Ahhh, the off-season “projects” …

Long Term Cruising means Constantly Fixing a Boat in Paradise”.

I’d read that in some sailor’s blog before setting off on this voyage of our own.

And every day, raising my head to wipe the sweat off my face, a quick look around confirms – boy, I AM in paradise !

And, to be fair with Dear Pesto, I am not FIXING her all the time.

Not just.

The disturbingly long offseason “project” list is a cocktail of Fixes, Regular/ Preemptive maintenance, and Upgrades. And there are projects for all tastes.

Among other stunts, in the last weeks I:

  • snaked under the cabin soles, and stuck my hands and arms behind lockers and bulkheads, recabling Pesto for a new set of electronics
  • roasted on deck under the blazing summer sun cleaning up a mess I made while attempting to mold a gasket to our propane tank’s lid
  • fixed the fridge, which refused to work in the final days of last season
  • removed and washed the curtains, which had turned moldy
  • was almost eaten by a raging dog while trying to send documents to Brazil
  • tore down half of the ceiling’s covers in search of a leak which has been allowing a bit of rainwater inside the cabin (still to be found)
  • visited the local chandlery store, like, 10 times

One activity that I had not tried yet is Sewing. Canvas Sewing that is.

Last year our dinghy cover developed a long tear on its side and must be fixed before we start cruising again, or else it will be soon rendered useless. I also have a few other canvas related jobs that need attention onboard, but the dinghy cover is the most urgent. I tried to locate someone to do the job for me, but the language barrier doesn’t help. I didn’t try too hard either, having heard of high price tags of such services around here. Last Saturday (yesterday) the sun was blazing too hot for projects on deck. I looked at the torn cover, considered my options, and decided to give it a go.

Many cruisers carry canvas sewing machines onboard, but we don’t. I could go on and on with the background, but the fact is … we just don’t. So the job would have to be done by hand.

I can’t say the first stitches gave me any sense of pride – to the contrary – but in the end I think I got the hang of it. Besides, the cyclical nature of this activity makes it quite soothing – almost like meditation (which I never managed to perform well, by the way – but that’s a digression). Moreover, hand-stitching of canvas was a skill I had wanted to develop in the unfortunate case I ever need to repair a sail at sea (knocking wood vigorously as I write this!).

As I manipulated the dinghy cover and my patches slowly became part of it, I started imagining a whole sort of improvements I could add – feeling good with my stitching. But I also must be the manager of my own time – which is limited. Pesto does require my attention in other areas as well. And hand-stitching canvas is very time consuming. Very. I must have sunk at least 12 hours of work to fit 2 meters of patch to the cover !!! So, unimproved-but-fixed it remains.

For the upcoming weeks I still have quite a number of long incursions in the engine room scheduled. There’s still the dreaded deck leak that I will find or bust. The dinghy’s bottom has a few dents that need be covered. And some beautiful wood accents around Pesto’s cockpit have been luring me for a Varnish Job – another skill that I have been fancying to acquire. And then, there is still one more Canvas Job that I would really like to have done before we leave the dock …

Time will tell if I will have the time to do all this, and all other items on the Project List – let’s see.

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