Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bad Influences

How can you beat that?
Look at that.  Beautiful Papillon en route from Tonga to New Zealand, with our lovely butterfly spinnaker flying.  What’s that you say?  We look a little different than we did before?  True, friends, true.  We used to be a yawl, albeit a bent one.  So how did this change come about?  Gather around, children, and I will tell you a tale of mizzens and busy husbands.

Boat owners have a lot in common.  In my experience, the vast majority love to tinker.  This is good, because boats and tinkering are a natural fit.  Erik loves it.  As for me, not so much.  This makes it a little hard for me to understand his fix-it tendencies, but a marriage is all about coming to terms with the idiosyncrasies of another human being, right?  As long as I’m not required to pass him channel locks every ten seconds, I'm fine with it.
The problem with having a Mr Fix-It aboard is two-fold.  First, he is forever looking for projects.  And sometimes those spontaneous projects involve dismantling the pantry just as I am trying to cook dinner.  But that is just a matter of scheduling and logistics.  Second, and more problematic, he is weak-willed and easily led when it comes to boat repair.  Because the real problem comes when Mr Fix-It becomes friends with another Mr Fix-it.  This is a case of the total exceeding the sum of the parts.

This is my non-scientific depiction of the thought processes of Mr Fix-It.

As you can see, he is at his most dangerous when he has nothing to do.  Because being ahead on boat projects is no problem for Mr Fix-It.  No!  There are other boats in the anchorage, aren’t there?  And those guys could use a little help, couldn’t they?  Except, it isn’t just offering help; a bored Mr Fix-It can easily initiate a job on another boat.  And that is not always popular with the crew.

Imagine.  We were in a beautiful anchorage in Tonga, enjoying our last few days of tropical weather before heading back to the temperate zone.  There were reefs, a beach, and sunny skies.  Then some friends we hadn’t seen since Panama (a Mr Fix-It and his family) came into the anchorage.  Friend Fix-It took one look at our boat, shook his head and said, “That needs to come down.”  And the dulcet tones of the grinder rang out on Papillon.  Because Erik had needed just that one, tiny, feather-light push to bring down the mizzen. 

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go...

Stand back, kids.

And, we're down.

Hey, Mom, aren't you having fun?
I can’t really complain.  They felled it like a tree, no one got hurt, and it was probably the safest thing for what could have been a bumpy passage to New Zealand.  But we’ve set precedent.  Here we are in Opua, and Erik has been over at Friend Fix-It’s boat for hours now, talking rigging and making plans.

I just hope the next project is on their boat.


Kate said...

Good Morning Aunt Amy, Uncle Erik, and girls,

Another great post. We visited winterfest yesterday and met lots of people who read you blog. Tory says hi.

Love the new sail. Looking beautiful.

Love Kate and Beth

SV Prili said...

How does she sail now? Looks like something my husband would do. Pretty bloody funny!!

Anonymous said...

That is one beautiful Sail, one could say spectacular!

Mr. Fix-It looks like he did a terrific job on securing the mizzen for your NZ journey.
Love Mom

Papillon crew said...

@sv Prili: She still sails beautifully, but we've lost 1-2 knots and don't balance quite as nicely as before.

We're getting quotes on a new mizzen now, and will finish that job before we leave NZ at the end of the season.

Anonymous said...

OMG! It's me! I don't even know you guys and I read about me on your blog. :-) Really though, I just read about your family in Sail magazine and thought it was a great read. I really did laugh after reading "Bad Influences" I'm a Mr Fix-it too. I just never thought about it till I read it for myself. I'm glad you guys sold the farm and just went for it. Sorry to say at 58 I've probably missed my "window" as there was always a reason not to years ago and now my first mate makes funny faces when ever I mention the idea.
Now that our "health Ins" has just gone up to $974.00 per month (no I'm not kidding, and I DON'T feel any healthier)I'm getting the itch to bag it all and get a bigger boat and get out of dodge before it's too late. Keep sailing and have a merry Christmas. Mark C. 1998 Seaward 25 sailing Long Island Sound, CT

Papillon crew said...

@Mark C: Ahh, another Mr Fix-It owns up. At 58, you certainly wouldn't be anywhere near the "old" end of the cruising curve. We've met single-handers in their 80s, still out and having a good time.

I'm not much of a sailor, but I love being a cruiser. These years on the sea have been some of our best. You can send your first mate to me for a pep-talk any time.