Sunday, April 16, 2017

She Knows Me

One thing about life on a traveling boat with your family - the stresses and vicissitudes of the sea leave you nowhere to hide. Whatever good points might recommend you, and whatever character flaws you are carrying through life, are both completely obvious, to everyone.

On my good points this narrative is largely silent.

But long-term readers will recognize one of my salient flaws: an incomplete approach to the business of marine engineering.

You will protest that being less than handy is not actually a character flaw. And in the lubber world, where there is always someone else to help you with the practical matters of life, you would be right.

But in the life afloat, having less than stellar practical skills is a very serious moral shortcoming indeed.

Now, I get by. To paraphrase a performance review that Miles Smeeton received during the war, I excel at fixing boat problems that I never should have allowed to develop in the first place.

And if you take into account that I have a PhD (from Australia, but still), then I am a very handy wrench-turner indeed.

Unfortunately, my practical skills are not judged in the context of my peers in the egghead world. Reminiscent of Woody Allen ("She was a whore at the table and a lady in bed"), I write a scientific paper like a diesel mechanic might, and I change injectors like a tenured professor.

And my peers in the sailing world set a very very high standard when it comes to making things work. We know any number of people who can weld up a new cabin heater, or replace their centerboard with a custom-made fixed keel, and have.

And while we've watched all of these exquisitely practical people making their seagoing homes hum, Alisa has gotten used to the business of shopping out little jobs that I will never get done - this bent hinge, that rusty second hand child's bike, the busted gudgeon and pintle set on the ever-delicate Walker Bay dinghy.

I can claim the time demands of my science life, and do. But doing so will not change the fact that we set out from Panama with a busted whisker pole, a nifty extendable affair that no longer extends.

In its current collapsed state we can only pole out a deeply-reefed jib. And thus we have been sailing, day after day on this light-wind passage, dead downwind with a jib sized for a gale. Our alternate-universe Galactic, the one that set out with a skookum pole, is a day ahead of us at least.

Alisa has not complained. She has not made the slightest play towards blame or shame. She has not even hinted at the possibility of interviewing relief skippers.

What she has done, that endlessly optimistic believer in the salvageable nature of her better half that she is, is she has started a job list for fixes and improvements that we might accomplish on the boat while in Hawai'i.

The top item on that list is "spi pole".

Even after all these years afloat, she looks to a brighter future.

You could sail the world without my wife. But I wouldn't recommend it.
This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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