23 July 2012


It doesn't look like a downfall, but it was ours

The other day, it occurred to us that we've been live aboards for nine months now and we've been feeling right salty as of late. This, I'm certain, has a great deal to do with having successfully employed a storm tactic for the first time during that blow and very little to do with the fact that we've been anchored less than a mile away from a Morton Salt factory. We've even completed some pretty impressive field repairs. Yes, I think it's safe to say we're finally starting to find our cruiser groove.

I think back to January of 2010. It was at Strictly Sail Chicago. We'd just decided to embark on our little jaunt around the world and were trying to inhale information on all things cruising related. The most beneficial take away from the show for us was a more thorough understanding of profound ignorance. With one aspect only did we feel any sense of familiarity. It was information the seminar organizers hadn't even intend to relay.  We discovered that the way people get around the world on a boat, their "cruising styles" generally sway one way or the other (or maybe I'm just a dualist). On the one end, there're who I will call "randies": very buttoned-up, very organized, very experienced, very do-it-by-the-book. On the other end are bobs: buy a boat and THEN learn how to sail. Learn as you go. What could go wrong? Cruising is, after all, supposed to be about having fun. And (and there's always an "and") for the randies, it's about "fun and safety"; for the "bobs" it's about "fun and adventure". Safety and adventure, Felix and Oscar. 

Randies can't relax until every eventuality has been planned for, every worse-case scenario anticipated. Just "going with the flow" sounds like a recipe for certain disaster--the sheer antithesis of fun. Bobs can't get through an extensive set of preparatory checklists. They become afflicted with spontaneous cases of ADD and give up before ever getting underway. In other words, what comforts the randies tortures the bobs and vice versa.

The cruising world, we are discovering, is populated with randies. Maybe not as extreme as the original Randy, but nevertheless showing marked tendencies toward being the log-keeping, checklist completing, three-spares-for-everything-having type.

Jane and I are bobs. We suspected it immediately and it's turned out to be true. We become, in fact, more bobish all the time. Perhaps our natural predilections have been enhanced by the realization that we'll never get this boat in ship shape. It falls apart much faster and more expensively than we can fix it. Not, I hasten to add, because JOY is a bad boat; breaking continuously is just the nature of boats. Still, caring about how many cans of tuna we have on board seems absurd when we haven't yet managed to keep two fully functioning engines in stock.

This slide toward piracy, a sort of white bandanna piracy--following the labeling conventions of hackers--has shown up in places amusing to witness in their evolution. One of these is our diminishing use of proper nautical terminology. When we first moved on board, we tried in earnest to "stow" our "provisions" in the "galley," "the salon" and the "starboard aft stateroom locker". We endeavored to keep the "heads" spotless, the "bulkheads" wiped down, and the "decks" vacuumed. And we were fairly consistent in our usage until the arrival of the step stools.

Soon after moving aboard, it dawned on us that we are too short for this boat, all of it. So, Jane found some sturdy, collapsible step stools in cheery colors. We placed them all about the boat, wherever we needed to be a little taller. And that was the beginning of the end. The "starboard forward stateroom" became the "green room" and the other colors soon took up similar residence.

Our use of nautical terms has declined to the point that it is all but gone. We've reverted to "shopping" because we were never even very good at that much less something as forethoughtful as "provisioning". I do still try to keep the "kitchen" and "bathrooms" clean, but we've pretty much given up hope on the "floors."

If this comes across as distastefully sacrilegious, we are in good company.  Pat and Ali Schulte are a couple who, one afternoon over pizza, decided to sail around the world on a sailboat. (Our three-day deciding period sounds overly cautious by comparison.) They'd had one day of sailing instruction before they bought Bumfuzzle. (Our ASA classes at Hoofers make us overly educated by their standards.) Neither of them knew the first thing about engines, electrical systems, or any of the other areas of knowledge that taken together constitute "seamanship." They just fired up Bum's engines and left. Four years later, they came back--from the opposite direction. They'd managed to circumnavigate the globe and in the process achieve infamy as the bain of the cruiser community. Sure, they were getting around the world without damaging their or anyone else's boat, injuring themselves or anyone else or being murdered (they did get robbed), but that notwithstanding, they were doing it wrong. They were just way too bobish about the whole thing.

I don't mean to tell anyone how or how not to cruise around the world; I think any way that works is the right way. I respect (maybe even envy a little) the folks who can keep track of their plethora of checklists (not to mention the items on them). We just don't function that way.  We didn't on land and our mad methodologies seemed to have followed us. I'd been feeling pretty under accomplished because of that (Jane much less so) but now I think we are starting to revel in our retreat from the conventions of cruiserdom. It's part of finding our own cruising style, our cruiser groove.

Yesterday, I remarked upon something about the boat saying that it didn't sound very "shippy" to me. Jane's retort was that "shippy" doesn't sound very shippy. "I know" I said.

1 comment:

  1. I'm assuming you don't have internet yet but maybe South America? We sat outside at Brigantine Villas in Treasure and watched people on their (big) sailboat and (big) powerboat. They spent the week diving underneath the boat? Lifting the dingy motor (never got it working) etc etc. Not to mention the hosing, cleaning (rum drinking) regular stuff. I'd have to skip the sailing classes and work on basic repairs! Sounds like y'all are doing great!
    Cheers LC