Living off the grid (OTG) also means, in many ways, thinking outside the box (OTB). It is not so much that you ALWAYS have to think OTB but, if you don’t, you will ALWAYS be waiting on something (product, materials) or someone (with greater expertise) to get your work done. And sometimes you do not have the time or the money to wait on that. To get anything done OTG, one really must ‘make do’, jerry-rig, get creative, recycle, repurpose, invent or otherwise be uber pragmatlc in the extreme – almost all the time. You cannot phone in an order, call a repairman, use Amazon or have the thing you need already in inventory.
Old-timers-up-the-coast made a lot of things out of wood, repurposed everything else and generally made Rube Goldberg look constrained. Old guys simply ‘made do’. Old guys knew how to make it happen. Oldtimers made it work without Amazon, experts, You Tube or even books!
We, of course, are not bona fide old-timers (except in age)and are not as creative or adaptable as many out here. Plus we have a bad case of MSB (modern spoiled bratism)! As Sal puts it, “We are NOT barbarians!” (i.e. Sal and I have taken to using our Waterford crystal wine glasses every day since NOT using them just means they will last longer than we do – we have gone PRIMAL, we are using the GOOD glasses!). But, still, even the most pampered and spoiled out here have to get ‘down and dirty’, get real, do what needs doing now and then. Bears poop in the woods and so do the princesses. One does what needs doing.
And that is my slightly weird introduction to the keel of our new boat. The keel, of course, is the boat’s foundation, the backbone of the ship, the spine, if you will. The keel is the primary strength of the boat. In fact, the keel-and-ribs is often ‘founded’ on a particuarly strong frame referred to as the ‘strongback’. Anyway…we have a keel. It is strong. It is made of oak. It is good. But…..
…..Oak is wood. Wood is NOT Tungsten, steel or even aluminum. Wood is simply NOT as ‘strong’ in some ways as one might want. Especially if you have an inordinate amount of granite boulders on the beach in your life.
Think of it this way: you are driving slowly (under ten knots) in a nasty storm and at night. The rain is blowing horizontal. Ya can’t see diddly–squat. But you know you are coming up to your shore….that’s good…home is near….but…but….your home shore DOES NOT HAVE a dock. It has rocks, instead. You have to ‘nudge’ your boat on to the shore line to let off your passengers (dogs and wife). In the dark. Maybe there’s even fog. There’s definitely a bit of a storm surge. Waves. Wind. You have to be careful.
If you have a steel boat, you still have to be careful….if you have an aluminum boat , you have to be a bit more careful…if you have a good, strong f’glass boat you have to be even more careful yet and, if you have a wood boat, you have to be so careful you manoeuvre as if you have a boat made of eggshells. Wood boats weighing tons bashing up and down (waves) on granite rocks (beach) will not last long. Wooden boats need care.
I now have a wooden boat.
So, how do I ‘show care’ BEFORE I need to…..how do I make my wood boat less vulnerable to pounding on granite? Why with plastic, of course!
My friend, John, was a salvage kinda guy. If something still good was being thrown out, he rescued it. When the local hockey rink pulled out strips of that yellow, plastic ‘kickboard’ you see around the rink, he got some of it. That stuff is HDPE. High density Polyethylene. They used it at the rink because not only is the stuff really tough but also because it is slippery. It is slippery enough to skate on! Tough and slilppery is what I need.
Yesterday, I cut and fashioned a strip of HDPE as a ‘shoe’ for the bottom of the keel. Just four feet of it two inches wide tapering to one inch at the stem, shaped, sanded, and drilled for holes. It looked perfect! After it was done I gave it a gentle bend to mentally ‘see’ it go around from the bow-to-the first part of the flat keel. It snapped! IT BROKE IN HALF!
HDPE, the wonder plastic that takes nothing but abuse and is very bendable by nature snapped like a toothpick.
Am I deterred? No. I’ll cut another piece and do it again. I will bend it again. I may, however, use a little persuasive heat the next time. It will work. It will be fine. Ya just gotta adjust, ya know?