My mom made me promise not to use her real name if I decided to blog about an event that happened just a few days after Christmas. So, to keep her identity private, I will just call her Mom and leave her real name a mystery. Wink.
My boat came with a trailer, which is as old (or as young) as the boat itself. Aside from one journey to and from the lake each year, it has spent most of its former life indoors. Since I procured ownership and after I launched my boat in Danvers, MA, the trailer has remained stationary in Michigan, its current resting place in my parent’s backyard.
Now, home for the holidays, I decided to do some work to protect its perfect condition. My plan was to raise the trailer off the ground, and rest it on blocks. In this way, the wheels will be relieved of some pressure and (hopefully) last longer. The plan was simple: use some old cinder blocks of my dads, a car jack, and a little elbow grease. It wouldn’t be too difficult.
The blocks were stacked in a pile in the back yard. Even though the snow was up to my chest, with my father’s specific instructions, I was able to estimate where the blocks were located and shovel a path right to them. So far the plan was going well and I didn’t want to involve anyone in my family. They were enjoying their holiday and probably wouldn’t find this project that much fun. But the blocks were frozen together, and after some pulling and pushing they weren’t budging. So I went inside to ask my dad if he had suggestions.
To my surprise, Mom said she would come and help! I loved the idea. To be honest, the weather was warm enough and I was enjoying the work, I thought that Mom would too. If it became too difficult, she could just watch or go back inside. No big deal…right?
Oh boy was I wrong. As soon as Mom offered her help, Grandma began scolding Dad for allowing Mom to go outside. You’ve heard the phrase… “if looks could kill?” Grandma lost her ability to speak years ago, but she sure hasn’t lost her ability to communicate!
Try to imagine a parade of people walking away from the cozy den and the new obsession with Nintendo Wii, bundling up and heading out into a northern Michigan winter all the while saying things like, “you don’t have to help,” “now look what you’ve done, I was enjoying my evening,” “why couldn’t you wait until spring,” “Mom thanks for the help, but you better go inside,” “don’t you dare let Grandpa pick up a shovel,” “I knew you wouldn’t do this on your own,” and even “when spring comes, you better get that trailer outta here.” Keep checking this blog. I may be trying to sell the trailer by spring!
Outside we went: Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Brother-in-law Jason, and me. And with one swift kick, Jason knocked over the bricks and they split apart. It was that easy. Now why didn’t I think of that?! But after that was taken care of, the throng of helpers didn’t return to their cozy holiday doings. Instead, they helped haul the blocks, find the car jack and try to convince me that it wouldn’t work. The car jack surely wouldn’t lift the trailer. But by then, I was even more determined to make it work. So I kept shoveling and working, all the while trying to get Grandpa to stop working, and Mom to stop telling me to make sure Grandpa doesn’t work to hard. And I know Grandpa can’t stop himself from helping. So I was satisfied when he busied himself with brushing the quarter inch of snow off the top of the trailer and instructing me on how to work the car jack, something I understand completely.
There is something wonderfully satisfying about working hard and seeing the outcome of that hard work. It is why something as simple as shoveling and hauling blocks can be more satisfying than complicated or theoretical or sedentary work. And when the day was done, Grandpa and I had succeeded in raising up the trailer so that all six wheels were off the ground, and even better, we had shared an evening of laughter, surprises, and satisfaction. Given the choice, I would haul blocks and shovel with Grandpa over playing Nintendo Wii any day.
i was wondering if you had a trailer. i would have rented a car and brought the trailer home, and set that boat on it for the winter. no more condensation problems, and a bit warmer to boot.
Thats a great idea, Caleb. I chose to live on the boat in the water because it much more comfortable and affordable. Don’t worry, I am managing the condensation ok, and the weather will warm up soon.
Thanks for the suggestion!
I found your blog through sailnet. Very cool adventure you are having! Your story reminds me of my parents.
Good idea to jack up the trailer. Did you do anything with the wheel bearings? With 6 wheels it’s not a small job, but the bearing seals tend to leak, and salt water in the bearings over the winter is bad news. Preventive maintenance on trailer wheel bearings is well worth the effort and minor expense. Bearing seals are about $5 each to replace. After cleaning and re-packing the bearings you are good for another season. Replacement bearings are $20 to $35 a set, and you likely to need to replace them if there is any salt water in them over the winter. You don’t want to know how much an axle costs if the spindle corrodes to the point where it needs to be replaced. (I’ve been there and done that.) If you search for bearings on my CoastalCafe blog, you will find a post from Feb. 2007 that gives more info. You might also want to check the technical information section on the ChampionTrailers.com website that provides a lot of useful information. Another recommendation is to cover the tires from sunlight. UV light breaks down the rubber causing the tires to develop tiny cracks over time. You can significantly extend their life by keeping them out of the sun.
I laughed out loud!
I have no sailboat- or trailer-related advice, but thank you for painting a vivid picture of your vacation. I’m glad you accomplished what you set out to do, with some help from your family.
p.s. My brother-in-law’s name is Jason, too. He helped me with a personal project of my own when I went home, but it was wine-related. No kicking necessary!
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I recently discovered your site and have not yet read all of it, but I am really enjoying it. It takes guts to do what you are doing. I have never really done any sailing, but will probably end up living on a boat one day. It is really only my love for flying the mutual incompatibility of those two activities that has stopped me so far. (Anyone have an old aircraft carrier for sale..?)
However it turns out, I am sure when you look back on it in years to come, you will not regret it one bit.
I suppose the biggest challenge is making a living, however modest, while living on a boat. Something I wrack my brains over constantly too. The idea of simplifying life and decluttering is also admirable; I had my belongings reduced to your standards (trunk and backseat of a car) a few years ago, but my collection of tools has outgrown that space by now. However, tools don’t count as clutter in life!
I look forward to reading more about your adventures,
Peter, Corona, CA (currently)
Thanks Peter! Thats fantastic. I’m glad you are enjoying the blog. And you are right, tools don’t count. Right now I’m wishing I had more tools.
i do not want to live exactly on a trailer home but i think it is interesting to live on it though .