Thursday, May 29, 2008

So...You've got a Boat for Sale

The ad we put on Craig's list while we were in Ecuador and in Boat Journal after we got back listed both our email address and our telephone number. If people phoned, we suggested they email unless they didn't have access to the internet. If people emailed, we sent them a package which included about 40 pictures of Dowager together with a fairly long narrative of her history and perks, plus a listing of her details (cedar planks, Loran, full size fridge, etc. etc).

Most of the people who made first contact, we never heard from again, but we still have had a fairly good response so we've shown the boat several times now.

The first fellow was quite round and couldn't get into the engine room, which requires a twist around the engine. Brian told him, " won't be buying this boat", but he stuck around for the rest of the tour anyways and was good enough to point out Dowager's flaws to us.

"Don't you dare start the boat for anyone again, unless we know they're serious", Shelley wagged her finger at Brian.

We had one couple that can't decide whether to buy a cabin on Bowen Island (or some similar place) or buy a boat. "Come on people!" We all know they'll be buying a cabin.

We had another couple, the man stiff from his back operation. They explained he would be wearing the brace for some time. Our email description points out that there are ladders coming up from the fo'c'sle and down into the back cabin and still they came. They were additionally allergic to cats. Flo, our cat, of course hung around them the whole time they looked through the boat. (Good FloCat!)

We have had people make appointments and cancel and re-schedule and then cancel again. We're not quite sure what that one is? We've had promises of phone calls to be returned that never happen and arrivals an hour ahead of the scheduled time. We had one fellow that phoned and emailed us at least seven times, a couple of those inappropriately late in the evening, and then he never did show up to view the boat. We've had people confess to us that they've been looking for the "perfect" boat for a year and a half now. (Listen Buddy, after a year and a half, the perfect boat ain't out there for you!)

You have to recognize the boat is 42 feet long and 11 feet wide. There's a fo'c'sle in the front, a wheelhouse, the galley (off of which is the doorway to the engine room), the back salon area and the head (in that order). A quick tour takes less than a minute but most people stay at least an hour (sometimes two). We point out all the storage Dowager has and the full size fridge (a real perk on a boat). We explain she has hot water and a shower and how the salon settee breaks down easily into a comfy double bed. Our visitors point out her warts (and she has many). Built in 1931, we should look so good when we're 77! None of her warts makes her any less sea worthy; we had her surveyed and spent a disgusting amount of money on her bottom just a few weeks ago.

Boats are a lifestyle. Lots of the calls we've received have been from people interested in living aboard. At the beginning, we dutifully explained that there are very few places to live aboard in Vancouver. We were grandfathered to live where we are and they are not accepting any more liveaboards. Someone very serious about living aboard can probably get moorage in the Fraser River but someone very serious about living aboard would have found that out already. After awhile, we stopped being dutiful and left it that the assumable moorage we were offering did not cover liveaboard. The rest they can figure out for themselves.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In Limbo

Shelley's trying to upload the Ecuador pictures to our FaceBook site while Brian uses the sander and meshed metal to clean the Dickinson stove. "Boy this is a bigger job than I thought!" Brian moans up through the passageway while diesel dusts floats around the entire boat coating every surface with a black film.

We're ongoing with cleanup on the boat but generally in limbo. When the boat sells, we're gone in 3 weeks. It's exciting and scary and wonderful all at the same time. It could, however, take anywhere from 3 weeks to 10 years to sell the boat. Limbo can be uncomfortable but if you develope the right attitude, it's pretty much like regular-bo.

We had originally decided to try marketing the boat on our own for about a month before we involved a broker. Our disappointment with one prospective buyer prompted us to contact a broker and get on with the plan. Soon as we listed the boat with a broker, we had a kafuffel just about right away when we noted the broker's personal boat was also up on their website selling for approximately the same amount of money that we want for Dowager. After several emails and telephone calls, it was decided we all would monitor the "situation". It's so nice when things are resolved cleanly, isn't it?

Since we've listed with the broker we've had absolutely no response from them. We've had a couple of calls in response to ads we had put up ourself and showed the boat to one old fellow who lived on a boat previously for 20 years. "I sold the boat and moved to Quesnel, when I retired", he told us. "I've got to get back on the water." (Hope we don't have loss-of-boat regrets when we move!) This fellow played silly games with us too. Showing up an hour early and walking straight onto the deck of the boat. He was a bit embarrassed when we poked our heads out mumbling that he was just about to phone us.

When we planned our trip to Ecuador, we thought coming home April 1st was very clever because we would be coming home to Spring. We didn't come home to Spring! We came home to the end of Winter. Apparently there had been snow just the week before. In any case, with the weather finally getting better we launched the dingy and took our first trip of the year around False Creek. The biggest change is the building of the Olympic Village. All the cranes makes for an impressive sight. Gosh we hope we're gone before the Olympics!

Sitting in a little dingy in the middle of False Creek makes the city very impressive. It always reminds Shelley of the pyramids. There you are, a little spot in the middle of the water with all the high rises towering over you. You feel quite small and insignificant and at the same time proud of what "we" can accomplish. When we had the dog and took him with us, the people on the beach would always wave and point. These days they usually just gawk, unsure of the correct response to two retirees acting like children.

Life has become a series of routines for us; shower every other day, wash the floors on Tuesday, Monday is laundry day, Grocery shopping Thursday or Friday etc. Brian is having very little difficulty adjusting to not going to work every day. We still seem to be fairly busy all day though - just at a slower pace.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

No TV for 10 Years

When we first moved on to the boat we lived in a Marina that had cable TV lines to the boats. That only lasted for a few months though and then we didn't have television for about 10 years. Shelley thought it would be wonderful for her youngest daughter, not having TV. She had visions of her daughter reading and taking up painting and writing poetry and spending her time communing with nature. Long evenings had the family playing Monopoly and discussing world politics (in her vision that is). The reality was her daughter just added the lack of TV to a long list of things to hold against her Mother forever.

Finally, long after the daughter "grew up" and moved off the boat we got a satellite dish. After not watching television for that length of time the commercials were the most shocking of all! Everything seemed much franker and more graphic. Commercials for Viagra, full frontal nudity and the "F" word had all worked themselves to the forefront of cultural acceptability. Shelley found herself with uncontrollable urges to go out and buy a Swiffer and teeth whitening products.

We quickly got used to it though.

Our long winter evenings filled with reading and playing board games and talking in the wheelhouse were now filled with CSI and House. We quickly developed a routine and favourites.

We first got our satellite dish in the Spring and glutted ourselves on summer reruns we'd never seen. We were also delighted to find that there was quality on the tube. Our nightly ritual for several months involved watching all seasons of the West Wing and the Sopranos. Brian was so taken with West Wing that he bought the complete boxed set for his friend Jan in Holland. It took us 2 years to get completely caught up on Seinfeld and see all the lost episodes of Friends. Through the next winter we discovered new favourites (!) and even deigned to start watching Reality TV. It'd been tough as a non-TV watcher not being part of the office gossip about who was doing what on Survivor.

We even manged to get through the recent writers' strike because of the backlog of TV we hadn't seen but were quite overjoyed when ER came back with 4 new episodes!

In Ecuador our choices were limited. We watched episodes of Mr. Bean in Spanish (not difficult) and sought out channels that provided closed captioning. On a holiday though, we didn't miss TV due to our busy schedule.

And so now we're at the end of the Winter episodes and in the dark period before the new Summer shows start. We've watched the disasters in China and around the world and sat glued to the box watching the recent Mars landing. The competition between Hillary and Obama has us fascinated. How come Canadian politics doesn't grab us the same way? Maybe it's because the U.S. coverage is so all pervasive and goes on for so many months?

Are we trapped by TV, the gilded bird in a cage watching life through a tiny tube? The only show that dominates our schedule is 60 Minutes. Life is rearranged around 60 Minutes but everything else is pretty much as we see it. We have literally hundreds of channels at our finger tips but are frequently amazed that sometimes we can't find anything worth watching. We're still readers, the Marina bookshelf and the library are regular haunts. The computer adds a new dimension to our life and exercise in the form of long walks is a daily duty. We hit the beach and take dinghy rides. The kids manage to provide "entertainment". Still we wonder sometimes, especially when the weather is cold and rainy how we managed to live without it for 10 years.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Laundry Day

It's spring. It's time to wash the winter quilt and put it away. You have to understand we LOVE our winter quilt. It keeps us toasty and warm and that's an important thing on a boat in the winter.

Shelley trudges up to the marina laundromat and sets up three washers; one with clothes, one with sheets and towels and one with the winter quilt.

"Did the quilt fit in the washing machine?" asked Brian.

"Barely", Shelley murmured.

Later, after Shelley went up and put the washing into the dryers Brian asked, "Did the quilt fit into the dryer?"

"Just barely", Shelley replied.

Later still, both Brian and Shelley plodded up through the misty spring rain to take their laundry out of the dryers and together they folded it. Brian likes the easy stuff like sheets, pillow cases and towels but Shelley appreciates his help and his company so doesn't complain.

"It sure is easier when you help me fold", Shelley praises Brian.

"Did the quilt get dry?" Brian asks.

"No. There are still damp spots."

"Will it dry?" Brian worries.

"No Brian" Shelley mocks "Come next fall when we put the quilt back on our bed, we'll have to put up with it being a bit damp".

Brian thought Shelley was harsh and got a bit peeved.

Shelley laughed.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On the Hard

May 1st saw Dowager on the ways getting her bottom painted and zincs replaced. The Shipyard calls it a "shave and a haircut". What we thought would be a $1000 hit turned into a $4,500 as her garboard seam needed recaulking. There being absolutely nothing to do while up on the ways, Shelley & Brian spent the time going for long walks and playing with the computer.
In order to go to the bathroom one had to climb down a long ladder, across a small dock and into a spooky building. The men at the boat yard were concerned and spoke to Brian about the bathroom as it wasn't "that clean" (understatement) and was covered in pictures of naked

women. Brian assured them that Shelley has lived at a fish dock for the last 10 years and it wouldn't be anything she hadn't already encountered. Still, it was spooky at night trekking through an old building with boards and sawdust and machinery everywhere!

We got back to Fishermans' Wharf only to find that a fisherman had usurped our spot. After we finally got tied up and shut the engine down we discovered that we
were leaking at a rate of about 2 gallons an hour. We'd never leaked before! Brian called the shipyard and they told him that caulking the garboard seam had probably put stress on other seams and that's why we had developed this leak.

We arranged for our regular Shipwright to give us a hand and we put the boat up on the grid here at Fishermans' Wharf and he spent a full day caulking other spots that looked weak. Another $500! Once back in the water again, the leak had disappeared.

Dowager's fine now. No leaks! We don't like leaks! Leaks are expensive.

While up on the ways in Richmond, several people came to see Dowager but all were looky-loos, taking up our time as an outing for themselves. We send an extensive package out to people who might be interested in the boat; about 40 pictures, a list of details that you'd find on a survey, and a long narrative about her history and
layout. Anybody that comes should have a pretty good idea what she's about, but still we get the looky-loos.

Shelley told Brian it reminds her of dating; this selling of the boat. There's
that same dance that takes place. You know, one person wants commitment, the other one's not sure. We had one fellow who seemed really interested and was going to come by on a Monday to "make an offer". He phoned Monday and said he was tied up and would come on Tuesday. Tuesday he phoned at the previously arranged time and told us he'd decided to buy a different boat. Now you gotta understand, this fellow forced us to clean-up and prep the boat two days in a row for nothing. What the heck is that?