It’s often struck me that owning a boat is a bit of a rollercoaster ride, only less predictable.
This past week is a prime example. Marty and I have been working madly on the boat to get it ready for its first outing, a trip to Blake Island with our friends Aaron and Nicole this weekend. The forecast looked stinky, but we didn’t care. We’ve been itching to take Three Sheets out since we bought her in September. A little rain wasn’t going to stop us.
We’d been anxiously awaiting the relaunch, and Wednesday was finally the big day. I drove over in the boatyard in the early afternoon and watched excitedly as Three Sheets was lowered into the water. It was the first time in two and a half months that she’d floated. After being hauled out in Mexico on Nov. 30, she’d spent time in a Mexican boatyard and a Tucson crane company yard before arriving in Seattle by truck on Jan. 3. Since then, she’s been at the yard for recommissioning, maintenance work and inevitably, a few unexpected repairs.
To see her hull touch the water was thrilling. I half expected to hear celestial voices and see the sun pop out from behind a cloud to shine down on her. Marty showed up soon after, smiling at the sight of our boat floating, finally, in Northwest waters. Our boat. In the water. In Seattle. It was slightly surreal.
We figured we’d take her out for a spin on Friday night to make sure the engine was working properly and then head for Blake on Saturday morning. Despite the rain, I couldn’t wait. I was sitting at my desk yesterday afternoon, pretending to write a story while thinking about what we should grill for dinner on the boat Saturday night (burgers? souvlaki?) when Marty called.
“I just talked to the guys at the yard. Something’s wrong with the engine,” he said.
“You have got to be kidding me,” I said.
Nope. He wasn’t kidding.
While replacing the impeller on the raw water pump, a yard worker noticed that the inside of the pump was badly corroded, meaning the pump housing needed to be replaced. Taking the boat out without doing that would run the risk of the pump malfunctioning, which could cause the engine to overheat and, possibly, fail.
In other words, no sailing this weekend. No drinking wine around a fire in one of Blake Island’s cabanas. No enjoying a view of the Seattle skyline from across the bay. No playing cribbage in a cozy salon. No onboard laughs with Aaron and Nicole. Crap. Crap. Crap.
Marty, always the optimist, took the disappointment in stride. With his usual glass-half-full take on things, he pointed out that we can use this weekend to hang sails, bring bedding and galley items down to the boat and get it ready to take out … next weekend. He gamely tried to cheer me up, but I wasn’t in the mood. A few Mount Gay and Cokes later I emerged from my funk, realizing there’s no point in sweating it.
Because if there’s one thing sailing teaches you—enforces upon you—it’s patience. If it’s not mother nature putting the smackdown on with a windless day, it’s yet another unanticipated and necessary repair that keeps you landlocked. And there’s the sailing itself: if you’re in a hurry to get from A to B, you’d best cool your heels and make yourself comfortable. Sailing is an apt metaphor for life, a reminder to just chill out and enjoy the ride.
So next weekend it is. Though forecasts in these parts are notoriously unreliable, AccuWeather is at the moment predicting mostly sunny weather next weekend. I’ll take it. And I’m pretty sure that once we finally get out there, all the waiting will be worth it.