Doing It “Yourself”

In May, after a year and half of searching, I finally found the boat of my dreams. The 1978 Cal 39 Far Niente was an incredible price, and I quickly made an offer. Within a week, and two days after my Masters graduation, I had purchased the boat.

Far Niente emerges with a little sea life on her hull.

Far Niente emerges with a little sea life on her hull.

Since then, I have had Far hauled and sitting “on the hard” at the Berkeley Marine Center for her list of beauty and safety projects (the two almost always go hand-in-hand.) Unlike nearly any other boatyard in the world, at BMC you can have professionals do the work for you–or you can do the work yourself and ASK the professionals how to do it. Under the tutelage of the boatyard owners and experts, I have plunged into projects about which I had absolutely zero prior knowledge. The advice flows like wine (especially unsolicited from onlookers and passersby), and I have the habit of asking for five opinions to learn if they match up and then discern the best way forward. I try to understand not only HOW, but WHY I should proceed with any certain strategy.

Painting Far Niente in the evening.

Painting Far Niente in the evening.

In that sense, I have embraced the DIY ethic of the yard. However, the reality is almost completely opposite. Without the guidance of everyone at BMC, I would have wasted far more than the two cans of epoxy paint I wasted anyway (at $90 each, this is a painful fact.) And without the human power and hours of my friends from both the Energy and Resources Group and fellow boat owners (especially Josh, Shannon and John, and George,) I would have injured my back far more than once (also a painful fact, and still on the mend.)

American Gothic, boatyard-style.

American Gothic, boatyard-style.

In addition, the process (and the boatyard) has reminded me that enough is enough sometimes: no job is worth the sacrificing of health (and therefore future sailing fitness.) You have to know when to accept help and give your back a break.

Although I write here about my adventures in research and boat repair, this all requires a legion of cheerfully giving people who have taken time to sand, paint, fiberglass, crawl around in uncomfortable spaces, and coax me through projects.

Josh surveys the scene after sandwiching himself in the lazarette to pull the rusty water heater.

Josh surveys the scene after sandwiching himself in the lazarette to pull the rusty water heater.

DIY in the boatyard–just as in academic research–goes faster, smoother, more learning-rich, and downright WAY more fun when you collaborate. Thank you, everyone.

Ulysses supervises the improvements.

Ulysses supervises the improvements.

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