Mechanic I am Not

Here I am, standing on the deck of my Catalina, named Nordic Breeze, relaxing after having adjusted the sails. The craft is no longer drifting idly, but is floating forward where I have aimed it. It makes a nice beeline in just the right direction. It is a nice, breezy day—not too calm, but not windy and overbearing. This is a perfect scenario for a salesmen who needs to get away and conquer built-up stress. There is no better remedy. If anything ails your soul, one trip alone can cure you fast. No wonder I keep the boat about twenty minutes from home. The water always beckons come Saturday. While the wife and kids also love sailing, they reserve their participation mostly for Sundays. The rest of the time I go solo and I adore the solitude. What other sport is so quiet yet so much fun? Take your favorite snacks and some music, and you will need nothing further.

While I imagine myself to be a self-styled handyman, I have limited skills. Because a fellow sailing friend often helps me take down and store my sails, I want to return the favor. I will ask if he needs his deck washed down or the small refrigerator cleaned out. I can polish the interior wood and vacuum the cloth seats. After going through a laundry list of possibilities, he finally mentioned the need to replace his old water heater. He has had it for quite some time. It is of course not a tank model given the limited space on his boat. It was a smart move to get an electric tankless style ideal for his needs, so we went online and found He likes to go out on the water for days at a time, and enjoys the convenience of hot water to bathe or do dishes.

I studied the manual for the water heater installation and reached out to a few people on Twitter who sent me videos and it seemed simple enough, even for me. We planned to enjoy a lazy afternoon so I brought along a couple of six packs of beer. We worked diligently and efficiently and got the job done early in the day so we could enjoy a few hours of sunbathing in the warmth of the summer day. I have to admit to my readers that my friend did most of the work. A mechanic I am not. He knew it and really just wanted some company. It was guys’ day off. I felt a little guilty for my lack of savvy and was ready to volunteer for any other project that called for immediate attention. “Let’s paint the mast,” I offered, but he laughed. “You don’t have to prove anything to me, my friend,” was his retort.

Thus ended one of the most blissful days of my life. A cold brew, a good friend, a scenic vista, and gentle waves: it was a sailing paradise. We both vowed to invite our families along, but agreed to wait for some time.