Monday, March 22, 2010

On the Hard

"We're in the boat yard."

This is what I've been telling our new friends in Hobart, but it's not strictly true.  We're actually living in a housesit in Blackmans Bay, and it's the boat that's in the yard.  But I say that "we're" in the yard because I'm conflating our identity with that of our boat, a long-standing habit of thought for people who spend too much time on the water.

We've hauled Pelagic every year we've owned her, so counting the two months we spent in the yard right after we bought her, this is our seventh haulout.  Normally when we're in the yard I'm impatient to get back into the water - both because the yard isn't much fun, and because of that habit of commingling our identity with the boat's.  As long as the boat is on the hard, immobilized, we're in limbo, unable to sail anywhere, living for some hypothetical future when we'll again be in the water and free to go as we please.

This time, though, I'm not too anxious to get back in the water, even though it's a three-week haulout, with me working a full day every day.  I've been enjoying the feeling of being pretty capable in the yard, which contrasts with my clueless stabs at yard maintenance early in the Pelagic years.  I'm spending lots of time repainting the hull, which is fairly meditative work.  As I sand and sand and sand to get the hull smooth and fair before I paint, I have lots of time to think.  

I think a lot about what sort of boat we might get next.  And I think about how Alisa and I are so much at the peak of our lives, how we find ourselves swimming in the full tide of things.  We have a baby on the way, soon, which places us right on the cusp between our generation and the next, and places us also at the very quick of things, in the midst of the fecund years that will soon be the source of our reminiscence.  And we also have a child already, a child who is the focus of our every day, the little person who we have made ourselves hostage to as we have, in the normal run of things, given over an essential part of our lives so that we can raise him up and see him off into the future.

And there's a lot of less profound stuff, like finding ourselves still living this waking dream of a life that is built around living on a boat and traveling the world slowly and (if we should be so lucky) at great length.  There is the writing that I have been doing, and the feeling that it might actually come to something, and a bit of recognition that has come my way in the marine biology world, and the inevitable, heady plans for future research that intoxicate people who work in science.

And we have this envigorating experience of making a raft of new friends, and the delight of getting to know a new city that is very different from anywhere we've ever lived.  And we find ourselves in no danger of the loss of bearing, the dissipation of everything that was vital and good in youth, that can sometimes come when people reach their forties and begin to rise to positions of authority in the organizations where they work.  We have no organization!  We are beholden only to our responsibilities to our child(ren) and ourselves!

Having read Hemingway, I of course pause to touch wood often as I think of these things.

And, finally, all this time in the yard gives me the chance to savor that feeling that comes when all my waking hours, day after day, revolve around what's best for the boat.  Total immersion in the physical object of your boat is the only route to successfully sailing across an ocean on a small vessel, and I'm enjoying that complete concentration, that nautical monomania, one more time as our between-boats period looms.

Elias in the door of our housesit.

1 comment:

  1. Great! Your way of thinking, your way of living, your way of raising the boy. Fantastic! And keep on writing.

    Regards, Roberto