The Boatyard Blues

July - September 2005

The Romany Star "on the hard"

We abandoned our jobs in June of 2005 to devote ourselves body and soul to finishing the boat refit (remodel) that started three years ago--although I have heard it said that boat work is never finished. The image of cocktails on deck clashes violently with the reality of living and working in a boatyard for ten weeks: eye injuries from flying bits of metal and fiberglass, sweating profusely in paper suits and full face masks in 85 degree weather, putting Kleenex in the nostrils to catch the snot flow cause by heat and dust. It's difficult to say which was the most fun--the inhalation of noxious chemical fumes, balancing on shaky scaffolding and ladders, or lifting heavy items at awkward angles and holding painful positions for long periods of time. Boat work is a great way to develop repetitive motion problems--at one point, it hurt to hold the steering wheel of the car or to carry a bag with one banana in it.

This was a trying time. The marriage was tested and survived. Painting does provide immediate gratification, as you look back along the hull to admire the fresh surface reflecting like a mirror. But the prep, the prep! After two coats of filler all the way around the boat, the failed primer coat showing us we needed a second round of filler, and the sanding of the entire hull five times, Erin was on the verge of bailing. A less stubborn and masochistic woman would have taken off a couple years prior, when the sanding and varnishing of the interior became all-consuming. But true love and the lure of not working (at least not much) for possibly the rest of her life kept Erin in the game.

The high points were beer with dinner out at the end of the day and the firefighters calendar in the ladies' room. Erin spent some quality time flipping those month pages inspecting the impressive, although fully clothed, firemen--too bad the ladies' room was closed most of the time. The mens head was not nearly so entertaining, except once at 2am when Erin ran into a homeless guy emerging from the cockpit of a Catalina to go to the head. He was probably the source of the smoldering cigarettes and squashed Coors cans decorating the area every morning.

A note on showers: We went to a gym every evening. People tended to stare at Paul on the way in. Perhaps that had to do with him having only removed his sweat-soaked full face mask a few minutes earlier. His hair was plastered to his head, and bits of sweaty fiberglass muck stuck to his neck. Our shorts emitted clouds of dust on removal, and our feet were coated with white dust. Showers were taken quickly—the faster we were done, the faster we got to eat dinner--the highlight of the day. Some of our friends grew accustomed to “dinner and a shower” dates. We always showered first thing so as not to scatter too much fiberglass dust on the floors. Surprisingly, they are still our friends.

So now the Romany Star is the most brand-new looking 1970 boat you could ever hope to see. And that's what the surveyor said, so it's not just our own skewed opinion. Unless he was influenced by our gifts of a few crates of wine and a few extra hundred dollars in cash...but no, we think it was his honest opinion.

Erin in her sexy paper suit prepping the topsides for paint

Paul having almost as much fun, sans paper suit. Check out the fancy scaffolding we put up!

This is what women in the boatyard got to look at when the guys weren't in paper suits

This is what men in the boatyard got to look at--
Well, we missed the shot of the Swiss Family Robinson crew working on the houseboat next door. The lady of the family presented a rather unpleasant view whenever she bent over in her short shorts...

Finally, someone else does the work for a change--the fiberglass guys grind our blisters away.

A man and his spankin' new Kubota engine are hopefully not soon separated

The boat finally gets her mast back

They sure are hiring 'em young these days

Informative sign in the men's head that we saw all too much of
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