Jul 17

A glorious holiday

Tag: boat work,musingsjonny5waldman @ 8:37 pm

In honor of Independence Day, and brave adventurers like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, I dug up an American flag from the wet locker and hung the stars and bars from backstay. I hate to get all jingoistic, but there’s something fantastic about a boat, a flag, and the water, something almost timeless, something that people 233 years ago and long before that must also have recognized. I’d call the combination a triumvirate of awesomeness, were not that label already taken.

The flag, five feet off the deck, bestowed upon Syzygy some glory. That afternoon, the wind picked up from the west, and the flag began flapping loudly, wrapping around itself, fluttering and flicking about. I was working on the lazarette — aka stern locker — and kept ducking to keep from getting smacked in the face by the flag. There’s a metaphor for a boat: sacrificing practicality for beauty, functionality for symbolism. These are sacrifices worth making, sometimes.

So I kept my head low, determined to crank some productivity out of the holiday. Unfortunately, I kept my nose so close to the deck that the wisdom in the air almost blew by unnoticed. Almost, but not quite.

Jim, from Kanga, stopped by, and we chatted about ideal gasket-making techniques, the better to keep the ocean out of the new stern locker. “Water’s gonna come in the hatch,” Jim said. “You can’t force it, just direct it.” He paused. “Actually, you can’t direct it, just coax it.” He recognized the poetry he’d spoken, and laughed. It applied to so many hurdles before us. I told him I wouldn’t forget it.

An hour later, two of Jim’s friends stopped by. I was upside down and backwards in the new propane locker, fiberglassing away, and when they — a couple — yelled hello, I waved with my foot before extracting myself. They laughed because they’d spent three years fixing up (“nerding out” they called it) a 1988 Passport 42 before sailing it to New Zealand, and recognized what I was up to. Their work had paid off; their voyage wasn’t compromised by mechanical failures or catastrophes, and that bolstered my spirits. They recalled having to explain to friends that, contrary to popular opinion, sailing wasn’t all fancy drinks and white shoes; that nautical-themed pashmina afghans never entered into the equation. “You’ve probably heard this before,” he said, “but remember: It’s a lifestyle, not a vacation.” Here’s to the eloquence therei

Two days later, still nose-down, Matt and I stopped by Svendsen’s, to empty out our bank accounts and acquire some information and goods in the process. I’d been having a bitch of a time polishing the metal of our new radar arch, so I stopped by Svendsen’s metal shop, and asked Chris for advice. He led me around the workshop, revealing industrial-grade tools I could only fantasize about. No, I could not borrow them, and no, I could not afford to pay $80/hour to have them polish the metal for me. Chris told me where to pick up jeweler’s rouge (aka grinding paste) and then, all Yoda-like, sans-pronouns, offered the best advice I’ve heard all year: “When faced with daunting task, lower expectations.” I may take him up on that.

One Response to “A glorious holiday”

  1. Meredith says:

    *LOL* The “Stars and Bars” was the Confederate Flag. The “Stars and Stripes” is the American Flag.

Leave a Reply