Musing on a Boating Life
November 27, 1997
Home port, Peninsula Marina, Redwood City, US
(Most) people aren't very creative when it comes to imagining life on a boat; "Isn't it wet?" "Aren't you cold?" "It's so small, how can you stand it." That is like asking a bird if it minds its feathers or a fish its scales. If you choose to live on water, these are not the things you think about. First, the boat, my boat, is warm, dry and just the right size for Suzy and I. I wouldn't have it any other way. Heck, even the cat likes boat living! (That was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise.) It is quite liberating not to have to deal with all the extra stuff that accumulates with a life on land. It is a cleansing feeling to get rid of all that junk that I had just lying about. Anything I bring with me on the boat is something I truly want, need, and probably both. I do not want for anything important. (This is not to say that I have everything; a nice long hot shower has become one of life's luxuries. Then again, when was the last time you felt soooo good about a simple thing like a hot shower?)
Then there are the things that I didn't even consider before. Living at the edge of the sea, you live at the interface between all things: wet and dry, light and dark, death and life. We live at the edge of Bair Island, one of the most important wetland areas in San Francisco. I get to see more aquatic life right outside my window, er, porthole, than most get to see on a nature walk. From the mundane ducks and seagulls to wading birds, cranes, fishing birds, there is even a harbor seal that hunts in the marina from time to time. There seems to be nothing more peaceful than to sit in the cockpit with my coffee and watch the birds fly, fish, preen and paddle.
Wishful Thinking is becoming the fourth member of the family. She shelters us, sustains us, and rocks us to sleep at night. Like another person, I'm discovering that she breathes and stretches. She has wings! She also pisses and farts like the rest of us ;-) I am becoming familiar with her ryhtms as much as I am with Suzy's. We know when something is "off". And like any other mature member, her aches and pains sometime take longer to heal than in her younger days.
"Have you taken her sailing yet?" is a very common question. Unfortunately, the answer is still no. We were going to go for a sail a few weeks ago, honestly, we were. We got up bright and early one Sunday morning, the weather looked perfect for our first sail since we bought her. Steady, but light winds, partly cloudy skies. We packed up, made coffee, even got the cat ready for her first excursion. It was Suzy's turn to drive. We motored over to the pump out station; one of our usual activities for the weekend. We performed the ritual cleansing of the boat, then headed out of the marina. We got halfway to the entrance, not even 100 yards, when the oil pressure alarm started sputtering and the oil pressure gauge showed a slow, steady decline toward trouble. By this time, we were at the entrance to the marina, with no room to turn around. Once we got into Redwood Creek, Suzy did a 180, and motored us back to the slip. So much for an excursion!
It looks like the high pressure oil feed cracked and sprayed almost all of the oil into the bilge. We spent the next four hours or so dealing with the environmental hazards. While we had everything taken apart, we managed to do a few more repairs, so the day wasn't a total loss, but by nightfall, we were spent. I think I enjoyed that evening's shower more than most.
So we're stuck here, dockside, for awhile, until we can get the replacement part for the engine. Meanwhile we've been doing other maintenance, and while we're all jonesing for a sail, we're not bored either. The rains have come to Northern California. That has presented a few new challenges. We're also planning our trip back east to visit my friends and family. I'm hoping to take the boat out at least once before the new year, but that may be Wishful Thinking.