Saturday, November 10, 2007


For the past four weeks I’ve been aboard the unregistered Pacific Seacraft Dana marked Collette off the coast of Eastern Central America. The waters have been, for the most part, calm and delightful. As I’ve tacked easily across the Gulf schools of fishes have been traveling afoot as I’ve teased them with my fly rod, using circle hooks to ensure that most could be safely released. Because the owner has installed a propane refrigerator I have had reliable food storage so I take about one fish every other day. On the first day I have sashimi then throughout the second and sometimes the third I have yaki sakana and ceviche. Other than that I read, listen to shortwave radio and scan the horizon, always beset with guilt for not doing so for fear of missing a distressed vessel or crewman.
Though I have experienced remarkable sites during this delivery I have not enjoyed the sensation of sharing them. I have painstakingly corroded two circuits on my radio to provide an explanation should the Coast Guard board Collette. I do not watch TV or movies. The lapping of wave on hull is small comfort to my ears.
Very Large Crude Carriers known as Panamax or VLCCs frequent these waters, and sometimes when I go to sleep I wonder if I will succumb to their inertia and mass, woken only to drown among sunken fiberglass splinters. I’m sure I would not be the first and only wonder how many Chinese junks Collette would join in heaven.
Unforeseen factors aside I will birth in Miami in three days. Before then I will adjust the aspiration on the spotless Volvo diesel and test, analyze and monitor the entire electrical system. I will polish teak with lamp oil and eat from cans to maintain a spotless deck. Within one day’s sail I will no longer allow weary birds to rest aboard ship as they will be well within land’s and other’s reach.
On the morning of the last day I will also uncleat collette’s halyard and lower the jib, spray it with fresh water, allow it to luff dry, then stow it below. Within an hour of port I will do the same with her mainsail. Both will be inspected carefully beforehand.
Shortly before port I will shower and don a ridiculously pretentious nautical cap, blazer and slacks. I will wave only to sailors, then motor in awkwardly so that my skills appear to match my outfit, cleat up and come ashore. I will hand the keys to Collette’s cabin and electrical system to a man who has been hired specifically for the occasion to relive the harbor master, strip off my cap and glasses in a rented car and disappear into traffic.
Twelve hours later a flight, a bus ride and a cab will bring me to the cottage. I will double check my pockets and backpack for any paper, put my marlinspike in a drawer and step on the scale in my bathroom. As the mechanical dial spins I will take a deep breath, hear my weight finally register and come back into being to prepare for my bed. In Vermont. Impossibly inland from VLCCs.

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