The first step in putting on the new bottom paint was taking off the old paint, all of it, right down to the boat’s gel coat (factory surface). That old paint is tightly attached to the boat’s hull, so it can’t be easily scraped or powerwashed off. Getting it off involved six days of marina staffer Mike, grinding the old paint off, carefully stopping at just the right depth, when all of the paint was gone but the gel coat wasn’t.
Remember that the reason we put bottom paint on boats is to inhibit the growth of slime, algae, and barnacles. That means that the paint is, if not acutely toxic to humans, well, not exactly good for you, either. Certainly it’s not something you want to ingest any more of than necessary. So while Mike was working, in the July heat, he was in full tyvek suit and respirator. To minimize pollution, he was using this “dustless sander” to grind the old paint off. The hose attached to the sander sucks up the dust instead of letting it spread through the air. (Well, most of the dust, anyway. For all his care, each evening the boat was covered with a fine layer of red-black dust that found its way everywhere, from on top of the solar panels to under our fingernails.)
We weren’t going to stick around while this work was happening. First, and most important, cancer-survivor Dan did *not* need to be around any toxins! Second, the dustless sander is good, but not perfect – some dust would invariably escape, which meant we had to keep the boat closed and not run the air conditioner during the day. Kinda like a closed car in the summer sunshine, it just baked inside. And finally, the grinding sound of Mike’s work on the outside would reverberate through the hull and echo in the interior of the boat, 8 hours of that monotonous noise would be crazy-making.
So every morning at around 8:30, we packed our laptops and cellphones and some books and sandwiches and headed out to the gym or the marina lounge or the mall, to keep ourselves entertained and accomplish all the little daily business of running an ordinary 21st century life, until 5:00 when it was time to go home to our boat. Just like going to work, only without the cubicle. What surprised me is that I was almost as tired at the end of those days, as I was when I worked in an office – yet, other than writing emails and paying bills, etc, I wasn’t doing a whole lot of actual work. Not of course like doing physical work all day, but still, unexpectedly wearing. So I wonder – is just the act of not being at home for the entire day the issue? Or is it that running a life in the modern world entails almost as much paperwork as running a small business? Or is it what my friend RoseAnn pointed out, that we’d spent 8 months traveling and exploring by boat and taken a vacation from a lot of that business, doctors’ appointments and renewing driver’s licenses and all that dailiness, and now it was just catching up with us (and us with it)?
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