The Passport Project: Part 14 (Lost summer)

A work in progress: we’re knocking down the boat projects, slowly but surely.

Summer always goes too fast in the sun-starved Northwest, but this year it’s whizzing by at a blur.

That’s because as soon as we bought our 1985 Passport 40, Meridian, in early April, we were immediately sucked into the boat project vortex. We’ve barely come up for air since.

We managed to get out on the boat for a 10-day shakedown cruise in July (when we discovered more things to fix, naturally), but other than that it’s been at the dock, where we’ve been spending almost all of our spare time sanding and cetoling, rebedding and replacing.

Last summer was all about watching sunsets from the cockpit and walking the docks looking at other boats. That now seems like a distant, lovely memory, all soft focus and blurred pink-orange around the edges.

This year, we’re boring boat slaves without social lives. We’ve gone AWOL on our friends. We’ve missed birthday parties, barbecues and rendezvous. Emails go unreturned for days. Dinner gets eaten around 9:00. I haven’t seen my in-laws, who I really do like, in months.

We’ve passed up racing, crabbing, sunny afternoon sails and other fun that people with boats should be having, or what’s the point in having a boat at all?

Of course, this is all self-imposed. And obviously anyone fortunate enough to live in this beautiful part of the world (which in itself would be enough) and have a great partner and family and friends and own a sailboat, to boot, should drink a large cup of STFU instead of complaining.

So I don’t mean to whinge. I’m just saying it’s been a stupidly busy few months. Stopping to smell the roses is a rare event these days that feels like forced frivolity. I want authentic frivolity, not the type I have to remind myself to make time for.

I also realize that Marty and I could be less ambitious about the number of projects we want to get done this year. But we knew when we bought Meridian that it was a project boat, and the more items we can knock off the list this summer, the less daunting the list will seem.

And neither of us — especially Marty, who’s duty-bound to a fault — can’t stand half-finished projects. I suppose that’s better than the opposite extreme.

Also, there’s a window of momentum after buying a boat when you’re extra-motivated to get projects done. By next spring, after we’ve moved back into our townhouse for the fall and winter and not been working on the boat nights and weekends, we’ll have fallen out of the routine. So it’s just easier to get things done now.

It seems like much longer than four and a half months ago when we sold our old boat, an Island Packet 38, and bought Meridian. When I stop and think about it, we’ve gotten a lot done during that time. That includes:

  • Ripping up the old teak decks and replacing them with non-skid ones (hired a shipwright and worked alongside him)
  • Rebedding much of the deck hardware
  • Installing a hydronic heater (hired someone; way too complex for us to tackle)
  • Replacing the lenses on two overhead hatches
  • Rebedding all of the exterior rings on our bronze portholes and replacing the lenses on two fixed portlights
  • Refinishing and reinstalling teak and bronze handholds
  • Switching lights from incandescant to LEDs (ongoing)
  • Installing a new stove (yippee!)
  • Installing a new water heater
  • Sanitizing our freshwater system
  • Intalling a vented loop for the head
    Installing a long-distance WiFi antenna (we are a website, after all)
  • Stripping the toerail, rubrail and eyebrows and applying five coats of Cetol
  • Stripping, reoiling and greasing the main winches
  • Removing seams from cockpit teak pads and redoing them (ongoing)
  • Cleaning up some wire runs
  • Draining, flushing and replacing engine coolant
  • Replacing leaking locker-drain thruhull
  • Rewiring navigation lights in the forepeak
  • Removing, rebedding and replacing the seals on our Lighthouse windlass
  • Regalvanzing and marking 300 feet of anchor chain
  • Installing a new Rocna main anchor
  • Replacing the hose and fixing the deck washdown pump
  • Replacing fresh and saltwater foot pumps and their faucets in the galley
  • Rebuilding the turning blocks that run lines back to the cockpit
  • Fixing the dinghy davits
  • Replacing battery isolator
  • Refinishing the shower stall and the revarnishing the shower seat (with help)
  • Having new cushions made (hurray!)

All of this was on top of an extensive list of projects the previous had completed at the Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-op, including: replacing most of the underwater thruhulls and hoses; rebuilding the aft starbord engine mount; installing a new prop shaft and cutlass bearing; installing new propane tanks and hose; servicing the Max-Prop; installing new dual Racor fuel filters; and installing a new bilge pump, among other improvements.

We have a list of projects to work on over the winter, but I’ll save that for another post.

Having owned and worked on boats before, we know what the payoff is. We have to believe that the work we’re doing now will get us there and protect the investment we’ve made in this boat. Next summer, I’m envisioning more time spent in beautiful anchorages, getting together with friends and goofing off more often. Goofing off is definitely on the agenda.

In the meantime, we hope our friends and family will forgive the long absence. It’s not you. Really. It’s just the boat.

12 Responses to The Passport Project: Part 14 (Lost summer)

  1. Jeffrey August 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    What a lot of work and a big sacrifice. (Hey, shouldn’t this be Part 14, not 15 – or is Part 14 coming later?)

    • Deborah Bach August 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

      Oops. Right you are, Jeffrey. Duly noted and corrected. Thanks!

  2. Christy Granquist August 23, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Oof. I think it has been *that* summer for a lot of us. Our “short-regular-scheduled” haulout has turned into 7 weeks of homelessness while we fixed Ariel. Luckily the end is near and autumn is long. We are looking forward to making up lost time.

  3. Christy Granquist August 23, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Oof. I think it’s been *that* summer for a lot of us. Our “quick-regular-scheduled” haul out turned into 7 weeks of homelessness while we fixed Ariel. But the end is near and autumn is long. We are looking forward to making up lost time.

  4. Heather August 22, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    Wow! That is one impressive list of repairs/upgrades. I’m about to go and look a mid 80’s Passport myself and your list is a little intimidating. Was replacement of the teak decks as expensive and traumatic as I keep hearing??

    • Deborah Bach August 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

      Hi Heather,

      Please don’t let our list intimidate you! Our boat had not been sailed and had been largely neglected for years, so a lot of what we’ve been doing is taking care of a lot of deferred maintenance.

      We initially planned to just have the teak decks fixed (recaulked, sprung bungs replaced, etc.) and got a very high quote for the work, over $20,000. We almost walked away from the boat, and I’m glad we investigated further and got a quote from someone else. For a fraction of what we were originally quoted, we were able to have the teak decks removed and replaced with non-skid paint.

      I’d be happy to fill you in further if you want to email me. My email is

      Where is the Passport you’re looking at? Is it a Passport 40 as well?

  5. Mike Oswald August 21, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    Mamma Mia! That’s some list!

    As one that brought a 1940 Monk design bridge deck up from what one person called “early Winnebago” to something close to an acceptable classic condition I am floored over the amount of work and changes that you performed to MERIDIAN over the summer. In my case I set up “winter projects” over a 10 year period working dry under covered moorage, then cruised her in the summer. And I thought I worked hard. Whew!

    By golly, I see you replaced the cushions too! Well you are consistent, new boat-new cushions. It must be a Deborah thing, I guess.

    I noticed your boat registration ended in RP; maybe that should be you and Marty kicking back and “Resting Peacefully” for at least a month or two after all that work.



    • Deborah Bach August 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

      Hi Mike!

      We are clearly gluttons for punishment.

      Yes, replacing the cushions is a thing with me. And these ones really needed replacing. The foam was shot, the fabric worn-out and shabby-looking. Hopefully the new ones will last a long time.

      RP – I like your thinking. 🙂

      Good to hear from you. I hope your summer is going well.

  6. s/v Eolian August 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    You’re making her yours…

    s/v Eolian

  7. Courtney Kirchoff August 21, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Wow, that is a lot of work done on your boat. Next summer, because you’ve worked your tail off this summer, will be even better. Meridian is lucky to have you and Marty.

    • Deborah Bach August 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

      Thanks, Courtney!

      Compiling that list made us realize that we really have done a crapload of work this summer. I certainly hope next summer is a little mellower!

      How are things with Libby? It sounds like you’re hanging in there.

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