Sunday, October 22, 2017

Cockpit time

One of the real joys of living on a boat, at least for me, is time spent sitting in the cockpit. The best cockpit time is evening and night while riding to the hook in a quiet anchorage. Mornings are good too, though I am not normally much of a morning person. The boat moves gently, pitching and rolling easy, swinging slow to light winds and changing currents. With a bit of luck dolphins or manatees will wander near while pelicans wheel by in close formation, wingtips just off the surface. If the water is clear enough to see the bottom, one has the feeling of floating above the earth and resting off the shore at the same time. After a few minutes the boat itself gets absorbed into and becomes part of the scene, then the cockpit, then its occupant. My guess is that land dwellers spend a lot of money on pharmaceuticals and counseling, or a lot of time sitting in bars or cathedrals, or all of the above, seeking just a hint of what one can find sitting in a cockpit of a sailboat, resting easily in the world.

In these parts though, there hasn’t been much cockpit time the last few months.

Except for the occasional passing hurricane / tropical storm / tornado, this summer has passed as still, hot, and humid. There was a day or two where it was just barely comfortable enough to sit in the cockpit at the end of the work day and down a cold beer. But even on those days a cool shower called and, soon enough, the insects would go looking for their evening meal. Florida can be a tough place to live in the summer when one is living this close to nature and filling the cruising kitty by working outside. Except for the time spent riding out Irma on the hard, Kintala has spent the last many months hemmed in, surrounded by pilings, with a boat tied close to her starboard side and a dull gray metal shed inches from her port side. There isn’t much to see, looking out of her ports.

This morning dawned just a bit cooler, with a breeze blowing hard enough to keep the insects grounded. Our neighbor to starboard left for a sail down to Key West, where they plan to spend a couple of days. No one has moved the shed, but it does help block the afternoon sun. If I hold my head just right, looking aft and slightly to starboard, the binnacle blocks the view of the nearest piling, it is a good several hundred feet across the basin, and the occasional pelican soars past. The local family of manatees poke their noses out of the water, blow and snort, and drift back down to the bottom to do whatever it is that manatees do to pass the time. There is no seeing the bottom and the boat moves gently right up until one of the mooring lines checks her up but, hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Though future plans are still vague, next week we will be heading out for a couple of weeks of visiting in St. Louis. The hope is that, once we return, the Florida summer will have broken enough that the air conditioning can be removed from our deck. It will be November after all. Friends north are already talking about freezing temperatures at night and daytime highs in the 50s. With the last of the hurricane season fading away (hopefully), we can bend on the sails as well. Kintala will be a sailboat once again, and Tampa Bay is just a around the corner. There is no reason we can’t spend a few weekends out there. Maybe more than a few, depending on how long we end up staying on this side of the state.

Find a little quality cockpit time.

And rest a little easier in the world.

1 comment:

Mike from Filling The Sails said...

I love the description you gave of the morning surroundings in the marina.

I'm in complete agreement with you about the serenity of cockpit time.

Mike
www.FillingTheSails.com