Soy Muy Contento - I Am Very Content
Do you know many people who can say that they are truly content with what they have? I raise my hand! Aside from the physical ailments that come along with age, I am very well satisfied with life in general, especially when considering how quickly things can change. The people living in the Midwest dealing with floods and tornadoes are a perfect example of how fast things can go South.
Not unhappily, my life has turned out to be very small. A friend I had not seen in a long while said to me recently, “I always thought you would end up in a big house on a hill.” Nope, not me.
Even though my living space is miniscule with a monthly income to match, it still seems that I have more than enough of everything required for happiness and security. Captain Sweetie still brings me flowers and looks after me, which is my great joy. We just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and remain friends and partners after all these years, even if the boat does get smaller from time to time. Also, unlike so many unfortunate people around the globe, we have enough to eat. So far, the roof has kept the rain off our heads. Our health continues fair and so we carry on through our remaining days and years without fuss or fanfare, grateful for what we have and looking forward to our next adventure.
I′m grateful that I no longer must venture forth every morning to earn my daily bread, although I thoroughly enjoyed my career as a professional gardener. My income is greatly diminished now that I have retired but having the days and weeks free to fill as I please is a delight and one of which I will never tire.
I′m grateful that my home (boat) is small and does not require replacement roofs or furnaces (okay, well maybe a furnace or two) or expensive flood insurance. I′m grateful that where we live here in Northern California is mild and temperate with very few tornadoes, torturous heat waves or hurricanes to terrorize the neighborhood. I′m grateful that living on a boat means we don′t have to worry about earthquakes. There are certainly costs and drawbacks to boat maintenance, including needing to find an alternative home during the periods when the boat is hauled out of the water, but overall life on board is comfortable and rewarding. I′m grateful that we live close to nature and that the Canada Geese bring their babies by to show off.
My ungrateful wild crow friend Bruce still hasn′t brought me a gift in return for all the peanuts we provide for him and his family, but I′m thinking his conscience will bring him around eventually. I′m grateful that we have excellent neighbors who share our passion for boating. Having like-minded friends close at hand minimizes the many small compromises we make for our preferred lifestyle, such as that long, cold walk to the community showers. I am very grateful for friends like Mary Buckman, who has been a fun cruising companion and dock neighbor for over 35 years, and who understands and accepts our unique lifestyle and the ability to laugh off the downsides of life aboard. I am grateful that our old trawler, although elderly, still carries us across the waves toward new adventures. I am grateful that I have just enough disposable income available in my savings account to afford a new suite of batteries when the current ones finally drop off the perch. I am grateful that my life has guided me here instead of to that big house on the hill.
There are more boats leaving Oyster Cove every week, most being towed out of the marina although our good neighbor on Moonchild has left to go cruising! Bon Voyage! The recent mandate from marina management that requires all boats be able to leave the slip under their own power, has taken quite a toll on the neighborhood. Occasionally I hear the roar of a balky engine being coaxed back to life but that is occurring less frequently now as more deceased vessels have vacated.
The empty slips are becoming more evident as months pass and the non-operational boats leave our marina. With vacant slips at a premium here on the Bay I′m thinking that we will soon be seeing a new flock of boats arrive, especially when they realize what a treasure Oyster Cove is. Our marina is small, only 250 slips, with plenty of parking and a truly great Harbormaster, Jason Koulouris. The new marina managers have made many recent upgrades in the infrastructure. All of the dodgy or wobbly docks have been replaced or rebuilt, at no small expense I might add. The gates have been rekeyed for security. Although currently undergoing development, the property surrounding the marina, including the landscaping, is kept clean and secure.
I know this will sound odd, but I love the weather here in Oyster Cove. Yes, the wind blows throughout the spring and summer months, but that same breeze keeps us cool when the rest of the Bay Area is sweltering in heat. Plus, our little marina is protected on three sides making us a snug little ‘Hurricane Hole′ during winter storms.
Oyster Cove is home, sweet, home and I hope it remains so for many years to come. Bruce the crow just flew in to say hey, empty handed again, as usual.
Most of this month has been spent recovering from a vicious carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand. I think my surgeon used a chain saw to do his dirty deed. The recovery has been arduous and has given me time to realize how grateful I am for my hands. What hard working crew members they have been and hopefully will continue to be! How could I have taken these two hands for granted for so many years and why did it take an uncomfortable surgery to remind me of that fact? My good strong hands have hauled jib sheets, produced hundreds of watercolor paintings, felt the warm soil of the earth and the velvety softness of the fur of our boat cat, Miss Eartha Kitt.
My hands have been my constant companions and work mates and having one of them out of commission temporarily has given me an entirely new appreciation of the many small tasks they perform every day.
The surgeon instructed that I was not to get the operated hand wet for two weeks. The fact that the surgery coincided with the longest heat spell of the year was just pure bad luck. For days I sat here sweating in the sweltering cabin while trying to hold my hand above my heart to prevent swelling, with little effect.
I wondered to myself, why do I want to live like this until I realized that the entire Bay Area was equally as miserable. It was the bloody heat that was responsible for my suffering, not my living conditions. Also, the fact that my surgeon prescribed no pain medication whatsoever other than Tylenol, which I personally believe is not worth the powder to blow it to hell.
After one quick trip to the Emergency Room at Kaiser to relieve the tourniquet-like dressing, I did feel some relief. Now it′s only a matter of healing time and dedicated exercise to get back to where I started. Isn′t life just like that sometimes, one step forward and two steps back? But hey, at least I′m able to sit here at the keyboard of the mothership and peck away to earn my daily bread. I still can′t hold a paint brush but hopefully that isn′t far off.
Unfortunately, due to the surgery, I had to take a pass on the West Point Regatta where a last-minute spot had been secured for me on board the Sea Scout vessel, Gryphon. The weather was perfect for the race with clear blue skies and a steady breeze. I′m sorry I don′t have more to report, but I feel sure that the after-race party at Sequoia Yacht Club was well attended and buckets of fun.
Having time on my hands, excuse the feeble pun, has not been such a blessing for poor old Captain Sweetie. Do you keep a running list of to-do projects? Unfortunately, for my spouse, my down time has revealed many little projects that have gone untended for far too long. Most of them are just little things such as replacing the bottles of gas for the barbecue or getting the portable air conditioner set up, but each 15-minute job left undone just makes the list that much longer. If repairs and small projects are continuously being added to the list while none are being crossed off, won′t I eventually run out of paper?
Being captive here on the boat during my recovery has also brought about a major purge of onboard drawers and lockers. Time on my hand, just the one, the other being out of commission, meant I had the free time necessary to examine the contents of drawers in detail. Anything that could be lifted with one hand and hadn′t been used during the past year has been purged and removed. Bags and bags of accumulated stuff has been donated to our local Humane Society. After all, who needs three wire whisks in a boat galley? Unused and forgotten kitchen equipment took the hardest hit because it was the easiest for me to access using only one hand, but I also went through the hanging lockers and bagged up apparel that has not seen the light of day for years. I didn′t find any green shoes this time, which means our lockers are dry, hallelujah! When we were still living on the sailboat, I dug down into the bottom of the shoe locker looking for my cowboy boots. What I found instead might have been an alien life form. They were certainly as green as you might imagine a man from Mars to be, but the fuzzy hair gave the impression of something too long in the grave. What a shame, those boots were so comfortable. Bagged and buried but not forgotten, too bad I didn′t take a photo.
The water line on the boat didn′t come up, but the sense of accomplishment was reward enough. At least I didn′t throw away any important papers this time around. In the past I have inadvertently tossed out bits of ephemera such as the pink slip to my car and a valid U.S. Passport. A lesson to always wear my glasses.
Most of my favorite neighbors have passed the dreaded boat inspections. Mrs. Harper, across the dock on Tortuga will still be around after the smoke clears, as will Mary Buckman′s Shantung, Leslie and Will with their fleet of vessels and Steve Wurms′ Rattler. German Karl was positively smug when his boat passed the inspection with flying colors. Local boat mechanics have their schedules booked solid to accommodate the desperate folks trying to beat the deadline. If your boat fails the test, you have 30 days to get her up and running. Shoot, sometimes it takes 30 days for an engine part to arrive. I remember when Dean had to replace one of the transmissions on Fellowship. The wrong part was delivered not once, but twice. I know from personal experience that boats can sometimes be balky beasts that require ample amounts of time, buckets of cash and certainly infinite patience.
Except for a short hiatus when I tried my hand at selling brokerage boats, I have been writing for this fine publication since 1996. That is a long time. I had pitched and sold a story to Hal Schell about Arundo Donax, what you Delta folk call Bamboo, that grows so abundantly along the levees and sloughs. I had a friend who played the clarinet who had asked me to please identify the plant that most wind instruments rely on for a vibrating reed. The Arundo that graces our levees was transported and planted here during the bombing of France in WWII to preserve it for future generations of musicians. The genius of Hal Schell was his title for the piece; Bamboozled in the Delta.
Neighbor, Beat, (pronounced Bay-Yacht) just pulled into the empty slip next to Dancing Dragon. Beat was piloting one of Leslie and Will′s fleet of vessels. Leslie assures me that the boat will be moved as soon as it sells. One thing you can say about my neighborhood; it′s transitory. I′m glad to have a boat beside us again. Sometimes, after a particularly jolly happy hour with Mary Buckman, the temptation to drop into the Bay is almost overwhelming. Having a boat beside us to fill the void of open water makes me feel just that much more content.
So, yet another month has passed with no actual boating under my keel. I am still not able to haul a line or cleat off a fender with my tender paw, let alone hold a paintbrush. Even the simple act of typing is uncomfortable, but one must endeavor to meet one′s deadlines.
As a captive audience here in Oyster Cove I have been able to observe firsthand the exodus of boats. Probably the most impressive was the houseboat at the end of dock one that was chopped up and taken away in dumpsters. The owner had abandoned the vessel and the hull was unsafe to tow so the marina hauled it to an area along the shore where it was accessible to heavy equipment. Sharron and John Harper were on hand to witness the demise. The first bite into the roof of the houseboat came up with a claw full of old clothing. Perhaps a closet had been hit. The next bite from the claw had the casual observers scattering. The smell of HEAD with a capital H inundated the entire area including all the way down to my boat on dock 3. It was nasty but temporary. Within two days there was no evidence that a boat had ever been dismantled on the site.
My poor paw is once again functioning, albeit feebly. Hopefully next month will involve much more boating and far less pain and suffering. Until then, please feel free to contact me with questions, comments and contributions at kimyachtsman magazine.com H