“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I write this I am being serenaded in La Guancia, a small marina and boardwalk area on the coast in Ponce, Puerto Rico listening to a local guitarist overcoming talent with volume!  The past few days have been such a blur of travel and projects.  Traveling was brutal by 21st century standards.  At 6’4” tall an economy seat is just as effective as some Medieval torture device.  I planned on sleeping during the overnight flight but instead kept myself occupied trying to contort my body into a comfortable position.  I’m sure i burned more calories just moving around than if I had worked out so I’m counting that as exercise.

The boat looked great!
I arrived in Ponce, southern coast, from San Juan, northern coast, after about a four hour ride. It’s only an hour drive but the guy I hired to drive me had to wait for another paying customer.  Working out transportation is something I need to get better at… It’s hard to adjust to such a dependent posture when you are used to just hopping in the car to go where you want while siri gives you turn by turn directions. #newskillsneeded  I find this forces me to talk to passers by and get truly engaged with those around me… even if it’s just where can I get a hamburger!

Cleaning and cleaning…
Kokoro was in great shape… mostly.  When I left her in late December 2015 I did my best to leave her well ventilated and shaded from the sun by large heavy duty tarps fore and aft.  I was beyond pleased to find limited spots of mildew after 6 months.  Shout out to Rudolffo for looking out for her!  First day on the boat… after not sleeping and still cramping in muscles I didn’t know even existed… I begin hauling all the cushions up on deck for some fresh air.  One or two of them wanted to dance but I had to decline (you should try wrestling 8 foot berth cushions down a narrow hallway on a moving boat before you judge me).  Every surface got the wipe down treatment and everything was looking, and smelling good.

It occurs to me that when I have said “yeah I’m moving aboard so I don’t have to cut grass and paint and worry about my roof and all that maintenance” I was obviously out of my mind.  The sea is a deceptive place.  It has a way of causing something in my brain to disconnect from the capacity for rational thought.  I’m sure it’s a medical condition as yet to be discovered.  I tackled the engine oil change.  So there’s no way to get below the engine to drain the oil like in a car… that would be far too easy.  A variety of pumps are made to extract the oil through the dipstick tube and mine happens to be the the MOST manual variety causing one to get an amazing forearm and shoulder workout during the 45 minute process of slowly sucking hot oil from the bowels of the diesel.  Again, I count that as exercise, arm day done!  Also changed out the fuel filter, nothing other than I had never done it before and was concerned about allowing air into the fuel lines.  Everything went back together nicely and the big Perkins (that’s the engine brand) was once again in operation and ready to ferociously power us out of trouble or calmly into some remarkable remote anchorage.

Hand pumping oil… could have been WAY worse!
The IRON SAIL! 65hp Perkins diesel engine. At least there is room in there.

The sails (these are vital to the proper function of a sailboat)
One of the important components of decommissioning the boat was sail storage to protect them from harmful UV and weather.  Both sails were folded and stored forward in the V-Berth… the pointy bed in the front of the boat.  Once again I did the dance of delivery, contorting and twisting down the narrow hallway while wrestling a two hundred  pound sail.  I may or may to be exaggerating the weight but I’m on a boat and exaggeration comes with the territory.  Again, that counts as exercise, legs and back done!  I knew I would need to do some repairs on the genoa… the front sail… so I hauled it a hundred yards to the “beautiful” La Guancia boardwalk to lay it out to have a look.  The last time I had a chance to really look at it was in Bequia when we stopped to repair the roller furling and put the sail back up in gusts reaching 45 mph… not good for sails.  Needless to say, I called the local sail maker to come pick it up for more extensive repairs… It’s just money right?  I have so much to learn, like repairing sails on your own and being truly self-sufficient, baby steps.  I think I waited until the absolute hottest part of the day to put the main… the back sail… back on the rig.  It was difficult alone but I am counting it as exercise remember so it’s a win-win.

I often find myself looking around and thinking I’M NOT MAKING PROGRESS!  There are little piles of tools and rope laying about and other “stuff” that needs to find a place.  I did however manage to get the outboard stowed on its new bracket.  Completed the install of an auxiliary 1100 Watt inverter which will allow us to charge all the stuff we want to “disconnect” from out here.  Actually, it works very well and I am pleased with the results.  Got the outdoor grill hooked up too!  Everyone knows meat just tastes better when grilled and good food makes for a happy crew.  Did some provisioning at Walmart for the basics and some expensive engine oil.

Redneck engine mount and gas grill all set!
It’s nice to be cooking on gas again! Nothing like fresh coffee and a hot meal.
Inverter install. Gotta charge all those gadgets we can’t live without.
Pretty much every flat surface below deck looks like this. Random stuff everywhere!
First trip to Wally World for some basics.

Final Thoughts
Life aboard is a fantastical thing.  I find my pattern of life transforming to fit the rhythm of the natural word around me.  Waking just before daylight and retiring after watching the sun slip below the distant horizon.  It’s a beautiful habit that affords such liberty, peace, and productivity.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about anything but I know the boat can handle more than me and he is well equipped for the journey.  If you wait until everything is perfect you will never leave the dock.  No regrets.  No coasting (unless you mean sailing).

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