• Sage Webb

The Tale of the Churlish Bosun

This morning, I stayed in bed late, reading. Saturdays call for such treatment occasionally. The problems began right there, though. We’d said we’d meet friends at a nearby anchorage at 1:00 p.m. These friends have a sporty motorboat, and we all thought it would be fun to “raft up” together—we’d anchor together. But even with me having a lazy morning, we should have had plenty of time to get to the anchorage.

Then, however, I got a work phone call.

Cue the music that precedes “issues.”

By the time I got off the call, the Bosun was busy getting the boat underway. Clearly, my “dawdling” had not put him in good cheer.

Things did not improve when we encountered hundreds of boats in the channel, preparing for some sort of boat parade. By the time we reached the end of the channel and lit into a churned-up Galveston Bay, the Bosun had found his surly side.

“Honey, would you shut the hatches?” he called from the wheel. “There’s spray.”

“Sure!” I bounced below and closed all the boat’s “windows” because enough wind and wave action had kicked up to get a bit of spray blowing about, and no one needs spray raining onto their bed or into their living room.

“Honey,” he called again. “The dinghy’s swinging around a lot.”

Indeed, our little inflatable boat that we use to take the dog to shore was kicking around on its perch on the back of the sailboat. (Usually, we tow it behind the sailboat, but today, we had it hauled out of the water and hanging off its davits, kinda like a hammock slung on the back of the sailboat.)

So down onto the swimstep I clambered, onto the little ledge one would use to climb back onto the sailboat if one were tossed overboard. Down I clambered to situate myself on the little ledge between the sailboat’s immovable fiberglass backside and the rubber dinghy’s bouncing, trapeze-artist arcs. Down I clambered to thread rope through a couple metal eyes on the dinghy to tie her right in place and stop the swinging.

Except the reason she was swinging—and the reason I’d closed the hatches—is Galveston Bay (quite shallow and thus susceptible to turning into a washing machine) was pitching up cold little hillocks of brown salty water.

“Are you still down there?” The Bosun hollered to me a couple seconds later, not turning from the helm (we have very good autopilot equipment, mind you).

“I’m still here.”

“What’s taking you so long?”

What indeed? 🤦🏼‍♀️

He didn’t ask about expected task durations later when he spent some time himself balanced on that little ledge, fussing with the dinghy after we anchored.

(In the early evening, we took the dinghy to the public boat ramp and dock to let Boat Dog do his thing. I had a nice chat with three young teenagers in beat-up sneakers who were fishing off the dock and eating Chinese food from take-out containers. The wind had laid down a bit and the dusk felt really nice. The Bosun drove the dinghy, loaded with the dog and with me, back to the sailboat afterward, and no churlishness interfered with some music in the cockpit, a couple good books, and a beer for that boy.)

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