Did you know there are rules and etiquette for flags on boats? It makes sense since there are rules governing nearly every aspect of our lives and boating is positively steeped in tradition. Of course it is important to know these things, but you can’t know what you don’t know until you know, you know?
I’ve gone on a bit in the past about cooking and cookbooks. Recently I have found it remarkable that I am referencing my cookbooks less as I become more comfortable with cooking aboard. I sometimes look at them for inspiration but I seem to pull a lot of “recipes” out of thin air based on what we have in the cupboards at the time. What is this world coming to?
I have thrown around electrical terms in the past, amps for instance, like I know what I’m talking about. I don’t. I thought I was quite clever with my whole look at the needle on the ammeter and that’s how much electricity is flowing through the system strategy. Turns out I need a much better strategy and it involves maths.
When I was a little boy, my days after school were spent out on my grandparents farm. It was a magical place, complete with an old dirty barn and acres of pasture. As most boys would, I spent a great deal of my time in the old barn rifling through all of the farm implements, scrap wood and wire, tools… My grandfather was a tool guy. He had a tool for most things and another tool for everything else.
Much of this stuff had been collected for many years and really showed its age. Imagine hand drills and old rusty saws, mixed in with brand new gig saws, electric saws, and an old table saw…(The only tool I wasn’t allowed to touch…Think severed appendages…) Now the reason I was always messing around in the barn was in order to build things with all of the wonderful scrap wood I could find there. And what did I build, you might ask? Boats. I always built boats.
The farm had three pastures of cattle grazing land and meandering through all three was an irrigation ditch. I spent hours of my youth on that ditch… Wading, basking, and floating boats. I built various types of boats: Long and fast, round and maneuverable, and ornately styled ones (that usually sank like rocks.)
My parents helped a lot. They sent me on a fantastic sailing adventure in the San Juan Islands not once, but twice! (www.soundexp.org) I absolutely loved it.
We vacationed on Orcas Island where I got my first taste of the helm!
This boat building continued for most of my youth… stopping sometime before I discovered cars and girls… but I never really got them out of my head.
Fast forward to 2014. I’m a relatively successful airline pilot enjoying living in Manhattan. I spend my days flying airplanes and enjoying all of the delights The City has to offer.
I’m in my 18th year of marriage now and suddenly out of the blue my beautiful bride says something to the effect of: We should buy and boat and live on it.
BANG! Full stop.
Suddenly all of the love of boats comes flooding back. I was dumbstruck. I think I mumbled something lame like: That sounds like fun. I’m not sure If I fully believed her. Moving out of our awesome NYC pad had literally not been in the cards 30 seconds prior to this statement. But she was serious.
That brings me to why I think I’m married to the best girl in the world:
Debby is fond of telling me that I’ve always had the sea in my blood. She, of course, is right. (lesson one for all newly wedded men.) I just never realized how much it was in her blood. We’ve been married long enough to be at that finish the other’s thought point. I feel like we are one person some days. She knows everything about me, good and bad, and she still likes me! I for my part can’t believe how lucky I am to have her! I have found that illusive mythical sea creature… That mermaid of lore… I have found a wife that genuinely and passionately enjoys sailing and living aboard a boat!
When d and I moved aboard, (selling most of 20 years worth of possessions) and took on this totally new lifestyle, she didn’t even blink. Give up our amazing NYC apartment… No problem she said, “It was my idea!” When we had huge issues with the initial purchase and pre-launch refit, she hammered through it like a trooper. All of the cleaning, scraping, chipping. The lack of hot water. No toilet while I fixed ours… Everything was accomplished without a complaint, and with complete solidarity with me. Not only is she mentally on board, but I literally couldn’t have accomplished most of my repair work without her. From the beginning we have attacked this move with the belief that she should be able to do anything I can do. She is fully committed to this process. She is learning to drive and land the boat. She is learning all of the sails, lines and rigging. She will be a fully qualified Captain…err, Commodore! Her touch is everywhere aboard Devilfish. Her focus on this life is complete.
Debby has been asking me to write a blog post for some time… sorry for taking so long darling. May this be the first of many… assuming you all want to hear my thoughts in the future.
Happy Valentines Day love! May our adventures never end!
One of the first things that new neighbors said when we arrived two summers ago was where’s your topping lift? Uh…what? So much to learn… A topping lift is a line that runs from the top of the mast to the back of the boom so it doesn’t crash down on the heads of sailors. We don’t have one.
The wheel is an important part of any boat. Ours was original circa 1987 and not in the best shape.
Here in New York City we get the best boats. Case in point: Spirit of Bermuda, a three-masted sloop modeled after an 1831 painting of a Royal Navy sloop-of-war. This beautiful ship was tied up just two docks away from us this summer. We rowed over in our little inflatable dinghy, chatted with the crew, and checked her out.
I’ve mentioned electrics aboard. We have 30 amps of power running to our electrical panel and bad things can happen if the power needs go over that or have a big sustained draw. By “bad things” I mean tripping a breaker (which I have done), or overheating the circuits, or something else which is mysterious and ominous.
In North Carolina we purchased two coolers to hold beer and other necessities like food. They were blue and had handles and wheels to drag them around (which didn’t come in handy on the boat); fairly standard affairs. However, there were two noteworthy things about them: