"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Dec 11, 2020

No Guts, No Glory

Over the years my friends, women and men, have offered embarrassing compliments about how capable, resourceful and courageous I am, primarily because of my lifestyle and the fact that I'm managing alone.

And I tell them, women in particular, the same thing: that they, too, could do it; we ALL could do it, as long as we keep doubtful thoughts from derailing our progress. We didn't pop out of the womb knowing how to blog, cook or wield a hammer; and how many of us have already done things we never thought we were capable? Likely all.

My last partner left me to fend for myself for 5 months on Ruff Life, anchored off the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. I was too dense to realize he was leaving for good, but what did Grandma say...
"Too soon we grow old, too late we grow smart."

I was thinking about those months this morning, what a bitchin' time that was; but it certainly taught me that I can do more than I thought. For example, I refused to change the propane tank because there was someone else to do it; until I finally pulled up my big-girl panties and decided to learn.

It wasn't rocket science after all; neither was figuring out that I'd better start bailing by hand before the water completely flooded the engine compartment. Imagine my shock, opening the floor panel to discover the bilge pump had failed and water was almost to the top of the motor.  Ruff Life had been deteriorating for years and I'm ashamed to show what it looked like towards the end, but check out these before and after photos.

One day, out of the blue, the Captain announced he was returning to Oregon for some cockamamie reason I won't disclose here; and when I said I couldn't just ABANDON Ruff Life I was informed I could either come along or stay behind, fix her up and try to sell her myself before chasing the moon back to Oregon.

I chose the latter. After all, I'd invested everything in what I described as my "Forrest Gump" home. We'd used every last penny to keep her afloat for a dozen years; how could he just walk away (from us both)?

Well, duh, unlike my ex-partner I didn't have a backup plan, so I used a hand sander until my hands couldn't move, and which is likely why I now suffer the physical ailments I do. I sanded every piece of mahogany and teak (except the parquet floor) and varnished them so they shined. 

The termites were really going to town, too. The hull was fiberglass but the cabin was wood; so at least Cap patched the holes with fiberglass and epoxy before he took flight. That sanding was much more labor intensive, but I'd dutifully work for hours toiling and broiling under the Caribbean sun.

Between wakes I painstakingly fixed things up as best I could while trying desperately to deny all thoughts of the reality of my situation.  The only thing to do was push on.  Days turned into weeks into almost half a year.  Ruff Life was eventually sold, which simultaneously made me happy but broke my heart even more.

That was about 10 years ago.  It's taken this long to be able to write this story and I don't wish that grief on anyone. While my romance-at-sea didn't end the way I'd hoped, I am grateful that the Captain pushed me to do things beyond my preconceived limits. The knowledge I gained performing dozens of little tasks won't buy me a cup of coffee, but it has done wonders for my self-confidence, at least at tackling problems and fixing things.  Now, I read up on something new to repair; and if I can't do it myself for whatever reason, at least I'll know whether the guy working on it knows what he's doing, so many people lie.

No guts, no glory has been my lifelong mantra and put to the test a number of times. So to anyone out there who might feel helpless when alone for whatever reason, take heart. You'll only grow as a person and be proud for persevering.

P.S.  Here's what happened next:  "A Decade of Homes", on overcoming obstacles.  Thanks for reading.


  1. WOW, Andrea! I never realized what you had to go through! I'm glad you took photos because it's hard to envision the extent of the damages and OMG! Your perseverance in that blistering heat. I'd say, this is the best resume I have ever in my life seen! Learning things by doing them with no help at all! I'm flabbergasted. And I'm your sister... I never imagined. With that kind of determination, I don't think there is anything you couldn't achieve!
    And your point is well-taken. Women (like me) need to step up to the plate and tackle things we have no experience with. A very good post!

  2. Thank you! It's not always easy, but learning a new task is never a waste of time.


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