The plan: buy a boat, minimalize my life by selling everything I own except for a few things that are most precious to me, finish work, sell my car and move onto the boat to sail for the next few years and spend lazy days beside island beaches and look after boat maintenance as needed when visiting marinas up and down the coast. Sadly, I am not lazing beside island beaches, nor am I living on the boat.
I did get a boat, a nice boat, a solid boat of a good size to comfortably live-aboard and cruise easily along the coast. But things don’t always go to plan. As written in previous posts, problem after problem seemed to surface anytime we sailed anywhere. I know it was an old boat and things can break or need upgrading or replacing. But fair is fair, it just seems there was so much went off the rails all at once and costs have got so high that the dream/ plan had to change.
At the last major breakdown – a cracked engine head, some big decisions needed to be made. A new engine was the result. As anything associated with boat repairs and maintenance one thing leads to another. A ‘simple engine swap’ became; new engine, new propeller shaft and dripless seals, re-pitch the propeller, rebuilding the engine bed, new engine mounts, new engine control panel and wiring. Whilst the boat was out of the water it was a good time to look at other issues of concern that could only be addressed on the hardstand. With the Global pandemic not quite over and still deeply rooted in people’s minds and businesses, the costs for everything rose, time for shipping any parts got longer and longer and staff shortages from time to time impacted work schedules. Add to that some inclement weather and what was expected to be six weeks rapidly became 14 weeks out of the water. Huge blow outs like those impacted heavily on the retirement budget so now, sadly, I have decided to sell ‘Vaega tolu’.
I would like to be able to place the entire decision to sell ‘Vaega tolu‘ as an economic one but realistically, there is also an underlying psychological reason too. The emotional impact of repeated breakdowns seemingly every time we sailed has taken its’ toll. Even after a new engine has been installed and other issues addressed there is still a very deep feeling of anxiety of ‘what will happen next’ if we set sail to take ‘Vaega tolu‘ out. The ‘Black Dog’ had bitten deep.
However, that doesn’t mean the end of sailing. Michelle still has her boat so we will use it to sail, laze away some time and explore. It is a nice comfortable 39’ Camper & Nicholson ketch. It would be nice to take some of the new, and old, bits off ‘Vaega tolu’ and install them into ‘Shell de Mer’ but we will make compromises to keep going. That means this Summer will be sailing around Moreton Bay and maybe another trip north next cruising season.
To list, and make Vaega tolu ready for sale means we had to go back to her and pack her up and empty all our stuff. “Road Trip!!!!” A simple exercise; hire a ute (neither of us have big cars), drive north, pack up and clean the boat, load the ute and drive home. HA!!!!! As to be expected nothing is simple. After an overnight stop along the way to call in and see number two son we start the hire ute and it displays an ‘engine malfunction warning’ light! Read the vehicle manual, a few attempts to restart and then end up calling roadside assist. No luck – the mechanic couldn’t determine the problem and the warning light would not go out so a change of vehicle was needed. One of similar size wasn’t available so we were provided with another ute but with a much smaller carrying capacity. After an almost 3 hour delay we drive to Mackay and eventually decide we need to either hire or buy a trailer to bring everything back. Despite increasing our carrying capacity by buying a trailer, we still needed to leave a few things on-board as gifts for the new owners-to-be.
It was something of an emotional time when we arrived back in Mackay. We hadn’t seen the boat for 10 months so it was good to be back and check out all that had been done to her and then say goodbye. Arrrgghhhhh!!! Fourteen weeks on the hardstand adjacent to a wharf area, surrounded by work sheds and skip bins and with hatches and cockpit floors open had allowed plenty of time for vermin to find and settle in to a new home. Big cockies scurried away to the dark depths of stowages as lockers and cupboards were opened. Clothes, food stuffs, and cooking utensils were shaken vigorously and wiped clean to shed cockie poo from all we needed to pack or use. After applying copious amunts of surface spray insecticide the little, and big, roaches started scurrying everywhere. Essentials for a short stay on board, crockery and cutlery, and toothbrushes were kept in the fridge and we adopted a night time routine of checking the bed to ensure no creatures were trying to find refuge between the sheets.
A great deal of packing time was lost due to mechanical delays, running around to view and then buy a trailer. But after a few hectic days the ute and trailer was loaded past the gunnels and we had, thankfully, an uneventful drive home including another stop to catch up with my son again. Of course getting home meant more work of unpacking, washing, laundry and sorting out what is needed to take on board ‘Shell de Mer’ later.
So for now “my sea-tirement’ is taking a different tack. I am living on an island by the water so I do have that ‘sea change’ and there will be sailing involved. Retirement does mean there is some spare time to fill. Not all of my days are spent doing nothing. Time has been taken up restoring old furniture and tools, repurposing old cutlery into jewellery and spending time with, and checking up on, my aging father.
It has also given me the time to dust off the kayak and paddle around where I live. The Southern Moreton Bay Islands provides plenty of shelter to avoid most big winds and as long as the tides are right, avoid most of the numerous sandbars and mudflats around the islands. Being on the water there are always boats on moorings or coming and going between and past the islands. That will be us again soon. Maybe these posts will have a little bit of everything.