Saturday, July 21, 2012

The slime that moves us

To the landlubber, cleaning your vehicle usually consists of a trip through an automated car wash or on a hot summer day, a bucket and sponge in the driveway.
For cruisers it’s a different story. The environment under a boat (big and small), especially standing relatively still at anchor is the perfect recipe for growth. Ugly growth. 
We do avoid the task for months when possible, but there comes a time in the life of every cruiser when they have to tip their transport over, and scrub the bottom. This is no small feat. It involves facing the growing swamp green beard of slime and  the finger-slicing sharp barnacles with an artillery of scrapers and eye watering vile cleaning fluids. Strong scrub brushes and sand are the second phase.
It’s not pretty, it’s not sexy and it’s not fun. But it has to be done.
So, while others sat in their cubicles this Wednesday afternoon, gazing out their windows if they are lucky enough to have one, awaiting a lunch break to wake them up, we stood on the beach, paradise surrounding us, and we faced our demons.
We disconnected the fuel tank and removed all the junk in the little ‘trunk’ including our fake ‘Crocs’, emergency flashlight, rain ponchos and anchor with it’s rusty chain. We brought out the strongest cleaning implements we had and we threw her over.
And there it was. A gooey, live, smelly mess.
The radio active toxic shade of dinghy bottom slime
Up close with the slime
Luckily for us there was a shallow sandy beach pool close by for frequent dips to cool off. The whole task took about two hours, but by the end, we had her shining.

It felt great to have her all clean. It is just one of the tiny daily accomplishments that keep your heart beating and a spring in your step. These are the things that were so missing in my past life. Expat existence means everything is done for you, and then you complain about how poorly it was done. But there is no motivation to do things for yourself. The house and the car belong to the company and there is a surplus of cheap labour. We lazed around or sat idle and decaying at our desks.
Only here, on our little boat, with it’s daily demands for attention, and constant chores, do I feel alive. Every sinew, muscle, synapse. It’s buzzing.
And we take the rewards for a day’s work as enthusiastically! After our hours sweating over the dinghy, we were treated to a potjie stew, complete with cold beers and warm crusty bread, on the beach with a group of cruisers. Thanks to the organizer Stewart, a South African who also makes boerwors and biltong (a nice treat for JW).
A few cruisers digesting with wine and beers of course!

Our view from the communal lunch table

 We motored back to the boat in our glowing dinghy, tipsy from the beer, full of homemade food and rested our sore arms with a sigh of pure satisfaction.


  1. That is no easy task, and I know it. Great that you could enjoy a good meal with friends.
    And beer. ;)

  2. Nothing like working, breaking a sweat, and then admiring your accomplishment at the end of the day!