Transforming the pink wall of Post-Its into an understandable, sortable, and trackable collection of work is a pursuit only an organization fanatic could love, a perfect job for tidy me as evidenced from a very early age (as reported to me by my mother) when I, on occasion, would rip off my diaper, throw it out of the playpen onto the floor, screaming for someone to “fix it”. Now, as an adult, I am the person who can move into a new home, unpack, put furniture and fixtures in the right places and hang the art in a week. I’m the woman who knows a spreadsheet is her friend. I am capable of driving friends and family insane doing this, but I know that my husband loves me for it, giving him the confidence that his captain will know what she is doing.
So, with laptop at the dining room table, I converted those Post-Its into a tidy color coded spreadsheet. For each of the 100+ work items, I named it, categorized it, described it, assigned it to a “lead”, set start and end dates and provided a column for status progress. It is lovely, if I do say so myself; however, I did show restraint by not prioritizing each item, developing dependencies or producing a critical path chart.
There is a point of diminishing returns on the level of effort because I found the perfect book to take us forward once we get back into the water in the spring, The International Marine Boat Manager, Your Vessel’s Custom Handbook of Operating and Service Procedures. I’ve died and gone to heaven! In about 300 pages, we will complete “fill in the blank” sections that have guidance for everything including pre- and post- voyage checks and float plans, basic vessel operations, guest preparation, emergencies and safety, engine and generator systems, electrical systems, communications, navigation and piloting instruments, steering, comfort and life support systems, anchoring, docking and mooring gear, dinghy management, sails, spars and rigging, boat storage, and ships specifications. There is even a section on fishing gear.
Why are we doing all this despite the fact that we have hired specialists to do replacement and upgrade work? Look, let’s not fool ourselves here. The specialists can’t do everything for us; we don’t have that kind of money. Would you redo your kitchen without professional help? We wouldn’t. We’re not knowledgeable or experienced enough to be professional decorating and construction experts. We’re just folks who enjoy a high quality functioning kitchen who can do minor repairs and keep the place spit polish clean.
We are average and aging, but enthusiastic sailors, not ocean crossing sailors who complain when the wind is blowing at less than 20 knots, always wanting to race and sail where others like us dare not venture. We want to do the right thing, to keep surprises to a minimum because the weather, navigation and shallow water sailing alone will provide enough to keep our hearts beating fast and eyes focused; we want to learn, to keep our minds sharp and our bodies balanced before, during and after our great adventure.