Changes feel like they're coming at us in waves. Back in December, all we had was a marine survey with dozens of things that absolutely had to be done. The insurance company (of course) has to see all the known problems resolved. Some of these are objectively slow: weeks of work to fix the rotten deck core. Others are just moments: put a hose clamp on drain under the shower in the forward head.
Before that, we had a house to paint, stuff to divest ourselves of, an apartment to find, packing, moving. Many small changes punctuated by some big changes.
We've been feeling the confounding effects of subjective time -- it passes slowly when you're stuck on a long task and not getting anything all the way done -- time flies by when there's too much to do and you're running in a million directions at once. There are big waves of change and little ripples of change. It seems like one variable that controls wave height is the value we place on what we're doing. Another dimension is boredom factor that comes from jobs that have no meaning to us; however, a painful, difficult job can actually be "fun" because it has deep significance.
[Just finished Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, he has much to say about brutally difficult tasks of deep personal significance.]
At this point, we've still got a million (okay, 33) things to do. Objectively, the list keeps getting longer, not shorter. But, we also think that we have all the survey deficiencies addressed: foredeck rot, worn headsail furler, water in the mast step, seacock operability, galley sink hose, knot meter, wirenuts, alternator belt, USCG safety equipment, mizzen turning block, fuel tank standing water, battery terminal covers. All but topping up the freon in the refrigerator.
Let's not overlook the recommended maintenance: caps on unused seacocks, bottom paint, polarity indicator, engine room light, shower drain hose clamp, battery fuses. Plus some other things like proper seacocks and double hose clamps on two through-hulls that didn't have seacocks.
Gaining a little perspective by writing this, it feels like we're turning a corner. The boring, necessary stuff is done. We can relax, stretch out a little and start to tackle jobs that are more fun.
We have to finalize Red Ranger's naming. This isn't structural; it's not a system that we should be cleaning and adjusting. This is purely fit and finish -- just icing on the cake -- sizzle on the steak. But it's significant to us. And it's easier done out of the water.
Before applying the new name, we need to remove the old name.
There are a lot of recommendations for stripping a painted-on name. This isn't house paint on wood, it's a sophisticated layer of paint over a plastic gelcoat over the plastic structure of the boat. Ordinary household paint strippers are inappropriate.
What folks often recommend is "Easy-Off Oven Cleaner." It's pretty safe, not very toxic, pretty harsh at removing unwanted paint and other organics, and but not very damaging on the gelcoat and plastic of the boat.
By "folks", I mean everyone we talked to last weekend. Everyone. It was remarkable how many folks have read about the Easy Off method of removing paint. Also of note, the marina's starting to fill up. We have a lot of really cool neighbors. More on that, later.
Epic Elbow Grease
The job sounds easy when you read about it on the web. When your boatyard neighbors ask "Using Easy-Off, right?" you're pretty sure you're doing the right thing.
Easy-Off dissolved some of the black highlights. The gold was barely touched. Barely.
This job was brutal. So far, it's been twelve solid hours of epic elbow grease to remove just four and one half square feet of paint. This was some kind of tenacious, never-say-die, tooth-and-nails, bitter-end paint. Getting the paint off -- without destroying the finish was a grueling, messy and painful piece of work.
(Yes, professional painters stand on ladders scraping for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. We're not professionals. We're desk-jockeys: it was painful.)
Since this was deeply significant, twelve hours of standing on the ladder, spraying and scraping, scrubbing and spraying was -- in it's way -- a lot of fun. Far more fun than getting the seacocks lubricated or putting fuses on the batteries.
There are four parts to the renaming. The first part is the paper-work. Our dreams include international travel, so we need a USCG "Documented Vessel". Mostly this means form CG-1258 and associated paperwork on the transfer of ownership. And a $100 fee for filing. I think we only need to include our CG-1340, Bill of Sale. A CG-1270, Certificate of Documentation, can also be used.
Boat documentation is not like dealing with commonwealth DMV that registers cars by the thousands. The boat business is lower volume with a lot of weird special cases and historical precedents.
The second part is marking. A vessel should have an indelible serial number on the starboard transom. (This is a '70's-era law, so really old boats may not have this.) The US Coast Guard also requires a that their number be placed on the interior structure, permanently, so that removal would deface the structure. And the transom name and hailing port must be in letters at least 4" tall.
The third part is Ranger's MMSI, the Maritime Mobile Service Identity. It is a 9 digit unique number that is associated with her specific VHF installation, and really like a digital "Call Sign". This also identifies the boat. It's programmed into the radios when they're purchased.
The final part is communion with Poseidon (or Neptune): the sea doesn't take kindly to deception. Sailing requires a certain clarity and precision. See this analysis of Kipling's "Poseidon's Law". A ceremonial tot of rum and crumble of biscuit is considered by many to be an appropriate offering.
After the scraping and painting, we have numbers and vinyl decals to order and then apply. We also have to get our MMSI and upgrade to DSC-capable VHF radios. We've got a lot of little steps that -- eventually -- will add up to a really big change.