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On Living Aboard

We were a little late this year getting Patty O’ ready for winter. There were some family issues that had to be addressed as well as some significant weather events that held us back. But it all got done albeit, not without a few problems. Patty O’ comes out of the water in fall for a bottom scrub and a coat of bottom paint if needed. I try to schedule this around the yards activity and for the past few years I’ve rented a power washer rather than use the yard’s. This makes our activity as transparent as possible for them. I aim for as early in the day as possible, so as to complete the job in the afternoon. It’s important to get this done in one day for one very good reason. The Blonde, my wife totally despises having to crawl up a ladder to get on and off the boat. In the event that this becomes necessary, I avoid tons of grief by renting a room at the motel just down the street. Not thinking it necessary this time, I planned to have everything ready and told the office I would be next to the Travelift well at eight in the morning. Eight came and went and I was just about to call the office and remind them that I was there, when a young man I didn’t recognize walked up and climbed onto the travel lift. “Hmmm.” I thought. “Must be the new guy.” He started the Travelift and ran it out onto the piers. Lowering the lift straps, he beckoned me to enter. Hmm. This wasn’t the normal way they do things here, usually, there were two other guys on the piers to handle lines. Beckoning me again, I eased forward. Once in, I was astonished to see that he was raising the straps. Standing and leaning out over the rail, I waved my hands in the universal signal to stop. He stopped and looked at me. Spreading his arms, he gave me a questioning look. Making a slashing motion across my throat, he got the message and shut down the loud engine on the lift. “What’s the problem?” he asked. “The problem is,” I answered, “That we haven’t positioned the straps.” Wooden boats like Patty O’ do not like to be lifted by a Travelift. They are much more comfortable in the water where there is an even stress on the hull. The two straps of the lift must be positioned correctly to minimize the stress. On Patty O’ the spray rails at the chine are notched to allow the straps to be correctly set very easily. Pointing this out to him, he said, “That isn’t necessary for the short time it’s gonna be out.” He restarted the engine, and I backed Patty O’ back out of the well. Shutting down the Travelift he shouted, “What the heck are you doing?” “On this boat.” I said, “The straps go into the notches, period.” “Look, pal,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I know what I’m doing.” Pulling out my phone, I hit speed dial for Ray the yard foreman. I saw the guy speaking into his radio. “Hey, what’s goin on?” Ray answered. Explaining the problem, he said he’d be right there. The guy in the Travelift sat back with his arms folded. Ray’s golf cart came around the corner and stopped next to the well. He got out and I could see that he and the guy were having a somewhat animated conversation. The guy pointed toward me and said something to Ray. Ray talked into his radio, and shortly, two men drove up in another cart. Ray climbed into the Travelift and motioned me to come into the well. The two guys walked out onto the piers and adjusted the straps into the notches. The first guy stood back and watched with his arms folded. Once the straps were tensioned around Patty O’, I stepped off the boat. Ray raised the straps and one of the men who had come after backed the yard dolly close to the well. Ray moved Patty O’ over the dolly and carefully lowered her. They then set the pads and moved her over to the side out of the way. “How long do you think you’ll be?” Ray asked. “Not too long.” I answered. “I’ll give her a good looking over, power wash the bottom and let you know. Should be ready to go before three.” “Ok.” He said. “Let me know. Sorry about Smith. He’s new and has a lot to learn.” I just shook my head. Walking around Patty O’ it soon became clear that this was going to be easy. I could see that a power wash was all that was going to be needed. Everything else looked pretty good. With the bottom power washed, there was little else that needed doing and by 2:30 were back in the water. I asked Ray if we could move to our winter dock and he said, “Don’t see why not.” In summer, we tie up at a dock at the far end of the yard, somewhat removed from the seasonal folks. It’s not that we are antisocial, but sometimes the hustle and bustle gets a little too much for us. In winter, we tie up on the inside of the gas dock. It’s a good choice because it’s mostly a mooring for us, keeping us off the dock. Another plus is that if the wind does go around it’s easy to rig a bridle to hold her off. The downside is that it’s a pier, and depending on the tide, it can be a climb to get off the boat. Mustard, the little Century runabout we tow behind us when we travel was already safely stored on her trailer inside my friend Ritchie’s barn. He is a cabinet maker who also builds custom furniture. He keeps a supply of exotic woods in his barn and is always on the lookout for more. He keeps the barn at 40 degrees in winter and vents it well in summer. He lets us keep Mustard in there for my assisting him when he needs an extra hand installing his cabinets. Works out well for both of us. Interestingly, there are no major projects for Mustard this winter. In other years, we’ve replaced the engine, gearbox, steering, fuel tanks and the list goes on. When we bought her, she had been stored for many years and required a complete rebuild. She is not, which many people assume, a restoration. There is little original remaining of her except her appearance. The few chilly nights we’ve had tested the diesel heater we installed last summer. So far it’s performed as expected. It needed a couple tweaks, but with the help of tech support, I was able to solve everything. The hard part was convincing them I was capable of making the adjustments. At first, they insisted that they send a technician to them to perform the adjustments. I did prevail, which gave me a better understanding of the whole system. It’s a delight not to have to deal with the ton of coal we used to have on hand, kept in the storage unit. We are not going to get rid of the coal stove yet, just in case. There are, however, several people who have expressed an interest in it when we do decide to move it along. We’re also behind in rigging the winter cover. Right now, the weather isn’t cooperating, more wind than I feel comfortable with, but it’s ready to go once things calm down a bit. It’ll be nice not to have to deal with the smoke stack for the coal stove. Now that we’re at our winter dock I’ve begun once more to wear my inflatable PFD all the time. That as well as the alert device. This makes the Blonde very happy, and as the saying goes, “If the Blonde ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.”

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