05 July 2012

...and Nearly Nary a Drop to Drink

There's a story told of a man who lives in a small house with his large family. Things, as you might imagine, are pretty crowded. But he loves his family, of course, so he takes it all in stride.

One day, his wife announces that her parents will be moving in with them indefinitely. Well, if he had been feeling crowded before, now he's climbing the walls. In desperation, he goes to see his rabbi.

"Rabbi," he says "I don't know what to do. My home, as you know, is pretty small and I've been blessed with a large family. Things are pretty crowded, but I love my family, so I try to take it in stride. My in-laws moved in with us recently and now we are bursting at the seams. I never have a moment to myself. We yell and curse one another from morning to night. I'm about to lose my mind. I love my wife, but I don't think I can take her parents living with us much longer. Rabbi, what should I do?"

On our way to Andros the other day, we lost most of our stored water. We blamed it on the water heater, the bain of my existence, but for once it was innocent. Ironically, I wish it had been the water heater. All of the alternate possibilities that I could imagine were much worse in terms of tracking down the leak. (If you're a boater, feel free to skip this part while I attempt to paint a picture of what leak detection is like on a boat.) Imagine a crawl space under a house. Halve that. Again. Once more. That's still a little more spacious than the portion of a boat allotted to wire and plumbing runs, but it's close. OK, now imagine that all the wiring for all the houses on your block and the local elementary school run though this space and sit on top of the plumbing lines you have to trace. Got it? Good. Now Just add the constant sensation of a minor earthquake and you're there. I very seriously considered buying a few dozen five gallon (jerry) jugs and dubbing the plumbing vestigial, but I couldn't convince You-Know-Who to embrace my simpler way of life.

The rabbi listens patiently. He thinks for a while and then he says to the man, "You should get a goat."

"Rabbi," the man wails unbelievingly "haven't you heard a word I've said? It's already so crowded that I can't think straight anymore and you're telling me to get a goat?"

The rabbi nods slowly and repeats his advice. "You should get a goat."

To recap: brand new, cost-a-small-fortune watermaker not working (We have a theory as to why but only because it helps hold utter despair at bay); stored water almost gone before we discover there's a problem, then no good way (as in one red solo cup at a time) to siphon off the remaining 15 gallons in the tank; ten gallons of water in jerry jugs on deck and whatever of the angels' tears we can harvest from our "bimini" (A plastic tarp lashed down with line). Lucky for us the angels must have been watching a Beaches/Love Story double feature that night. So, yeah, rainwater coffee is very, like, one-with-nature, romantic and all, but only after you devise a way to filter out cat hair and...stuff. As for the other things that people do that involve plumbing--when they have it-- I'll leave that to your imaginations.

The man has no idea what to make of this, but everyone knows the rabbi is a very wise man so if he recommends getting a goat, he'll get a goat. And so he does.

A month passes and the man goes to see his rabbi again. "Rabbi, I took your advice, I brought home a goat. Now things are worse than before. On top of everything else the goat wanders around the house bleating morning, noon, and night. He eats all my papers, he eats everything. He relieves himself wherever he happens to be standing. This is horrible, just horrible. Oh, rabbi, why did you tell me to get a goat? What do I do now? With that he begins to weep.

I should point out that all of the items on the "broke log" are still broke. The starboard engine ignition "kill" switch did heal itself, but only temporarily. Yet compared to weighing the pros and cons of washing our hands, these became minutiae. Our decision to leave Andros and hightail it to Staniel Cay was based, in part, on my suspicion that sailing wouldn't be near as much fun if we died of dehydration.

The rabbi is silent for a moment and then says, "You Should get rid of the goat."

This catches the man mid-wail. "Rabbi, did you just say to get rid of the goat?"

The rabbi only nods.

"Rabbi, I don't understand. You told me to get a goat and now you're telling me to get rid of it?"

"Yes," the rabbi repeats with great calm. "Get rid of the goat."

Now the man is utterly confused, but the rabbi is known to be a very wise man, so that afternoon he gives the goat to a local farmer. A week later he goes back to his rabbi.

I trust you'll pardon my skimming over the spine-twisting details in favor of reporting that we did indeed, thanks to Jane's smarts and my lack of claustrophobia, find and fix the problem. No help that the plumbing diagram for the boat is in French. Interesting, though, how one's foreign language skills expand commensurate with one's level of desperation.

Later that day, we went to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club to fill our fuel, and more importantly, our water tank. Watching the level of fresh water rise in our fill gauge was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, my spirits rising apace with the level of water. I thought briefly, distantly of my broke log and in those pure, shining moments I didn't care about any of it. Then I had this, this...epiphany, well pseudo epiphany concerning my paradoxical relationship with water. I am at once afraid of being in water and afraid of it not being in me. Deep, huh? It's the kind of reverie, I'm sure, that's induced by staying hydrated with the only category of potable liquid left on JOY.

"Rabbi," exclaims the man looking jubilant "that was such good advice! Things at home are so much better now without that goat."


  1. Finally found a moment to catch up on your blog! I'm so impressed with yall and extremely jealous of your adventures :)Miss you guys!


    1. Just remember you can come for a visit ANY TIME. YOU TOO can travel with goats. XXOO

  2. Did someone say Goat?