Upgrade 1 – The Saga of the Propane Locker

As promised, we are now starting to delve deeper into the frustrations that we’ve come across since purchasing the boat. It’s sorta like y’all are free therapy for us. Suckers.

It all started with a phone call from Tim the Rigger. “We have a problem,” he said. These words had become a frequently uttered statement since Small World arrived at her temporary home, hauled out in the boatyard. In much the same way that a Tourette’s outburst is predictable yet surprising, Tim had adopted those four words as his own verbal tick since work started on putting the boat back together.  Every time we heard it, we couldn’t believe he was already saying it again. He just said that to us like five minutes ago. Why is he saying it again?

A handful of metal poles is the only thing holding our 32,000 pound baby upright.

A handful of metal poles is the only thing holding our 32,000 pound baby upright.

Unfortunately those four words also seemed to be synonymous with “I’m going to need more Boat Units.” You should know something about us. We are the thrifty type. Spending large sums of money is surprisingly difficult for us. Emotional even. To make it worse, while we existed on Ramen (this is a sacrifice and a guilty pleasure because the Maruchan Oriental flavor is killer and you know it), the super center/buy anything here/consumerism haven that shared a fence with the boatyard was serving as the backdrop to the start of our dream of minimalist living.  Stores like that are one of the very reasons we want to set sail. So while the boat (read: our entire life savings) is hauled out on shore and being held up by metal toothpicks (read: scariest situation ever), you stand on deck and look over at everyone walking out with special gadgets whose sole purpose is to slice bananas (trust me and read the reviews). We’d spent the last several months selling/donating/trashing our stuff to avoid starring in the next episode of Hoarders: Boating Edition, and these folks are… well they’re buying banana slicers by the dozen.

“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! WHY GOD, WHY?!” I shouted at Poor Tim the Rigger after his most recent verbal tick. Substitute anything written in caps with “Oh? What’s up?” and that’s what I really said. Despite my super Zen-like response, I’m pretty sure he knew what ran through my head. Fucks and all.
The current problem: The hardware (screws) that secures the dinghy davits to the boat had apparently allowed water to seep under the deck. The path of least resistance led the moisture to the propane locker where it had done an excellent job of accessorizing the plywood wall that separates the locker from the aft cabin with some new rotten, moldy holes. (A little background for you landlubbers may be helpful here. Dinghy davits are what hold the dinghy up in the air off the back end of the boat. You’d also think that since we float, we’d be totally cool with water. You’d be wrong. Water is just as damaging to a boat as it is to your house. If it didn’t cost so many Boat Units to repair, I’d be impressed at how destructive it can be.)

The bigger problem: In case you didn’t know, propane likes to explode and if it happened to leak out of it’s bottle, it could now leak through the rotten, moldy holes  into the aft cabin. The aft cabin is where we sleep and we don’t like exploding in the middle of the night. Or in the middle of the day. We really don’t like exploding at all. We’re not that adventurous.  Yet.

Long story short, we patched the holes and all was well.

Long story long, this was a prime example of how one project leads to four more projects. Feel free to take a second to use the restroom, pop some popcorn, make some tea… prepare yourself. This is a long one.

Since the propane locker holds a flammable gas, we wanted to ensure that it was sealed from the aft cabin really well. We hired professionals to fiberglass the locker. Fiberglass is NOT a project you take on as a DIY when you’re a newb. It’s messy, potentially health hazardous, and you have to be precise during the application.

Everything that looks like a wall had to come off in order to repair the decayed propane locker.

Everything that looks like a wall had to come off in order to repair the decayed propane locker.

The aft cabin has some sweet wood paneling that makes it feel warm and cozy. All that crap had to come off in order to access the space to rebuild the propane locker. The fiberglass guys even numbered the horizontal paneling planks for us because we said we’d save money by doing the no-brainer reinstallation ourselves. Because we aren’t afraid of getting dirty and doing a little physical labor! (What I wouldn’t give to go back to this moment in time.)

The chaos left behind once everything is stripped to repair the propane locker.

The chaos left behind once everything is stripped to repair the propane locker. Totally not K’s fault this time!

Don't these look organized? It's all a lie.

Don’t these look organized? It’s all a lie.

These planks range from a couple inches long up to about six feet long. They were all taped together in the order they were supposed to be reinstalled on the boat- super helpful, right? While I was at work, Krystle took them all to the boat, now at home in her slip at Shilshole Bay Marina. After installing a few of the smaller planks, she soon realized that a new problem had arisen. With the new fiberglass locker walls installed, there was about ¼” less space inside the aft cabin.  Strings of “Shit!”, “Fuck!”, and “Goddamnit” were aplenty as she tried to make the planks fit into a space that just wouldn’t accommodate them anymore. The planks were rebundled, placed back in the car, and hauled back to the house. The search for a power saw ended two Home Depot’s later only to find out that the neighbors had a better one all along. And they let her use it for free. (Lesson learned. Always ask your neighbors for help.) So Krystle set to the task of trimming each plank. She even thought about it and ensured she was trimming the aft end of the plank- the end that would be next to the propane locker. She felt so smart. She saw that trap and skipped right over it! Take that you stupid trap!

K uses power tools like a boss to trim the wood planks that line the aft cabin.

K uses power tools like a boss to trim the wood planks that line the aft cabin.

Back to the boat she went, determined to get these planks screwed back in place. A couple planks went in like butter. Paula Dean would’ve been drooling. It seemed that success was possible. Then disaster stuck again. For those of you who don’t know Krystle, she is really good at the cursing part of being a sailor. So when one plank wouldn’t line up she threw a tempter tantrum and unleashed a string of curse words that would have made the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria turn right back around and head home to Spain. Surprisingly that didn’t solve the problem. The unnamed individuals who originally pulled the planks out and bundled them mixed and matched them. Because who doesn’t like a surprise puzzle to solve?! So some of the planks from the starboard (right) side were mixed in with some from the port (left) side, and vice versa. So when Krystle trimmed the planks, a few were trimmed on the wrong side and the screw holes didn’t line up. All of the planks had to come out and go back to the house so that Krystle could mooch off the very kind neighbors. Again. So much for trying to skip over potential pitfalls.

K tries to organize all of the planks correctly.

K tries to organize all of the planks correctly.

K's second attempt with power tools. Clearly very boss-like in a skirt.

K’s second attempt with power tools. Clearly very boss-like in a skirt.

Dear friends, this is where the blog entry ends. But don’t be fooled into thinking this summarizes the entire ordeal.  I have spared you some of the details. Really, I’m just sparing myself from having to relive the roller coaster of emotions because, by now, I know that the aneurysm in my head has got to be pret-ty ripe for exploding. (This is hyperbole. I don’t actually have an aneurysm in my head. As far as I know. So all of you family members can just calm down now.) But don’t worry. Krystle got all of the planks back in and even did a victory dance and said a few victory curse words.

The wood paneling reinstalled!

The wood paneling reinstalled!

If Upgrade 1 taught us anything it taught us that boat ownership is NOT all rainbows and unicorns. Those utopian fantasies crashed and burned after the wood paneling was trimmed and we then discovered that the wall panels (of the non-wood variety) that originally covered the propane locker no longer fit. And the overhead panels (i.e. the boat ceiling) also needed to be altered. In fact, 5 months later this project has still not been completed.

Don’t. Judge. Us.

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