Jun 13

Free Advice

Tag: marina life,musings,preparationjonny5waldman @ 2:47 pm

[ My Outside blog, reposted here ]

There’s no shortage of advice at the marina. One guy in particular, Steel Boat Jim, who I refer to as Maine Guy on account of his Downeast accent, is a treasure trove. You’d be hard-pressed to carry on a conversation with him and manage to sneak away without having received a point in some direction.

The first time I met Maine Guy, back in November, he was wearing a gray t-shirt from which his stomach protruded, and he had a beer in hand. It was maybe noon. I liked him already.

“So when ahh you leaving?” he asked. I was up on deck, the grinder in my hands, and earplugs in my ears. I pulled them out, and said, “Huh?”

“When ahh you leaving?”

“Not for more than a year,” I said.

“Well, remember, after yooah all stocked up on food, then buy yooah electronics.”

“Sounds like good advice,” I said.

“Yeah, well, I’ve wrecked all my fuckin’ electronics.”

He went on, providing more detail — but the pattern had been established: 1) question; 2) answer; 3) unsolicited advice. Technically, the advice also goes unheeded, but he doesn’t know that.

I stopped by Maine Guy’s steel boat, the Arctic Tern, a couple of weeks ago, and after checking out his new solar panels, got to talking about wind generators.

“Yooah totally fuhcked if yooah relying on a wind genertah!” He said. “That thing’s a piece of fuckin’ gahbage! You gotta undastand, theah’s no wind from twenty degrees to twenty degrees. In the tropics, that generatah’s gonna be worthless.”

Maine Guy says that a lot: “you gotta undastand,” as if he’s the purveyor of ancient wisdom. That’s the prelude to his free advice. It’s not patronizing so much as amusing. Of course, he had a point. Wind generators produce no power in winds below about 10 knots, and much of the ocean is festooned with such light air.

“If you buy a wind generatah, theah goes a yeah of cruising,” he said. I’m not sure if I could survive for a year on $2,000, but I got the gist of it. He continued. “If you buy a radar, theah goes a yeah of cruising. If you buy a life raft, theah goes a yeah of cruising.”

I knew better than to steer the conversation toward money or the economy, as he had earlier e-mailed me a long rant about converting my savings from dollars to gold, so I played defense. I said, “Yeah, if you know what you’re doing, you may be OK without those backups.”

Maine Guy had an answer for that, too. “Hey, isn’t that what adventure’s about?”

Score another point for Maine Guy, but remember that there’s a line between adventure and recklessness, a line that we’ve gotten to know in the mountains. That and we already have a radar and a life raft, and we’re not about to sell them.

In the spirit of passing on more advice — this time literally — Maine Guy dug through his bookshelf and handed me a copy of “Blue Water,” by Bob Griffith, one of the circumnavigators on that list I found later. “If you read this book,” he said, “you’ll find out that the most important things on your boat are the anchor, the anchor, and the anchor. And that in two thousand years of sailing, not much has changed.”

“What’s the second most important thing,” I asked.

“A bottle opener,” he said.

One Response to “Free Advice”

  1. Mo says:

    I gave him a bottle opener & he lost it. Maybe that is why he has not sailed away yet.

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