Sunday, October 4, 2009

Of Patience, Painting, and Hot Water Heaters

Another weekend is drawing to a close, and it is time once again for news, observations and commentary from the cockpit.

After much thought, (actually much cussing and frustration) tonight's main topic is patience. I have learned over the weekend that patience takes many forms, has many facets, and that there are various levels of patience. Take for instance, the patience of a parent. I thought I did well with this, you nuture your children, guide them as best as you can, and stand by while they do everything they can to get away with as much as they can. As they stray, you guide them back on track, pat them on their bottoms (read as spank) and set them on their way again. There is a rhythm to this, and as a parent you get used to it and can even begin to predict patterns that will try your patience. Now that is a topic for a whole other blog, trying ones patience. We will not delve into that tonight, but it is an art all of its own. From a young age, I knew I would have patience as a parent, because I tried my parents patience all the time. So - I had practice. I knew the drill. And I knew many of the tricks and pranks that my son would try, because I had tried them all myself. (disappearing report card anyone? I invented that, and hold the patent rights on it to this day) So, my parents had the patience of Saints. Growing up in a Catholic family, I knew the Saints had patience - I was reminded of that at least every week. But one thing I discovered this weekend was a new type of patience - painting patience, and in specific - boat painting patience. This type of patience is of a level all its own. There are so many minutae that conspire to try your patience as you paint a boat that it borders on the ridiculous. Take for example the soothing roll of the boat on the swells of the harbor. A nice, peaceful, serene rhythm, that can be quite soothing and theraputic, until that is you are trying to paint. Ever try flying a kite in a hurricane? That is what it is like trying to hold a steady line with a detail brush as it seems the boat is bucking like a bronco at the county rodeo. Or bugs. Bugs seem to have an affinity for freshly painted surfaces. I have not seen 10 bugs this year aboard my boat, it must be something about the wind and currents down on my end of the marina, but today, after the first finish coat of paint had been laid down, every insect for 5 square miles arrived to inspect my paint job. So here I am waiting for the paint to dry, so that I can brush the bugs out of the finish, and that is when I realized why there is that old saying "like waiting for paint to dry".

There I am finishing up the last bits of sanding, and getting ready to paint. I had taped off all the gear on deck, removed the companion way hatch, the doors and set up all my supplies in the cockpit. I got out a few old cans to mix paint with, and set to laying down the first coat of primer. It was then I realized that I have been alot of things in my life, held alot of varied jobs and gained tons of worldly experience, but I am no painter. I have a new found respect for painters, not those artist type guys that use little brushes and can paint a portrait so real it looks like it could come to life, but the beer swilling, tobacco chewing, belching kind of guys that you see in every neighborhood bar, wearing painter paints, painters caps and have 8 different colors of paint speckled all over them. The kind of guys that can take a 4 inch brush, and a 10 inch roller and coat a surface with paint so even and true it looks like it was sprayed on. I toiled all day on about 40 square feet of surface, and yes, there are 2 coats of primer on it and 3 coats of finish, but I am no where near done, in fact, I am only partly finished. If I were a true painter, a real painter, I would have finishe not only the topsides, but the hull, the deck, and the neighbiors boat as well in the same amount of time. Next week will bring more sanding and more painting, and more prep work and finishing. So, with all that said, my patience today wore very thin, and I could not wait for that last brush stroke of the day. 10 hours of painting, and I have about 1/3 of the topside done. Kind of makes me wonder if I should hire a painter to do the other 2/3.

Now we come to the hotly debated (well I debated it with myself at great length) subject of an onboard hot water heater. Earlier this week I got a bee in my bonnet about needing a hot water heater for the boat. It conjured up visions of warm showers aboard the boat on cold mornings, hot tap water for washing dishes just like I was at home on land again, and all kinds of neat and convienient things the advent of a water heater would bring the boat. So, I went to West Marine, got a great price on one, left with the dimensions of a, get this, 5 gallon water heater. I have space for it, aft under the cockpit, I found that it indeed would fit through the manhole cover in the cockpit floor with not much trouble, I even looked and found that running electric to it and coolant from the engine would not really be all that much work at all. (for informational purposes, boat water heaters use a 110 volt element when you have a generator - I do not - or when you are hooked to shore power. They also have a heat exchanger that uses engine coolant to heat the water in the tank when the engine is running.) So, with all the needed info in hand, I went back to West Maine to buy MY hot water heater, and it was GONE. Now mind you, there are others, but this one had been on the shelf for upwards of 3 weeks, and I was dead set on getting a hot water heater NOW. I was told there will be one coming on the truck on Wednesday, but as I was forced to pause in my water heater project, I began to think about why I needed one, and that started me thinking about all the reasons that I didnt need one. For one thing, I am headed south, so there won't be too many cold mornings this year. The water heater takes up space that I could certainly use for storage of many other things. It only holds 5 gallons, but that is 5 gallons out of 80, and that 80 gallons does not last long enough as it is. And considering I won't be tied to a dock during my cruise, I would need to start the engine everytime I wanted hot water, thus wasting fuel as well as fresh water. The purchase would use funds that I could use for other things, and, it would require the installation of a pressure water system that would incur more cost, not a hard job, but I can see the dollar signs starting to rack up in droves. And lastly, I have gone 11 months now without one, why do I so desperately need one now? So in the course of one hour or so, I completely talked myself out of getting the water heater and had begun to plan on other expenditures. Now do I really need a radar.....

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