for lists of: work done
and projects remaining
is a popular saying among sailors about planning boat projects: Make
your best conservative estimate, then double the cost and triple
the time. In my experience that is an understatement.
I bought the ketch Silverheels she was 29 years old, structurally sound but sparsely equipped and generally neglected by her former owner.
Refitting, as in renovating, refurbishing, and substantially renewing
her stem to stern and masthead to keelson, turned out to require a
good deal more money, time, learning
and plain hard work than I had anticipated in spite of my years
of experience messing around with boats. And yet I can honestly
say I wound up enjoying the process immensely and I am gratified by the results.
began working on Silverheels in December of 2006, while she was
on the hard in Indiantown Marina, before I even owned her,
fixing little problems as I found them during my personal,
week-long survey of the boat. Of course, the work kicked
into high gear as soon as the purchase was completed a few days
after Christmas and it has not stopped since.
we arrived at Green Cove Springs Marina (www.GCSmarina.com) in late January and got to
work in earnest on the refit, I had a pretty extensive list of
what I intended to do. At that time I was still clinging to the
illusion that I'd get most of it done in the next 4 months so that
I could spend the summer cruising. I wasn't even remotely close to
grasping the reality of it yet.
A handful of
hired professionals helped me in the early stages. The local
Yanmar dealer installed a brand new diesel engine.
old sailing buddy, Captain Ray Jason, did virtually all of the
new paint work and a long list of other jobs large and small.
Jerry Evans, a master craftsman with fiberglass, sealed up the
many holes I opened in Silverheels' bottom during my campaign to
reduce the number of thru-hull fittings, plus a couple of other jobs
well done. Canvas workers made
sail covers, awnings, bimini top and dodger; a few other craftsmen contributed their skills.
Aside from those
opening salvos, I did virtually everything else myself. It was
voluminous, but I
don't mean it to sound onerous. On the contrary, I soon grew to enjoy the work most days,
really enjoy it. It was and continues to be endlessly
challenging and wonderfully gratifying.
I'd wake up excited every
morning, anxious to get back to it. This joyful mind set was
largely the result of a practice I privately dubbed Zen and the Art of Boat
Renovation. Eckhart Tolle, the spiritual teacher from whom I'm
techniques and a good deal more, calls it presence. The trick was
to keep my consciousness, my
attention, focused entirely on whatever I was doing at that moment.
This practice not only brought joy - en-joy-ment - to the job at
hand and the boat renovation in general, but to my life as a
whole. It was never about "getting the boat done." It was
those of you interested in details, click these links for partial
lists of (1) the work done as of
February 01, 2017 and (2) things to
do. These mostly mention the more significant
improvements, but some ordinary maintenance is also listed. In between I've done hundreds of
smaller jobs that I didn't bother to list. The never-ending,
routine maintenance chores common to all boats are largely
omitted. What's left gives some small indication of the scope of
the refit, but if you have never had the pleasure
of doing this kind of work you can scarcely imagine how deceptive are
simple phrases like "re-plumb and re-wire bilge pump" or
"icebox compartment insulation upgrade." In that sense
these lists are brief to the point of misleading. Every job on a
boat takes longer than you ever dreamed possible, and each one
begets 5 more that you never anticipated. The good news is,
"done" list eventually grew much longer than the
"to-do" list. Silverheels is sound and seaworthy now and there is ample
time to simply enjoy her.