Captain’s Log 13 – Bubbly

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 3:30 PM: Le bateau est fini!

I finished painting the boat yesterday, and today I peeled all the blue masking tape off of the fittings and the trim strip along the rail. Walt helped get me set up to install the hatch cover. He picked out all the tools I needed, found some stainless steel screws in his collection, and gave me a tube of “The Right Stuff,” sticky gasket goop. Then he left me alone in his shop so I could do it myself. Perfect!

That was the last step; so I guess I’m done? It seems impossible, after working on this project for the last five weeks. And maybe a bit anticlimactic. Like any big project or undertaking, the loss of momentum at the end can be a bit disorienting. I’ll be keeping the fire going for a few days, using the last scraps of chainsaw carving competition wood in the barrel stove, hoping the paint will harden up and cure. We set the date for Friday to move the boat out of the Barn.

It’s hard to tell, with it under fluorescent lights, what it will look like when it’s outside in the sun. And of course it’s perfect and spotless and so clean right now, almost like a shiny new toy. I do like how the anti-skid surfaces turned out, on the deck and the seats. It looks really good, professional. The paint has a high gloss to it, so under the artificial light it glares so bright the colors are almost not visible — just the shine. It needs some beach sand, bird shit, and fish blood to make it real.


Chuuchki, all clean and shiny.

Maybe it feels anticlimactic because, really, I should be able to splash her later this week, instead of putting her on a trailer for the winter. She will be parked at the end of the street, not to be used until spring. So sad.

December 6: Boat drying/hardening. Keeping the fire going.

December 7: The boat is still drying. Birded town, worked on French vocabulary (birds and maritime terms). Did household chores. Had a French lesson. Watched a movie. It’s almost back to normal life. But I feel a bit lost, without my sense of purpose.

Friday, December 8, 2017: 10:00 AM. Joe, Walt, Sachiko, Jean Luc, Cecile and I rendezvoused at the Barn. We flipped the boat over onto Joe’s trailer, Walt tied it down with some fancy fisherman’s knots, and we rolled her out across the glare ice to the neighbors’ yard. Cecile took photos. I used the very last chunk of chainsaw competition wood as a block under the trailer tongue. No champagne, no launch… it just didn’t feel quite right!


Joe, Walt, Jean Luc, Sachiko, me. Ready to “launch” the boat — to her winter parking spot. (Photo by Cecile.)


Joe performs very well, even with three supervisors watching. (Photo by Cecile.)

We had a Gingerbread People Party at Joe & Carla’s tonight. Carla baked some giant gingerbread cookies; each one filled an entire cookie sheet. Jean Luc and Cecile brought a bottle of Italian “champagne,” Prosecco bubbly. I set it on the deck outside the back door, so it could chill in the winter night air.

Fourteen of us enjoyed each others’ company, roasted hot dogs over the fire in the fireplace, told stories, laughed. The little ones (and a few of us oldsters, too) decorated the gingerbread people. The kids got a loopy on sugar, and played a game of hide and seek, dodging behind the living room chairs. At just the right time, I retrieved the bubbly from the deck, popped the cork, and shared toasts all around. I think I said something like, “To Chuuchki! And to all of you, my Seldovia family. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

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