10 March 2012

Scanning...everything BUT the horizon

In case you were wondering how folks who chuck it all and go to sea decide what to bring with them, we can say now from both personal experience as well as the tales told to us by others, usually not by a means that enables them to be anywhere near as brutal as they'll ultimately need to be.  It's a weird thing, when you think about it.  Not living in the relatively confined space that is a yacht, even one on the "Wow, that's your first boat?  That's big!  How big IS it, it seems REALLY big!?" end per se, but living with all the things necessary for regular, everyday life plus ocean going travel always near at hand.  Put another way, our cooking oil and engine oil are stored about 5 steps apart, our life jackets are filed next to our laundry, and I can get from the cockpit where I was watching the sun set with a cigar and glass of whiskey to my tool box to grab a screwdriver and then to the stupid, f**king, STILL leaking water heater under the starboard aft berth in 7 seconds flat.  All of which is to say that any method by which one can reduce or eliminate a category of their inventory is well worth considering.

Typically, people bring too many clothes.  That's the number one regret we've heard.  We actually were pretty good about keeping clothes to a necessary minimum.  For us it was paperwork.  Not that we didn't toss about 2 file cabinets' worth; we just ran out of time before we ran out of paper.  So, whatever we couldn't process before we left had to come with.  Pounds and pounds of paper which only increased exponentially when we moved aboard.  In addition to all our personal paperwork, there were more than half a dozen three-ring binders of boat and boat part documentation.  It is customary to pass along to successive owners the manuals that pertain to the boat and its equipment.  I suspect, however, it is only the most diligent sailors who keep these crucial records up to date.  That is to say, to remove from the files documentation which pertains to equipment or parts no longer on board.  In fairness, how often do any of us cull our "Owner's Manuals and Warrantees" file every time we toss out a toaster or replace the furnace?  No, these generally evolve into our own personal purchasing archive which is all fine and good unless of course we sell our house and the vast majority of the contents therein to a Makuxi (for instance) who has no idea what any of the objects are or what they're for.  In that case, having vestigial owners manuals, that is, documentation which serves on first encounter as a statement of responsibility and a warning of impending and inevitable doom for things which in actuality no longer even exist is, albeit unintentionally, cruel in the same way as is removing the piece of equipment itself but leaving its wiring or hoses in place so that the poor sap who comes along afterward spends hours or days chasing down electrical or plumbing runs only to discover that they dead end.

...(sigh) But I digress.

We have...or should I say have had...a lot of paper on our boat.  None of which, as far as we know (see above), is extraneous.  However, knowing that we would be in dire danger of paper inundation, we brought a scanner.  Two, actually, as our printer also scans. We have been, from the moment we moved aboard last October, waiting to work on this.  At last, we have been able to dedicate the past three (and probably next three) days of our lives to our own Paperwork Reduction Act.  With the exception of legal documents which we need, for various reasons, to retain the originals of and a few handwritten letters that got the better of our emotions, nothing has been spared.  Thanks to the glorious technological age in which we live, we have already turned an estimated 45 pounds of paper into less than -->.  We rejoice at the sight of our empty plastic bins and file caddies.  Every cubic foot of jettisoned paper frees up space for perhaps a priceless memento of our travels or more kitty litter.  And with "cloud" space available from iTunes, Amazon, Google, and the like we won't have to keep our stuff even on our computers (yes, computers, thankyouverymuch).  So while it might seem like a shame to spend 81 degree days with clear skies and 10-15 knot winds in Jane's mom's house running thousands upon thousands of sheets of paper through a scanner or laying out onto a scanner bed the contents of 2 or 3 photo albums (these were just the ones the professional scanning service couldn't do), it will be oh-so-worthwhile in the end.

...Besides which, it keeps me from taking yet another pointless run at that goddamn water heater.

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