Saturday, March 30, 2013


Leaving the projects behind this weekend. Deb deserves a break, and a little fun. To the beach!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Stink.

We stink. No really we do. It's not a body odor, it's a boat odor. When you live aboard a boat, you tend to acquire it's smell. There is no avoiding it. You ever cook Mexican at home and forget that you left your jacket on the back of the kitchen chair? Next day you're a walking Chimichanga. The smell just clings to you. Well, we have something clinging to us, and it's not pleasant.

 I wanted to write about this part of living aboard in my previous post, but there was enough material that it deserved a post all it's own. Annette at Seamless Sailor beat me to it, but I'll carry on as I tend to write with a lot less class on subject matter, so I know I will not be stealing her material.

I was reminded of a few instances where I was aware of the unique smell of boat on my person. Maybe we have all experienced this? You don't have to be a liveaboard to take on the vessel's halo. Just spend a weekend on your boat, and it sticks to you like glue. After a weekend on the boat one summer, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some things. While standing in line at the cash register I noticed a woman and daughter with curled noses behind me. My hearing is excellent, and teens tend to speak a tad loud so I heard someone comment about a smell. In my defense, I pretty much smelled like sunscreen, as I was in a swimsuit all day, but the clothes I grabbed for the ride home were tucked away in the aft berth of our old Hunter 34. They were my backup t-shirt and shorts, and had probably been laying in there for a few weeks at least. I'm pretty sure that if a fellow sailor was behind me, he would ask how I like sailing a Hunter. They were that bad.

Boat fragrance is the combination of old fiberglass, diesel, bilge, salty air, mold, mildew, and holding tank all mixed together. Lovely. If you are like us, you try to combat this by using Febreze. We go through quite a bit of the stuff. The other method we employ is to keep some clothes in our cars after we do laundry. Especially if we have special events to attend, where we do not want to offend, like meeting new non-boating people, or a job interview, etc. With old friends and fellow boaters we don't bother. We assume they are used to it by now. You guys are OK with it, Right?

I recall reading a blog post some time ago, where the store clerk at a checkout asked the couple if they were cruisers. They answered yes, but did not ask how she knew. I'm guessing it was either the Crocs, faded T-shirts, unshaven face, gray hair, small clown bikes, backpacks, fanny packs, silly hats, or Boat Stink. 

There was a woman I worked with who heard I was moving onto the boat for the summer. She asked what I would do about boat smell. I mentioned Febreze, but she frowned and said it doesn't really work all that well. Everyday she would drift by and let me know if I stunk like boat. She was a boat owner herself and was well aware of the aura you can have after too much time living aboard. A few times her nose crinkled and she just laughed out loud. She told me one Friday morning that I was a combination of boat and beer. Well, it was Thirsty Thursday last night. She thought I should start hanging my work clothes in my van, with a car air freshener. Rumors started at work, as she would hop on by to get a sniff, which looked more like a hug from a distance. One day she backed away with an awful look on her face, and I had to tell her we stayed at the apartment instead of the boat, but it was Curry night. She hates Indian food.

We stayed at my daughters place one recent weekend, and she came into our room to chat a bit. At once she said, "Ugh, it smells like boat in here." The way she said it, and the look on her face meant it was not pleasant. When she was a teen, we would haul her and her sister off on three week cruises to Canada. Being a teen, trapped in a boat with your parents, with nothing to look at but water and rocks with pine trees growing out of them would get a bit boring. So, I was thinking that the smell just brings back bad memories for her, but she assured me that no, it just stinks.

Do we go through the rest of our boating lives smelling different from land dwellers, feeling insecure as we travel among them? Will we always get seated at the table by the restrooms? Will we always have to talk into the wind? Be one of the Smells, instead of the Swells? I think so, unless Febreze comes out with a line of clothing. On the plus side, eventually there is plenty of room at the bar, and dogs tend to like us.

Is there anything you can do about boat stink? Are you just masking it, or perfuming over it, making it worse? We are trying a few things to improve our scent. We'll let you know what our daughter thinks of these new remedies in a few weeks. The Seamless Sailor has some excellent ideas on ways to make your boats fragrance more pleasurable. We are doing our best to keep it at bay, but I may just have to handle it the old fashioned way.


Monday, March 25, 2013


This was written over a year ago, but never posted. The names were changed to protect the silly people. You know who you are.

I have a Sunfish sailboat. It's fun. I raced it for a few years with some success, passing old people and small children around the race course. I now have the "fish" on Sodus Bay. During the week, when not working, I can get out for some fun and relaxation, and cool off. I was always talking up dinghy sailing/racing to my friends, trying to get them interested, so maybe we could get some weeknight racing happening on Sodus Bay. It never took hold, but I did have a friend who was remotely interested. I just needed to press a little.

Sunfish racing on the Irondequoit Bay

My buddy, we'll just call him The Tweaker, kept asking when I was going to get the Sunfish out to the marina, as he would like to try dinghy sailing again, and would love to take someone else's boat out for a spin. "Why don't you get your own Sunfish, so I can beat your sorry ass in some match racing", I told him. Well, that was all I needed to say, as Tweaker soon took up the hunt for a cheap Sunfish. Now, my pal was taking his dear old time looking, trying to get the deal of the century no doubt, so I thought I'd help him out by mentioning it to another friend of ours, we'll call him, Gassy. Old Mister Gassy has a knack for finding old Sunfish in pretty decent shape for two to three hundred dollars. Letting Gassy know Tweaker was in need, well, that got him all...gassed up. He must have called Tweaker and I about twenty times in the last few months. Maybe we should have answered, but anyhow, Gassy was a new man, with a mission, and unfortunately for Tweaker, a new "Sunfish". Gassy can be persistent, and loves nothing better than a good deal.

When I finally decided gassy had suffered enough, I answered the phone, and listened to the incredible deal he had on a Sunfish. "Cool, bet Tweaker is excited", I said. "Can't get a hold of him, but the deal was too good to pass up, so I bought it. Let him know he owes me $250.00", Gassy replied.
Um, Tweaker is a really picky guy. I don't see this going well, and Gassy is pretty stubborn, so this will be an interesting transaction, or argument. Either way I was going to be sitting ringside and loving it.

Days later, to my surprise, Tweaker called and asked for help, and the use of my old Chevy van to pick up the new Sunfish found for him. "You seen it?", I asked. "No, and I'm a bit concerned that it's not a Sunfish. Gas was not very informative, and I don't want the trailer." Tweak seemed a tad edgy, and I'm a bit shocked he wanted to go see it, let alone buy it. On a Friday night I headed out to the storage unit to get the roof rack for hauling the fish, then on the way to Tweaker's my engine started running funny. Kind of a rough idle. Arriving, I checked all fluids while Tweaker found the right socks to wear. Like I said, picky. So, with the engine checked out, and Tweak with all his gear he thought he needed, including extra jackets, pants, underwear, funny hats, and snowshoes. OK, I made some of those things up. But it did seem like a lot of stuff. We now headed out to see Gassy's ultimate find.

We arrived at Gassy's to the sounds of a barking dog and a woman trying to strangle it. By the way, Tweak not only had a color printed map, but a photo of the house. So while Mrs Gassy choked the puppy, we walked up to the........not a Sunfish. No, not a Sunfish. I immediately started a smirk, as I got a nasty glare from Mister Tweaker. I was already coming up with some sarcastic jabs at the the new owner of faded mustard colored sort of sunfish looking thing, with flaking fiberglass, and a rather large drain hole. But while my tongue got ready, out from the darkness of the garage came a farting sound, and a limping figure resembling Jabba the Hut, or the Mucinex guy who lives in your nose. "Isn't it a steal? What do you think gentlemen? Gassy was walking the slowest old man walk you could pull off without a cane, or walker, and he had the biggest smile going, as we were inspecting his prize. "Gass, what the hell is this thing?"  "It's a sunfish, what else.", Gas said sternly. "Um, no. It's not" said Tweak. Gass went on describing that it was close enough and that it was a steal. "You'll love it!, Guaranteed. You owe me two hundred and fifty dollars."

Sunfish like sailboat
 Much to my amazement, Tweak agreed to buy the ugly thing after poking at it and grumbling to me that it was all my fault. We checked out the Sunfish like boat, and sail, and could not identify the faded little vessel. This will take some research. Tweak and I proceeded to put the ugly thing on the top of the van. After Tweak spent an hour tying the mystery craft down, we were under way. A hurricane could not blow that freaky thing off my roof. Spiderman would be proud.

Isn't she a beauty? Now cough up the $250.

We left Mister Gas waving in the driveway, and started the long drive back to Tweakers place. The van was running a bit sluggish just a few minutes underway, and then the temperature gauge pegged indicating an overtemp on the radiator. We pulled over, popped the hood and looked around for steam or a leak. Nothing. What the hell. The radiator hose from the engine was not hot at all! Don't get it. We diagnosed for a bit, then I decided to make a run for it. The temp would peg, then go down, then peg again. It did this the whole half hour ride to Tweakers. We would also lose our heat. I'm thinking thermostat issue, but we're moving so let's go.
We got to Tweakers in the dark, and unloaded the freak from my rooftop. We carried the thing around back, on wet grass, on a sloping hillside. From there we brought the boat inside the basement walkout, realizing just how small his basement was, and how large a Sunfish gets inside a house. After many gallons of sweat and some bruised knuckles it was in, and I was on my way. Phew.

As I drove home laughing about the whole evening of comedy, about a mile out the van started sputtering and slowing down. I slowly pulled over when the old Chevy just died. I mean died. It sounded like it coughed it's last breath, weezed, and then lights out. Damn it! After finishing up banging my head against the steering wheel, I called AAA, and had her towed to a garage. Next day I find out that I blew a head gasket. Son of a....

Is there a moral to this odd story? I don't know. I amusingly got Gassy involved with the Tweaker, as I knew it would be fun watching the interaction, but I was rewarded with a dead van. So maybe I should have left well enough alone? Kept my nose out of it? Don't mess with people for your own amusement? All of the above?

To this day, tweaker has never sailed the damn freak boat, which turned out to be a Star type Sunfish knock off with some freaky unknown rig. He lugged it all the way to the Midwest  where it is probably inverted and covered with snow.  My Sunfish was given to my daughter, sitting in her yard, inverted and covered in snow. My van lives to this day, and is happily rusting away in Florida.  I never got a chance to race the FrankenStarCloneFish to prove my superiority over Mister Tweaker as a dinghy sailor. Maybe once he gets to Florida we'll give it a go. We all go to Florida eventually.