Thursday, July 30, 2009


I enjoy sailing, really I do, and I'm looking forward to my trip to Maine, but I'm also scared shitless.

It's always this way. I took a little overnight down to Sandy Hook last week, and didn't sleep a wink the night before. How will I deal with that damn Staten Island Ferry? Every time I get near the Battery every Staten Island Ferry ever launched returns from the deep or the scrapyard and converges on my poor little boat, with Giuliani voters lining the rails and shouting coarse insults at me, like those French knights in the Monty Python movie --

... and the captains blaring their damn horns at a fiendishly calibrated molto-agitato, BURRRR... BURRRR.... BURRRRRR! guaranteed to turn your bowels to water. In New York, you can be honked at anywhere -- on the sidewalk, on the water, in the shower, probably in the cemetery.

This time I'm not so worried about the ferry, though I must beard it in its den to round the Battery. I'm worried about where I'm going to anchor on the way to acquire my crewman Ishmael in Wellfleet. I don't know that many places, and it's always kinda white-knuckle, especially if you're by yourself -- and it's dark -- and the wind is blowing -- to grope into an unfamiliar harbor and find the right place and shift the engine into neutral and then scurry forward to drop the hook, hoping that you don't go aground and the boat doesn't drift too far from where you want it to be while you're in mid-scurry.

Once the anchor is down you sit and try to figure out where you're likely to swing if the wind and current change, and how much water (if any) you'll be in, and whether you'll be on top of another boat.

And if you decide there might be a problem.... Then you have to shift the engine into reverse and carefully try to back up away from your anchor a hundred feet or so, hoping that you're not going to wrap the anchor rode around the prop.

(Did I mention that it's dark now? Black as the inside of your hat, and you can't tell what you're looking at, or how far away it is?)

Finally you drop the other hook, the Bruce that you'll spend an hour trying to get back up out of the muck tomorrow. Then you eyeball the two anchor rodes and see that their angle is way short of 180 degrees, and so you shorten up on both of them, and then you wonder whether you've got too little line out, and you don't sleep a wink. Again.

Hell, might as well just make some coffee and keep sailing.

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