Sep 082013

It’s been about three weeks on the Spirit now.  I’ve had some time to settle in, look around, and figger out what needs to be done and in what order.  I think.  As for comfort and livability, the boat is fine.  Plenty of room, the berths are large enough to sleep without feeling confined, and the longer I stay here, the easier it will be to find places to put the little bit of stuff that I have.  The cats have adjusted well, although the extra rocking sometimes scares them, but they will be fine.  There have been a few disputes over territory given the small quarters but all in all, they have settled down.

So, now to get on with the fixin’ and stuff.  Overall, there are not a lot of things to do, but there are things that will need tending too as soon as finances allow.  I’ve decided on what to do first and what to leave until later.

Getting the boat into sailing condition has become number one.  I get the motor in a couple of weeks and assuming it runs ok, I will have power to get in and out of the marina as needed.  As for the sailing end of it, the mast is almost done.  All I need are new halyards and some very minor bits to finish up and I can raise it back up and get it out of the way.  This is important as the mast is sitting on the hatch,making it difficult to get in and out of the cabin. Once it is up and the boom is attached, I can slide the hatch back and forth and get in and out much more better.

I could take the time and do more to the mast.  Sand down the black paint that is still on it, add a windvane, anchor light, and maybe a radio antenna to the top, but finances dictate otherwise and that is a low priority project that will have to wait for another time.  I don’t plan on anchoring out any where soon and a hand held radio will do just fine.  It’s also highly unlikely I will be sailing anywhere out of sight of land, meaning that the radio will function fine and these days, cell phones are becoming more important.  I’ve picked up a signal as far away as Boca Grande on a good day.

So for now, get the mast up.  Then next:  fix, repair, or replace the remaining running rigging.  This is all the stuff that handles the lines to adjust the sails.  Some parts will need replaced, others I am hoping I can repair.  For example, the big block and fiddle that handles the main sheet for the boom is in good shape, just the wheelie things need replaced.  If I can replace said wheelie things that saves about $100 over replacing the whole part.  Big difference.  There is not a lot of rigging on this boat, so it won’t be that big of a job.  I made a trip into town yesterday and while there stopped by the fancy new West Marine store on the corner of Grinnell and Caroline.  It’s twice the size of the old store and they carry a full wall of sailing rigging including rebuild kits for the blocks.  So I will be able to get what I need with little problem.

Once all that is done, I will need to attach and raise the sails to see what shape they are in.  The former owner assures me that the sails are in good shape and he has no idea where the shard of sail came from.  I hope they are useable for now as replacement sails are not cheap.  One good thing, I can probably use the sails off a similar boat like a Macgregor/Oday/Catalina that would fit fine.  Still, I would prefer not to have to buy sails at this time.

Lastly, for the sailing end, is the rudder and tiller.  I hope I can refurbish the rudder blade, sand it down, new gel coat, and have it useable.  The tiller will be easy to fix.  Ideally, I would like to replace the whole assembly with a lighter non kick up style rudder, and there are places that will build them for you, but again, that whole money thing gets in the way.  So if I can get this rudder to work, it will at least keep me going until later.

Once all that is done, hopefully I will have an actual sailing type sailboat.  It would be pretty neat to be able to buzz out onto the cold, dark, heartless ocean and see how the wind pushes the Spirit around.  But then comes the big project…painting the hull.

Nothing will shine a boat up better than a good paint job.  But since I will be doing it, it will be a half-assed paint job.  But it will still look more better.  I want to paint the whole boat if possible.  New deck paint, the hull and the keel.  While it is out I can fix the centerboard, paint it, and attach the new cable.  This will be the most expensive project of the them all, probably well over $1000 by the time I am done.  No doubt I will find some other things to do while the boat is on the hard but the paint will be the priority.  If I can get that done, the boat will look presentable and I can stand a better chance of finding another marina to move to.  Which brings me to the next issue.

I mentioned that I had a talk with someone who works at another marina, another marina that is live aboard friendly and affordable.  My goal now is to try to get the Spirit up to speed and shape shipped to the point that I could move into said marina.  That’s why the priority of the projects and why the paint is so important.  A cleaned up boat, (at least on the outside), with new paint and working sails stands a more better chance of getting into a marina than a beat up old tub.  The only question is how soon could I make this happen.

Ideally, if I had the finances right now, I would go ahead and secure a slip at the other marina for the first of Oct., then go to work on the Spirit.  I would haul it out around the middle of the month so I would have about two weeks to complete what I need to do.  Then I could slide right in to the new slip and be all happy again.  But since finances are not cooperating, this is a plan that may not happen until next spring.  The closer we get to winter, the less chance of a slip being available due to all the snow birds coming down.  So rather than rush things, I will take my time, hopefully get some cash saved up and work on the boat a little bit at a time.  My only concern is what may or may not happen here at the Marina Of Doom.

I’m getting pretty fed up with how things are going here.  Little annoying things keep cropping up.  The deal with the electric billing, which I still have not been able to find an answer too yet.  The girl in the office did a great job of handling the billing and is one of the few people who work here who has pleasant personality.  And she is a Fritter fan.  Why they didn’t continue to use her for the functions she was so good at is beyond me.  (This is the HOA’s doing, not the marina’s).  Other things, like getting new security cameras and id cards for the bathhouse.  Sure, it’s more secure, but we have yet to get the id cards.  We can still access the bath house the old way, but it’s been three weeks since the readers were installed.  Communications between management and slip renters sucks.  We, who do not own, seem to be on the bottom when there is anything to be known.  I know they want to get rid of us and all but still, we should be at least be given the decency to be informed about anything going on here.  It’s wearing me down and is the major reason why I want to get the boat up to speed so I can get out of here.

He who shall not be named, has not been anywhere near the marina for a while.  Heard he was up in Alaska or something.  But I fully expect him to show up sometime this fall or winter and stir up the feces.  There has been no more talk of evictions or anything like that but I would not put it past him to pull some dick move and come in around the holidays with some sort of legal notice to throw us all out.  Just my mind set right now.  He seems like the type who would deliberately ruin everyone’s holiday season just to prove how massive powerful and all knowing he is.  It may or may not happen but my paranoia gives me the incentive to try and get the boat ready for just such an occasion as soon as possible.  If necessary, I could go live on the hook for a few months.  Not my first choice but at least I would save some rent money.

Anyways, getting back to the boat, once all the above is taken care of, I will have two main projects inside:  electrics and toilet.  Hopefully, the electrics are as in good as shape as they appear.  I am hoping all I will need to do is hook up a battery and have power to all that needs power.  Even if not, it should be a fairly easy fix to rewire stuff.  At least it’s all easy to get too.  Then all I will need to add is a solar panel and inverter and I should be in good shape.

The porta potti that I have on board is useable but too small.  I want to get something with a larger tank and then hook it up to a deck fitting for pumpout.  This is a pretty easy job and should cost around $200 for everything.  Only issue is the larger porta potti means that the cover for the v-berth may not fit, as the toilet will stick up too far.  Not a big deal as I am only using the v-berth for storage and the cats hang up there to sleep.

After all that is done, everything else to do on this boat will be maintenance, comfort, and cosmetic.  Keep the bottom cleaned every month.  Fix whatever needs fixin’.  Add in the occasional creature comfort as needed.  A smaller, simpler boat like this doesn’t take much and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to go with a boat this size.  The bigger the boat, the more stuff to take care of.

Money wise, I am budgeting about $2000 for everything.  That is assuming I don’t have to replace something big like a sail or new rudder, or if something unexpected crops up.  $2000 will stretch a long way in this boat.  About half of that will cover the haul out and paint, the other half should cover the rest.  Officially, I am starting the boat budget in September.  Even though I got the Spirit in August, the real spending starts this month.  So far I am only up to $58.  I try to take advantage of sales, used stuff, and bargains wherever I can find them.  The good thing about living here in the Keys is there are lots of resources to find parts locally.

The other reason I want to stay within that budget, or as close as I can, is so I can recover most of that cost when I sell the Spirit.  And let me be clear on something here.  Despite all these plans, and dreams, and nightmares about what I want to do with this boat, at anytime, no matter what, should a deal come along where I could sell/trade/purloin/acquire or otherwise find a more better situation, be it on the water, on land, on wheels or whatever, I will not hesitate to give the boat up for said better situation.  I like the boat.  I have no qualms about spending the money to fix it up, but it is still just a thing.  A possession that is currently giving me value in the form of a home.  When that value is no longer there, or I can find something that achieves the same purpose that has greater value at that time, I will get rid of the boat.  There are many things that I will spend money on for this boat that I may or may not be able to afford, but the one thing I cannot afford at any price is sentimentality over a possession.  No matter what I own, no matter how much I like it, there is always the chance that something more better will come along.  And I won’t allow something as stupid as sentiment to stand in the way.

So, that is where things stand at the moment.  I know what I need to do.  I know about what it will cost me to do.  All I need to do is make a few dollars and get at it.  None of these projects are such that I cannot tackle them myself.  The haul out and paint will be the big one.  Everything else I can pick at as money comes available and then hopefully, by next spring, or possibly sooner, the Spirit will be all shiny and pretty and ready for some of that on the water moving by air stuff I keep hearing about.  And maybe, just maybe, I will be in a new port, far away from the bullshit.  Or not.  Never know what will happen, but at least I have a plan.

Capt. Fritter

  One Response to “Living Aboard: Summing Up The Situation…”

  1. A plan is a good thing to have. It seems like life seldom goes according to plan, but…