Major Surgery

There is one simple fact that every boater knows. Boats need work. Sometimes it's a lot of work and sometimes it's just general maintenance, but either way, they need work. Our boat is no different. During our 3 months of sailing through the San Juan Islands this past summer, we had the usual doo-dads and gizmos that needed tweaking. Most of the time I could do some quick boat Yoga (contorting into tiny compartments) and either twist a wrench or swap a part and then we were good to go. Brenda tells me that I'm pretty handy to have around, and I have to admit, I am. I am pretty good at fixing junk. You have to be when you own a 30 year old piece of junk...I mean a 30 year old boat. But sometimes there are things that pop up that even my handy skills can't fix.

During our 3 months of sailing this past summer, 2 big things reared their ugly heads. First, our diesel tank started leaking into the engine room. It wasn't a fire hose type of leak, it was more of a slow trickle that we could catch with some rags, but a leak nonetheless. One of the big problems with a diesel leak, other than the obvious problem that diesel is leaking out of a tank that it's supposed to stay in, is that it makes the boat smell of diesel. Not good. No wife in her right mind wants to live with a smelly guy in a smelly boat. The other even bigger problem is that to fix that tank, the boat needs to be cut apart because the interior of the boat was built around and on top of that tank. Bummer.

The second ugly problem has to do with our know, the big metal pole that sticks out of the center of the boat. Well, it's bent. We don't know exactly how it became bent but we have our theories that involve the previous owner and an accident that we found out about after we bought the boat. Really, it doesn't even matter how it became bent because it just needs to be fixed. If we were going to be sailing around the Northwest for the rest of our lives, we could live with a slightly tweaked mast, but since we are heading to Mexico in a handful of months and then across the mighty Pacific after that, a tweaked mast isn't the best thing to have. We don't want the mast to come down on us in a storm in the middle of the ocean so we are biting the bullet and fixing it now.

These 2 things constitute major surgery. I've practiced my boat Yoga skills and have contorted into more positions in the last few days than I thought were humanly possible during the dismantling of the engine room. I've removed plumbing, wiring, exhaust, parts of the engine, and cut holes in bulkheads so we could get to the tank. We then hired a guy to pump the diesel from the tank, cut access holes in the tank, and then epoxy coat the inside of the tank (he's a great guy and does great work, and if you are a boater in need of a tank repair, email me and I'll get you his number). In a couple of days, the diesel will get pumped back into the boat and we'll see how the repair holds. Then it will be more Yoga and reassembling all the junk that was taken apart.

The mast is a whole other story. After hiring a crane to pull it out of the boat, we found out it is unfortunately un-repairable. We need a new one. A serious bummer. A sailboat mast isn't something that grows on trees and it's not something that I can build, so we are shopping around and looking for quotes from the handful of manufacturers that can make us one. We have a handful of months before we need the new mast to be in the boat, because without a mast, our sailboat is just a boat and there will be no sailing to Mexico.

You might think that we have been spending all of our free time working on our boat since we got back from the South Pacific. Well, that's not the case. Being retired means that we should spend more time having fun than working on stuff, and since we are retired, we follow that rule. We've just spent a handful of days drifting down the Cowlitz River, chasing salmon, and camping on it's shores with good friends. Before that, we spent a handful of days doing the same thing on the Skagit River. It's fall and that has always meant salmon fishing in the rivers to me.

Most people have a hobby or two. Me, I have about 30. But there are a few of those hobbies that I could do every day and not get tired of them. Skiing...yep. bet. Fishing...uh huh, but with conditions. I'm not the kind of guy who will sit on a dock on a lake and wait for a trout to bite. Nope, I want to chase a big salmon down a river in a boat powered by oars. Partly because I just love being on a fast moving river, reading the currents, and working the boat, but also, it means I get to spend time with good friends who love being there too.

Brenda and I feel pretty lucky to have some amazing friends (you are probably reading this right now). In our past year and a half of traveling, our friends and family are what we have missed. The best part of drifting down a river, chasing salmon, and camping on it's shores, is that we get to catch up with some of these people. For the few days that these people are with us, they are captive. They are ours. It's a boat on a river after all, and they can't get off. It's great. I'm going to lie right here and tell you that I don't really care if I catch a fish (I do really care...ask Brenda, she'll tell you that I'm grouchy if I don't catch something). Really, it's just great to be out on a beautiful river, in the fresh air, and with good friends.

From the look on Brad's face, he either just farted, or he told Brenda another fish story.

Brenda caught a whopper.  I think this is called a grass fish but I'm not really sure.

I caught a treat fish...mmmmmmm...Reese's.

A salmon that is just about to be in the boat.  We named him dinner.

Brad is workin' the oars.

Lief "fish lips" Peterson and his catch.

Brad with a monster Chinook and Lief checking the Seahawks score on his phone.

Another salmon coming in the boat.

This is me removing the rigging from our old mast so it can go to recycling.  Good bye old mast.  You'll be missed.


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