As our one-year anniversary of living in the boatyard neared, I told my friends that we were planning to celebrate the event. Most of them looked at me as though I’d sprouted two heads. “You haven’t been able to launch your boat after working on it for a whole year, and you want to celebrate this fact?”
They rolled their eyes, but they came anyway.
That morning, we had begun installing the first three portlights. “Which side do we do first?” Barry asked. “The port side, of course!” My reasoning? The picnic table and barbecue grill were on the port side, so our guests would be able to admire our shiny bronze ports.
As usual, the work took longer than expected. We were still cleaning up messy black butyl and white polysulfide caulk as the guests began to arrive. We never made it to the showers, and the interior never got cleaned up. We hoped our friends wouldn’t come up on the boat and notice.
But as we fired up the grill and set out the appetizers, the first raindrops began to fall, and there was no place to go but up the ladder into the boat. The scene inside Flutterby was a disaster — there were tools and parts and clothes everywhere, and dishes were piled up from several meals. We quickly passed out drinks, hoping to distract our guests from the boat’s condition. We kept them busy, too: All hands were needed to man buckets and towels under the starboard portlights, which at that point were gaping 5- by 12-inch holes in the side of the cabin.
The storm passed fairly quickly and the party moved back outside, and nobody gave us a hard time about the condition of our interior. Our friends have very low standards, or else they’re very kindhearted. Given the gifts I received at the party (my birthday had been the day before), I think it’s the latter.
Over the next few days, I took stock of our one-year situation. I have learned and accomplished a lot, including the following things that I didn’t know I needed to experience:
- I got stuck in the lazarette (despite #3.2), had a panic attack, and had to be extricated by Barry. Have you ever noticed that the word “extricate” never has a happy connotation?
- I sprained my ankle three times, once while stuck in the lazarette having a panic attack.
- I broke one toe, lost 13 pounds, and cut off a foot (of hair).
- I took one belly dance lesson. I would have taken more, except for #2 and #3.1, above.
- I have handled carpenter bees in the ladder, a mud-dauber wasp trying to build a nest under the chart table, and a black widow spider in my water pitcher. These are all potentially harmful insects, and they did not make me scream. On the other hand, every 3-inch palmetto bug that ran across my galley counter made me shriek loudly, to Barry’s discomfort (if he sat further away, I wouldn’t be shrieking in his ear…see #7).
- I became on intimate terms with Mr. Dremel, Mr. Orbital Sander, Mr. Makita Drill, and Mr. Jigsaw. I am now on speaking terms with Mr. Angle Grinder, and I’m getting to know Mr. Fein.
- I found myself occasionally not on speaking terms with my husband, who is rarely more than 6 feet away from me. He can operate any power tool one-handed while lying on his back with his eyes closed in the coffin-shaped pilot berth, which I find maddening.
- I fell in love with my full-face organic vapor respirator but found that it’s impossible to kiss someone or scratch your nose while wearing one.
- I figured out that if you don’t protect the zipper of your Tyvek suit with tape, sometimes you drip epoxy on it and can’t get your clothes off.
- I have learned to tolerate, but not enjoy, galley faucet roulette. I never know if the water is going to come out in an orderly fashion, as gravity and the universe intended, or if it’s going to explode violently into the cup I am holding, causing lemonade to erupt like Mount Vesuvius all over the front of my shirt. This is why I no longer buy pink lemonade.
- I no longer think it’s unusual to wear hearing protection earmuffs while cooking dinner because Barry is operating loud power tools (see #6) three feet away. It’s easy to burn things when you can’t hear them sizzling in the skillet, which makes the smoke alarm go off, which is OK, because I’m wearing my earmuffs. Barry always wishes he was wearing earmuffs when a palmetto bug runs across the counter (see #5).
- I learned that when the Sriracha chili sauce gets clogged, one should not simply squeeze the bottle harder. When I did, the lid exploded off, and I let out a loud, four-letter expletive. At this point, Barry looked up from his computer and said, alarmed, “Please tell me that’s not your blood!” To him, it looked like an unplanned amputation.
Most importantly, I discovered that some of the nicest people in the world are found in boatyards, hardware stores, lumberyards, and vegetable stands. This, coupled with the miraculous fact that we have not had to buy anything at West Marine, explains why I still have a sense of humor after a whole year.