Blistering Barnacles

After a wild weekend (you can see the exhaustion in my eyes in this photo taken Saturday night), a Sunday run with Club Northwest and Dim Sum for Sunday brunch with friends, I set off to Orcas Island to search for a boat. If you ever go to Orcas Island, or any island really, make sure that you check the ferry schedule beforehand. By blind luck I made the 3:30pm ferry, otherwise I would have been stuck waiting for two hours and missed getting to see the boat I was going there to look at. Also, if you’re going to Orcas Island, leave your car on shore. After we got there we discovered that they have mopeds for rent right on the ferry dock. At the marina, the boat seller, a sailory looking man with a white beard and a red nose, launched into a description of the engine before we had even gotten to the dock. I was there with Stark, and even though I was asking the questions, the owner assumed that Stark was the one buying the boat since he’s a dude and he directed a steady stream of boat-speak at him. After several minutes of this, Stark said, “Actually, she’s the one that’s buying the boat, so you should talk to her.” The boat owner grunted and continued to address Stark as I took notes in my tiny moleskine. Or rather, I pretended to take notes (I was actually just scribbling random words that the seller was saying as well as a few doodles).

I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure what to call the parts of the boat I was looking at. I tried to look knowledgeable and skeptical, so I asked about the “beam” and the “draft” as well as the fuel-line, but that pretty much exhausted my boat vocab, so I just shut up and poked my head around the boat. It probably wasn’t necessary for me to feign knowledge however, as the beers he had been drinking had made the owner honest. “It needs about $5,000 worth of work,” he admitted, pointing out the leaky chainplates and rotten wood on the cabin.

Far from discouraging me, the trip made me excited to learn more about boating. I imagined the gentle rocking of the boat underfoot becoming part of my daily life. Waking up on the water, sailing the boat into the sunset, learning how to wire my own outlets with waterproof cables, the constant smell of diesel and wd-40, having to use the bathrooms at the gym when the head stops working, not being able to cook because I can’t get the alcohol burners to work on the stove, freezing in the winter because the propane stove breaks down, dying of carbon monoxide poisoning because the cabin is isn’t properly ventilated - ah, it’s the sailor’s life for me! Seriously, it sounds amazing!

Besides all of these perks, sailing has by far the richest vocabulary of any sport. I just took checked the book “Sailing for Dummies” out of the library. I’m going sailing tomorrow night, so I have to read up on my sailing terminologies so that I sound like an expert. Here is an actual phrase from the book: “If the boat is not equipped with jiffy lines, begin with the luff cringle. Secure it to the boom by catching the grommet on a hook on the boom or by inserting a reefing hook into the grommet and tying it to the boom near the gooseneck. You can also tie the cringle to a cleat on the mast. This creates a new tack. Tighten the halyard to secure it.” And here is an actual phrase that I can say as a sailor: “Secure the luff cringle to the boom grommet! Avast ye scurvy seadogs!”

Luff cringle, luff cringle, luff cringle! I could say that all day long! I’m surprised that more people don’t become sailors based on the vocabulary alone. I can’t wait to start my sailboat racing course next week so that I can say these words to people who will know what they mean (as opposed to spouting them off to random passing strangers.)