Bring on the ‘feeling’: boatyards and expanding compassion



Whittling away at the deck paint preparation…this is when I wish Swell was about ten feet shorter!!


Our human compassion binds us to one another–not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”  –Nelson Mandela


I’m sitting on the bow of Swell in the yard. It’s 3pm and the sun’s heat is irritatingly persistent. Since my return from India, I’ve been up to my neck in this deck painting project. My fingers are aching and there’s a blister on my right thumb. I switch to my left hand, but it’s awkward and it bashes into the cleat as I work around its base. There’s still so much prep left to do before I can paint. I can hardly bear to look around. The rays pierce the spots that my hat doesn’t shade. The smell of resin and bottom paint wafts through the air. The nicked flesh on my hands burn. But I just keep sanding…


My mind drifts to family and friends…what they might be doing…and then keeps coming back to ‘compassion’ and ‘suffering’. “…If I never did this hard work, I could never relate to those in the world who work this hard everyday.” Amidst the sweat and fatigue and boredom, I felt connected to all those people out there working similar sorts of manual labor. That connection makes us feel richer, stronger, and more prone to making decisions that serve others and the planet.


Some of us are born compassionate; others have to work at it. The difficult situations we go through that can be turned into opportunities to expand our ability to ‘feel’ and connect to others if we choose to use them that way. Adversity can harden us and turn us inward, or it can soften us and open our hearts wider. The latter choice is scarier, but it keeps us ‘feeling’…for when we stop feeling, we’re like a sailboat without water under it—dry, boring, lifeless, and disengaged!

We must stay open to the lessons offered to us and use our hardships to empathize and understand others, in the hope that we can help heal each other. Because the truth is that no matter how happy we are in our individual lives, we cannot know complete peace and contentment when others in the world are suffering.

So yea, I hate sanding Swell’s deck, but I love the ‘feeling’ it brings me…



The chosen chisel.

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Midday papaya snack!


The neighborhood kids are happy I’m taking so long in the yard since they get to ride my skateboard!


Super moon setting, 6 am. Time to start sanding.

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Poor lil spidey got dusted…:(



Lil Temehani always finds a way to lighten the situation…


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6 hours of sanding later…contemplating a career change…:)



Lani shredding around after only a few weeks of skating.



Let the fun begin…


Reward for a long day on the job…





I've Got No Strings to Hold Me Down


The amount of chaos inside Swell that had accumulated over the last two weeks of projects in the marina was mindboggling. Wood and metal scraps, half used glues and caulking, bits of wires, dirty rags, random screws, washers, and nuts, broken and assorted drill bits, frayed ends of cut ropes, cans of paint and varnish and thinners, resins and fiberglass, cat food, sandpaper”¦and tools, tools, and more tools… I sifted through assorted piles of them, thinking back to their corresponding project that had eventually been tackled.

It took two full days to rummage through this mayhem. Finally you could see the floor, then you could actually walk through the cabin, but it wasn’t until I pulled the long cushion out of the forepeak and placed it on the bench in the cabin, dressed it with its cover, and laid down upon it below the fan, that it began to feel real. The projects were over! When the tools were put away, we stopped listing to the port. I swept and cleaned the floors, filled the water tanks, scrubbed down the decks, and carried a heap of things that I’d had aboard Swell for 3 years and NEVER used, and set them ashore where people could extract what they wanted. At 4:30 on Sunday afternoon, I unplugged from shore power and quietly cast off my lines, leaving a surprise for the boatyard crew so that they’d find it the next day, after I’d left.


A Sprint to the Present


Swell is once again bobbing happily in the Pacific”¦for now, only at the boatyard marina, but piece by piece and day by day Swell comes together. Under time pressure from the Dear & Yonder filmmakers to be ready for some action in the next few weeks, I have been busting my tail to get her ready to go”¦ The days are blurring together, the tools never get put away and I’ve got more than one project going on at all times-pending weather, necessary information, my energy level, and available equipment”¦ I re-caulked the forward hatch to stop the leak over my bed; tried to install the new solar panel charge controller that I just bought in the US, but after two frustrating days and many calls to technical support I find out the brand new unit must be faulty”¦ “Oh just send it back and we’ll fix it!” the man says.