Most of you who have followed this weblog know, Gail and I are makers. We're artists and tinkerers and designers and fiddlers and we love inventing and making stuff. Four years ago, we built the original barrel shanty," The Floating Empire", in our backyard and lived aboard her for over three years, making constant changes and experiments to the structure before selling her to a new owner and acquiring a used CAL 2-29 hull that we're turning into a solar electric cruiser. So I'm sitting on the dock covered in sweat in the middle of a Mad-Dogs-and-Englishmen noonday sun, merrily drilling away at the beams that will encompass our new, pergola-style wheelhouse, when one of our slipmates comes up and asks me: “Why bother?”
|Yeah, it's noon and 92 degrees, so what?
“Why bother? There are three boats up there on the hard you could have for nearly nothing, and none of them need any work, really. I mean, they'll travel too, why do all this stuff?”
I have to admit, I was a little amazed. I mean, NOT doing all this stuff would never have occurred to me. There are a lot of reasons to do all the projects we do. First of all, we know the boats on which we live inside and out, having either built or re-built the personally. We're fearless in chopping into to fiberglass or replacing structural members, because we know the forces involved, we know what pieces have to be strong and what are merely cosmetic and how to deal with those. Second, of course, we get the boat we want, not just something which is close to the boat we want that's commercially offered. If I want a port right there, I'll put one in. If the counter is too low, I'll raise it. We build the space to accommodate us, not content to accept what some designer has created to please the average public.
See? Both of those are real reasons, and they make sense.
They are also just so much fish bait.
The real reason we do this is that we love doing it, and the reason I don't have a commercially built vessel is that there's nothing special about owning a commercially built vessel. Everything we have is unique to us, from “Tesla's Revenge” to “The Floating Empire” to our odd little offset rig Puddleduck “Dharma Duck.” Like my writing or Gail's artwork, it bears our stamp, and we love describing the systems and processes and accidents and disasters and successes to folks, and the idea that, somewhere, somehow, someone else may benefit from our experiments. Like artwork, it's a kind of immortality, a way of making a mark on the world in a way that simply buying something does not.
|Aboard our new shadier cockpit. The pergola will eventually hold our solar panels.