It’s feeling like it’s time to take a summer break. In our last post, Potty Talk, we ended off on the exciting-to-us note that our new C-Head composting toilet will fit perfectly in Ariose’s reconfigured head. Phew! I was wearing
a PFD in the photo Tim took showing me checking it out. Wonder why? No danger of drowning in a composting head… no water there. And if anyone falls overboard Ariose, she’s sitting up high on her trailer for this season, so a lifejacket would not provide much cushioning for that 9 foot drop. You may have been thinking that perhaps we do need a summer break?
Well yes & no. No, we’re not in need of a break because our good judgment is slipping. But yes, we are in need of a summer break and I’ll get to that explanation in a moment.
First – the PFD. We want to both have good quality PFDs when we head off cruising. We want to be sure that we always wear them when we’re underway, so a slim, comfortable one that doesn’t limit our mobility removes the most common excuses people give for not wearing it. We also intend to implement a rule that when the conditions warrant it, we tether ourselves to the boat. This means that we will be tied on whenever sailing after dark (our practice crew overboard rescues last summer were challenging enough in the daytime… can’t imagine successfully pulling one off at night), or when seas are heavy, or when alone on deck. So we wanted a PFD with an integral harness, so that we’re not faced with the inconvenience of having to grab the harness and get it on around the PFD. Once again, removing excuses to not follow good safety practices has got to be a good thing.
We already have one inflatable PFD with integral harness, but however compatible we prove to be once cruising, it’s probably not a good thing for our relationship (or our safety for that matter) to be sharing it. Months ago, we attempted to order a second one from a marine chandlery that we’ve been dealing with. We were told that they come from their American distributor and since the carbon dioxide canister is considered hazardous, they are unable to get it across border. The Canadian branches of this company are slated to close so we made the erroneous assumption that staff was not particularly motivated to provide good customer service.
A few weeks ago, we saw that the same PFD which usually retails for $220 (US) was on sale for $132. We were now wise cross border shoppers, having learned, we thought, the hard way when we purchased Poco, our dinghy (we wrote about that in our post: Tenderless). Even with the exchange rate and $27 US in shipping, it seemed like a good enough deal, so we placed the order. When it arrived, delivered via the local courier who braved the rutted laneway up to Tim’s place, we were advised that we were being hit with COD for $109! What? Yes, the lifejacket had nearly doubled in price: $33.94 in duty, $26.47 in GST, then the broker took $40.65 and of course, another few dollars GST on the broker’s charge. Our helpful courier suggested we not accept the parcel and try to get the costs covered. He assured us he’d return the next day. Hours of dealing with customer service in effort to get these fees covered, or receive a credit,, or whatever, led me to chats with to multiple levels of this marine business’ bureaucracy. Everyone I spoke to expressed shock that the PFD had made it across the border (hazardous, you know), and were all very pleasant but persistent in their response to my pleas: nope! There was nothing they could do, mam. We had missed the fine print that directed international customers to their own country’s import/export compliance policies to determine any additional fees that we might be responsible for. Guess those policies might have made for good bedtime reading. If we refused to accept the delivery, we would have to pay for the return shipping and were responsible for dealing with the hazardous product issue. Defeated.
So the next day our affable courier returned just as I was concluding the final call with customer service. He assumed an appropriately funereal demeanour as he dutifully took our credit card information – yet another item that’s over budget! – and we had our new PFD. We then returned to the task of hauling the C-Head up into Ariose to check out its fit, so figured I might as well check out the new PFD’s fit too. Perfect on both counts.
There’s a never-ending $ drain when owning and refitting an older boat, or any boat for that matter. It seems as though with anything that is targeted for sale to the marine world, if you add a zero to the anticipated price, you’ll be in the ballpark. It’s not only on the high seas where one needs to be wary of pirates. Along with many “ouch” experiences in terms of cost, though, we have had a few pleasant surprises. Just last week a fellow shopper in a local hardware store overheard our frustrated efforts to find track for sliding cupboard doors, and offered us the very item we were searching for at no cost since he had left-over from a job he had previously done. We only saved about $10, but also who knows how many hours in sourcing it, and renewed our faith in the innate goodness in human kind. Maybe we should spend our upcoming Saturdays wandering store aisles and musing aloud about our need for stainless steel solar panel mounts, or a new bank of batteries, or custom milled teak mouldings … you never know. There’s some trauma from our quickly draining finances. That definition of a boat as a hole in the water that you pour your money into is supposed to be a joke, isn’t it?
So that brings us back to why we do, in fact, need a Summer Break from blogging. We’ve just finished a detailed review of our work plan. We have over 200 items to still complete before we will be able to cast off, and we hope to be ready to do that in about 12 weeks. That’s 2.38 tasks per day, but many will require several days to complete, and even that’s being optimistic. Quite a reality check! We’ve reset our priorities (again), moved several tasks to the “complete while en route” or “complete someday” categories, and conducted a time and cost breakdown to be sure we have enough of both resources. (My past work colleagues will see that you can take me away from employment but you can’t take the project management out of me! Feel free to use the comments section below or our contacts page if you would like to offer your empathy to Tim.) Here’s some photo evidence of us at work over the last 2 weeks.
We also have upcoming summer plans. Among other things, we’re really looking forward to having our kids come visit. We’ll be taking a couple short canoe trips with them putting in at Tim’s waterfront and heading down the scenic Mattawa River.
So, as much as we’re enjoying writing and sharing through our blogging, we need to set it aside or we risk not making our timelines to actually get away this fall. That new PFD will be quite snazzy as we reach the open Atlantic; it won’t be so snazzy if we are still on land come October. We don’t want to fall victim, as many others have, to getting caught in the vicious cycle of never-ending preparation and never actually cruising.
So, for now, we’ll say hasta la vista, have a great summer, and we’ll show you what we’ve accomplished during ours when we return to Ariose Notes in September.