Saturday, July 17, 2010

Boat World

Just yesterday I read something about the catastrophes predicted for 2012. Likely the millennial folk who had all the party hats and such ready for the end of the world are trying to figure a way to unload all their unused merchandise.
Still when I hear about Revelations in the flesh and Armageddon, global warming and Al Quaeda, I rather smugly think of my boat. It's about the only time I'm smug about it. It's like one of those bomb shelters from the 60's, a source of comfort. I imagine doing a Kevin Costner in Water World somewhere up the BC Coast.
When anyone asks about yachting we tell them to stand in the shower tearing up $100 bills for a while watching them go out the drain and ask themselves how they are liking it so far.
Everything in boat world costs at least a boat 'unit'. This is the currency of trade in boat world. One boat unit is $1000 and most everything that has to be repaired costs at least a boat unit. The only consolation is that my friend in 'plane world' says that a plane unit is at least 2 or 3 boat units on a good day.
Of course with the economy like it is you can't sell a boat, an RV or a plane for anything like a thousand's of the cost it was to you. People can't even sell houses in the United States so it's readily appreciated it's a buyers market. After the billionaires lost a trillion or two they began to pawn off their luxury yachts, Lear Jets and castles. Hell of thing to do to the luxury market. Imagine people complaining about the poor deal they were getting on a car trade in when some poor rich bloke was losing his shirt trading in his Lear jet and letting go a mistress or two just to get some liquidity in difficult times.
It makes me grateful. My modest working sailboat is still afloat. The rust has been sanded off some of the ugliest places so there's a general 'kept' appearance to this old friend. Jim has been over installing a new solenoid and overhauled starter.
"All the wires in your binnacle are corroded, you know," he commented.
"I know." said.
The boats done a couple of ocean crossings, been up and down the coast a couple of times and kicked around locally for too many years. I can't blame the old girl for wear and tear. A boat is a constant exercise in up keep.
Homeowners do roof repairs at most every 10 to 20 years but boat owners are hauling their boats out annually to clean and repaint the hull which is really the equivalent of a roof in topsy turvy boat world.
I've been blessed the marine head has kept working. I repaired that a couple of years ago but marine heads are notorious for annual noxious breakdowns.
Just as Jim said it would, the Yanmar diesel engine kicked into action and literally purred when I pressed the button on the console. I'd been using a spanner with a fireworks of sparks to get it started only a few weeks back.
When anything is working on an old boat it's a blessing. I'm happy right now that I'm floating. All it takes is seeing another boat half submerged by a dock or lying on it's side on a rocky beach and you can fully appreciate the joy of not having to slosh through water that is really supposed to stay outside the boat but like an unwanted guest got in.
I have memories of these things.
A boat can be a regular PTSD trigger if you let it. Nothing like a fire in the cabin to get the blood boiling. Hadn't thought of that for a while. Remembering the floors awash just seemed to bring to mind the fire. And those were at dock. Like the time when I tied up and the tide went out and the boat was leaning half over threatening to take the dock and everything else with it. A very good time to sit still and meditate, waiting for the water to return. It did and I left that dock as soon as I could.
Mind you ,I've been mighty cold in this boat at the dock as well. There was the psychopath who unplugged my boat after I went to work that winter and it was weeks of returning to icicles in the boat and a traumatized cat before a kind neighbor told me about the loathsome gent. I avoided a stint in jail by restraining myself when I talked to him about the sort of things that should happen to the sort of people who thieve heat from folk in winter. I remember I dreamt of murder and mayhem for weeks after I had heat back and the cat was restored to health.
There's been a host of characters in boat world that aren't nearly as pleasant as the Beachcomber sorts were. Some are indeed the salt of the earth and with time you sort through them. But the marine environment with all the seagull shit getting in your hair and eyelashes can affect a fellows reasoning. I often think of writing the sequel to Trailer Park Boys and calling it Marina Park Boys because the same characters are here, probably more downright evil but equally as colorful.
I just thought of the coke addicts working on boats so they could steal all the owners brass. There was that fellow quite a few years back. And of course the artist who didn't pay the bills and wanted to start a revolution when the remittance fellows showed up to repossess his boat. I remember he always had money to buy a round but when he was finally gone it was found out he owed just about everyone and not a single one of his lies had ever been true.
And that's not leaving the dock.
I was about to have morning coffee so had to fill the water tank. There's a boat between me and the water outlet. The owner has been supposed to move his boat months back but no one can find him. I got a hose over and under and threw all the obstacles and the tank is now filling.
The dog woke me a 5 am. I'd only got to bed at midnight. He's a farm dog for sure but someone has got to get him adjusted to civilized urban hours. A fellow would like to sleep in on the weekend at least till 6.
The crisis in Gilbert the dog world was that he had to pee and poop and actually now knows he shouldn't do that inside the boat. I really am thankful for small mercies remembering too well the unpleasant warm squishy feel of puppy poop between half asleep human toes.
The trouble is that the steep stairs are a bit of a challenge to his short little cockapoo legs. In addition his sister, Angel the cat likes to torment him in return for all the abuse he heaps on her. She really doesn't want to be his squeaky toy and he doesn't seem to get it. So in the boat she's been loving running and jumping from high surface to high surface while he's restricted to the low roads. Because of the limits of space he's rarely far from her whacking paws and he can't get back at her as he does with his famous flying tackles in the apartment where she's more likely to get caught in a dash across the carpet. This morning she was standing at the top of the stairs daring him to try to get out.
Meanwhile he had to pee and was literally cross eyed when I rolled out of bed and shushed her aside so the little guy could make it to the deck. I was delighted he remembered from our last boat trip a couple of months back when he was little more than two handfuls of size that he could pee up at the front of the deck. He did this impressing me to no end. Many a skipper has had a dog that simply would rather develop constipation and uremia rather than pee and poop on the deck. You see these fellows rowing to shore in anchorages with little dogs doing that particular land dog dance utterly desperate for a tree or blade of grass while the rowing grizzled skipper is cursing his luck to have a landlubber dog.
Gilbert is by his toilet habits a full fledged boat dog except he's got to get the hang of the steep stairs so he can get himself in and out of he boat in the morning and not disturb the captains dreams.
As I was up I hauled a freezer full of ruined food ashore. Whenever anything is fixed on a boat something is broken. This time the freezer electricity was turned off and weeks supplies of meat and condiments went in the heat. The dog loved the shore sojourn but was utterly embarrassed to be hauled by his harness over boat lines one after another. In a world without evil he'd be able to jump and run about on the dock but now needs to be carried because of obstacles and short little legs and youth. Watching him relish the trip back up the gang way to run around on terra firma reminds me again how many things we take for granted. If one is at all jaded just hang out with a child or a puppy and regain the eyes to see the miracles of life. Land for instance. And a tree to lift a leg against. Far more satisfying than a stanchion on the moving surface of a boat when balance is everything to the proper syling.
Back on the boat with the coffee brewed, I may just have to consider untying the lines and taking the boat out. The hazards that can befall one leaving the dock multiply exponentially with more obstacles and issues of currents and rapids, propulsion systems and steering systems. All the things that I've had go wrong at some time or other when I least could afford to have just that surprise and somehow I've come through the situation alive thanks to redundancy, training, quick reflexes and miracles. It never surprises me that 90% of boats never leave the dock. Most boat owners are still scratching their heads asking what was I thinking when I got my boat in the first place. Of course if you take the boat off the dock the sheer wonder of boat world explodes upon you with all the sights and sensations of glorious maritime world up close and real. There's no television experience in this gyrating moving rocking reeling 3 d boat world in motion experience. It really makes one appreciate the relative tranquillity and safety of the dock after. And land, glorious land. A short time at sea and a full grown man can be peeing against a tree revelling in the true joys landlubbers so easily take for granted.


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