...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Dear blog,

Remember Juanita some years back?

Well I have a new project that began late summer 2014, and her name is Fixa. In Swedish, “fixa” means “to fix”, and the name basically says it all. When we got Juanita, she had a large hole on deck and a missing window. Fixa, a larger boat, had much larger problems. Unloved and uncovered for more than 10 years on land, the boat was filled with about a foot of oil-mixed water. The wood interiors were damaged by the moisture and mould. The pipes had corroded. But on the upside, she was also almost unused. Her foresail had only been folded once before, i.e. by the sail maker.

Depending on how you view it, I slipped, stumbled or willingly plunged into this project through persuasion by M’s dad. At that time, I had just graduated. He said that since I was doing so many projects anyway, including ham radio with marine frequencies, why don’t I repair a boat with him that could eventually be my own? Admitting that owning a boat through mere repair work sounds too good to be true, I said yes. But I admit I also felt kind of sorry for the guy. Aside from a few pizzas now and then, our contact had always been pretty sporadic. He always asks about M’s godparents at the countryside; offers that I could call him too like I call them. Obviously, this project was also an attempt to have something in common, “to act little bit like a dad”, as he once said.

All autumn and spring, we had been working with Fixa. We drained it. We took out all the wood interiors. I sanded and varnished each one of those wooden pieces three times. We scrubbed the dirty interior twice. We replaced one winch and all the rope clutches. We changed the pipes. We re-installed the interiors. I fixed the lighting. We installed new water pipes. I cleaned the tank and the stove. We installed a refrigerator and a septic tank. I washed the exterior. I aired the mattresses. I bought kitchenware at a second-hand store, I started filling the shelves.





All is well. Or was. The boat is launched and floating but I don’t know much else as of now. I decided that I didn’t want to be a part of the mess when M’s dad “discovered” on the spot on the day of the launch that the motor wasn’t working properly, the generator wasn’t charging, and that the sail was too long for the new furling system he just bought. What a damn surprise when you haven’t given them a look in the first place. Or had prioritized other cosmetic things. "Optimist" that he was, he was even thinking of sailing away on it on that very day which of course was ungrounded fantasy.

In hindsight, I know now that whatever the context, pity is a wrong reason to do things together with people. It’s only when people are on the same wavelength that working on a common project can become a joy. Otherwise, when you realize you’re not on the same page – and haven’t been on the same page in the first place with things such as goals and methods – those unresolved differences become a source of frustration over time, bubbling under the surface before it brings to a rolling boil. I’ve felt resignation, apathy and something very close to hatred, when I decided that I needed to get away from that project for my own good. Just sucking it in for the sake of invested work, for the price of losing sight of what's supposed to be pleasant with this job, just isn't plain worth it.

I’m prepared to admit that egoism may be a much better reason than pity or “trying to be nice”. Because, for the lack of a common wavelength with M’s dad, egoism must be the only reason why I’m curious to find out what has happened to Fixa since the day of the launch. That is, I want to go out sailing when my friend Kristine comes visiting next week. Yet as I prepare to call about the boat this weekend, I can almost taste my stress, in anticipation of getting frustrated again or discovering something horribly wrong that hadn’t been fixed with anything else than some provisionary bad solution, yet again. A working boat might be too much to ask for, how pessimistic that might sound. But I’m ready for the worst now. If things go well (which I anyway hope it does), I will be pleasantly surprised. But if I get too disappointed, at least I know the feeling would just last for another few days. Then I could just drive the heck away from there, take my kayak on the roof of my car and just paddle away to some other place. Away. Perhaps I should give the kayak a name. Like Färdig (complete) or Redo (ready). Or perhaps even Friheten (freedom).

Until next time!


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