Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wild ride at the dock?

An all day trip scheduled for Saturday was the excuse I needed to head to the boat in the middle of the week. I really wanted to get the storage area under the pilot birth finished. While variety might be the spice of life, living well on a sailboat means finding a place to put all the stuff. At the top of our list of stuff that needs to find a permanent home is Deb's fabric rolls. It was a good project for getting back in the groove of getting projects done; a couple of chunks of 2 X 4 rip sawed and cut to length, a sheet of 1/2" plywood cut on a template, some stain and sealer, and four latches to hold things in place should Kintala ever find herself lying on her side in some ocean somewhere. Speaking of which ...

... Though the work was a pretty low tech affair compared to something like Deb's dodger project it has been complicated somewhat by the weather. The wind started blowing just a few hours after I arrived on Wednesday morning and it has been building in waves ever since. Kintala is docked facing north and starboard side to. The wind has been clocking around and is now rocketing out of the west north west with gusts in excess of 30 knots. I'm sitting on the port side facing across the boat, and it feels like some kind of carnival ride that is going to pitch me right over on my head. The decks are sheathed in ice, fenders and lines and rigging are banging and singing all over the marina, and all of this with a barometer that has risen from 997 to 1012 in way less than 24 hours. This is not what they taught me in pilot weather 101.

So I have been working all day on a boat that feels like its about to roll right up on the dock and lay on its side. A bit distracting really and, I have to admit, noisy. I love staying on the boat but sleep has been light and interrupted often these last two nights. At one point I went out thinking I should tighten the port side stern line to hold us off the dock a little. It was coated with ice, stiff as a broom handle and frozen to the cleat. It seemed likely that playing with it wouldn't accomplish much more than mashing my fingers and maybe losing one of the lines holding us in place. Leaving it be seemed the "lesser of two weevils" (to quote Captain Jack Aurbey's famous pun).

So why am I ... wait ... wind picking up ... rolling ... rolling... ah, that was a good one ... so why am I pretty pleased with being on the boat right now? Normal people don't want their house moving around, working while grabbing for drill bits that are trying to get away, and lying in a bed that rolls one from side to side.  A sensation accentuated by lying alone in the dark miles away from the nearest human being, all accompanied by bangs and clanks and assorted noises more usually associated with grave yards and ghosts.

An empty marina is a different kind of place. The edges of civilization are pushed back a bit. There is a tinge of wildness in the wind hidden from people sleeping in brink buildings, a wildness that calls back to our evolution from tribal apes who were at home in the wilderness. We are a civilized species now, bending the world to our needs and are healthier, live longer and are better fed for it. But maybe, just for some of us, those benifits require just a little too much "house breaking." We are healthier but sitting at a desk and watching TV leach the health away. We live longer, but the living isn't always better with the years demanded by jobs being years we would rather spend somewhere else. And we are better fed even if a lot of us are better fed than we should be. (Though one of society's true highlights is regular access to ice cream!)

Civilized people still need a little wildness, living on a boat is a good place to find some.

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