• Sage Webb

Hurricane Delta, Boat Chores, a Beautiful Day at Anchor, and the Fiction of Nonfiction

Today, we are anchored out off a shoreline that runs beside a popular local restaurant called Noah’s Ark. We motored out here; no breeze at all when we got underway. It’s quiet (well, quiet except for the Gypsy Kings streaming from the cockpit speakers). I’m wrapping up Empire of the Summer Moon, and then I’ll catch up on work stuff. And the Bosun has a beer open and plans to “reconnoiter the coast” in the dinghy later.

Before we headed out, though, we did some general “tidying.” In the marina, it was fairly hot and still (the marina sits in a bit of a basin with condos and homes surrounding it, blocking the breeze—a good situation for storms but a hot one at other times). I took the trash up to the receptacles and the Bosun checked the oil for the generator, cutting his head in the process on something sharp in the engine compartment. (Boat Dog supervised everything.) We sweated and felt a bit lethargic and got grubby with lubricants and oil as we attended to stuck zippers, a couple corroded parts, and general maintenance. Anchoring out provides bliss. Keeping a vessel maintained (not even “bristol”) does not.

Yesterday raised similar concerns, just in different guise. The Bosun went to work-work, but I do all my work on the boat from my laptop. So with Hurricane Delta in port yesterday, I got to give my foul-weather gear a workout when I took poor Boat Dog up for his constitutionals. He tried hard to stay asleep on the berth (he does not like going out in the rain!), but when he finally cried uncle, we both got wet. It’s a long walk up the dock when it’s pouring. Even getting on and off the boat is a challenge when it’s like that: slippery, with the boat pitching and straining against her docklines the wrong way, so she’s farther from the dock. I’ve got to help Boat Dog off the boat when it’s like that, and it’s tricky to jump to the dock with an armful of twenty-pound dog.

But writing about the downs of the “ups and downs” seldom means anything. One just doesn’t feel the inconvenience of it. But with regard to the ups, one feels the joy of an afternoon at anchor, temperature perfect, no one around, water making that nice smacking sound on the hull. Or at least I do. When I read of the ups of sailing, adventuring, traveling, and such, I really feel them. The downs just seem easier to discount ... or sometimes they don’t even come across fully as downs! (And of course, all those stories involve a much grander scale than my silly posts here!)

In Lady Longrider, reviewed last month by Red Velvette for Read Local, Bernice Ende touched on the desire of so many people to do wild and free things, and the difficulty of conveying the challenges such endeavors sometimes hold. Sailing books (by the Roths, the Smeetons, Robin Graham, Tania Aebi, and so many others), John Long’s and Royal Robbins’s climbing and paddling stories, innumerable big-wave-surfing accounts: these tales amounted to “mother’s milk” to my teenaged self. And as rugged as things sometimes sounded in these stories, what stayed with me were the thrills.

But maybe that’s just how it’s meant to be.

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