Some days are lazy hazy lolling, where you are in tune with the waves that gently rock the boat. You doze and read, snack, sit out on the deck and observe the bay and your ever changing set of nautical neighbors. You match the sway of the palms on the beach... There is nothing to buy or organise or plan or attend, and the cleaning (which is always there), can wait.
And then there are the other type of days. Where a calm day quickly evolves into something completely different. Where a simple engine check in the morning leads to a discovery, that changes all your plans and has you trying to organise an emergency haul out with a boatyard, because your sail drive seal is leaking and there is salt water seeping in.
These types of days are apt to disintegrate instantly, all preorganised travel and social plans, and will no doubt involve lots of tools, grease, paper towel, sweating and help from boating buddies. Thanks be to our boating buddies who always have the tool we’re missing, the much needed second opinion on the technical issue at hand, and the words of encouragement when our faith in the boat and the lifestyle waver.
These days lead to the action days, where you wake early amidst black clouds and rabid squalls and start praying for a break in the weather so you can get around the island and anchor. And you do arrive, as a huge black cloud threatens, unleashing the heavens just as you come in to anchor. So, wet and chilly, you prepare for your haul out. Fenders are gathered and lines (ropes) set in all four corners of the boat, awaiting the hopefully smooth entry into the narrow concrete slip.
And the speed and depth meters need to be changed out with the dummies, which involves dismantling yet another cabin bed, throwing all the stored items aside and watching JW climb down in the cavity. Then each plug is swiftly removed, and for that brief instant the panic inside, as you see the sea below and it gushes into the cavity around JW, as he stuffs the dummy plug in with a determined twist. And repeat for the other. Sometimes a sea creature comes in as well so it’s not a boring job. This time, it involved a small purple slimy octopus who was quickly repatriated to his ocean home. All that’s left is sopping up the saltwater that got onto and into everything in the storage space during the swap-out.
On these days your captain must be on his best form – manouevering the 20 ton mammoth beast called Shiloh into a narrow concrete parking bay of sorts. You throw the ropes to the guys onshore and captain JW does his thing – and we’re in.
They force us off the boat and so we watch with the others ashore as the haul out machine heaves it’s massive slings under Shi, and lifts her up, up up.
On days like this, when your boat is swinging precariously above your head, you come face to face with the reality of the sea. It has basically claimed her from beneath. Creatures, shells, plants, all grow and thrive. The propellers are encrusted with layers of oysters and other shells. Then they are blown away by a team with power washers and metal scrapers. And the smell… you remember the smell.
The real work is to begin at that stage and as the boat administrator, you leave your able captain to deal with the technical job, and you head to the marina office to deal with the payments. And booking a hotel, and packing an overnight bag. And when he is done, you climb the hill with backpacks on, pay again at the hotel, climb further to the room, open the door and collapse with a sigh.
You each take one hour showers and wash the matting hair, twirl in all this frivolous space, set the early morning alarm for tomorrow’s ‘splash’ where you will reverse all that was done today.
And you lie down on the white expanse, falling hard into a still, non rocking sleep.