The Surveyor’s Apprentice

It’s Monday before the sea trial. After clearing it through the listing broker, I drive down to the boatyard to watch the boat being commissioned. Chris, the mechanic, has his feet sticking out of the tiny head in front of the companionway steps. I watch from the cockpit.

“Whatcha doing?” I ask.

“Commissioning the boat,” he answers.

Must be the New England salty reticence. I watch some more and hear a loud pumping action.

“Whatcha doing?” I ask.

“Commissioning the boat,” he answers again.

“Are you pumping out the head?”

“I’m actually pumping water into the head.” (Duh, of course.) Then I hear a sound similar to flushing.

Chris then moves to the engine room. I see a bunch of filters on the floor.

“Are you changing the oil?” I ask.

He answers, “I’m commissioning the boat. Everything that needs to work, I make it work.”

Undeterred I hang around. I go up to watch the riggers put the mast in place with a crane and check in with Chris. After some time, he finally asks, “You own this boat?”

“No, but I hope to soon,” I answer.

His demeanor softens. He tells me about the fuel filter he’s changing and all the other things he’s done so far, about the “cigarette boats” and their “coaster” races–essentially bar hopping around Long Island Sound, Fishers Island, and Martha’s Vineyard. I eventually ask him about biodiesel and he tells me about how he used home heating oil to run his diesel car, something about cetane and octane…. He then tells me about his 30′ sailboat and the time it got dismasted.

Near the end of our conversation, he says “I thought you were Barnaby’s assistant or apprentice,” referring to our surveyor. I go up on deck to let him get back to work. Some riggers are putting in the standing rigging.

One of the guys looks at me and asks, “You Barnaby’s apprentice?”


4 Replies to “The Surveyor’s Apprentice

  1. How did things go? I’m keeping my fingers and a spare toe crossed for you and your family!

    1. So far so good. We just need a test sail and insurance binder before we head into acceptance. A little nervous, a little cold feet!

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