Les & Jaq's boat maintenance Fund
I contacted each one of you who so generously donated to our trip fund offering to refund the money, or to spend it getting something on NB Valerie sorted out. Each one of you graciously told me to keep the money and spend it as we needed. One friend suggested I change our GoFundMe account to reflect the change in our current circumstances because she wanted to donate more money to help out with the boat repairs. After careful consideration we decided to follow her suggestion. So here is what you need to know about all of that. Below is a list of projects we've started and been unable to complete or they were on our list to address at some point in the coming years.
Plans for the Future
I am staying on the boat because this is our home. Les made so many alterations to the inside of NB Valerie to make me feel at home and he is all around me here which will be a comfort to me when he is gone. We both love this life of freedom so much and so that is another reason why I will continue to cruise as a single handed boater. Les did it for six years and he is a master. He has been teaching me how to do it too, and I am a good student.
The things that need addressing on the boat:
The bottom needs blacking with Bitumen to keep it from rusting. It is a year overdue. We bought a huge metal drum of Bitumen and it is sitting in our bedroom (cabin). We did it ourselves last time in December 2012. We hired a slipway from a marina and they towed the boat out of the water for four days while we pressure washed the bottom and gave it three coats of blacking, while climbing a ladder to get in and out and live aboard while we did the blacking. We were planning on doing it sometime in August. So now we will hire it done when we get to Cow Roast. That will likely cost about £400.
The paint job is only half finished. It costs £6000 for a professional paint job which is why we were doing it ourselves. We only have two of the four coats of paint applied although we have all the paint purchased. After everything is painted then we need to hire a sign writer to come and paint the coach lines, scrolls and boat name on both sides again. That costs about £350.00 minimum.
The shower filter must be changed out for a different model. Currently the filter requires maintenance every two or three months which means Les gets on his hands and knees, removes the tub panel, but it is dodgy in a bathroom that only had two feet of actual standing space, and the panel is attached to the side by electrical wires to the shower pump on/off switch. He jiggers it out of place, and leans it gingerly against the sink. Then Les lies down on his belly as much as he can with a stoma bag in the way, and pulls the section of plastic shower piping with the filter attached closer to him. He lays newspaper down underneath the area to catch any water and uses a huge wrench to loosen the cap on the filter. Then he removes the metal filter and washes it in the sink with a wire brush and some soap, replaces it and does everything in reverse. I simply don't have the strength to loosen the filter cap and it is easier to simply replace the unit with a Whale Gulper filter that never requires cleaning--everything simply passes on through it to the outside and goes in the canal.
The engine hatch cover is a right pig to lift and I cannot do it on my own. It is solid steel and the hinges have snapped in half so it is the equivalent of lifting a huge plate of something that is taller than me and a bit wider than I am up from the floor. It has to be leaned against the stern seats when one is down in the engine hole which feels very precarious to me. A passing boat could cause our boat to shift and that thing could fall down on my head or fall shut and trap me in the engine bay. So we have to figure out how to address this issue so I can lift it and keep it safely open.
Then there is the issue of getting down in the engine bay. I can climb on the engine block and get down that way but I cannot hoik myself back up out of there--too short. So we need to have someone weld a metal escape ladder or a couple of rungs into the side of the engine bay for me and maybe some Oh Shit! handles like they have in cars to help you get in and out.
I need to learn how to service the engine and pack the stern gland (sounds far more ominous than it is. No feces involved; just have to be sure I don't flood the engine bay!)
The solar panels Les installed on the roof are too heavy for me to lift into place and too awkward for me to tilt with his telescoping mop handles. He built the system for himself really, with found bits from here and there, so at some point those will need sorting probably by a company like Solar Afloat.
At some point I am going to have to pay a good boat welder to remove our back hatch and replace it with a rolling hatch cover. In order to open the back hatch I have to stand underneath it on the top back step and push up with the top of my head to lift it up and then shove it backward to open it. Goddess only knows what that will cost.
Finally our generator is a huge hulking thing that sits on the back under our stern seats. It runs on petrol and must be hand pulled to start. I cannot possible move it out from under the seat on my own (it took both me and Les to move it last time) and I cannot hand crank it. So we need to flog it on eBay I guess and then buy a Honda suitcase 2.0 KW generator. We use the genny to top up the batteries if the engine breaks down (it has only happened twice in the five years I have lived on the boat) and we also use it to power tools like electric drill drivers, sanders, etc. There is always work to be done on a boat to keep it in good shape and protect it from rusing away; I don't mind doing it--I just need to make the equipment feasible for me to use.
How We Are Now
All in good time. I will get it all sorted out eventually. Meanwhile each day Les feels a bit weaker and I take on doing more and more. That's okay. I love him and I am happy to do anything that makes the time he has left easy to bear and filled with as much goodness and life as possible. This is very hard for us both. Letting go is particularly hard for Les. He struggles with letting me take on responsibilities. It is part and parcel of letting go of the strings with which we are tethered to our lives. I was a Hospice volunteer in WA State and I have the training and experience to help others to die with dignity and compassion. I've been there for others; I just never dreamed I would be doing it for Les.
So we negotiate each thing--each issue--tenderly, and I do my best to help Les see that my shoulders are small but I am one tough piece of Alaskan made gristle. I won't fall apart (at least not when he is around to see it). I will bear whatever needs bearing for us both with the greatest care for my Best Beloved.
With love and gratitude,
Jaq and Les xxx
The ball bearings for the stern hatch re-fit have arrived and Les will be contracting with a brilliant and honest marine engineer nearby to do the refit.
Other projects are underway too. A dear friend said to me recently, " "Les is doing all this to take care of you in the future Jaq, just like you are doing all you do for Les, to take care of him in the present." That sums it up nicely however, the brilliant thing is that your generosity and loving kindness allows us to get things sorted on the boat now--while Les is still alive to benefit from these changes.
We offer our deepest thanks and blessings to each of you who have supported our GoFundMe campaign. Jaq and Les xxx