Getting to Know Her

There’s a point in every relationship where the fun “dating” phase ends and you start to really get to know a gal.  At first, she’ll make sure she’s always “put together” when she knows she’s going to see you.  She’ll tidy up her place if she knows you’re coming over, and she’ll always try to be in a good mood around you.  It’s not like she’s putting on airs or anything, you’re getting to know her, on the surface, you just haven’t yet seen the “real her”─raw and exposed.  After a few months, efforts to always present herself in a certain manner will wane and she’ll start to let you see little things about her that reveal more about her true nature.  Maybe she wears a retainer at night.  Perhaps she keeps a really messy sock drawer.  She is annoyingly particular about how you load the dishwasher.  She snores.  Any number of things that weren’t uncovered in the easy, fun dating phase and, at first, they kind of drive you crazy.  

But, over time, you come to find these are the things you really love about her.  The intimate workings of her personality─her quirks.  The things no one else knows because they’re not as close to her as you are.  You start to see the method behind the madness of her seemingly sock disarray.  You get her systems.  You know what makes her angry, what makes her tick.  And you love that you do and that no one else does.  That’s when a relationship really starts to form.  When you get to really know her.

That’s what we’re going through right now with our boat.  When we first bought our 1985 Niagara in April, 2013 she was ready to cruise.  We made our first passage on her, across the Gulf of Mexico from Punta Gorda, FL to Pensacola, FL, right out of the gate and she carried us through some very rough seas seemingly with ease.

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Then we spent an awesome year sailing and cruising her around our local anchorages and to the Florida Keys.  While we experienced some common gear failure and deterioration, for the most part our boat performed beautifully the entire time.  We doted on her and made some upgrades and enjoyed every minute on our wonderful boat.

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Then the dating phase ended.

When we started spending more time on her, looking in lockers and under the floorboards, we started to uncover some things.  For one, we found our mast stringers were rotting.  They had been for a while.  We also found our hand rails were leaking, our lazarettes were leaking, our port lights were leaking.  Let’s just say a bunch of stuff was leaking.  Once we completely disassembled her to make the stringer repair, we found many other little annoying things about her─some hoses were deteriorating, some modifications were not done the right way, some (okay, many) things needed to be re-bedded.  

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And, it started to drive us crazy!  You had to start to wonder if this was really the gal we first met in Punta Gorda and had been cruising around on for two years.  Had she been putting on airs?  

The answer is no.  She was always thereher quirks and finicky systemsjust lying under the floorboards for us to discover.  But, we had to get her raw and exposed to really see her.  We had to uncover every inch and once we did we found these were the things we really loved about her.  Sure, she’s got some leaks, some corroded wires, two very sad rotten stringers that need to be repaired.

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But, she’s got good bones.  She is a solid, well-built, well-designed boat.  Once we took everything apart and could see the ingenuity of her systems and the durability of her construction, that’s when we really got to know her.  It may seem like a lot of work disassembling your boat and scouring every inch, but you have to really expose her to get to know her, to appreciate her.  Phillip and I have gained a wealth of knowledge about our amazing boat during this entire repair.  While it has cost us a good deal of time and money, we know it is the absolute best thing we could have done before setting off to really cruise in our boat─get to know her.  Every system.  Every locker.  Every inch.  That’s when the real relationship begins.  We know we’re building a bond that will keep us together─functional, fulfilled and afloat─out on the water.

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4 Responses to Getting to Know Her

  1. SV Wild Hare says:

    Been there and living all of that. Find and purchase the perfect boat that had everything I wanted. Unfortunately everything needed to be replaced or upgraded. Like you said though still a great boat. And wouldn’t trade her for anything.

    • anniedike says:

      Couldn’t agree more Cougar (ha!). All good boats need a little TLC at times. After these projects and fixes, she’ll be ready to go another 30 years! Perfect timing for us!

  2. Rick Vincent says:

    Now you understand the true meaning of owning your own boat. You chose to have a boat that is 31 years old. She was only new once. Now she needs some TLC to go on.
    Everyone loves new, that is easy. ( I have commissioned many new Beneteau’s and Catalina’s they had problems and leaked from the get go) That is the reality of a boat. You have to always work to keep the water out and things ticking like a fine clock
    You have a beautiful woman that has been dressed up nice on the outside but sadly what was under the skin was not given any attention. That has now reared her ugly head. She is saying Hey you want to continue this dating then I have some needs.
    1985 is not that old (Well it is) but it is in years in harsh environs. She just needs your love to keep her smiling and acting like the fine young lady of the sea she was. You are those loving care givers. You can do it and not walk away (that is the easy part)
    I have owned nothing but fine old boats that I have had for years.
    1970 Bristol 29, Had her for 20 years and totally rebuilt the whole boat…but what a fine lady she was and that lady took great care of me when it was rough. Lots of miles under that keel. I still love that boat and many times wish I had her back.
    1977 C&C 36, My current boat. A fine looking lady for sure. But not without lots of trouble. She was made to look beautiful but what lies beneath did not show until we had her for awhile. Like you, we had to grow together. Our maiden voyage was not our finest moment.
    She is a head turner for sure, not to mention one of the best sailing boats I have ever owned. We have had this beauty for 20 years now.
    Get through these growing pains and you will really be happy with her. You will know every square inch of her and that will bring you much comfort and appreciation.
    (She does have good bones)
    Good going, don’t stop until you are done. Then when you are out there and it is really blowing you know that you did her right and that she will pay you back ten fold. She will embrace you with her love like and mother and keep you safe, bring you back home every time!!
    She is worth it and you are on the right course. What you do now will pay you back for years to come
    Cheers
    Rick

    • anniedike says:

      Wow, thanks Rick. Eloquent and well-written. We could not agree more. At the outset of all of this, it was disheartening and frustrating, but we’ve come to believe it all happened just the way it should have, right before we set out to go cruising. It’s like she knew we needed to learn more about her so we could all keep going together so she screamed out at us in the form of rotten stringers to make us open her up and build her back anew. Wait till you see the stringer repair. It’s going to be the heartiest, most substantial part of the boat for sure. I don’t think anything could take her down now. Appreciate the kind words and kindred spirit. Glad to have you following along.

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