Sunday, October 24, 2010


I am pretty regularly described as a "loner." (Not loaner!) It probably fits and goes well with my chosen profession. When the chips fall wrong at 40,000 feet and 400 knots, hoping that someone else has a good idea or calling for a meeting will be of little use. A cockpit is a place built for those willing to go it alone.

Outside of the cockpit people are mostly a mystery to me. Puzzled by the way they think, amazed at the things they believe, astonished at how they vote, and discouraged by their willingness to use ideology, god claims, language or political borders as an excuse for violence against the weak, the unsuspecting, or the unprepared; it is weird to be a member of a species I barely understand. Don't get me wrong, I am not a pacifist. I likes my violence up close and personal, between more or less evenly matched opponents, and over some serious point of contention. (Like what kind and how much Rum is best with the Coke.) But the ideological hate rending much of today's world goes completely over my head. Who are these people who think that what I do, or believe, or how I want to live my life, is really that much of their business?

So I was a bit surprised to stumble onto the realization that one of the things I like most about little Nomad is that she links me to a very special community. Every weekend a small village takes shape at our marina, its focus the clubhouse with its shared kitchen and covered back porch. Sure we all have our boats, most with a usable galley, a covered cockpit for socializing, and a berth for when the last story is told - the last beverage consumed. And sure those same boats come and go all weekend long. Subsets of the village form up for a cove out, an afternoon sail, or a night trip to the dam. Pretty often, like this weekend past, some excuse for a party (Halloween in this case.) draws most of the clan together for an evening. Food gets prepared, served, and shared. Later a fire gets started where the story tellers and listeners gather. Somehow the tables get cleared, the dishes done, the pots and pans put away, all without a work list or bosses or orders given. In this eclectic bunch pretty much everyone is not only tolerated, but cherished. Odd some of us might be. But the rest just share rueful smiles and accept us as we are. Pretty cool actually, and pretty rare.

True we don't talk politics much, or religion. Most of us don't take borders nearly as seriously as those who draw them on maps. For the most part we all mangle the same English. (Though German is a kind of second language for some reason.) There is often debate over the Rum and Coke question, but conflict is resolved by all combatants trying various concoctions until the debate just fades away. Somewhere in there all other arguments have either faded away as well, been laughed into oblivion, or simply tossed aside so serious sailing can commence. (A lesson the rest of the world could borrow to its benefit.)

I can't say if the hard-core, off-shore, live-aboard cruising community shares such characteristics, but I hope it does. For now I'll take some lessons from our little lake in Carlyle, IL on how a loner can fit least a little.

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