Frank's Blog - Yes, Finally
Dinghy Ride - 18 February, 2016
Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in "doing stuff" that I forget how amazing our life is. That was not the case the other day.
I had made a dinghy ride in alone for some reason. After taking care of whatever needed my attention, I came back down to the dock to see the
dinghies resting gently in the current. There was almost no breeze and the mist hung just over the water.
I hopped into my dinghy and set the controls to the positions that a couple of years have taught me to be the right ones for starting after the motor
has warmed up. The motor started on the first pull and I twisted the tiller to get me off the dock and out into the channel.
I kept the throttle at the lowest speed both to minimize the wake I created and to give me time to enjoy the trip. I watched as little fish hit the surface
and skimmed along, probably being chased by something below them. In my mind, however, they were simply coming up to enjoy the day. First, a
broken off mangrove root floats by, on a mission to create another mangrove tree somewhere. Then, a coconut bobs past, drifting its way to the
ocean and foreign shores.
As I come out of the dinghy channel and into the mooring field, the wind picks up a bit and I watch as the catspaws dance across the water,
scuffling the surface and making the light bounce around like an excited preschooler. I turn the boat to the south and add a touch more power,
secure in the knowledge that the huge, "gold-plater" power boat on the face dock will catch my wake and break it, preventing it from getting
anywhere near the smaller boats inside the marina.
The gold-plater is over a hundred feet long and takes up the space where two "normal" boats would go. It towers over my head and, as I shift out a
little toward the center of the channel, I can see two crew members high up in its superstructure, cleaning the morning dew off the glistening
surfaces. I watch as one of the men takes a sponge mop to the front of the radar antenna. I compare their cleaning tasks to my own. Right now,
on the mooring ball, fresh water is too precious to be used cleaning anything that will not stain or cause disease. Perhaps when we are alongside
the pier this summer, I will wash off my radar antenna - but I doubt it.
As I slip past the fuel dock, I throw a wave at the people gathered there. The dock is empty of boats and the people standing are nursing coffee in
Styrofoam cups, watching the day arrive and talking quietly. One of them might be a marina employee, but I doubt it. There is always something
going wrong that the marina employees are fixing. Marinas are the best part of boats and businesses, but like both, they need near constant
attention. Mother Nature is always trying to undo what man has done on the waterfront.
Now, I am out among the moored boats. Some of them, the lighter ones, rock gently in the breeze, but most are unaffected by it. The tidal current
is strong and all the boats sit with their bows facing into it. Sometimes, when the tide is turning and the current is weak, the wind will twist the boats
in different directions, but that is not the case today. They all line up like proud soldiers on a parade ground. Odd to see soldiers where there
should be sailors, but sailors do not generally line up well. We bunch together, swapping lies and truths, sharing lessons learned and hopes
I wave at early risers in their cockpits. Some are industriously working on tasks, others sit quietly and read. Occasionally, a dog will bark and
chase me down their deck. Interestingly, the bigger the dog, the less noise and chasing. They understand that they have the power to prevent my
getting to close. The little ones always need to call for reinforcements. "Look! Come here, crew! A potential boarder is approaching! We need to
repel him!" My own two are little and they guard the boat assiduously, making sure no one comes close without their permission.
I can see my own destination now, gleaming black in the slanting rays of the early morning. Up close, she is tired and dirty, but at this distance,
she is beautiful and strong and she captures my breath, letting it out slowly and with effort. She is fiberglass and aluminum, but she holds all that I
hold dear inside her bosom and keeps them safe from storm and life. I cut the engine as I draw close and grab the side.
The dogs below call out their challenge, changing pitch as I reply to let them and Suzanne know the sailor has returned to the sea.