Buying Necesse, as with any large purchases, was a huge decision for us as she was a full-on fixer-upper. Buying a derelict boat was pretty much the only way we could afford a boat this size (41ft). Now she was not exactly a derelict, but she had been holed and beached in a storm before the prior owner had bought her. He fixed the hole, and that is when we bought her from him. We were buying a shell. A completely gutted, dirty shell. To give you an idea there were no toilets, no running water, no lights, no flooring, no working engine, no instruments, no beds, etc. Well, there were mattresses which consisted of pieced-together foam from another boat. Lets just say the prior owner was a bachelor before selling the boat to us. She was a mess. Even the guy selling her to us wanted to make sure that we had discussed the boat, and her state, at great lengths. Because in his words “buying a boat that needs this much work could be a marriage breaker if you are not both completely committed”.
Even though Eben had sworn, after our first boat, to never purchase another boat without a functional engine, he is a glutton for punishment. And it was an offer we couldn’t let pass us by, since it would give us a bigger home for our family that we were hoping to expand, and within an acceptable budget.
We bought her, in Georgetown Bahamas. But we had to get her back to the States. There was no way that we could do this amount of repairs in the Bahamas due to lack of materials and importing anything comes with some crazy taxes and fees. So with the help of some amazing friends, we sailed her back to Miami. This trip was much more than any of us had anticipated. And this set of friends were the only ones crazy enough to agree to sail an engine-less boat back to the US with us. But that is a whole other blog post in itself! (This was my nightmare of a maiden journey, my first real sailing trip.)
Once in Miami, picture us, the first few months living aboard Necesse, while we were fixing her up. The first bit we were using headlamps at night until we could hook up electricity, going to the marina office to use the washrooms since we were lacking a toilet, and setting out every pot and pan to catch leaks every time it rained. You can imagine our to-do list prioritized itself very quickly. And we were doing all of this with a 2 year old in tow.
I definitely think the leaks were one of the strongest contenders of hitting you where it hurts. When you are in a deep sleep and suddenly wake up to the sound of rain, if you know your boat leaks, you shoot out of bed and get to work. Often in the haze of sleep, we would be placing specific-sized bowls in spots depending on the intensity of the water gushing in. It was a hard one to deal with, the feeling that everything in your boat was getting drenched, that it was mother nature vs us. And she was winning.
Some days it felt like there was an overwhelming amount of work to be done. Those days we just felt like throwing in the towel and quitting sailing all together. Or at least quit until we could afford to buy ourselves a fully-functional and ready-to-live aboard boat. Just attacking the cleaning of the boat was a nightmare. The prior owner had every intension to fix the boat up himself and so he had boat pieces of this and that strewn everywhere, in closets, in bins, stuffed under the table. In places that only would make sense to him. And we had to go through every one of those pieces, and first figure out what the heck it was (remember boating was still somewhat new to us and so some of these random pieces looked completely foreign) and then figure out whether we wanted to keep it, if we even needed it, or if we should just throw out this used one and buy new ones.
We had many friends fly in to visit, who then turned in to work hands, helping Eben install this or that. It was insanely nice to have them with us since they were giving up part of their vacation time to get greased up and dirty. Honestly, most of the work time I would escape from the boat for hours at a time to bring Arias to play in the park or get groceries, or just to bring her into an environment where I didn’t have to worry so much about all the dirty and dangerous tools and parts she could be touching. I mainly got to enjoy the quirks of Coconut Grove, Miami, while Eben, and friends, slaved away. So having an extra pair of hands helping him eased my guilty conscience.
On the flip side, those hard days were always put up against days of feeling extremely accomplished when suddenly you can flick a switch and the lights come on. Or a thunderstorm can roll through and you know you wont be getting a torrential downpour from your mast boot. Or best yet that you have an engine that your husband and our friend Kurtis rebuilt themselves that can now take you anywhere, even if your mainsail rips in half and wraps around the mast.
After 11 months in Miami fixing the essentials, we packed our boat, and a friend’s boat, full of supplies and headed to the Bahamas where the rest of the more aesthetic work could be done. This was a huge treat for us since now we had the beach, the clear water, “the dream” to enjoy while working, and the cheap Bahamian rum to end the day with. It made every little bit of it that much easier. And that way Eben could kick us off the boat to the beach and be guilt-free if he had work to do and we were just getting in his way. It took a year and a half to get her to where she is now, and although there is always something to fix and more to do, we are happy with our progress, how we have personalized her and proud to call her our “home“. While we are living in our “Hometel” now we do have random moments of missing being liveaboards, but after four years on Necesse a little break was in order and somewhat needed.
peek a boo!
panoramic view of our boat before we got ahold of her
down the hall to the aft cabin
yes there was a vberth somewhere under all of that
back at it with 2 babies now
keeping busy amongst the chaos
we can’t all be working, right?
prepping to repaint
what a difference some paint and reupholstering can do