OK, so I got back from my day and a half at the seaside. I was on a friend’s boat, helping with repairs which meant this time helping in scrapping the rust spots on the deck and covering them with protective paint. Complete re-painting of the deck is planned next week.

It was a very interesting time. The boat itself is a 40 feet steel sloop, built somewhere in the seventies. It has a very well designed hull, which behaves very well in bad weather as my friends who sailed her told me. It was used as an expedition yacht many times, just a month before she returned from a cruise up North, near Spitsbergen. For such a boat it is in surprisingly bad state. Everything looks makeshift. The engine, for example, is not a marine engine – it’s an old Mercedes diesel pulled out of a car years ago. Its air intake is made of a beer can, with a large plastic water bottle acting as the filter. The engine broke down on her last voyage, luckily on the return leg from Norway to Poland so they had to return under sails with no power. Interior is worn down and in overall bad state. There is no shower and no heating. A hard to describe, nauseating smell permeates the interior. It is a mixture of moist dirt, oily smells coming from barely covered engine and bilge water.

My friends who were there (the boat owner was not present, BTW) are fine sailors with many hard expeditions under their belts, mainly to the Arctic which is now trendy amongst top tier sailors in Poland. Cruises to the Arctic seas repeatedly win “Cruise of the year” award and are generally seen as “true sailing” for “real men” – as opposed to easy sailing in warmer and calmer seas like Mediterranean. People who go on those cruises look down somewhat on those who prefer to navigate in modern, comfortable boats in better conditions. They shun fancy equipment, with the exception of GPS receivers and chart plotters. They are the same kind of men as those who do base jumping, they just operate on the water. They would do anything provided it is dangerous and difficult enough.

They are very good people, overall relaxed and friendly. And they drink. A lot.

On Friday evening some beers were consumed, then everybody turned to a bottle of home brewed strong alcohol (made by mixing vodka with some sweets and then allowing them to dissolve in alcohol, result is quite good). I took two rounds and decided it’s enough, but three of them proceeded to empty the bottle which contained about half a gallon of this stuff. Next morning everybody around seemed to run on beer – also people from other boats. I met one guy at 6 AM with a large can of beer in his hand, within half an hour he emptied two more. When people on my boat woke up they too started their day by a trip to a shop and beer. Then, beer to accompany breakfast and then beer all day long, steadily, as we worked on the boat. I think that by the evening the dose would be around 10 cans per head, spread evenly over the day. I was shocked, frankly I still am! I can hardly believe I now know personally people who would start their day with beer.

So, overall, despite being welcome there I felt a bit strange. The night was hard, I hardly slept because of the voices etc. from the party going on around the table and later on from the cold. Despite sleeping in clothes, including a thick jacket and sweatshirt, it was so cold I actually woke up around 5:30 AM and proceeded to walk around. It was bearable that way and as the sun rose it was much warmer in the sunshine on a bench on the quay than on my berth. My body is not designed to be in the cold, I’m afraid – I love the temperatures most of my Polish friends describe as sweltering heat and hide from in air conditioned cars and offices.

I was about to stay for another day but I had to go back to take care of this project of mine. Quite frankly, it wasn’t all that bad to leave as I told my friends, but the bright side of this is that I slept tonight in a normal bed, took a long shower and feel human again. I’m not the rough explorer type, I’m afraid. It may sound very bourgeois, but I prefer clean comfy boats with all amenities, including heating and shower.

But, anyway I’m here because tomorrow would be stormy. Just as I was leaving on Friday the client’s IT director called and said they want to have our complete report Monday morning or the heavens would fall apart. She casually mentioned they might consider canceling the deal. I don’t think they themselves can really afford to do this, but I can’t be sure. And if they would do that, well, I would be in deep trouble because I’m doing this project on fixed-price, not a hourly rate – mistake I wouldn’t repeat even for a short project with the client I don’t know. I have to finish off the report before the morning, the problem is I have a kind of writer’s block. I just can’t produce more of this consulting babble. It has something to do with the fact that since the client didn’t want to consider any point of view other than their own (IMHO chaotic and illogical) current report’s shape and conclusions are very far from what I really believe and think about this case.

Well, enough of this, back to my report now…