Here’s our new boat Betty Jean:
This picture was taken last November at the public docks in Newport Harbor, CA.
She’s one of 100 or so Fuji 32s, designed by John Alden and built in the late 1970s. We have hull #51, built in 1977.
Molly’s dad told us that one should have a boat that makes their heart sing a little every time they row up to it. This is the boat we want to row up to every day. The clipper bow with bowsprit, the wood rails, teak cockpit, slightly chubby middle and low freeboard were all very pleasing to Molly and I. We liked that it was the opposite of our old boat in many ways: it had a full keel, was a ketch, had a smaller cockpit. We were excited for something new and strange.
First action was to pull her out of the water and have her surveyed for any major problems (there were none) and have her bottom painted. Here’s the boat after being painted:
The boat’s previous name was Valkyries, which we really liked, but we decided to change it to Betty Jean after my Grandma Betty and Molly’s Grandma Jean. We cherish our Grandmas so dearly, so lucky we both are to have their continual love all our life. We had come up with the name as a possibility before even buying the boat. We like boats named after women.
Next, we sailed her down the coast from Long Beach, stopping at Newport Beach, moved out of our apartment, spent December living between the boat and Molly’s parent’s place, and moved on to the boat in January.
It was very cold in January and it rained quite a bit and we were cramped now into a small berth almost four feet above the floor of the boat, and we had to help each other up into the berth every night. We had the interior redone, so the cushions were at the upholsterers and we had no cushions on the boat and slept on plywood and memory foam. We hadn’t yet found room for our clothes. We cherished the cup of warm tea each morning and the glass of whiskey each night. I hung the picture of two skeletons in love that Aunt Annie gave us when we got married.
In February the toilet broke, I filled the diesel tank with water, then put diesel in the water tank, then filled the never used waste tank with water till it overflowed up through the floorboards. All this was deeply frustrating with it being entirely my fault. Then we found room for our clothes, Grandma Betty advised us to find a good wide jar for the middle of the night, and the month ended with a complete diesel tank scrub, new clean fuel and new fresh water and an efficient new foot pump for the water, which we like very much.
In March we started building a dinghy with Molly’s dad, and he has continued building it for us along with his own matching dinghy.
Then it rained even more and we were sure now we had a boat with absolutely no leaks except the leak from the cockpit instruments that we’re going to pull out and the leak from the forward hatch when you leave it wide open in the rain. We caulked the teak cockpit seats and sanded them from grey to rose.
In April so far, we have not installed a new toilet. We did not find the right set-up for a month or so, and then when we did we did not order the right part. Soon though, I promise you, we will no longer have the problem of not having a toilet and we’ll no longer be found sulking up the docks one last time each night or sprinting back up early each morning. We oiled the teak cockpit seats, learned to sand teak well and efficiently, how to mask off corners, and how not to let drips of varnish stream down the cabin side for neighbors to point out.
Today, Molly put the fifth coat of varnish on the teak in the cockpit, eyebrow and rails. I continued to map out the plumping for the head system, and sanded down a shelf we’ll be installing in a locker tomorrow. It was windy today and drizzled for a moment, but the wind is warmer and warmer every day and every day is longer and longer and soon we’ll be able to go sailing after work, in the evenings, with friends.