A Day of Rest Requires a Lot of Work (Aug. 25, 2018)

Saturday, 25 August 2018 - Laboe Hafen – Kiel

We spent a day doing some boat maintenance and catching up on our day jobs. It’s tough trying to work while sailing. So many people who take a voyage like this either have taken a sabbatical from work, or quit their jobs and sell everything they own to finance the long-term voyage. With four kids, we are not yet able to quit working.  Fortunately, we both have jobs that we can do remotely, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.  We don’t have to report to an office, and we don’t have regular office hours, but the work must get done. When we spend one or two days at sea, we generally are unable to work at all, except for maybe handling a few emails and the occasional phone call.

Internet and cell service is also an issue. Most marinas have some internet, but it’s usually fairly weak and not much help. Maik has a better network connection than me because I have my US phone service, but we try to take advantage of the times when the Internet is strong and we can work. Of course, we are also enjoying writing these blogs and making our videos for YouTube so we can document the experience and take you along on the journey with us – but this requires some form of communication to the outside world. It also requires time.

I am old enough to remember the days when there was no Internet or cell phones at all.  I suppose we would not be able to experience this journey at this point in our lives if that were the case. It’s tough, but we are lucky and grateful.

We spent the first half of the day working on boat maintenance. Maik swabbed the deck and re-organized and secured all that was mangled and shifted from the gale storms yesterday. His dog yard received an untimely and unfortunate burial at sea during the 38-knot winds that flanked us. Only two crushed boards and some black soil remained on the deck as a reminder of the failed potty experiment. Maik worked on securing all the gear on deck so it wouldn’t be so vulnerable to the heavy winds.

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Meanwhile, I worked on removing the water from Seefalke’s stomach that had crept in during the storm. It was only about two inches deep, but enough to require removal to prevent mold and other problems. We investigated and realized it was coming in from the anchor chain box in the bow. This is a normal thing and simply needs regular maintenance. I crawled inside the bilge. When I'm standing on the bottom of the bilge, the saloon floor is about waist high to my 5-foot-7-inch body. The opening is about 18 inches wide and perhaps four feet long, but there are metal support beams that create a row of "boxes" just to add an extra element of difficulty for completing this task.  The water was not deep enough to bail with a bucket or a manual pump. So I used three large sponges to soak up the water and then wring it into a bucket.  It was a simple, but tedious project—made difficult only by the awkward positions required by my body to get down in there. When you are working on a boat, you just feel like you are twisted like a pretzel all the time.

I emptied four and a half buckets, sponge by sponge. While doing this, I was thinking of my neighbor back in Gulf Shores, Tom Gallimore. I remembered how he so generously helped me install a small bilge pump in my little day sailer, The Protagonist, which is an open-hull, wooden catboat. I was wondering if he would have a better idea for removing these trickles of water that I suppose now is officially added to my regular list of crew duties.

We completed these projects then took a break to take Cap’n Jack and Scout into the small village for a long walk and a bit of exploring. We just love to see how the Beagles react to all these new places and new smells. They enjoy the fresh air and exercise, and so do we! There was an outdoor market in the village, so we got some fresh fruit and vegetables and enjoyed the atmosphere, even though there was a slight, misty drizzle the whole time.

We spent the rest of the afternoon working on real work for our clients, so we felt fully productive.

When you live on a sailboat, you begin to appreciate the little things that we often take for granted in normal, everyday life - like a shower. Whenever we are in a marina with proper shower facilities, we take full advantage. It generally costs about 1 or 2 Euro for five or six minutes. We don’t have a regular shower on board (just a solar shower bag that we can use on the deck). We never really know when our next shower opportunity will come, so when moored at a marina with facilities we take the time for a shower - whether we need it, or not. Of course, we usually need it. 

While shaving my legs I noticed all the many bruises and cuts and scrapes that seem to have tattooed my limbs—battle scars of a true sailor that are helping to tell the story of my journey.  At times, my legs have looked like Rocky Balboa's face after his first fight with Apollo Creed. I don’t really feel the pain of them anymore and sometimes can’t even remember how I got this one or that one. As the bruises begin to heal and fade away, so do the memories of how they got there.  I watch some of the other sailing channels on YouTube with all the beautiful girls in bikinis with perfect bodies and no bruises, and I just have to wonder if they really do live on that boat and if they are really doing any of the sailing or maintenance work. We are definitely not doing the “bikini and martini” sailing thing.

I remembered how a few weeks ago when the pups and I first got to Stralsund and began living on Seefalke, I was constantly banging myself against everything.  This is another casualty of living on a boat that you just get used to with time. In the beginning, I really felt like Seefalke was beating me up all the time. I noticed new bruises and scrapes every day. One day I sat on the head and when I stood up, there was blood all over the seat. I realized I had several cuts on the backs of my thighs and later identified that this was from climbing over the sea rail and scraping my flesh against the trimmed zip ties that we used to attach the dog fence. 

Now, I realize Seefalke wasn't beating me up ... she was making me tough. When a forceful wave slams you at sea and you get thrown to the other side of the cockpit, you really don't have time to worry about the mark it left or the pain it caused.  If you nurse every wound you get on a sailboat, you will spend all your time nursing wounds. So it's best to just blurt a four-letter word and keep going. 

I have also been sore from using muscles I am not accustomed to using every day. It’s a good sore – the kind you feel after a good workout. I'm learning that your body has to adjust to boat living as much as your mind. 

Your body begins to learn all the small nooks and crannies of the boat and eventually, you quit hitting your head on that low ceiling or banging your knee against the last step into the cockpit. I recently wrote an article for a client about drones being used in manufacturing. They fly through facilities and learn where to duck and swerve to avoid slamming into the all the heavy machinery. I kind of feel like my body is learning its way around Seefalke just like the industrial drone learns and then remembers the map of the facility. But the cuts and bruises are ok with me – I’m proud of these battle scars.

When I returned from the shower and began to climb onto Seefalke, I could smell a delicious aroma coming from the galley. While I was showering, Maik had cooked some steaks, potatoes, and my favorite German food, rot kraut. We enjoyed a hearty dinner in the cockpit, a colorful sunset, and truly relaxed. Since Maik did the cooking, I did the dishes. By the way, when Maik cooks, he uses every single pot and pan in the galley. But I’m not complaining!