shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

The 15-Year Replacement Plan

June 29, 2015

When you buy a new-to-you boat, you look at all the systems, hardware, rigging, and various bits that "need" to be replaced. Anticipating the many happy anchorages in which you will relax, enjoying these new pieces and parts, you invest time, money, blood, sweat, and tears. And more money. Then, if you're lucky and determined enough, you sail away on your old boat with new bits. And the years glide by under your keel.

New main

I once heard someone say that in parenting "The days are long but the years are short." I have decided that the same can be said of adventuring via sail. A 4-hour watch can seem to last three lifetimes, but I have barely blinked since we sailed away from the Chesapeake Bay in our old boat with new bits. Like parenting, sailing reality changes more quickly than your perception thereof. The cute little blond boy today will be a PhD student tomorrow. The barefoot monster running down the dock hustling boat washing jobs will soon be running down that same dock (literally), chasing his own barefoot monster. And the leech of your new mainsail will inexplicably rip one day when you straighten it out on the boom, after only 20,000 miles and 15 years.

New cushions

When the kids come to visit, we try to go sailing, since "home" is a lifestyle more than a location. After a lively gallop along the Florida Keys, our oldest son, home for a week, gladly flaked the main (a chore he once abhorred) to prepare it for the sun cover. His look of panic registered before I could identify that heart-wrenching SCREECH of ripping Dacron. "All I did was give it a little tug!"
The captain was philosophical, "It's no big deal. It's obviously time for a new one if you can rip the cloth that easily."
But I was confused, "A new main? That one is brand new."
Dave laughed. "Technically, it is more than half as old as Nick."
Oh my. Where did the last 15 years go?

Refinished sole

The main was the first indication that boat parts have a life expectancy of 15 years MAX, but there were more signs to come. The interior cushions that had looked serviceable and acceptable in 2000 were quickly approaching the "throw a sheet over those nasty things" stage. The GPS that had directed us out of our "home port" all those years ago now gives us an error message when we try to check tides. "Data not found." We have cruised longer than the tide tables on a GPS? I didn't even know it was possible. We tried to get our propane tanks refilled a few months ago and were told that they had expired. They were (you got it) 15 years old. Our kerosene burners in our anchor and salon lights need replaced, our bilge pump became anemic, we had to replace our "brand new" 15-year old mattress, and our stove burners need rebuilt.

Perhaps more distressing than the broken stuff (which can only be expected to work for so long, after all) is the work that was completed before we left to go cruising that now needs to be repeated. My captain guarantees his work because he is confident in his abilities. So shoddy workmanship cannot be the blame; things just wear out. For several months in 2000 he worked on creating the best galley Eurisko could have. He built it with the cook (himself) in mind, but also trying to make his lovely wife happy in her new home. Once he completed the galley, I was brought aboard to see my stainless countertop with sunken sinks. I have always considered my galley a masterpiece. It is one of my favorite personal touches he added to the boat. But the countertop is starting to peel. The sinks have started leaking around the seam. The Chernobyl that is the plumbing needs attention. Before I say something like, "But it's brand new!" I stop and consider all the meals that have been created in that tiny galley. All the hot pans that have sat on my countertop, the boiling water poured into the sink to wash the dishes, the friends we have laughed with over a cup of coffee made in that galley. The birthday cakes for the boys, the graduation dinners, the cookies for the grandbaby. I can see the passing of time when I look around the boat. I can identify the offending object that created most dings in the woodwork, can see the wear marks left by tiny, then not so tiny, then even tinier feet.

Somehow I blinked and all our "new" bits became old. The years have indeed been short, but I guarantee you that the hours spent completing our 15-year replacement plan will seem long. Soon, it will be our grandson who reaches up to straighten the "new" mainsail and rips the leech. And I'll be left once again, wondering how it happened so quickly.

We were asked how we keep the boat cool in the States during the summer, or in the tropics year-round. MONDAY we'll share a few of our secrets.

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