Enjoy the fruits of your labor

After all of the time spent repairing, maintaining and upgrading our boat, there is nothing better than relaxing in a quiet anchorage to make it all worthwhile. Finally we were able to enjoy the fruits of our labor as we dropped the hook in Cocktail Cove at Jewell Island for a beautiful, albeit gray, Memorial Day weekend. Just weeks before we had discovered, after days of troubleshooting, that the electric motor driving our windlass (the machine that hauls the anchor up) was seized. As you can imagine it was unbelievably frustrating to discover yet another item needing repair, especially one that could not be put off. Sure, in a pinch we could haul our anchor by hand, but for cruising on a regular basis we need a working windlass. Having moved aboard for the purpose of exploration and adventure, our anchor system is vital.



Polynya at anchor, Cocktail Cove.

Luckily our windlass is incredibly well made by a small business, The Ideal Windlass Company, in Rhode Island. Despite the age of our 40-year-old equipment, they were able to supply a brand new motor and worm gear within a few days. The new motor was not cheap, but in comparison to an entirely new windlass it was a no-brainer. After installing a new breaker, solenoid, and foot switch I was ready to install the new motor.

Stretched out across the forward bunk and hanging into the chain locker, I struggled to hold the new motor in place with arms extended above my head as I lined up the bolts and gasket. A few tough moments later, the motor was mounted. With some fresh oil and the final electrical connections complete, I switched on the breaker and headed up on deck to test my work. With anticipation, I removed the anchor chain from the wildcat and stepped onto the switch. Relief, excitement, and laughter emerged as the windlass jumped to life. There is a certain joy and prideful affirmation that can only be gained from self-sufficiency.

Swinging from the anchor in Cocktail Cove I couldn’t help but smile thinking of how far we have come in the last year. Polynya is a wonderful boat with a lifetime of adventures ahead, but she is also an old boat with a lot of miles under her keel. With the enthusiasm only new owners could offer we have made great strides in improving the safety, integrity, and comfort of our wonderful floating home. The work list grows longer by the day, but we enjoy what we do.

[Tweet “Later, when the work is done, enjoy the fruits of your labor. You’ve earned it.”]

A few days ago, as we cleaned the boat at the dock, we chuckled as we realized what an accomplishment it was to have completed enough projects to allow cosmetic endeavors to approach the top of our list. There is teak to be cleaned, streaks to be removed, windows to be washed, and paint to be applied. But for us the freedom to consider such tasks is an accomplishment of its own. Function over form has always been my motto. Then again, I find that reliable, well-designed equipment is usually aesthetically pleasing as well.


Lovely sailing on Polynya. Photo by Nate Pablo.

I did not write last week, and I don’t regret it. While I am intending to maintain a regular posting schedule, I found myself caught up in the joys of sailing, relaxing, and reflecting. To take a few days off from the computer, unplugged and away from the dock helped to motivate me. I think it is important, from time to time, to look back on what you have accomplished, take a deep breath, and reap the rewards.

I’m a tinkerer, a lover of projects, a schemer. Soon I’ll dive back into projects aboard, planting seeds for future enjoyment. Don’t be afraid to tackle projects that seem overwhelming. There is nothing wrong with seeking the help of a professional, but I think you’ll find that with motivation and determination you can do almost any repair aboard. Later, when the work is done, enjoy the fruits of your labor. You’ve earned it.

Matt Garand

About Matt Garand

Lifelong Mainer, and professional mariner, Matt Garand is the creator of A Life Aboard, a look at year-round living on a sailboat in Maine. Matt and his wife, Skye, live aboard in South Portland and use every available chance to throw off the lines and explore the coast.