When we first arrived here and signed the title on our new boat, we were naively hopeful that we would be setting sail in just a few weeks. We were happily cleaning up the cabin, fiddling with the barely-functioning systems, and living the boat life. The reality was that we were stuck here with a broken engine, a fragile rig, a rotting filthy cabin, no running water or electricity, and enough leaks to ensure daily manual bilge pumping to keep it from sinking. That reality sunk in quickly, and we lived that depressing life for a year. We felt like the eyesore of the marina, and didn't know if we'd ever be able to get the boat moving again. But in that dirty, smelly, wet year, we maintained jobs until we could haul out, knowing that without a serious overhaul on the hard, we would be yet another couple of "hopefully someday" boat bums. Another year passed on the hard as we stripped the boat of literally every single nut and bolt, cut out all the rot, stopped all the leaks (Yes, all of them: we can proudly say that our bilge pump hasn't cycled in nearly a year), replaced thruhulls, replaced all the windows, rebuilt the rudder, and installed an engine. We then moved to a nearby dock for another year where we rigged the boat, mounted the deck hardware and toerails, did copious amounts of fiberglass work, bulkhead repair, and painted in the cabin.
Only in the last few months has our work shifted from seaworthiness to the systems that support long-term life aboard. Running water, solar power, a working toilet, and a stove to cook on. It took three years, which, not surprisingly, is the timeline that most of the truly knowledgeable sailors told us it would take. But as anxious/depressed as we have been throughout, I cannot describe how elated we are to finally have a home, a home that can give us independence, a home that can take us wherever we want to go.
In the final week on the dock we made a table, installed a counter over the hole-that-used-to-be-an-icebox, and finally mounted the bathroom door - which has a full-length mirror!. I haven't seen myself in a full length mirror in two years. It's pretty wild. I look older(wiser?) Aside from those few projects, the majority of last week was spent organizing every object in our lives into logical storage solutions on the boat. Tools, parts and spares had to be extracted from the left overs of the refit, the "everything else" that ended up being sold, given away, or donated to the dumpster.
I almost forgot to mention that I broke my pinkie toe. The cockpit locker lid fell on it Saturday, the day we paid up and were supposed to get off the dock. Due to the break, we missed the high noon tide and had to leave Sunday instead. I buddy-taped the broken toe to the one next to it, and am now trying to stay off of it, but it is difficult to sit down and stay put with so much to do! Fortunately this is the least debilitating of all the injuries I've sustained thus far. There's nothing to do motoring down the ICW that can't be done with a broken toe!
But just being back on the water for a couple day has started to heal our frustrations. Sleeping by the sway of floating over gentle swells and being wakened by the sunrise has a healing power all it's own. Seeing our boat on the water after all this time is unreal. It looks so beautiful I can't even believe it. I don't know how we survived it. I don't know how it didn't break us apart. But it feels really good that it didn't. We didn't give up, or even allow giving up to be an option in our thinking. We made finishing this boat our sole mission of existing. And we won.