Plan vs Reality

I find myself reluctant to write about the boat works lately. I felt completely overwhelmed and unable to contemplate the whole picture. In fact, there is no whole picture but a series of consecutive blocks of problems to be solved, with new blocks adding everyday, in a perpetual tetris puzzle.

I am prisoner of my own restoration plan, incapable to see progress. I just put the head down and work, pushing the rock ahead.

This also becomes a constant source of conflict between me and Kate. She is more of a rational planner, I am a non-linear intuitive doer. She likes to plan, execute, terminate and evaluate a task. I jump from task to task and keep things on hold. It was hard to pull it through together with such different attitudes, but eventually we worked out our differences, or at least we learned to tolerate them.

Shame is also part of the process and realizing that you are involved in a project  that uses time, materials and labour inefficiently is not exactly an invigorating tonic for the ego. I stopped writing about the improvements because I failed to recognize them.

But progress was happening, in a mysterious way.

Before I embarked on this project I scanned the literature about boat restoration. Among others This old boat by Don Casey was illuminating and also fun to read. I applied the author’s planning method on the paper and I tried to follow it. The reality mixed everything up.

We made mistakes, hold over, went backwards, fought, made peace. Following the plan was the most difficult part as well as evaluating the progress. I gradually sunk in a “just keep pushing” modality while I was finding everyday new obstacles.

August and the first part of September summoned the demons that others evocated when we started this journey:

Statistics – 90% of people who buy an old boat with the goal of fixing it up and going sailing on it fail.

Dream – every man has a dream that won’t work.

Fatigue– it’s a lot harder to do than you think it is.

Bankruptcy– You’d need the funds to go on for at LEAST a year without working.

Now after some unpredictable turns the whole picture came back and it’s even scarier. It may be possible to have the mast on an the electric engine wired and back to work by the end of next week. And then it’s all about putting the pieces together on deck, hoping that the sails are arriving on time and finishing a couple of painting projects. Then what?

Then the demons of leaking thru-hulls, faulty installations and unespected quirks around the corner will show up, gathered by a sort of fear of the fear amplified by the discomfort of the approaching cold winter. While the clouds of the final act are massing on the horizon there will be time to hum this annoying but truthful chorus:

“Keep pushin, keep pushin, well even if you think your strength is gone
Keep pushin on”

REO Speedwagon – Keep Pushin’

Sailing and reality


Sailing is not an escape but a return to and a confrontation of a reality from which modern civilization is itself an escape. For centuries, man suffered from the reality of an earth that was too dark or too hot or too cold for his comfort, and to escape this he invented complex systems of lighting, heating and air conditioning. Sailing rejects these and returns to the old realities of dark and heat and cold. Modern civilization has found radio, TV, movies, nightclubs and a huge variety of mechanized entertainment to titillate our senses and help us escape from the apparent boredom of the earth and the sun and wind and stars. Sailing returns to these ancient realities.

              Cruising blues and their cure – Robert M. Pirsig