Maybe you’ve heard the saying about the right length of boat – that it should be the wife’s age in feet. I’m the wife in this story, but I was the one who chose our boat, and I laughed at this rule and decided to ignore such stupid nonsense.
I was a precocious child, probably to the point of being annoying, but ever since becoming an adult I’ve always felt younger than my years. When I was buying the boat I was feeling so young and excited and enthusiastic that if the boat’s length really had matched my mental age I would have ended up with a 12 foot dinghy instead of the 25 foot sailboat that I eventually bought.
But lately I’ve had to admit that I wish I’d been a little more honest about my age… I’ve caught myself thinking our boat is too small. The size doesn’t matter when we’re sailing, particularly as our boat performs like a much bigger boat under sail, but doing any kind of refit and renovation in such a small interior space is a pain in the – well, everywhere, really!
Working on our boat this spring, evenings and weekends on end, meant a few hundred times of climbing up a ladder to get to the deck of our boat that stood in our backyard. And climbing down the companionway stairs to get inside the boat. Now she’s back in the water but the refit is still ongoing, and so is the climbing – only now it’s different kind of climbing, up and down over the bow pulpit.
There’s no room to stand up inside the boat. Stooping kills your back in the long run. All the existing systems have been installed with a great deal of imagination into the tiniest and most remote nooks and crannies of the boat. I’ve spent countless hours in the depths of the pipe berths tightening bolts and untangling bilge hose. Torture on your elbows and knees! It’s dark and cramped – but at least now I know I don’t suffer from any degree of claustrophobia! There’s very little space to store any tools or parts, so you have to keep going back and forth to fetch them, only to realize you still forgot something and have to climb back to get it.
After a couple of weeks of intensive work I started to notice a strange grinding sound every now and then while climbing the ladder, but figured it was the screws, nuts and shackles rattling in my pockets that I was always carrying around. But one evening I was climbing the stairs in our house, wearing only a bathrobe, and I yep – I could still hear the rattle!
Turns out the sound comes from my knee. A really funny sound. There’s no pain whatsoever, that’s why it took me so long to locate the source.
Having owned several old cars I’m familiar with the funny sounds they develop over the years. Perhaps I’ll apply the same approach to my knee that I used to those cars – wait if any other symptoms appear, such as blue smoke or loud bangs, otherwise keep going just like before. Except in this case, I can actually take it a little easier than before. Remember, we now have a roller furling genoa, and there’s no need for me to crawl on my knees on the deck anymore!
The boat projects will soon be completed. The interior still looks like a ground zero but all it needs is a little tender loving care – just to hide the ugly hoses and pipes that seem to fill the entire boat. And maybe throw a few nicely coloured cushions around!
I bet my recent birthday inspired me to write about age and boat size. Having just heard my first squeaks and creaks I’m starting to learn what the saying “old age does not come alone” means. But I’m pretty sure that by the time we get to do our first test sail I’ll be feeling like a 25-year-old again, and the boat will be just the right size and shape for us. Then maybe one day in the future I will pretend to be, well, say 36 or 38 and choose our next boat accordingly!