Thursday, June 5, 2008

Between weekends

Deb and I spent last Sunday working on Nomad. Deb got her sparkling on the inside while I poked around the engine and systems to make sure things were tight and to get some idea of what I am dealing with. Truth to tell the little boat looks to be a pretty simple piece of equipment. The 10 HP Yanmer is about as basic an engine as has ever been made. The water, waste and electrical systems are straightforward and have all been well maintained. The outside of the hull shows a bit of oxidation from sitting on the hard so long, but a good working over with a restorative, a coat of wax and some bottom paint will fix that. I even made some progress in figuring out the running rigging. Standing on the bowsprit, holding onto the head stay to play with the anchor it struck me that a sailboat up on the hard and sitting on stands is pretty close to every kid’s dream tree house.

Maybe that’s why it seems so many sailors are pilots and bikers as well? We are all just big kids playing with our favorite toys. Serious toys though. On the way home from the lake a friend who works for the FAA called. While Deb and I were getting to know Nomad another friend had been killed flying the immaculate little bi-plane he had spent 17 years building, finishing it barely two years ago. I had flown with Dave in his award-winning Acro Sport on several occasions. He was as careful a pilot as he was a gifted craftsman. His loss is both tragic and mysterious.

Airplane, boats, motorcycles; we love these things, the places they take us and the adventurers we find with them. But only a fool would ignore the fact that part of the reason we do love them is the challenge and the risk involved of going to the places they can go. The sky, the water and the open road offer rewards that can’t be found just sitting watching life go by, but each cares not what our plans for tomorrow might be. And sometime each of them can be just plain mean.

Yet that is not the whole story. I am in the middle of a four day run of flights. (I spent last night in Biloxi again. This morning I walked around the docks looking at sailboats and kept thinking to myself, “How cool, I own one of these!) On Tuesday we were supposed to go from St. Louis to Moline, IL and then on to several other places. There was some tough weather out there but a look at the RADAR showed a clear path. In spite of what the RADAR suggested the sky folded up and started dumping huge amounts of driving rain on Moline before we could get there. We aborted to Peoria, IL to figure out what to do. We decided to run the trip backwards, getting to Moline as the last stop rather then the first. And it worked for most of the day. But by the time we left Moline for St. Louis the sky was once again in a poor mood with rapidly building thunderstorms filing up in a line across our path. They were as big and dark as any storms I have seen, throwing lightning, hail and rain across several states while dropping the occasional tornado to really tear things up. At 19,000 feet our little Citation sailed through a slot in the storms that was barely 25 miles wide with the blow-off from the monster to our West forming a cloud roof over our head. We could see blue sky, lighting, sheets of virga and tumultuous boiling clouds all at the same time yet we coasted through with barely a bump to mark our sneaking past Thor’s kitchen. It was spectacular. In all the history of human kind how many people have had the chance to see something like that?

I expect the boat to show us some pretty special things as well. Maybe not bowsprit to lighting (or maybe) but how about ink black water reflecting a canopy of stars? Maybe we’ll see waves big enough to be both scary and fun and certainly wind enough to challenge my meager boat handling skills. So even if it is just your average kind of lake in the middle of Illinois, I am eager to get little Nomad wet and let the travels begin.

5 comments:

Grandma Kim said...

What lake is the boat on?

Deb said...

The boat is on Lake Carlyle. As soon as we get it figured out we'll have you guys out for a sail!

Forrest Seale said...

"We are all just big kids playing with our favorite toys." I've often been told you can't be a pilot and a grown up at the same time.

Deb said...

Hi Forrest, I gather that you're trying to plod through the blog all the way from the beginning (you poor, poor soul...). You're absolutely right - Tim got to play and get paid for it for nearly 40 years. It doesn't get much better than that in the workaday world.

Deb said...

Hi Forrest, I gather that you're trying to plod through the blog all the way from the beginning (you poor, poor soul...). You're absolutely right - Tim got to play and get paid for it for nearly 40 years. It doesn't get much better than that in the workaday world.