Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Boat Ops

I had to leave the boat early Sunday to start a series of airplane trips. Now I’m in Moline for a couple of nights. I’ll be out most of the week, getting back to the marina on Friday. Yesterday morning the Moline area took a direct hit from a serious storm. The airport reported a wind gust in excess of 94 mph and there are downed trees everywhere. They still don’t have electrical power. The thought of riding out a blow like that on a sailboat is enough to give a person shivers.

I’m looking forward to the weekend’s planned sail but the truth is I really need to spend a long weekend just wrenching on little Nomad. In addition to the engine cooling woes there is a nice list of electrical glitches that need attention and some navigation equipment to install. It will take a while to get the boat where I want it but (like our new friend Barry pointed out) a sailboat doesn’t have to be perfect to go out and have fun. If it floats, has sails and rigging, and there is some way steer, one is pretty much good to go. Well, good to go on a lake. I suspect facing a long open-water sail brings a slightly different view of necessary boat preparations.

Boats are like airplanes in that sense. A good pilot is never surprised by his or her airplane; disappointed maybe, but never surprised. Equipment failures and weather changes are part of the deal. As an airplane driver I have several different emergency procedures drilled into my very bones, what to do if an engine quits at the worst possible time, what must be done with a fire light or a cabin pressure loss; circumstances that may require that a first move be both quick and correct if the flight is to survive. My boat emergency responses are not nearly so well honed. Knowing that keeps me a little more on edge in Nomad’s cockpit at 5 kts then I am in the Citation cockpit at 400 kts. Weird maybe, but that’s the way it is.

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