The Good the Bad and the Dirty

kids looking at the new toilet

The kids checking out the new toilet

When we tell people that we are living on our sailboat and we are preparing to go cruising, we usually get one of two responses.  Either “How can you afford it?” or “Oh, that sounds so nice.”

The first response I can understand.  It is the one question that plagued me for a decade before we made the leap.  The question is really just a front for the true issue… how can “I” afford to do what you’re doing?  We’ll get back to that later.

The second response is the one that makes me giggle inside.  The look of wonder on the face of the person I’m talking with tells me that as soon as I start describing what we’re planning, they are building this idyllic image in their mind of relaxing on a boat, sipping icy drinks with little umbrellas in them, watching the sun slowly set over crystal clear water with Jimmy Buffet playing softly in the background.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  That sounds pretty darn nice to me too.

However, that is hardly the reality of my life right now.

Oh no.  We are no where near “island time” yet.  Nope.  We’re in “marina mode”.  This is far, far worse.

Marina mode means that every project that is started takes at least two days longer than expected, costs twice as much and will result in me having to tell my kids to “shut your ears” way more often than I’d like to admit.

It means that the job of changing out the fresh-water-wasting, electric-flush-toilet that the previous owner had installed with a simple, sea-water hand-pump toilet goes from a simple one-day job into a three day nightmare!  Complete with having to replace all of the hoses associated with the boats sewer system, only to find out two days later that the hose clamps were bad and now have to clean out what has been leaking around the holding tank.  Ewww!

Marina mode means that the $2000 job of having all of our standing rigging (the wires that keep the mast from falling into the ocean) replaced is quickly sprinting towards the $4000 mark in spite of all of the work we are doing ourselves.

It also means having to deal with the swarms of seagulls around the marina.

Before today I would have argued that seagulls do not poop on things deliberately.  Like any other wild animal, they just go when it is convenient.

Oh, but I was wrong.  Today I witnessed the sheer skill and cunning that these dive-bombers possess.

This afternoon we put out the little round propane barbecue that the previous owners recently delivered to us.  It is a nice little stainless job that hangs off of the back handrail and is fueled by a little 1lb propane canister.

So, to celebrate the nice weather we’ve been having, we bought some steaks and some zucchini to grill up.

After fiddling with the grill for a few minutes, I put the steaks on, closed the lid and stood upwind of the grill to block some of the wind. (It blows out in the breeze way to easy for a grill on a sailboat!)

That is when the attack happened.

One of their scouts flew past at a good altitude and gave a few loud squawks to get my full attention.  The bomber came out of the sun, and from behind in a lassic aerial attack move.

Without warning or provocation, a long series of bio-bombs were loosed in my direction.

The first round to hit landed squarely on the top of my new (to me) barbecue with a startling SPLAT!  I stood there in shock looking at the top of the grill thinking, “No way! NO FREAKING WAY!!!”

The subsequent rounds all landed long of their target and hit well behind the boat raising little splashes in the water.

Now I can’t say for sure that the shiny new barbecue was the intended target, because the trajectory was such that in order to hit the barbecue the bomb had to miss my head by mere inches.

Either way, I have a new found hatred for seagulls.  Even now, as I write this hours after the attack, they sit on the boat houses across from our slip and taunt me with their caws and cries.

Yeah, that mental image you have of the icy, umbrella drink…  we’re no where near that yet.

We have had a few really nice surprises though.  The chainplates that we feared we would have to replace seem to be in good shape and will only need some cleaning before being put back in place.  That should save us around $500.

And the spreaders on the mast that we feared would be too rotten to use again turned out to be made of teak and seem to be in great shape.  Another $200 saved.  We have to find joy in the small things right now.

We just keep telling ourselves that island time is coming, island time is coming.

4 thoughts on “The Good the Bad and the Dirty

  1. Gavin

    Great story! I hope you continue to find the humor in “marina time”, when you guy’s are curising along like a well oiled crew your struggles now will make great stories and memories. The path less taken is often more diffucult, but has a better view at the end. Good luck,

    The Williams

    1. Doug Mabry


      Why am I picturing a different kind of meat in that now in the not so distant future?

  2. Jennifer McKInley

    Great story! Laughter is the best part of you Journey, even if poop and flying rats (that is what Brion calls them) are part of you journey!

  3. Stormsignal

    I am very pleased to have found your site. Particular gratifying is that you are just beginning your adventure and I look forward to vicariously participating in it from afar. I may not always chirp or comment but know that I wish you “voerspoed” and Afrikaans word meaning forward speed and friendly seas wherever you may wander. Particularly interesting will be to hear how the young-uns handle the nautic life.
    It is surely not too soon to wish you bon voyage. -Hans

    We are way behind you on the road to a similar adventure.

    The answers to our questions may lie in your blogs but it would be great to hear from you guys ‘live’ as it were if any Qs arise.

    About us. We are Hans-Erik 52, Chantal 35 and Hans-Otto 3.75. We live on our game and cattle ranch In addition we own and a farm realtor.

    A brief summary of the cause of the dilemma we face,

    Between Dec 1985 and 1987 I (Hans-Erik) then young, healthy, single and fit lived on a Baltic 42 on which I crewed in the race from Cape Town to Uruguay and then via a few other short Caribbean stops to St. Maarten where I remained on board to look after her until sold in mid-1987 and assisted with her delivery to her new owner in Ft. Lauderdale.

    Whilst in St. Maarten I secured a job as a timeshare salesman and later sales manager at the Royal Islander resort at Maho Reef. How I became so good at selling holidays at the end of a runway I shall never really know but success in the timeshare business took me to many parts of the globe as a consultant and later as owner of my own marketing and project consultancy company based in Cambridgeshire UK.

    I returned to South Africa in 1999 aged 38 and hopeful of meeting someone, falling in love and starting a family. Best laid plans etc. etc………… Hans-Otto was born 18 November 2009.

    Between 2004 and mid-2009 Chantal and I owned Sashay, a 27’ Jeanneau Fantasia which we sailed on a brown puddle called the Vaal Dam about a two hour drive from our ranch.

    Sashay was sold just before the arrival of Hans-Otto to get the last of our debts paid and since then we have lived mortgage and debt free.

    The Dilemma

    I would love to share the wider world with my family and I would love to do it based on a yacht. Chantal is game but………..

    We (Chantal and Hans-Erik) are thinking of selling a substantial share in our businesses to finance a ‘home-on-the-sea’ yacht (We are leaning towards a catamaran such as the Leopard 48 or the Majestic 530).
    Thus we would have partners running the businesses whilst we sail the world until we get bored or decide that we never want to be landlubbers again.

    Hans-Otto is too young to have an opinion either way…’smile’. But therein lies the rub. We also are working on manufacturing a brother or sister for him ‘grin’.
    Besides that Chantal and I still have to get our skippers tickets (RYA course at Langebaan, West Coast of SA near Cape Town earmarked for that later this year) and then there is the whole issue of home schooling for Hans-Otto to research and come to terms with………plus all the rest that you have been through to get to where you are.

    Do we make the move and if so do we “take the plunge” or just “wet our feet” initially? Time will tell but we shall be avidly following your dream as you make it a reality.

    Regards. The Arp family.

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