Polishing bronze gone awry, docking gone awry, and other bits

I’m trying to clean up my office. It’s wrecked (I wrecked it). Our kitchen is still a demolition site, and the stress from the lack of control I have over that situation led me to come upstairs and try to clean up a mess I ostensibly can control. That’ll teach me to follow my instincts! After thirty minutes I realized I have no control over my own messiness, either. I was gripped with a sudden urge to feel productive, and when I write a blog post, I feel productive. So I’m going to patch together some maintenance news. And maybe an embarrassing docking story, just to liven things up.

First up: I thought I’d polish some bronze, but I wish I’d read the internet before I tried. Or thought to ask the folks on the Flicka list. Instead I headed over to West Marine (I can already hear the groans), and asked someone there what to do. He walked me to a small blue tin labeled Never Dull, took it off the shelf and held it out to me, saying, “This is what the Navy uses,” as if that were all I needed to know. I pried off the lid, expecting to see paste, but instead it was filled with what looked like wool roving soaked in syrup.

“What do I do with this stuff?”

“You just pull out a wad of it, and use that to rub the bronze.”

I sniffed the can. That was a mistake. “Do I wear gloves?” I asked him.

“Well I don’t, but then I don’t give a shit.”

I laughed. “Well,” I said, “I do have some gloves on board, in case I decide a shit should be given.”

I took it back to Elska, and found my gloves (shit given!). I pulled out wad of the….stuff….and started rubbing a porthole. The directions are simple. You’re supposed to rub the dirty thing, and then when that’s done, you rub the now-clean thing with a rag. I rubbed the portholes with the stuff. Nothing happened. They looked wet, something was coming off the stuff, but it didn’t seem to be getting rid of the green, or doing anything to help the discoloration.

But the worst part was when my hand swerved (heavy woman on small boat, the thing rocks), and I swiped the boat with the Never Dull. It left a mark! I tried to wipe it off immediately, and it didn’t help. I tried using water to get it off. That didn’t help. The marks are still there, you can see the staining on the right and left sides. ARRGH.


What do I do now? I need to post this to the Flicka list and see if they have any ideas. I should have gone there first.

From what I’ve read, you shouldn’t even bother cleaning the bronze. The patina is protective. I never knew! Also, I’d wanted to shine up the teak, but what I’m reading is that once you go down that road, you can’t go back. Now you’re stuck shining up the teak every few months, which for me would involve many spoons. (Not literal spoons. Referring to your energy level as your number of spoons is an elegant metaphor for exhaustion thought up by a woman with chronic illness.)

And the weathered teak is the preference of many – including my hubby Greg. He said, “Shine up anything else you want, but I’d love it if you could leave the teak the way it is now.” Well, okay then. I’ve got enough on my plate with fibromyalgia and finishing college and raising two kids who for some reason can’t see what’s so great about sailing (clearly I’m doing something wrong). I guess the brightwork will just have to get dull. As long as I get to go sailing, I don’t care.

I moved on to other housework. I had some small pans and a small roasting rack from the old boat, but the new boat doesn’t have an oven (which is fine, I never used the oven on Lehua anyway). I used the pans for organizing, and then I used the rack to stand up the plates so I could fit more in that little cupboard. These might rattle around later, we’ll see. But I thought it was a clever use of the rack. For a few seconds, I felt like Martha Stewart. Except I’ve never been blonde. Or convicted of insider trading.



And then I hung up the pendant that my mom got me, which, now that I take a second look at it, might be tempting fate a little more than I’m comfortable with. Hmmm.



And then I bought a combination lock, one that I can set to whatever combination I want. I chose 7645. KIDDING.




Before they gave us the boat, Dave and Sherrie were kind enough to buy us two key-locking Master locks that are perfect for the lazarette and the companionway hatch boards. But, I’m the kind of person to whom Murphy’s law gets applied to a little too liberally. That’s why I’m superstitious (okay now I really am rethinking hanging that pendant on board). I know that very soon, I’m going to drop my keys into the drink before I have a chance to open the lock on the boat. And I’ll need to be able to get into the boat, because once I’ve dropped my keys, I won’t be able to get into my house or drive my car. So, I put a combination lock on the hatch, kept the keyed lock on the lazarette, and put the little gold key inside with the engine key, which I guard. I put the other keyed lock on the storage bin at our slip.

This is really fascinating, isn’t it? Aren’t you glad I’m writing all this down? Honey, come in here, I want to read you this part about how she changed the type of lock she uses on her companionway hatch boards. Fascinating! I can’t get enough of this! 

Okay, here’s a story for you, that I will tuck in here at the end where no one will notice. Speaking of being superstitious, I joke that in a past life I was a sailor, or a baseball player. Or both. I’m the worst when it comes to superstition. It might even qualify me for a psychological diagnosis, but let’s not pull at that thread.

For instance, I have an entire language with my family and friends to talk about the thing I’m not talking about. The best example is panic attacks. For over a decade I suffered with massive, crippling panic attacks. My diagnosis of “panic disorder” never seemed like enough. Shouldn’t it be called Ruins Every Aspect Of Your Life With Irrational Fears Disorder? When the attacks would get very bad (and they would get very bad), my friends and family would know of course, because it’s hard to miss the fact that I’m trying to get out my medication with shaking hands, eyes glazed over with terror, dropping out of the conversation, trying not to hyperventilate or throw up, or call 911 because I’m clearly dying.

So, being thoughtful people, when next they saw me, they’d say, “How are you doing?”

Now, if I was doing well, I learned that I never, ever, ever say, “I’m doing great! I haven’t had an attack in 48 hours!”

Because within 6 hours of saying that, I’d have the worst attack in months.

Instead, I’d simply say, “Things are okay.” And then I’d wink. The wink was code for, “Things are going really well, but let’s pretend we don’t notice.”

It turns out this is the same thing with docking a boat.

I learned that a few days ago. I wrote a post in which I talked about how I was good at docking. Allow me to quote myself:

Docking her is so easy. Docking is my special talent, I have an unlikely confidence with it that translates to proficiency (funny how that works), but docking Elska is like parking a VW Bug in a space meant for an RV. It’s really not that hard.

Do you know what happens when you blog? THE GODS READ YOUR BLOG.

Here’s what happened the next time I docked my boat:

I approached slowly, which I thought was prudent since this was only the third time I’d docked her,  and when is it a good idea to approach a dock at high speeds? They have hundreds of YouTube compilations of people who can’t dock or anchor (this is my favorite). As was pointed out to me by a white-haired guy on his boat across the lane from us, “A boat needs forward motion for you to have steerage.” In other words, I wasn’t going fast enough.

The wind was coming from the north, and our slip faces north, so I was docking upwind, in a starboard-tie slip. I turned to port too late, and because I was going too slow, her nose didn’t quite make it into the slip, and in that split second while my Elska thought to herself, “Huh, I don’t think I have enough forward motion to make this turn,” the wind thought, “Muahaha!” and blew her nose to starboard, where we proceeded to miss the turn entirely, and slide into Rich’s powerboat (and liveaboard home).

Greg pushed us off Rich’s boat, and floated forward down the aisle, to the point at which I thought, hey, I should just back in! I’ve done that before! So I put her into reverse, and gave her a little gas. Here’s where I will give you a word of advice: when you buy a new boat, and go from a wheel to a tiller, be very clear before you hit the gas, which way you point the tiller to go where you want to go, in reverse. Within a few seconds, Greg was fending us off another boat.

I don’t know why I wasn’t anxious, I mean this is a perfect opportunity for a panic attack. But I just laughed! It all seemed hilarious! I wasn’t hurting anyone or their property – that wouldn’t have been funny. But the thing with the Flicka is that she has tons of room, and knowing this, I was able to keep a calm head.

I wasn’t in danger of doing damage. I was just in danger of looking like an ass, which is the irony I was laughing at. I normally dock with such finesse, I’m telling you, it’s like I’m the Rain WoMan of boat docking. And no one is ever around to see it. On this day, the one day I biff it up, everyone is at their boats standing around watching. Like I said, the gods read your blog.

A few more turns around the aisle, and many comments shouted out by helpful people (that isn’t sarcasm – they really were helpful), and finally I got her in. The fellow who grabbed our lines said, “New boat?” and I laughed and nodded. Then he said, “Full keel?”

“Yes!” I said. “Do you have any advice?”

“Nope, I’ve never sailed one of those. Mine is a fin keel. But I hear they’re different to dock.”

I guess that’s something else I’ll be looking up. And of course, more practice! Not that I need another excuse to go sailing.

Maybe one day, I’ll dock like this guy:

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