When I wrote this post last November about our last sail on Mar-Lin nights, our new boat didn’t have a name, I had never seen her nor handled her controls (think user experience!). Our new boat was mostly represented by a growing (ultimately huge) file of email exchanges, contract document versions (of course I implemented version controls), long lists of equipment annotated as to must haves/nice to haves/undesireable and then rated as standard as delivered/factory option at known price/factory modification at unknown price etc.
Then M/V SmartyPants, our new American Tug 34 (rebranded the 365 sometime this year), was delivered without major incident by her cross-county trailer truck from her builder in LaConner WA to our launch point at Gulf Marine on San Carlos Island and then on to her homeport of St. Charles Yacht Club at the end of March. It was love at first sight, along with a healthy dose of trepidation.
I manned the helm once she was launched and took her home, but we had onboard not only Ron but also the dealer and the electronics guru to ensure that all went smoothly. We had perfect weather for that trip home, and I loved every minute of it ( including all the calibration/timed runs for the electronics) except when I was petrified in the face of so many new systems to learn, so much power at my fingertips, and an altogether different type of helm action than I’d ever experienced. Have I mentioned that I had NEVER manned the helm of a power trawler, let alone one this sophisticated and powerful.
And there she sat, in her slip at St. Charles, as 2010 produced challenge after challenge every time we thought we’d be able to take her out — and here I’m using challenge to mean our putting our boating life on hold without a second thought as the needs of friends and family and clients took precedence. Ron paid the occasional visit, doing many of the initial and obvious projects needed to prepare her for our use, but to me SmartyPants was just biggest check I’d ever written at one time until last weekend.
We were finally able to do an overnight shakedown cruise last weekend, and my love affair with SmartyPants continues, unabated. I managed to dock for fuel and a pumpout without taking out either the dock or the dockmaster, and I managed to get her back into our slip without taking out Ron or the pilings, but both moves need a lot more work. In between we had a lovely time, with me making lists of all the needed items/projects (think features/functions) to bring the boat up to fully usable standards, and Ron actually doing useful stuff. I think that Ron would say that much of our married life has been spent with me making lists and keeping us organized while Ron was/is the man of all work. My memories are a little different, but he’s not far wrong. The fact is that in the boating part of our lives, Ron is far more able than I am to do the heavy lifting/plumbing/constructing/rewiring, etc., but my lists are a work of the lister’s art.
Sitting on the hook in Glover’s Bight (that’s just around Cattledock Point from the Caloosahatchee River for those of you with a handy chart) last Sunday night, watching the sunset as we drank our sundowners on brand new cockpit directors’ chairs and teak table (all folding of course for easy stowage), and watching the overflights of a zillion seagulls, pelicans, ibis etc., the memory of that big checked faded completely (not to mention all of the work needed to earn it). Also fading was some of the trepidation with which I faced this new boat, and more of that will depart with each such cruise.
Change is hard, as I wrote last November. Going from master of your vessel (work or position!) to novice on the new one is very unsettling, especially for someone who values being a master. But becoming a master of mastering change itself is probably the most important KSAOC for personal and professional success and fulfillment in the world of today and tomorrow. I’m going to work hard, as time and tide permit, to master as much as possible of the workings of SmartyPants, with a particular focus on docking and backing her into the slip. But I know and accept (well, I’m still working on the accepting part) that I’ll never know as much about the electronics as Ron already does. Just as so many of the really important projects in my professional life are either a team success or a team failure, so too will be the running of SmartyPants. And Ron’s engineering, agility and strength KSAOCs are just as critical to our marital partnership’s boating success as are my list-making and helmsmanship.