Position: 36°49’11″N 28°18’25″E
With Carol back from swanning around Europe with friends and family, and my return from the hardscrabble world of consulting in the United States, it is time to grease our elbows and get down to the work of prepping Aleta for the season.
The benefit of doing the work ourselves is we save money, and we get to keep any new tools we purchase. There is a rule of jobs on the boat. A rule mirrored by jobs on the land. That is, any project requires every tool you own – and then some. And, as my buddy Mark points out, every project demands a new tool. This time we invested in a Bosch GPO 14CE Professional Polisher.
This 220V monster of a buffer took at least five YouTube viewings to fully understand. Friendly guys in the videos (all boat detailers are guys, apparently) teach you the finer points of slapping on compound and machine polish, setting the right RPM and getting the perfect finish without ‘hologramming’. See? Once you nail the lingo, you’re legit!. Strikes me that an enterprising group of young women could probably corner this market, assuming they were willing to pander to some baser male instincts. A career in boat buffing builds upper body strength and offers lots of fresh air and sunshine in warm, exotic places like Florida. I digress.
Needless to say, Carol huffily ignored my suggestion she don a bikini, fire up the buffer and polish Aleta while I videoed her for our next vlog post. ‘We could pay someone to do this, you know.’ Yeah, but then we wouldn’t have an excuse for a new tool. Left to get on with it in a pair of torn cargo shorts and an old t-shirt I soon learned the joys of flinging off machine polish and splattering everything in a 10’ radius.
By the time I’d reached Aleta’s stern I was feeling more confident, and she was showing the benefits. Where her paint had been a dull, lacklustre greyed red, she shone brilliantly enough for me to read my wristwatch in her reflection. Five years of hard sailing dialled back to fresh Vivid Red in less than a full day’s effort. Not bad. More importantly, I turned a nice shade of bronze after all those hours in the sun. While up there, I took the opportunity to change our hailing port lettering. Carol kept herself occupied by cleaning the stainless steel and waxing lyrically – with a microfibre cloth.
With our relaunch date looming we had to prioritize our list and focus on things best done on the hard. Replacing the (k)not-a-meter involves taking the old one out of its through-hull and shoving a new one in its place. In theory you can do that afloat as long as you’re willing to control a column of water three feet high in the main salon. The puzzle was, where did the new (k)not-a-meter plug in? Following the old wire took me back to the engine room and on towards the binnacle. That’s a good 35’ of fishing around in the bilge. Its boring, dusty work, but it keeps the captain occupied.
Speaking of dirty work, cleaning the hoses in the head comes right at the bottom of the list of fun things to do at sea. That’s why I only tackle it every five years, or so. Briefly, you tear the hoses from their connections, take them outside and whale on them with your trusty orange mallet until all the crystalized whatevers fall out. Then reattach. Simple, as long as you understand you’ll need every tool in the boat and a new antisiphon u-bend assembly because you’ll drop the rubber valve doohickey for the one you’re cleaning out and they aren’t sold separately. (Ask me how I know such dark nautical mysteries.)
Our prodigal engine returned! Triumphantly painted in Ford Red, she is now plumbed and ready for business. At least she started on land. Saturday is the sea trial. That’s when any number of things could seize and explode. Or it could all go smoothly. We are hoping for the latter.
We have coped with all this upheaval by living in town and commuting each morning via the coffee shop. It is shoulder season and oddly quiet here. No doubt the war in the Ukraine is depressing tourism. Both Russians and Ukrainians made up the majority of tourists here in the past few years. We rented a four bedroomed house for less than your local No-Tell Motel. Come visit. If you can get here by Sunday, you can have your own bathroom.