Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Who Cares About a Few Teensy Drops of Water?

I've been known to whine now and then about the vagaries of sailing--as I see them from my point of view.
Pope always claimed I was lying--or at last exaggerating--when I shrieked about "salt water streaming down the walls" from the hull/deck seam of our O'Day 30 while crossing the Gulf Stream. The ongoing leaks has been one of my biggest complaints about cruising, and a source of tension in our household. Pope thinks I'm imagining things. And maligning his boat.

Of course, he's a former whitewater kayaker, so a little water never bothers him. How can he possibly understand my complaints--or even notice when the waterfall commences?

Recently, he found this comment in a sailing forum:

"I bought a 1982 O'Day 30, and while investigating evidence of hull/deck joint leaks, found that my boat was assembled with essentially NO sealant in the joint. Evidently some genius assembler wanted to keep hands clean. The 'shoebox' type hull/deck connection can be quite waterproof in rain or washing, but obviously with no sealant, open to seas coming up on the hull."

To his credit, Pope pointed out the comment to me instead of hiding it under the tablecloth. I was relieved to learn that I'm not the only one observing unusual amounts of moisture in an O'Day; I was beginning to wonder if the salt spray was causing premature senility.

After all, the salt spray has certainly caused its share of other damage: rusted-out water pump bearings, failed electrical connections every few days, sticky bedding (yuck), and...did I mention that because of the salt spray I developed an eye disease?

You may remember that I got run over by a car while pedaling my folding bike down a Miami street, during a stopover en route to the Bahamas. I can't blame the accident directly on cruising; it was a secondary by-product. In passing, I mentioned in that blog that I also consulted an ophthalmologist in Miami about swollen, irritated eyes. He diagnosed dry eye from being bombarded daily by strong salt-laced wind. He instructed me to never, ever go sailing without big sunglasses or, better yet, goggles.
Fast forward to February 2018: four more major cruises in our logbook (Georgia on the ICW, Guadeloupe, New England, and Windwards). Nine or 10 overnights on the Bay. Did I always wear eye protection? Um, maybe not. The dry eye has deteriorated to a more serious condition, a form of blepharitis, that requires wearing glasses in all types of breezes, not just strong salt spray. The diagnosis: a lifetime of eye drops, heating pads, and other maintenance.
In researching the condition, I learned something that my eye doctor carefully avoided sayng to me directly, probably fearing that I would immediately go home and commit suicide. In addition to dry eye and a buildup of normal bacteria, blepharitis is often the result of an infestation of mites! Yikes! Yuck! I'll spare you the photos.

Now I am really freaked out. How could cruising on a sailboat lead to such soul-wrenching depths of despair and disease? A little "salt water streaming down the walls" of the boat seems minor and irrelevant compared with mites feasting on your eyelids!

Ah, but this is the sailor's fate, apparently. Shipwrecks, close calls, rusty engine parts, tows off sandbars, conchs hijacking the anchor, leaky ceiling, leaky walls, twisted ankles, extensive bruising of the arms and legs...and mites feasting on your eyelids.
Now I am truly singing the Sailor's Lament.

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