A picture example from our trip of my luck taken just after the incident. Driving down the mountain in the jeep, minding my own business following Amanda with our camper. When all of a sudden, out of nowhere I collide with a wasp. Yes that is a WASP sting on my neck that I received while driving. Was going over 30 mph around a curve, lucky I didn't get in an accident and survived. But was I really lucky?
I recently re-read all of my blogs that I have written over the past year or so and going over all that has happened and all that I've been told. I've already touched on a few issues in my blog or on social media but a few things that have been said to me have been weighing heavily on my mind recently.
"You are (meaning me) a survivor."
That could be a compliment. Except it was used in comparison to someone else being a success. Implying (intentional or not) that I was not a success. After all of the setbacks of the past and with all the hurdles yet to come I can't deny that it is true. I am a survivor. But I want to be more. The problem is that desire for more, without the ability to achieve it, just leads to pain.
"I deserve to enjoy my retirement, I've earned it."
Told to me by someone who is retired after a long fairly successful career in explaining why they can't get involved with some of the recent issues I've gone through. I don't dispute that this person earned their retirement but I'm retired too. Maybe I didn't earn it through a long career so it is different? If so, I guess I will never earn the right to enjoy my retirement.
"We're not talking about you."
This one requires a little context as it happened multiple times.
Once, I was at a dinner with a bunch of people that I know well. The talk unfortunately turned to politics and people getting free handouts from the government, and how there are always lines out of the welfare office of people just waiting in line for their exam or interview. That if they can wait in line all day they certainly can just go get a job. I point out that I have waited in a line like that, multiple times. But I needed the help and that was a requirement. And even then I had to fight to prove that I needed the help. But I stood in line, does that mean I should "just get a job?" even though you know all the issues I have? After a laughing reply of "maybe" from one of them thinking as though its a joke, the rest quickly reply, "but we're not talking about you."
But aren't you?
I often play video games with other veterans (some still on active duty) and have ever since I got out. There is a group I found a few years ago and there are quite a few regulars while some new faces come and go. I've gotten along well with many of them, chatted about life in and out of service, fought through deep depressions together. Multiple times now I've heard veterans talking down to other veterans for not being deployed, or not being in a combat oriented unit. Sometimes I remind them that I was never deployed, does that make me less of a veteran too? And they reply, "We're not talking about you."
It sure sounds like you are. At times I can't help but feel that I am less too. That and lose respect for them.
"Must be cool to be retired."
It's not what you think. I'm not just retired, I'm disabled. I have a fixed income with constant issues coming up that demand any extra money we have. Traveling around is difficult and requires a lot of planning and sacrifice. I have little ability to make any extra money. I have little confidence and no direction, though I was starting to find that with my time on the water.
And with the end of that I've been floundering. I setup my whole life so I could do that. Focusing only on things that would further my fishing/boating goal. Giving up gardening ambitions, putting off woodworking and home improvements projects, spending time away from home, and more. With the end of the fishing and boating I feel left adrift without anything, and what's worst is knowing I'm dragging down those that are attached to me without any idea on how to get back on course. I've been trying to get back into gardening, woodworking and more but too many problems crop up. With money and my issues being central to them all. At times it seems like things are insurmountable and that I'm in a prison with no control of my life. But as I've been told before, I am a survivor and I'll survive this.
"I support you(meaning me)."
I've had this website/blog and for over a year now and I've been actively trying to fundraise for the past 8 months. I've had 4 donations, which I am thoroughly grateful for, but I'm honestly contemplating returning them since I'm having doubts whether this project will ever take shape.
I've shared everything I've planned with friends and family. I've received 0 comments on my blog posts or web pages, a few social media shares that I'm grateful for, and a handful more social media comments than shares. Most of which aren't much more than "thoughts and prayers". I look at my site statistics and see how few visits, clicks, and viewing time I get. I'm left feeling like the universe is telling me to stop trying to accomplish my goals, that my ideas are foolish but nobody wants to tell me. So when I hear this comment, it just confuses me.
Looking back on everything over the past year, I feel further away from my goal of getting back out on the water so I can find myself again and eventually start giving veterans an educational but fun experience of their own.
It may or may not seem like it but my current battle is not with those that have said these things. It's not with those that may or may not support me, before now or in the future. My battle is with myself. Will the FV-Escape-Hatch continue on in it's current form? Will the program change in some way big or small? Or will I find some other smaller, more realistic goal to focus on and give in to what I feel like the universe is telling me? Only time will tell what the outcome will be. I will be sure to keep you in the know.
I have made progress on the project as a whole. I took down the wall on our side yard in anticpation of a driveway access to the future boat shop location. I've acquired tools and am more familiar with using them. I have also continued planning the project out and researching information about my Dad's band and reason the F/V Escape Hatch is named that way. So while I may not have done as much as I would have liked. Or worked on what I would have liked. Progress is being made. However, this project is about actually BUILDING a boat and I have yet to start. I'm very close, especially now that I have a bandsaw, but I do have a few things to do and get before I'm ready to begin construction.
My next step is getting my space setup with an assembly/layout table. I'm planning on building a torsion box assembly table out of MDF that will work with my table saw and band saw as outfeed tables as well. It will be roughly 7' X 10' with plenty of storage for tools and eventually will have an integrated dust collection system that will run off my shop vac and Dust Deputy Cyclone system I already have. I'm still in the design stage of this but estimate it will cost less than $250 when all said and done. However, I can get it up and going for around $100.
After the table is setup I can finally begin building the boat. I will first start with frames 1-4, as they seem to be the most straight-forward and don't require a 10" wide board to cut from. There are a number of items I will need to purchase in order to complete them.
I will need some of the 1-1/4" #8 bronze screws that are called for in fastening the frames together with the gussets and floor timbers. I think since I'm so close to Glen-L it will be fine to order the screws from them and have them shipped. I can get 100 for around $25, which is good enough to begin.
I will also need to purchase some epoxy, epoxy supplies, and a respirator. I'm planning on using Poxy-Shield for gluing up and encapsulating the wood. I can get a 1.2gal supply from Glen-L for $125. I should probably get a little bit of the Silica Filler as well, and I can get a pound for less than $20. The respirator will set me back about $40. Initial total for epoxy and supplies are almost $200
The final step is purchasing some lumber and a sheet or two of 1/2" Marine Plywood. I can get enough to start for less than $200. Then it's time to begin making sawdust and playing with epoxy!
All in all, I will need about $500 to really get this build started. If I were able to get 50 people to each donate $10 I would be able to start. In fact, I already have $50 from my GoFundMe campaign already set aside! That means I only need 45 more people. Even $5 will help. Skip you're extra coffee for the day (I could never ask you to go without, that would be cruel!) and help a disabled veteran pursue his dream!
So please share my FV-Escape-Hatch GoFundMe Campaign site with everyone you can think of and if you can please visit it yourself and donate today!
Thank you so much for your support!
After a lot of deliberation on how to accomplish my goal of building a boat and taking veterans fishing I've decided to do the most obvious thing...start a forge at home and begin to create videos and other content.
Ok, it's not the most obvious route for me to take. But it is a route for me to get content out there and to introduce myself and my project to the world. Many short videos can be produced for a small amount of funds. Hopefully it works and I will be able to find some donors to begin building the boat in earnest. It will also allow me learn to create items for the boat itself. I can see myself fashioning door/drawer pulls, tools, and other things for the boat.
I have started my forge on the cheap as money is real tight. Here is a brief run-down on my tooling.
I have a 10lb sledgehammer from Lowe's that I am using as a makeshift anvil. I ground the face flat and radiused the edges closer to what I want. I then created a makeshift stand with some scrap 2x4 I had leftover. I left the handle on the sledge as I'm hoping it's a temporary setup and I would rather not re-handle a brand new sledge.
I purchased a 24oz ball pein and 3lb cross pein hammers from Harbor Freight. I had to clean up the faces, especially on the cross pein. But they work. I also sanded off the finish on my cross pein handle and than burnt the wood and put a coat of paste wax on it. Feels pretty good in the hand now. Will probably do it to the ball pein at some point too
My Mother-in-law used to do ceramics and had a leftover kiln that she offered to me. I was able to take one section apart and use the firebricks in a simple forge. For the flame I use a Benzomatic propane Pencil Torch powered with a standard bbq propane tank. It's not the greatest setup but like the hammers, they work.
Finally, to round out my home forge I purchased a bench vise. I really need a post/leg vise instead, but for now it will help me make twists and hold material while I cut it with either a angle grinder or hacksaw.
I have hopes of upgrading my tooling soon with an actual steel (not a cast iron from Harbor Freight) anvil of 80+lb, a true forge with actual burners, and a full post/leg vise. But even with this setup I have already created a couple hooks and have tried my hand at tongs and a fire poker. I look forward to creating more things and producing content again.
A week or so ago, I got a great surprise from my neighbor.
I was in my shop (garage) wishing my body was up to working on some projects today, but alas it wasn't.
Suddenly my neighbor stopped by and asked if I had a bandsaw. I thought he was asking if he could use mine and felt bad as he's helped me out so much already with tools and advice. I didn't have one and said no. He simply asked me to follow him over to his shop where he offered me a bandsaw for free. It works, but needs a blade.
Big thanks to my awesome neighbor! This will be a great addition to my shop and opens up a number of projects I can do, including making the boat build easier!
I even took it for a quick spin and created a few things once I purchased a blade. Looking forward to working with it more!
A few months ago, March, was Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness month. I had planned on releasing a blog post documenting many of the struggles that I face in dealing with my TBI. It was supposed to be a way to show the drive I have to move beyond being disabled and never giving up.
No. You didn't miss it. I ended up deleting the entire document. While my intentions for the piece were good, the actual product failed to inspire the emotions I was hoping. In fact, it helped usher me into a deep funk that had me step back while I evaluated my situation.
The blog post itself wasn't enough to drop me into a depression. Don't get me wrong, being reminded of all the hardships I've faced since I began this TBI journey 14+ years ago is hard. But on it's own it wouldn't have brought me into the funk I found myself in. It just added to the stress of family fallout over the boat, financial stress of living on a pretty fixed income, and having an ever growing list of tasks that I found myself unable to accomplish. However, the real clincher was not seeing a path for me to complete my dream project, F/V Escape Hatch.
My plan relied on social networks to help me get the word out in order to help raise funds. I knew that I couldn't just write up a plan and send a request for likes, shares, and money and that's it, though I had high hopes that I would be further along than I currently am. So my vehicle was to document sailing and fishing adventures, woodworking and other house projects, and learning the craft of blacksmithing. I would post these adventures through YouTube videos, Instagram and my blog.
It sounded like a good enough plan. But real life showed the flaws.
1. Sailing Plan - Other than gas, some beverages and maybe a few snacks, sailing on someone else's boat is free.
Sailing Reality - It's a little more complicated for me due to my TBI. Namely, traveling to and from and the cost of the support items that would make it all manageable.
2. Fishing Plan - I had a few offers from people to take me fishing. Some for free, others for just my share of gas, ice, and bait. Sounded reasonable.
Fishing Reality - But again, my TBI made things much more complicated. Namely the difficulty I have in being able to go fishing with just one or two days notice. Usually what happens is I get 1 or 2 invites and than they ghost me. The last guy was "nice" enough to tell me that I'm just not reliable enough for him and he will no longer be calling. So needless to say, this is appearing to be a dead end.
3. Woodworking Plan - Fine woodworking seemed like a viable craft to learn.
Woodworking Reality - But the unpredictable nature of my TBI may mean that I have unplanned delays in a project. Of course during that time the wood moved enough that the joints no longer line up. Which can mean I have to redesign on the fly or scrap a costly piece and redo it. All the projects I had lined up were dependent on very fine joints and I had little ability to make them.
4. House Projects Reality. The basic maintenance isn't good content and the better content stuff is too expensive at the moment.
So I was at the point where no content may mean no fundraising and that means no project. That was just unacceptable. I refused to give up. After so long I found something I want and need to accomplish, taking other veterans out for a fun learning experience on the water.
I am now focused on beginning to blacksmith at home and will soon be creating more content. I will elaborate more on this in the next blog post.
For now, I'm in a better place and moving forward towards my goal. For ways you can help me, please check out this blog post.