When we first started this whole cruising/sailing thing, there were a lot of questions. Like, “What does coral 6 feet deep look like?” and, “How often should we run the watermaker?” and “How many cans of beans should I buy?” Now, more than six months out, we have answered most of those questions for ourselves, mostly thanks to catastrophic experiments, Greg’s tinkering, fellow cruisers, and Facebook groups such as Women Who Sail. However, there are three questions that we still regularly encounter that are hard to answer:
- What’s that sound?
- What’s that smell?
- What the hell?
Let us take each one in turn.
What’s that sound? Boats are noisy. Wind is noisy. Waves are noisy. And fiberglass with a balsawood core is noisy. You eventually get used to your native “boat sounds,” but every so often you hear a noise you can’t localize. Particularly concerning is a new ALARM you have NEVER HEARD. If your boat has all of the latest bells and whistles, there are a lot of different bells and whistles! At the most recent offshore, something kept on whistling in the saloon at random intervals. Weeee. Weeee. Still don’t know what that was. Mel is hoping that whatever it was, it had fun. Sounded like it. She also found the following noise coming from the shower door. Peeing while underway is hard enough without some weird noise bothering you:
What’s that smell? Suddenly someone in the boat stops what they are doing. They sniff. Their eyes widen, and they start turning their head, hunting. You can see them strain to identify the smell: Mildew? Sewage? Exhaust? Whale carcass? Boats are small places, and so a tiny odor has a big impact. We recently had this ensue while some very polite guests were aboard. There were just a few sniffs, but we were on the case! It was coming from somewhere near the sink, but only after removing all sponges and objects from the vicinity and pouring a bunch of vinegar down the drain did Greg pull a goopy green-brown thing out of the dish strainer and fling it overboard. Mystery solved! Sort of. Still don’t know what that thing started out as. Hope it was some kind of food.
What the hell? This statement is uttered on a regular basis, reflecting one’s disbelief that a brand new boat that has only been on the water for six months is malfunctioning. It is declared right after something new breaks, right when the possible causes could be anything, such as “Kraken encounter.” We have learned that “brand new” offers no security from tragedy in the face of energy-packed salt water, my friends. Put a Toyota Camry in the sea and it will immolate itself as it recognizes its obvious defeat.
Of course, Mel has always been oblivious to any knowledge regarding how things work.(True story: she just learned today that the spark generator in their propane stove requires two AA batteries, and they are under the sink. You need batteries to start a fire! Seriously!) So she always has more questions than these three, even six months out. These include, “Can’t we just put some lube on it?” and “What knot can I tie now that Greg won’t deem insufficient and want to re-do?” and “Where did I put all of those cans of beans?” These questions weren’t included in the above list as most normal people probably would have answered those by now. Except for the knot thing. What is it about men where they always have to re-do ladies’ knots?
So here we are now, floating around in the Turks and Caicos, a name which must mean “reefs and shipwrecks everywhere,” feeling smug. If something goes wrong, we have plenty of resources to find the answers. Except for those three questions, of course. Sometimes you just don’t want to post your smell problems on Facebook.
Of course, visiting the Turks and Caicos museum today (which is awesome, by the way,) Mel realized there is another way to approach your problems. You can just ignore them. For 99 years. Like they did. See pics, below. Because sometimes, (and Mel’s going to get grief for saying this about boats of course,) it’s just not that big of a deal.