Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tea for the tillerman--actually a tiller for this tea gal

I do look at things on Craig's List* from time to time, just to see what's out there. Most of it is either out of my price range or drek.

But, occasionally, something really grabs my attention, and i follow up either with an email or a phone call. Many times, the initial phone call or email is met with, "Sorry, that item sold." Occasionally, however, i get lucky. It's how i met my down-the-street, around-the-corner neighbour, as he was selling his boat and had listed a lot of the boat paraphanalia on Craig's List. I got a few small fenders that have come in handy for my dinghy and a wonderful portable chart table that i've yet to use "for real" on the water, but i can see that time coming soon.

And so it was a few weeks back, when SFB and i went for a sail, that he noticed my tiller needs replacing. I realized at the beginning of the sailing season that i should most likely sand off all the old varnish and start again, rather than just slap on a few more coats and call it good, and vowed i'd do that as a winter project. But, it's beyond not only another coat slap, but also the sand the varnish off as well. SFB pressed into the knob end of the tiller, and the wood is soft. Soft enough that he made a hole, showing rot quite clearly. He suggested using the tiller from the midpoint back, and it should be okay for the last bit of this sailing season.

I decided to take a look and see if i could find a replacement. The shop that made the original one closed up earlier this year after its owner died. Remaining stock was scooped up by several marine outfitters, some charging a bit more than the original owner, and some charging an arm and a leg more. I thought of asking our neighbour up the street, the one who loves woodworking and car projects, if he'd consider making me a new tiller from the huge branch that fell off the old maple tree out front. There's still the fattest part of the branch that we didn't cut up, and that might do. It would be neat to have a new tiller from an old stalwart. Himself had the same idea, about asking Mr Woodworker up the street, but he hadn't thought of using the branch. He liked that idea.

Mr Woodworker is one of those nice chaps who'll say yes, even if he doesn't really want to do something, if he sees you clearly need the help. And, i don't want him to have to feel he must say yes, so i'm mulling over how to ask. I want him to say yes because he'd like to do it, but because he feels compelled. Or is that impelled? Well, you get my drift.

I looked at Craig's List last evening, just to see if anybody had a tiller that might do the trick. Turns out, one looked a bit promising. I called, the man kindly measured it for me, and the length sounded about right. A little long, which was fine by me, as we could always cut off an inch or two. He advertised the price of one dollar and said in the description to make an offer.

I'd seen other such listings where i guess they have to put some price, so they put in a really small one. If this one were actually not rotten, i could see where it could get him a few bucks. I checked ebay. Used tillers between $50 and $150. Some of the new ones i saw online were in the $120 range. I decided in my mind that my top offer would be $25.

He gave me his address, asked if i knew where it was, as it was about an hour away from me. I didn't, although i knew the main street in the town, and i could use mapquest to get directions. We agreed to meet at 5 pm today. I printed out the directions.

I ended up having some last minute work things to do, so i was late in getting underway. I called, apologized for the tardy start and said that i'd be there closer to 5:30, would that be all right? Turns out it was and worked out better for them, he said, as they had a to run an errand.

I arrived just before 5:30. I saw a "For Sale by Owner" sign, and in the garage were a number of items that had either been in a yard (boot) sale or were being prepared for one. As the garage door was up, i walked in and knocked on the door leading to inside the house. Most people i know use their front doors only as emergency exits. An older man answered, i introduced myself, and he bade me to go around to the front door. There on the shady porch was the rudder and tiller. I had thought to bring my measuring tape. Yep, a few inches longer, and a skinnier than the tiller on Retrouvé, but it'd work all right. The hardware attaching it to the rudder was in good shape, although i have no use for it. Definitely worth the $25, i thought.

I told the man i thought it'd meet my needs. He asked my offer and i said, "Twenty-five dollars."

"Oh, no," he said, and i braced myself for him to say he wanted fifty. "That's too much money."

I'm sure i did a double-take. "Um, okay. Fifteen?"

"No, still too high. How about ten?"

"Ten? Ten's fine by me," i said, and i gladly handed him a ten dollar bill.

"After all, you came all this way," he said and smiled.

It's all relative, i suppose. I told him i had a friend who lived about halfway between us, and i'd stop for a quick visit on the way back home. So, worth the trip.

He smiled and handed me a new book he wanted me to read about real hope. How if i were interested at all in religion, i'd be glad to read this book. I thanked him and accepted the book. I said how we could all use some real hope. I have my own ideas about religion, will discuss it when asked, but i find that i can say more about my religion by the example i set than by any words i can say.

I drove back, and the friend i visited on the way back was SFB. He and his wife both looked at the new-to-me tiller. SFB mentioned how the hardware was nice and could easily fetch what i paid at the marine consignment store. His wife and i discussed our recent Scrabble games on Facebook. The last game we played against one another, she was almost assured a victory, but in my last move, i bingoed (used all 7 letters) and used a triple word score, to add 92 points to my score, pull ahead, and win.

Work is going at a frenetic pace, and i was having a bit of a frazzled day, but the drive on a late summer's day was a nice one, the tiller will be a durable stand-in for quite some time, and i was able to have a nice visit with friends.

Well, my tea is finished, it's late in my corner of the world, and i'm glad to be ending this blue moon day on such a happy note.

*Craig's List is an online bulletin board of sorts where people more or less local to you are selling or wishing to trade all kinds of stuff.


  1. Sounds like the 'Real Hope' book worked miracles. Generally I find my bargain purchases to be less so by the time I reach home.

    1. Cro, that has happened to me, too. In this case, however, i do think the tiller will suit my needs well.

  2. Things seem to be sold without hype on Craig's list. And in your case, with real hope for smooth sailing. Couldn't resist that.