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Here, Wishing I Was Out There

T

oday brought rain, one of those even-tempered rains that shows no sign of giving way to any other suggestion of weather, a rain that says, “I have come to stay for a bit.” My boat, Ave Del Mar, a 1967 Rawson 30, is tethered to a mooring ball in Black Sound on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas, pitching in the fetch, letting me know she is happily alive again after suffering a near-knockout punch from Hurricane Dorian. A friend in the Florida Keys texted me this morning. She, too, lives aboard a sailboat and she, too, has had rain today, acres of rain, and with it she has leaks that hid themselves in a clothing locker. “Ugh—the glamour of boat life. I’d love to rip the fabric off the walls to see what is happening,” she wrote, but that cure

By John Herlig is too strong for her boat’s current ills, it seems. There’s always a lot of poking and investigating in the world of boats and leaks, and all too often no smoking gun at the story’s end. Ave, in contrast, is currently quite dry inside, a stark change from days gone by when the rains often seemed heavier inside than out, days when her former owner would tell me, “Don’t worry if those portlights leak. Once the wood frames swell up, they’ll seal.” They never did. I solved those problems by poking and investigating—and caulking. The winds that accompany this rain are consistent, too, whistling through the rigging, not too hard, not too soft, Goldilocks winds that remind me that I am in Mother Nature’s territory, not

my own. On passages, wind and rain mean very different things than they do here in this well-protected anchorage. Offshore, wind and rain mean action and effort. They mean paying attention to the state of my vessel and making decisions about sail state and course. Those decisions are sometimes as clouded as the skies. Today the rains mean that all of the bowls, pots, and pans from Ave’s lockers are on the deck to collect water, and that I can be thankful that the work I have done means that everything is dry belowdecks. Life on a boat is always in flux. It’s a lot like parenting: there really never is a day off from the attention and nurturing that your charge requires. This rain finds me curled up on the settee with a book, Annie Dillard’s “Pil##Full bucket of wash water from a rain shower.

##Collecting rain water on Ave Del Mar.

46 July 2020 SpinSheet.com