Issue: June 2004
Getting to Know You

One thing you learn as you go along in life is that it's easy to fall in love with somebody. The tricky part is getting to know them too well. Everything is sweetness until, after a few thousand mornings of finding little Colgate goobers all over the bathroom vanity, you come to the crushing realization that your beloved is genetically incapable of putting the cap on the toothpaste, and you just can't take it anymore and so you run screaming into the street in your jammies. . . .

I seem to be going through this with my boat. This has been the spring of the great interior overhaul, and I wanted to be involved in every project. I wanted to learn my boat intimately-all its details. At least, I thought I did.

Did you know, for instance, that there are four bolts and nuts holding the coupler that links our engine's transmission to the shaft? And that it takes two wrenches-both open-ended, so they most definitely will slip off when your knuckles are at maximum exposure-to remove them? And that you can only do this after folding your body into something the size of a toaster oven to fit into the engine hole (Engineroom? This is not a room. Puh-lease). Then, having retrieved said nuts, bolts and wrenches from that evil little puddle of mysterious, primordial fluid under the engine where they quite naturally fall, you risk cruciate ligament failure in both knees as you unfold yourself and slowly back up, like a brown recluse spider, into the cockpit locker, where you can finally straighten up, but not before whacking your head-which is a little dizzy after inhaling all that diesel and whatnot-on the locker's edge. I've often thought engine mechanics were a little different. Now I know why.

Then there's the galley. I thought I knew my galley, but I knew nothing. I did not know, for instance, that if we wanted refrigeration we would have to reinsulate the icebox (well, okay, I did know that, but I was in denial for a long time), which meant removing the nasty old foam from the box's top. This has been there 20-odd years, bonded in with gobs of stuff resembling chewing gum that's been stuck under a first-grader's desk for . . . 20-odd years. How does one remove this? I'm telling you how: By spending the better part of an afternoon hanging upside down like a bat in one's icebox, of course-just the top half of me, actually, since I needed the bottom half to cling to the stove-and using a chisel and a mallet to beat the offending substance into submission, but not without taking out another knuckle or two in the process (goes without saying).

Moving on to the new fuel tank, this installation really went very smoothly, if you don't count losing one's remaining knuckles to the teensy holes in the bulkhead through which the fuel lines must be wriggled, followed by a bracing sprinkle of diesel left in said lines on said bleeding digits.

And the best is yet to come! The new head hoses are ready and waiting. . . .