I was sanding a closet door that was heavy with old glue. It had held a repugnant, dirty, old mirror the other day and would soon have sepia tone photos of our grand-kids in the mirror’s place. After first attempting to heat gun and scrape the glue off, we realized I needed to sand it off. Since we purged most of our things prior to moving onto the boat, we no longer had a belt sander. I was using a drill with a sanding attachment. A man working on his boat walked by to get into his storage locker and we nodded to each other. A short while later he came up to me toting a belt sander, offered it up, and asked if it would be helpful. I politely declined because it felt odd to think about using someone’s tool when I didn’t even know his name.
Several days later, I was STILL sanding those stinking doors. (In my defense there were four of them and I had completed the first two by scraping, sanding, spackling and priming.) Our mechanic walked up to me and asked if I wanted a better sander. I said I didn’t think so. He insisted on showing my how much easier it would be and offered to do it for me since it would be SOOOO quick. It wasn’t. The glue was just heating up and moving around, not actually coming off. So then he said he knew exactly what I needed, grabbing a tool off another worker who had been using the thing a few minutes before. I wasn’t sure he was done with it, but I guess he was going to have to be now. Anyway, as he is showing me how to use it; it’s obvious that it’s not the easiest thing to control. So he says to me, “You just have to be careful and hold it firmly.” He walks away and I try it. It was, of course, bucking wildly in MY hands. So I reverted to my way.
My point here…what was my point? Shoot! Oh, neither of those guys had to offer to help. But as a group, “boat people” are really terrific human beings. Across the board. I will grant you they are mostly men and the older ones tend to call me “girly” or “girl” which irks me to no end. (Seriously. How? What? Aargg!) Being in a boat community, though, reminds me of being on the playground as a child. You know. Back in the day. You shared. You were polite. No one really worries about their “stuff.”
“You need to borrow my stuff? Here ‘ya go.”
“You need a ride to the store? Sure.”
“Let me help you with those ropes.”
“Why don’t you try this?”
“We already took that trip down river. You need to look out for ‘x’.”
“Can I help you carry that?”
“Here take these charts. I’m not going to use them again.”
Everyone is willing to share their knowledge, their tools, their good humor. Even those who live on their boats but are driving to work each day are more at ease than those workers I know with houses or apartments. Does the water relax people or are more relaxed folks attracted to boat life? Personally the water has relaxed us. Sure, I write all the time about the stresses of living on Nautical Dreamer. But compared to the stresses I HAD, I feel like a wimp talking about my issues now.
No doubt there are dashes of frustrating things and some are more harrowing than others. The whole marina debacle that landed us in a boat yard sanding closet doors in the first place, was pretty stressful. In case there is anyone out there that hasn’t heard the tale (and we have told it many, many times), here’s the story in a nutshell. We left the Rockwater Marina in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, to head down river. I was on land headed over to the refueling dock to grab lines while Rick headed over in the boat. All of a sudden he stopped dead in his tracks. I thought the engine died; it didn’t. He had run aground. In the marina. This isn’t supposed to happen. Being on a river, the area needs dredging periodically and apparently they hadn’t done it. So he backs off to get away from the area and backs into what turns out to be a concrete block that used to hold a buoy as a warning sign that it was shallow in that area. Thanks. We figured it out on our own BY RUNNING INTO IT. Sheesh. He attempted to move away from the block and couldn’t. He was stuck. I still thought there was something wrong with the engine and was worried he’d drift into the shipping lane with no way to escape oncoming traffic. I was panicked and my phone was on the boat, so no communication other than his shouting unintelligibly at me. Then all of a sudden, the beast holding him let go and he managed to get over to the refueling dock where we called the owner of the marina. He realized he should have told us about that low area. When he arrived to check things out he said that, of course, he would make it right (a huge relief).
We contacted the mechanic that had done some work for us earlier. He instructed us to make our way, if we were able, to the Little Rock Yacht Club where they had a lift and he could check us out. He felt any damage was already done and it wouldn’t harm the boat additionally to drive to the yacht club. Plus, it was a pricey prospect to tow it. Even though the marina owner was paying, we didn’t need to run up a bill. We pulled away from the dock and ran aground again spitting up rocks even though it was in a different area of the marina. As we headed out of the marina I kept hearing this clicking sound back by the propellers; but we kept our fingers crossed as we limped through a lock and up river to the yacht club.
They pulled it out the same day and OH. MY. WORD. Visualize this. Better yet, just look.
Attached to the concrete block was 9-feet of half-inch round metal cable that originally held the buoy but now was just a hazard. When Nautical Dreamer hit the concrete, it snagged the cable in its propellers. The cable immediately wrapped around the propellers since they were in motion. As Rick tried to escape he eventually snapped the cable but the damage was done. The clicking I heard was the cable moving around with the propellers.
Both propellers were damaged and one of the drive shaft struts was cracked. The mechanic was concerned the drive shaft might be damaged. In addition, there was water leaking in through the rudder shaft packing seals that needed to be repaired and dried out. The closest shop that could recondition the propellers was in Florida, so we were in for at least two weeks of waiting. We couldn’t stay on the boat, so we went in search of a hotel. We also needed a car since the yacht club was out of the way and using Uber every day would be a $40 round-trip. We had just stocked the freezer and refrigerator and although we ran a line to keep it running, all the fresh fruit and veggies went bad. We had to eat out every day. This was unexpected to say the least and totally messed with my dietary needs. We contacted the owner to give them the estimate for the repairs and let them know our hotel and car expenses along with food to be determined. They offered to put us up in the “nicest hotel in Little Rock” but we had already prepaid through Hotwire to get a good rate.
Since we were stuck, we worked on a few projects while we waited and lumbered back to the hotel at night. It stunk. But the people. The people were terrific. Every day we would meet someone new. It usually went like this. “Good morning! I’m so-and-so. You’re the ones who had that trouble at the other marina?” “Yeah, that’s us,” we’d reply. Then we’d talk for a while, explain what happened and how great the owners were being. Eventually, offers of assistance in some form would be thrown out, which we appreciated and we’d part ways. If nothing else, living on a boat is renewing my belief in humanity.
The boat is in the water now, but we had plans to travel to see family for Thanksgiving so we haven’t moved yet. Besides, we missed a window of opportunity to go through the lock at Lake Pontchartrain by New Orleans. It’s closed for repairs right now. So we decided to wait it out rather than going around it, which adds 300 miles. So here we’ll sit. Little Rock does not want to let go. That’s okay. We’ve been invited to the annual potluck holiday party at the yacht club. Cool beans.