the day. Although the conversion takes only about 20 minutes, it’s very disruptive and adds to the pressure of wanting to get the boat closer to completion while making living aboard as comfortable, or more accurately, not so uncomfortable as possible. Consequently, with living where I work, there’s little time off. If I have any energy, I find I want to employ it toward preparing or finishing the boat. Leslie questions whether I’ll ever be satisfied. I know I will. I see the end. I have the components I want, I just need to get what we’ve purchased installed or stowed on board, and then learn how to use them and teach the family how to use them.
The pressure to finish is 24/7, which provides few mental days off, which creates another problem: all work and no play makes daddy a grouch. Bryce, taking a line from a YouTube video, says I suffer from “relaxed a_ _hole face,” the expression my face takes when I’m thinking about things. So it’s apparent to my kids that I need to add balancing life’s priorities to my to-do list. A couple of weeks ago, while Leslie drove to LA to take care of some business and meet up with some colleagues, I made it a play day with Bryce and Trent and chose not to feel guilty. It was great. Trent remarked to me, “Dad, you’re smiling,” letting me know I was succeeding in my effort to change my “relaxed” facial expression. I guess the real work is in effectively balancing multiple priorities.