Sunday, 12 February 2012

imperfectly perfect

I often joke that we have the hillbilly boat in the anchorage. To be honest, I’m only half joking.

Our boat is old. Fifty-four years old, old. Her varnish needs some serious sprucing (again); the deck needs a fresh coat of paint, (again). The stainless steel though polished, is dull with age. Our oven has a mind of its own; the head squeaks and needs constant attention. We have a couple leaks that we manage to forget about until a rare 2 days of solid Mexican rain reminds us. Our cabinetry needs to be refinished as does our sole*. Our out-dated velour cushions are missing buttons.

Nyon was the boat we could afford when we were buying. Her hull was sound, but she needed some love. Not only that, she had nice lines and we saw her potential.  Sure, with the economy these days, we would have had the option to purchase a less aged artifact, but Nyon it is. We fell in love with her, imperfections and all. Sometimes, we ruefully shake our heads. Do we always have to do things the hard way? This boat needs more maintenance and work then a boat 20 years her junior. At times, we could cry from the work involved in taking care of her.

We don’t have many toys or gadgets. Our GPS is 17 years old, (we do have a back-up). We don’t have an anemometer, or radar. We don’t have an SSB radio**, only our new VHF (with AIS receiver) and a cranky SSB receiver. We have a manual windlass but no water-maker. Our refrigeration is a DC-powered cooler that is chronically temperamental, since we have reached warmer climes. Our mainsail is 35 years old but is still, unbelievably, in decent shape. That can’t be said of our threadbare sail cover. Prior to our departure, my sister-in-law Jacquie and I spent a day mending and patching it.  At least our mast is now free of dry rot and freshly varnished…

Usually, we’re the only wooden boat in the anchorage. A little stern-heavy, our boot stripe is a veritable garden we diligently scrub clean(ish) over and over, during our bi-weekly hull-scraping endeavours. Our dinghy could use a little love too. At least, the oars can’t break down, even if the paint is peeling off. We get our exercise rowing around, but we can’t explore as far afield as those sailors with outboard motors on their dinghies.

Having said all that, we’re out here. We are voyaging. We are experiencing the adventure of a lifetime. In the past, I have felt the need to apologize for the state of our floating home, for the long to-do list that is never finished. Now I don’t. Nyon may be imperfect, a diamond in the rough… But she’s taking us places. We have so much to thank this boat for. She has cracked our world wide open. And for that, we are grateful.

Even if we are the hillbillies in the anchorage.

*sole – the correct term when referring to the floor in a boat.
** SSB – Single sideband radio: A long distance two-way radio communication system. Should we decide to sail to the south Pacific, we’d either get one or a Sat phone for weather forecasting and safety reasons.


  1. It just goes to show that you don't need all that stuff to go out and see the world. And as an Arkansas native, I hate to say it, but you guys aren't super hillbilly. You don't even have the requisite chicken coop on the bow!

  2. Glad to read this post. I've been feeling a little dejected lately because the housing market crash is going to keep us from having the money to buy many of those things and we'll be heading out pretty simply. Thanks for the encouragement- I really needed it today!

    S/V Kintala

  3. Too funny about the chickens - just recently a cruising friend was trying to convince us that having a chicken aboard would be a good idea!! We kind of all disagreed...

    Deb, glad you found comfort in this post - it's easy to want more on a boat, but the best advice we got was go simple, go now... Hang in there!

  4. Great post! Proves once again that getting out there is much more important than having the perfect set-up! Our sailboat is only 30ft, but once the house sells it will be good enough! Mexico looks great!

  5. Thanks Mid-life - Mexico is great! When is your projected departure? Exciting huh!

  6. We hope to "leave the dock" in about one year .. March of 2013. We won't waste time making Nirvana perfect, but selling our house seems to be the big time consumer. It is exciting, and in the meantime we're enjoying the journey and weekends (when warmer) on the boat. We love reading blogs like yours!

  7. I feel ya on having an old boat that needs lots of work. But ah well, It was what we could afford, and we love Sundowner.

    You are out there..and that's closer than 95% of the people that dream about it are doing.



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