Exactly what do you do all day Bob?

I can still remember when I was working and a vacation was a week or two where we rushed around trying to accomplish as much as possible before our time off was up. Now that I have been retired and “hanging around” for winters aboard Pandora, going on a decade now, my perspective of time has changed.

We often quip about life aboard Pandora is that “nothing happens aboard Pandora till noon” and that is in spite of the fact that I am a very early riser, generally around 05:00. Any way you look at it, there is a lot of “nothing happening time” each day.

The arrival last winter of Starlink has even made our “pursuit for leisure” way worse, with easy access to newspapers and all matters of stuff. We think nothing of watching highlights of late night TV or how-to videos on YouTube and that doesn’t even begin to include the movies that we enjoy watching after dinner. It can really put a dent in a day. Nowadays compared to my years working, I am not all that productive when I am aboard.

I’ll admit that in spite of my recent upgrades to solar, the addition of a wind generator and lithium batteries, Pandora’s power consumption has increased in direct proportion to our available power. The good news is that lithium batteries don’t have to be fully charged each day and are quite content to be kept “sort of charged” which is good as that’s where they generally are.

Of course, there’s plenty to do that doesn’t use power including a swim off of the back of Pandora. It’s hot here and as spring approaches will be a bit hotter so spending time cooling off is a near daily ritual.

Recently we added a new twist the “evening float” complete with a glass of wine. Not a bad way to wrap up a day on the water.

A common question cruisers get from folks that have no idea what this lifestyle is all about is “what do you do all day?” Sadly, in spite of feeling like I am fairly busy much of the time, the simple answer is “not a lot” as everything takes so much longer on a boat than on shore. The simple act of grocery shopping may involve stops at more than one place and even then, they may not have what we are looking for. And, stock can be spotty so it’s not uncommon for us to visit a grocery store, generally a small market, nearly every day. And, bringing a dink to a dock, putting out a stern anchor and getting ashore, only to reverse the whole process when we return is a lot more time consuming than parking a car and running into a grocery.

And there is the near constant work of keeping the boat in shape and keeping the hull clean below the waterline. In that case, I have to get out the air compressor, all the gear and then spend upwards of an hour underwater with a coarse scotchbright pad, rubbing off the slime and growth. To keep things from getting too bad, I have to do that about every two weeks and from start to finish, getting set up, the cleaning process itself and then cleaning up and putting things away can take two hours.

Simple repairs can often be a game of “cat and mouse”. Example: A few weeks ago my speedometer/distance log began to function erratically and finally just stopped working. Absent someone to come out the boat with instruments to test things, I started pulling things apart to see if there were any shorts. After a few hours I gave up and realized that the fix was bigger than me.

When I was in St Lucia last week I had a tech come out to test it and the verdict was that the instrument was bad and, no, they did not have a replacement available. So, a week later, when we arrived in La Marin, Martinique, a place with a lot more services, I made the rounds until I finally found someone who could diagnose the problem with the instrument itself. So, I pulled it out, took it to them and then waited the 4 days until they could take a look.

The good news is that they were able to fix it. That was a shock to me as I had been told in the past that repairs weren’t possible on obsolete units like mine. Over the years as individual instruments have failed, I resorted to purchasing old equipment that had been salvaged off of boats when their instruments were upgraded.

In the US, with labor rates so high, it generally doesn’t pay to repair and the answer is always, “Bob, this stuff is so old. Just buy new stuff” That’s not what I want to hear as a full electronics suite replacement is upwards of $35k. Here in the islands there is a much greater willingness to fix as it’s so hard to get new stuff delivered, labor rates are less and fixing is generally encouraged.

Had my spedo not been repairable, I found that I could purchase a new unit that could be adapted to work with my old stuff. That option has never been offered to me in the US when I have been scrounging for used stuff. The bad news is that the new one was upwards of $600 but still a lot cheaper than a full suite replacement.

The good news is that they fixed it and for about $50 it was back on the boat and as good as new.

Another example was earlier in the season when I had to have some work done on the boom and instead of making me order new fittings, the holes that were elongated were just filled with new metal, bored out and returned to me in “like new” condition. No fuss, no muss. There was no way that someone in the US would “fix” it. Just order a new one. Easy peasy and besides, it’s not their money.

The oft repeated adage that cruising is nothing more than “boat repair in exotic places” is certainly the case.

So, what do we do all day? Well, in spite of being busy much of the time, it seems not a lot gets done.

We do spend a lot of time opening and closing hatches as short 5-10 minute rain squalls roll through. But the reward is a beautiful rainbow dropping out of the clouds over a palm covered beach.

Or sitting up on deck taking in the news of the day as the sun peeks over the horizon to begin a new day.

Another favorite pastime for me is “boat spotting” and there is plenty to keep me busy here in the Caribbean. While it’s the big superyachts that generally catch my attention, Grayhound was in the marina along with us in Rodney Bay last week.

She’s a reproduction of an 18th century lugger. Here’s what their site has to say about her. As luck would have it, when we departed for Martinique, she was underway as well. A beautiful site and was moving along at a good clip.

Their site says…“Grayhound was commissioned by Marcus and Freya Pomeroy-Rowden from the boatbuilder Chris Rees at Voyager Boatyard in Cornwall. She was launched on 4th August 2012. She is a 5/6th scale replica of a three-masted UK Customs Lugger called Grayhound that was built in 1776 in Cawsand, Cornwall. Our Grayhound carries a Category 0 licence for worldwide travel and is armed with two working cannon!”

This short video is worth watching.

My impression, when I walked by her at the dock was that she wasn’t quite a neat and tidy as this “walk through” would suggest. I expect, no am certain, that Brenda would not be comfortable aboard. In spite of my best efforts, Pandora is often below her standards and that’s not for a lack of trying.

I also spend a lot of time on Salty Dawg tasks and that consumes hours a day, whether it is talking to potential rally participants about their plan, offering advice, asked for or not, to those who are new to blue water sailing and helping them to understand that “don’t know what they don’t know”. Generally this advice is welcomed, occasionally not so much.

So, what do we do all day to keep busy aboard Pandora? I’ll admit that I am a bit unclear but I am busy.

Oh yeah, and I do spend a lot of time thinking about my next blog post and writing it. I know that I could probably spend a bit more time on proof-reading but I guess I am Ok with an occasional, or not so occasional typo or awkward sentence.

All of this has been about me. Brenda, on the other hand, always has a list of projects she is focused on. Today, as has been the case twice a month this season, she was teaching a class on tapestry to some of her more advanced students. She really enjoys it and has worked out the two camera system pretty well over zoom. This is a shot of her in “full battle gear”.

And, tapestry isn’t all that she does, how about Nantucket baskets, knitting, some sort of handwork I can’t remember and well, a lot more. One thing she NEVER does is quilting so don’t ask her about that. FOr sure, she is never idle and is very focused on being able to say “I accomplished this, and this and this today. And, sadly, that’s never enough for her. Her most recent post is a bit behind her work but check it out.

Well, I guess I have beaten this just about to death so I will sign off now. It’s a beautiful day here in St Anne Martinique where I expect we will spend a few more days before heading north toward Antigua and our flight back to home.

Besides, I have to go for a swim, sadly without Brenda as she has a zoom webinar coming up. Never idle…

In a few weeks, back home for what will surely be a whirlwind two week trip for family visits in MD and NYC, along with loads of yardwork, back to Antigua again to run Pandora down to Trinidad where she will be for the summer and likely the rest of 2024.

So, what do I do all day? Well, I guess that depends on what is broken…

One response to “Exactly what do you do all day Bob?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *