We Can’t Do It All

Part of the engine installation project on Morgan’s Cloud was the fitting of new engine mounts—which meant welding, which meant sparks flew, which meant the paint in the engine room got speckled. (Morgan’s Cloud’s builder did a wonderful job of most things, but painting the bilge in the engine room was not one of his better ideas.)

We last painted the engine room when we installed the Cummins 15 years ago. Add the present welding speckles to those 15 years of wear and tear, exacerbated by aluminum’s rejection of paint, and we were seriously questioning whether we should paint again while we had the chance.

But we decided not to. Instead, we gave the engine room a good scrub, said “good enough”, and took the time saved to do an extremely thorough job of installing two seacocks (we needed a new one for the engine exhaust drain and we needed to replace an old worn one).  In the grand scheme of things, we decided that ensuring (as much as we can) that the boat won’t sink was a whole lot more important than a freshly painted engine room.

Which reminded us of an incident that happened a few…okay, a lot of (where is the time going?)…years ago in the Caribbean. We had met the captain and cook of a big sister to Morgan’s Cloud and invited them to our boat for drinks. After a few, they admitted that they had seriously discussed coming over to Morgan’s Cloud and polishing our stainless steel stanchions and dodger bows—the rust spots were driving them crazy!

We just don’t have enough time and energy to keep Morgan’s Cloud looking like a yacht, keep her systems in good working order, and still do the creative stuff we enjoy like writing and taking photographs. So, yeah, our stainless is rusty, we don’t always get to the exterior varnish in time, our topsides aren’t polished, and the paint in the engine room is speckled.

But the engine and generator are always serviced on time, we do a rig check before each ocean passage, we will put hours of time and tons of energy into stuff like making sure we’ve got a heavy weather strategy in place and then testing it, and we’ll spend several days installing two seacocks. We’ve realized we can’t do it all, so we’ve chosen to let the cosmetics go and focus on the important stuff.

However, if you are sharing an anchorage with us and those rust spots are driving you really crazy…come on over. We’ve got rags and a full bottle of metal polish (we carry it around just in case)!

Do you think ours is a good policy, or are we just lazy? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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Phyllis has sailed over 40,000 offshore miles with John on their McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, most of it in the high latitudes, and has crossed the Atlantic three times. As a woman who came to sailing as an adult, she brings a fresh perspective to cruising, which has helped her communicate what they do in an approachable way, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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