'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

The Worklist Paradox (And affording the lifestyle)


There’s a known paradox in the cruising world relating to work lists – particularly those that relate to preparing a boat to launch.

Those lists get longer the more you do.

Perhaps it’s not just cruising boats. Maybe that happens with other things as well, but being a carpenter, I’ve kinda gotten used to the idea of working through my punch-list of “things to do”, getting to the end of the list, and being able to say “There – I’m done.”

That doesn’t happen on boats.  No, on a boat, you start working on a project – something simple, like doing a bit of vacuuming – and you’re mindlessly vacuuming away when you notice a little spot of black stuff on the edge of the shelf in the forward berth, so you grab a rag and wipe at that spot. Sure enough, it comes clean, but there’s more black stuff on the rag than you expected, so you get down on your knees so you can see better, realize you can’t see because it’s dark, get up again to get the flashlight (those poor old knees making an awful racket along the way), point the flashlight into the dark storage area under the berth…

…and your heart sinks. Mildew. LOTS of mildew, all under the shelf and along the wall because you haven’t cleaned in there since you bought the boat, and then you parked it in the Petri dish that is a Florida summer…

So now you’re not vacuuming any more, you are now giving the entire inside of the boat a scrub with Mold & Mildew cleaner, and that easy half-hour vacuuming job has become a 5 day, 25 person-hour marathon with even money on whether the knees and shoulders or the mold and mildew give out first.

That’s cruising.  And just to add spice to the recipe, it’s 90 degrees outside the boat, 105 or better inside, and the humidity is 98% here in the Florida swamp…   Oh yeah, that’s cruising.

But you know, that’s also cruising, in a positive way. It’s warm, yes, but we aren’t looking ahead to snow and ice in a couple months. The boat looks better, it smells better, and Nicki is breathing a whole lot easier with that crap gone from the walls.

Just to wrap up our first week back in Florida: So far we’ve spent 5 days at the yard. The first was just to assure ourselves that Sionna weathered the winds of Irma ok, and in fact she suffered absolutely no damage from the storm.  I think that’s pretty amazing, considering that the winds were between 80 and 110 mph for several hours. She was filthy, yes, with all the dust kicked up by the storm, so our first work-day was spent scrubbing the decks and cockpit so we wouldn’t be tracking all that stuff into the boat. 
Day two (and mind you, a day is about 4 hours of actual work for each of us. At these temperatures, that’s about all we have in us) I sanded and painted the propeller, installed the bilge drain plug (that one is pretty important!) and started installing the new dinghy davits, while Nicki began cleaning the interior – bow to stern. 

Day three was more davits, finding materials, and more scrubbing, plus swapping in a new spinaker halyard so that the old one could become the hauling lines for raising the dinghy into the new davits. Oh and cleaning. 

Day four included beginning to fit the new solar panel on the davits, working out the wiring run for said panel, adding lifting rings to the dinghy, and sweating. A LOT of sweating. And did I mention scrubbing? Poor Nicki’s shoulders…

Day five, which was yesterday, included installing new carpeting to the walls in the aft berth, mounting the solar panel, running the wires and hooking it up (we’ve got gobs of power now – 220 watts of solar!), and hoisting the dinghy up into the davits for the first time, just because we can. Yes, and cleaning.

All told, our first week of boat work has involved about 55 hours of labor input. If we were paying normal labor rates to have someone else do it, that would be about $4400 already. This is why we say the reason we can live this lifestyle is because we aren’t afraid to DIY. It’s also why – when someone says “I want your life, but I could never afford…” – we say yes, you can.

You just have to be willing to sweat a little.

Oh, and that worklist? I started with 11 items. 

We’re down to 13!

Author: s/v sionna

Living the dream in 32'. We left Maine on August 18th, 2016, and have gradually worked our way south until we felt warm enough. After spending the summer in Maine, working to replenish the cruising kitty, and rehabilitating an old house. we’re headed back on the boat, bringing Sionna back home to northern waters. Follow our blog here!

8 thoughts on “The Worklist Paradox (And affording the lifestyle)

  1. Will having the dingy cantilevered out back like that change the center-of-gravity enough to affect how she handles? H


    • You could say its the best – if imperfect – solution to the problem. Putting any weight that far from the cg is never ideal, but Sionna was a bit down at the bow due to ground tackle (anchors and chain) so she may balance better now. She may also show an increased tendency to “hobbyhorse” (pitch rythmically due to the distance of the added weight from her center. Time will tell. In any case, the advantages in dinghy handling and safety of crew outweigh those considerations.


  2. “Oh, and that worklist? I started with 11 items. We’re down to 13!”



  3. Looks like the dingy needs a little work too!


    • Well… It does, and it,s getting some this week. But it isn’t getting painted-it doesn’t know how to take care of paint job…


  4. Working even four hours a day in this oppressive heat is amazing. I’m really impressed 🙂 It definitely makes a big difference to the checking account if you DIY vs. hire the work out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the strokes, dear! Today we put the booms and sails (except the Genny) back on – she’s starting to look like a SAIL BOAT again!


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