Larry and I agreed. We’d know we were rich when we could afford to hire someone else to scrub and antifoul the bottom of Taleisin. and any of the other boats in our lives. Ahhh! the luxury of watching someone else getting wet and dirty from head to toe as they attacked the smelly green growth, the barnacles and weeds with scrubbers, scrappers and sandpaper. For the past eight or ten years of our boating lives, I’ve been according to this simple criteria, rich. Larry hasn’t been quite as rich since he is a bit picky about how the antifouling should be applied to ensure a boats bottom is smooth and fair. Until recently, he’s often ended up with bright red or blue anti-fouling paint on his hands and on the shirt he should have changed before he got involved in finishing the job on which ever of our small fleet of boats that needed cleaning. Unfortunately, due to the problems of island life, someone else’s good fortune reversed ours.
It is difficult to find casual workers on an island with less than 70 full time residents. To get someone from the mainland becomes very expensive since just the ferry ride across is about $45 (US dollars) round trip. But until two weeks ago our cruising friends helped us solve this problem. Every southern summer season for the past seven years, one or the other of two young cruising couples sailed south from the Pacific islands to avoid the hurricane season and came to stay in here at our little boatyard on Kawau Island. Each was eager to earn “freedom chips” so they could carry on cruising. There has always been a fair amount of work to keep them busy at our place and our neighbors were glad to fill their time too. One couple, after four years in what is often called the Pacific Cruising Gyre, (The seasonal circuit between the many islands of the South West Pacific and New Zealand or Australia) decided it was time to explore farther afield and headed towards Africa. Then last week, the second couple, had an unexpected, too good to turn down offer for their boat. Like most long distance cruisers, they’d already been thinking of someday finding “the next more perfect boat.” It was a bit sad to say such a sudden farewell to Daniel and Michelle Bramwell, who we have come to like for many reasons beyond the good work they did for us. But we could fully understand their desire to have a complete change from their cruising life and fly to the US so Michelle could spend time with her family while they plan the next step in their lives.
Easter is approaching. We know someone, be it us or friends, will want to take Felicity our little Herreshoff 12 ½ out to join the fleet for the annual regatta. We talked about this as Larry and I were skimming across Kawau Bay on her one afternoon last week. Then Larry commented, “she feels a bit sluggish in these light winds. Wonder if she’s got some growth on her bottom?” As soon as we had her secured to our pontoon alongside the jetty, I climbed out and took a look. His premonition was correct, green scum plus an interesting tail of weeds covered her rudder. I got on the phone and called every one of the usual casual workers I could think of, all either busy or off sailing. No one but yours truly to do the job. I know, she’s just a small boat – so what’s the big deal?
Here’s the big deal – small or large, it seems you need the same number of tools to attach the job – one I remember with distaste. But, Larry and I used the need to move Felicity to a tidal grid as an excuse for one more bit of sailing. After a delightful beat out of the cove, a fast run back in, we secured her in position so that when the tide went out, she could lay safely on her bilge (careened). Then, as I waited for the tide to ebb, I began gathering weapons – scrappers, stiff brushes, heavy duty pot scrubber, hose, boots. Larry began thinking about masking tape, rollers, brushes.
As soon as the water alongside her was shallow enough so it wouldn’t pour over the tops of my boots, I began scrapping and scrubbing, splashing the water around my feet up onto the hull to wash away the mangled sea-creatures and scum. Then a strange thing happened. I began to hum. My mind began to picture other times when Larry and I had cleaned and antifouled our boats in strange ports in far away places, the funny incidents that had occurred, the reward we’d received from our hard work when Taleisin stood looking spruce and clean, ready to head out to sea once again.
Then misfortune struck. My boots, which had not been used in about a year, decided to split. But the water was warm. Felicity’s starboard side was more than half scrubbed. The boots still protected my feet from the barnacles and oyster shells. So I carried on, encouraged by Larry who came down onto the foreshore to give me a hand.
Unfortunately, the foreshore beneath our tidal grid has a thick layer of relatively sticky mud. I turned to tell Larry where I’d set the spare scrapper. I took a step toward him. My boot didn’t move. I did, unto my hands and knees with splashes of soft mud spurting up to dot my shirt and hair. But the water was warm. I didn’t get cut by any oyster shells or barnacles. Since I was already wet and muddy I no longer worried about getting onto my knees to scrape right down under the turn of the keel or in the tight corners between the sternpost and rudder. As I’ve found many times in the past, once I was truly dirty – I no longer cared one bit about getting even dirtier.
So I guess it’s time to re-evaluate my definition of rich. As my mother used to say when I fell and skinned my knees, “You’re lucky to be fit and active enough to get out and risk skinning your knees.” So though I am still looking to hire someone to tackle Taleisin’s bottom when the Southern Hemisphere spring rolls around, I know I am rich because I have special boats to care for, the ability to use them, and a hot shower to rinse off the mess when I’m done.
Hope your haulouts and antifouling jobs go smoothly,
Lin and Larry