November 15, 2009

To Sand, To Varnish, To Wax, Perchance To Sail


Today is another work day on the boat.

Well, tomorrow, actually. My boat will get its regular haulout, bottom job, topsides buffing, cutlass bearing inspection, and other expensive attention from people who actually know what they're doing.

I'm down on O Dock late today to get the boat ready for the move over to the yard. As I leave the gate to run an errand, I look out across the bay towards the Golden Gate and see this:

And it occurs to me that I see this view so often that I've become a bit jaded by some of the remarkable sights that surround me constantly on San Francisco Bay - sights that some people travel half-way around the world to see.

In other parts of the country, boats have been hauled out for the winter for weeks now. Determined dinghy sailors are gritting their teeth and diving into frostbite sailing seasons.

Here, we're seeing some of the best sailing we'll have all year. The summer's boisterous winds have relented down to the 10-15 knot range. On a clear day like this, temperatures can be in the sixties. All across the bay, reluctant spouses are being coaxed out onto boats to see what sailing can be like. No foulies. No chattering teeth. No icy spray. Pleasant conversation in a quiet cockpit as the city front glides by.

Well,  for some of us, maybe. So much of my time on O Dock is spent working on the boat, not sailing it, I sometimes forget why I'm doing this at all. Some have given up on bigger boats and returned to the simplicity of dinghies that you can sail pretty much whenever you want to.

But, I'll have my time on the water, too, just like these sailors on one of the sailing school's J24's this afternoon. Doing penance in the boat yard or in the engine compartment makes you appreciate the time on the water that much more.

And on the bigger boat you can sail out that gate and keep going, chasing that sun. It's looking like next summer, we'll sail to Monterey again. There's something very primal about sailing a boat out of sight of your home port and arriving at a completely different place. You can't really describe the sense of satisfaction to someone who's never done that, but anyone who has will understand.

For today, it's enough knowing that at least someone is out there enjoying the freedom you feel under sail.

My day will come.



  1. Great Shot, O-Dude!

    Your day will come...

  2. BTW , anyone every tell you how cool it is you leave that extra space at the top on your post. It gives it an Artistic Flair...

    "Acipedi" flair as the verification word master pointed out.

    oohhh I've been "Lachict" for saying too much I have to be more careful...

  3. O Docker, this is one of the most brilliant posts I've ever read. How do you do it?

  4. Why do I think the perils and mysteries of the boatyard are not the only challenges I will face today?

    There is also the irony of the Prophet of Tiverton to unravel.

    Thanks, Zen. I am told my silent moments are my most profound. At least, I think that's what people mean when they tell me to shut up.

  5. EscapeVelocity11/16/09, 8:41 AM

    Actually, even someone else's boat (which saves a lot of maintenance work). It's really exciting taking the dock lines aboard.

  6. Is there such as thing as "double irony"? What if I say something which in context many people will assume means the opposite of what it appears to mean but really I do mean what the thing appears to say but because people are used to my irony they will naturally assume I mean the opposite because it sounds as if I wouldn't mean what the thing actually means? But if people are smart enough to work out that when I say what I mean but say it in a context that some slightly less smart people might think is ironic then can I outsmart the really smart people by pulling off a triple irony?

  7. I have spent the whole day in a boatyard pondering this:

    If stainless steel rusts, is that irony?

  8. Don't get me started. I was once engaged by a certain branch of the government of a foreign power to conduct research at an undisclosed location into the rusting of stainless steel in a very hostile environment vital to that nation's security. I have forgotten more about the rusting of stainless steel than most people have ever known. I still have nightmares about the rusting of stainless steel. And if you knew what I am talking about, so would you.