Monday, July 27, 2009

'Cause ya gotta have faith!

Trust, in any relationship, is critical for its success. This is no big secret, I know. Without trust a relationship will not survive - let alone thrive.

It has come to my attention that I do not trust my boat. There, I said it. God I hate that I said it.

Let me clarify - I DO believe Rasmus to be a FANTASTIC boat. I DO believe it will carry Scott and me across the world's oceans safely.
I DO NOT wish I had any other boat. I DO have faith that this boat is strong, sturdy and can withstand the lashings it will inevitably endure. I DO believe that this boat was meant for us. I DO NOT have ANY regrets on buying this boat. I still love her very, very much and I DO trust that I will grow to trust her more and more as time goes on ('cause trust happens over time, right?).

To be specific, what I DO NOT trust is our hydraulic steering.

Steering is REALLY important. Especially when you are dealing with something that weighs over 12,000 pounds, is floating, and, because of the latter, is impossible to stop with any sort of immediacy or urgency (like, say – another boat in the way).

Let me also mention that I have lost steering before – not in a boat, but in a car. In Africa. Near the very, very remote and coastal border between Tanzania and Mozambique. I was driving along in my pieced together beauty of a land cruiser when I noticed something felt odd. My boyfriend at the time took the wheel and we were bounding along nicely along a dirt road on a sunny day when all of a sudden “pop” – the wheel just started turning, turning, and turning like a pinwheel and we just kept going straight, eventually crashing into a pile of rocks and bush in front of a mud hut with an old man squatting, unfazed, on a stoop in front of it. This is funny now, but had we been any where else – say, on a bridge, on a busier road, near a market full of people – this could have been a travesty of epic proportions. So yeah, now I’m a little gun shy when it comes to loosing complete and utter control of a moving vehicle. Boat or car.

Our hydraulic steering is fluky at best. It feels lumpy, bumpy and you never quite know where the rudder is. That, and I *know* we have a leak somewhere that is slowing draining the fluid that keeps our system running into our bilge. I should also mention that I have read two (count them TWO) accounts of people with the same boat as ours ALSO having hydraullic steering problems. My lack of trust is not unfounded. In exploring “trust” I found a site that offers "10 Crucial and Surprising steps in Building Trust”. I will explore them, keeping the boat in mind. Let’s see where this takes us, shall we?

1) Be Predictable – well, life on a boat is about as predictable as the weather. You can gauge what is coming and be as prepared as possible. But come ON, I am from Chicago – we’re famous for our weather and its ability to constantly slap us in the face with a hearty laugh (summer 2009 is proof positive).
2) Inform your significant other when you become “unpredictable” – okay, fair enough. I suppose the signs that we see (lumpy steering, hydraulic oil in the bilge) are all ways our boat is saying “I might need some mechanical attention”.
3) Make sure your words match your message – well, boats can’t really talk so we’ll chuck this one out.
4) Believe the other person is competent – so what if the other “person” (or boat in this case) has failed us before? I mean, I believe that hydraulic systems on boats can work…just not ours. It’s "competent" today – but will it be tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after? Something in my gut tells me no.(Okay, so you now you know – I’m a *teeeeeny tiny* bit of a control freak).
5) Be very, very careful about keeping secrets – um. Okay. Maybe this list doesn’t really apply to trusting a boat at all?…There are no real "secrets" on a boat. When the shitter's full, everytime you pump a smell so foul you nearly gag enters the air, when the battery dies, it dies, when the steering goes, it goes. No secrets. Just surprises of varying magnitudes.
6) Let your needs be known – “I NEED STEERING I CAN TRUST”. My worst nightmare is coming into a harbor and realizing our steering has gone kerplunk. Imagine how awesome we’d look just floating gently into a harbor, both of us frantically waving and screaming on deck to get out of the way, fuddling desperately with our emergency tiller on the back of the boat (yes, there is a back-up), only to crash into another boat, a dock, or a break wall. In front of dozens of onlookers (because everyone watches everyone else dock). I shudder to think. That said, I suppose our boat needs something perhaps we can’t give it. Like professional attention from a mechanic who really knows hydraulics.
7) State who YOU are – loudly. They say you build trust by entrusting your SELF to the other (in this case, our boat's steering system). "I am Brittany Stephen and I will sail around the world with my love, Scott". Are my standards of wanting a strong and sturdy steering system too high? I think not. But, then again, Scott says I am quite a pistol when it comes to getting my way and changing my mind. But honestly, I am going to stick by my guns here. No. matter. What.
8) Learn to say NO – I am actually laughing out loud as I’m sure Scott would *love* to chime in here. He fancies me something of a 2 year old who’s only vocabulary word is “No”. I, personally, think he just focuses on more on my “no’s” than my “yes’s”. But honestly, saying "no" is a protective mechanism to ensure you don’t have fear. And we all know how debilitating fear can be. So I am going to go ahead and say “NO” to a poor hydraulic steering system. Anyone have a spare $2500 and want to buy us a new one?
9) Charge neutral – this one is basically saying “control your voice” and don’t let your emotions get the better of you: communicate calmness. I really need to work on this one and I’m sure Scott would attest. I call it “passionate” some might call it “emotional” or (worse) “melodramatic”. Okay. I won’t scream at the hydraulic cylinder anymore. Fine.
10) Dig into the dirt – oh yeah, we’ve done this alright. Scott tinkered away at that hydraulic unit for over an hour while I added cup after cup of oil to our thirsty system. We are happy to deal with the trials and tribulations our boat hands us – we are learning from our mistakes and coming out the other side stronger. So maybe we just need to dig a little further. Like take apart the helm pedestal and check the hoses that lead aft to the steering unit…sigh.

Well, it looks like I have a lot to work on. Scott, inherently more trusting than I am, doesn’t seem to be nearly as fazed by all of this as me – which I suppose is a good thing. I overreact, and he under reacts. Yin and yang. I trust(wink) that somewhere in the middle is probably where we need to be. It works for us.

That said, does anyone have the name and number of a good hydraulic mechanic!?!


Brittany and Scott

1 comment:

Lisa Hanneman said...

CHARGE NEUTRAL?!?! Is that even possible for you? But that's what I love about you. You speak my speak. No two people could get so animated over discussing something quite mundane or breathing over the phone. You know what else I'm thinking right now...

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