I'm trying to add new things to my life, so when I was offered an opportunity by my ex, who lives on a 27 foot sailboat to learn how to sail, I jumped at the chance. Well, it was really more of a half-hearted hop, but I said OK, and was eventually even able to work up a bit of enthusiasm for it. Of course, my ex knows nothing about sailing either, (she only lives there) but has a friend who was perfectly willing to teach us, so we all decided to make a day of it.
Now, when I use the expression “learned to sail” I'm using it very loosely. There was indeed a boat with sails on it, a teacher guy who was more than willing to show us what to do, and two eager students, but any resemblance to the actual unfurling of sails, wind and spray in the face, or hoisting the mizzen mast and the doing of other such nautical stuff, stops right there. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy myself, or that I didn't learn anything, it just didn't happen as planned
When I arrived at the marina early that afternoon, my ex and Rick our instructor, were already there preparing for the day. Apparently, there's a bit of prep work that needs to be done before heading out. It's not like jumping into the car to go to the store. You have to DO stuff first. Preparation seems to entail a lot of tugging and pulling on ropes and cables “securing” stuff, and saying “Mmm Hmm” a lot. There's also a fair amount of profanity involved as boats also appear to have a lot of tight, dark and wet places that are full of sharp and pointy things. I can now understand why sailors have a reputation for swearing like, well... sailors.
Among the things checked was the “bilge pump”. As it turns out, a boat really needs one of these because, as Rick so seriously intoned, “All boats leak”, and as I watched water pouring out of a hole in the back, I could see that this boat is a particularly good example of that. I've heard boats described as “Holes in the water that you fill with money”, and now I can better understand the analogy. If the bilge pump should ever stop working, nature which abhors a vacuum, will proceed to quickly fill that hole up for you, leaving behind nothing BUT water... Really bad if you want to go sailing, and even worse if you happen to live in said former hole in the water.
… And all this time, I thought that a bilge pump was just for when you flushed the toilet and that was what removed the physical evidence. Little did I know that the “Head” is nothing more that a bucket with a toilet seat on it and (so I was told) the one who filled it up, was the one who had to empty it (A process that I'll not describe here) Needless to say, this was one lottery that I refused to win... I held out all afternoon!
As is turned out, we never did get the chance to go because Rick cancelled the whole thing. He said it was because “the engine won't stay running”, and I was like, “Huh?... wha?” It's possible that I might have been missing something here but I thought that the main thing about sailing was, you know... wind. If you need a motor, what are sails for? Maybe the object is to drive out into the bay and hoist the sails so you can say “HEY everybody... LOOK! I've got a SAILBOAT!”. Anyway, I didn't bother asking because I didn't want him to go all Captain Hook on me or something, because by now, he was chest deep in possibly gator infested waters (Well, that's what the sign said) trying to fix the engine.
Here is where more of that sailor type swearing comes in. I've worked on cars for years and I know that when you drop a tool, or part, it falls down and rolls underneath to the furthest, and dirtiest place that it can, but at least, your can crawl under and get it. Not so in the water, if you drop something there, that son of a bitch is gone and you ain't never gonna see it again. The only thing left to do is to drive down to the marine store (no engine, remember?) and get a new bolt, or tool, or whole new framis, or whatever the fuck that thing was. Not only that, but by the time you get back, you know that goddamn alligator is liable to be around there somewhere. By now, he looked about ready to take swearing to a whole new level. I thought he might confront the Almighty directly. I could have just seen him looking up to heaven, in quivering rage, with raised fists and screaming “Bring it motherfucker!!! Show me what you got!!!, but since yelling, swearing and parts fetching was not only too much work, it was also potentially very expensive. We decided to get beer and food instead.
So now, with the motor now declared temporarily dead, we just sort of hung out, and enjoyed each other's company on a really nice day. It didn't bother me at all that we never left the dock. It was a beautiful day, the company was good, there was beer and food, and I didn't have to shit in a bucket.
This puts me in mind of a similar thing that happened a long time ago. It was the time that I went “flying” with my uncle. Only this was up north, where I stood out in teeth chattering cold all day while he swore, and struggled to bring his recalcitrant Cessna 195 to life. (Sailors and Pilots seem to possess the same basic blasphemous vocabulary) By the time he was finally able to coax the plane out of it's winter coma, the weather had become even colder, and there was a storm coming in so we called it a day... And, as everyone knows: “It's better to be on the ground, wishing you were in the air, than in the air, wishing you were on the ground.” (I read that somewhere)
That last bit had nothing to do with sailing, did it? Anyway, we will try heading out again as soon as the engine is running. He said by next weekend, although I think that's about as likely as seeing Jesus in boxing gloves.