I just found out that my sea turtle design got accepted into the voting round on Infectious.com. My design has 13 days to collect votes, and if I get enough positive feedback, they will turn it into a laptop skin. Please check it out here, and if you like what you see, vote for me!
Also, I think I failed to mention that I updated my art website a few weeks ago. If you haven’t already checked it out, then please take a peak (Lara Neece Art). I haven’t added any new artwork, but the layout is quite different.
The armored cars of dreams, contrived to let us do so many a dangerous thing.
Achieving a dream isn’t always easy. Just because you are doing something you love doesn’t mean that everything will fall into place. Sometimes it takes more than just hard work and elbow grease. In the past, whenever I have hit a bump in the road, I always try to find a positive outcome. If what I’m doing isn’t working, isn’t going to work, then it’s important to come up with a new solution that will.
Lately I’ve been using the saying, “Hindsight is 20/20.” It seems to sum up my feelings on the past few weeks pretty accurately. If we had only known this or spent more time on that, or worked a bit longer to save more, things might have been different, but it’s important to remember that, from the beginning, this sailing trip was a huge undertaking.
First of all, Brian bought an old boat, which needed more fixing up than anticipated. He’s poured so much money into fixing it up (albeit on a shoestring) that there is little left for the travel adventure we hoped for. Had we just waited a year, saved money first, and bought a slightly nicer boat for a little higher price, we might have been able to leave on time and with way less work. Of course might is the keyword in that sentence. Or we could have just bought a plane ticket and gone backpacking.
But the important thing to remember at this point is that the original goal was not just to go cruising or even just to travel to Central America, but it started with fixing up an old boat. Brian’s dream has been to own his own cruising-capable sailboat and travel with it to places off the beaten track. In addition, he has also contemplated attending boat building school in the past, learning how to build and design them. In this sense, our experience over the past few years has been a crash course for him in boat maintenance. He has been forced to review each system and learn all of the ins and outs of his boat. This is a good thing. He’s learned and is learning so much.
This past week has been difficult and tiring for both of us. I feel that the boat is so close to being in great shape and ready to take off, but there are still projects to be done. We’ve poured about 250 hours of labor into the boat over the past three weeks at the boat yard and countless hours over the past two years. I’ve put up with living on a project boat for almost a year now and recently put my art practice on hold to put in my share of the labor.
Boats are expensive to maintain and upkeep, but we planned for that. Still we’ve underestimated a few things, which has left us in a predicament. Our epic adventure seems to be shrinking into a smaller endeavor. At this point, I think we will both be happy if we can just make it down to the Bahamas, but we are researching more creative solutions to make this trip happen with all its intended glory. We’re both stubborn and determined to make it work, so it’s time to get creative. Any interesting work/travel opportunity suggestions are welcome at this point!
Still at it, but Illusion is just about ready to go back into the water, which means my work “duties” are almost done. Woo hoo! Well sort of. I can’t say I’ll miss the projects, but it’s been a mostly enjoyable experience. I’ve met some really nice people, learned about all sorts of tools and methods of boat repair, and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings and daily exercise (and all of the cute doggies). The final project (the rebuilding of the engine) will be up to Brian, and I have to say I am kind of eager to get back to some art-making! I pulled out my sketchbook last week to sketch the boatyard, and it only managed to increase my art cravings.
Here are some pictures of the projects from last week and today. We finished painting the bilge white, installed the new mast step, put in the rest of the sea cocks, sanded the bottom of the boat, popped and filled the blisters on the bottom, and primed all of the hatches.
What’s left, you say?
We’ve still got to paint the bottom of the boat and all of the hatches, put the mast back in, and clean – we’ve got lots of cleaning to do. That’s all for now. It’s 1 am and we’ve got more work to do tomorrow.
Sunday was gorgeous, sunny, warm, and breezy. Brian and I decided to drive out to Folly Beach for brunch and a photo shoot. I wanted to fully test out my new camera, so that I’ll know how to access and manipulate all the options and settings when we finally set sail. The lighting was fantastic, and I managed to capture some nice pictures just before a little rain storm blew in from sea.
Another week closer to departure. That is what I keep telling myself even as the projects seem to increase on a weekly basis. This week we discovered that, although the keel bolts are in passable shape, the mast step is not. The mast step is a giant piece of steel that the mast stands on. It takes the brunt of the pressure that the wind exerts on the mainsail, so it’s kind of important. Certainly not something we want to worry about on the trip. In order to remove it for replication, we had to pull the mast. It’s not exactly what we wanted to hear a week into it, especially since each day is costing a whole lot of money. But at least the task itself wasn’t quite so difficult. It actually took less time than it took us to clean the bilge (7 days!).
Aside from that, the days of hard labor are actually quite rewarding. It’s certainly taking the place of a gym membership. New Year’s resolution #1 (get in shape): check! It’s painful, but the climbing into and hoisting out of the boat is really kicking me into shape, not to mention balancing on one hand and three toes while squatting/leaning down into the bilge to sand, scrub, and chisel for 7 hours a day (Brian calls it boat yoga). And our days have fallen into a pleasant routine ending with the cooking of delicious home-cooked meals with lots of leftovers for the next day’s lunch. It’s reminding me a great deal of my time in AmeriCorps*NCCC. It’s funny how a day of hard work makes everything so much more enjoyable. Food tastes so much better, beer tastes so much better, massages feel like heaven, and sleep is that much more replinishing. No one can say we didn’t work for it!
It’s been a long week full of scrubbing, chiseling, grinding, cleaning, and cold weather. Sea Tow towed the engine-less Illusion to Rockville, SC, on Tuesday, and by Wednesday she was out of the water and up on stilts. Rockville Marine is a boatyard in Rockville, a small community at the end of Wadmalaw Island, about 45 minutes south of Charleston. It is a beautiful place, which would be all the more enjoyable if it weren’t quite so cold, but the sunsets are awesome nonetheless.
Brian decided to haul out the boat while we wait for engine parts so the he could replace the sea cocks and through-holes and inspect the keel bolts, two big safety precautions to give us a little more peace of mind before we set sail. The keel bolts and sea cocks are located down in the bottom of the boat, in the bilge to be exact, which is where any excess water on the boat drains into. I don’t think the bilge had been cleaned out in decades, as we found about 30 years worth of sludge and rust down there. You can see the before and after pictures below. Talk about a mess.
First we ran a bunch of water and a green cleaning solution through it, followed by scrubbing, more water, vacuuming, and more scrubbing, and more water, more scrubbing, and more water. Once the bilge was relatively clean (as clean as one could expect), we got a good look at the keel bolts and metal backing plates. Let’s just say they were not as reassuring as we hoped, in fact they kind of resembled relics from the Hunley, or earlier still, maybe even the Revolutionary War. So. . . . task number two, we set to work scraping chunks of rust off the backing plates and bolts.
Once we finish scraping them, we will coat them with a rust-preventing solution and paint the entire bilge, in the hopes of stopping further deterioration and keeping things a bit cleaner. Hopefully there is still enough metal to keep things secure. Brian managed to get three sea cocks removed (the ones behind where the engine goes), so we should be able to get those replaced this week as well. In addition, engine parts should be ready this week, so things are moving along, albeit slowly. And in the meantime, we get to admire this lovely location. If only I had an art studio out here, I’d be in heaven.
Also, I got a new (used) camera and am super excited to be putting it to good use.