I’ve got the bruises to prove it.
I’ve got a prize winning black and blue mark on the underside of my left forearm, a pinky swollen from being pulled out to the side in a very unnatural position, and every muscle in my body hurts. Physically, I am exhausted. Mentally, I am spent.
I have been living on our sailboat, in charge of (dare I say, “Captaining”?) our ship for three days in Provincetown while Mike went home to work this week. The sheer physicality of it took me by surprise, since the boat is literally sitting on the mooring in a beautiful marina for the past three days. The boat has not moved, but I have. I’ve taken the dingy to pick up my sister-in-law who kept me company in Provincetown for a couple of days, and we have been to shore provisioning, going out to dinner, enjoying the beach and the seals, and making a few key purchases -a new paperback (Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue, an Oprah book club selection from 2017,) fresh flowers, some very hip earrings.
But back to my black and blue badges of courage and fortitude. The forearm bruise was created as I was put the paddle board oar back on the boat. I have no clear idea how it actually happened, but I am sure it happened then. The pinky was pulled when I accidentally dropped a full bottle of laundry detergent overboard (to my delight, it floats) and I ran and grabbed the boat hook to retrieve it as it floated away, and I caught my pinky on something or other in the rush. I was completely successful at hooking the handle of the detergent bottle, however, and I am perfectly willing to endure a bit of pinky pain for clean underwear.
Usually I have no idea how I hurt myself on the boat, or from whence the various black and blue marks originate (except when I stub/break a toe.) I suspect that my shoulder muscles hurt because I am not used to starting the dinghy motor on my own, and it ain’t easy, especially when the engine is cold first thing in the morning. I must have pulled that handle about 50 times in three days… but again, not once did it defeat me.
I am always petrified I am going to mess something up. I could let the batteries go too low. I could forget to warm up the generator. I could not tie up the dingy well and it could float away with that damn engine on it. I could leave the hatches open when it rains. I could not notice that the holding tanks needed to be pumped out, and I don’t like to even think about that scenario. The ways of f%*king up on a boat are endless, and usually have huge consequences. One time, I had to check the generator strainer, which involved opening a “through-hull” fitting. I am so impressed with myself that I even know what a “through-hull” fitting is, but with that knowledge comes the additional understanding that if I screw it up, the boat will (literally) sink.
But the fact is, I wanted to take ownership, and I told Mike to leave me on the boat, in charge while he went to work this week. I wanted to be forced to start the dingy in the morning in order to get to shore, to learn the art of landing it on the pier or at the beach. I wanted to be forced to start the generator, to call the harbor master for a pump out, to put out the American flag in the morning, to wipe off the mildew from the cushions, to run the generator at night.
I wanted to be the one to remember to bring a big plastic garbage bag to put the laundry in because it would definitely be raining by the time the clothes were dry (and I did remember the garbage bag…but unfortunately I forgot my raincoat.) I wanted experience on the boat so that, for our future sails, I am not just a passenger, but a true partner. So I forced myself to do it. Again, pushing the edge of my comfort zone.
So far the only thing I have wrecked, lost or broken has been an old pair of Mike’s flip flops which he had left in the dingy (so arguably it is his fault) which were inadvertently left on the beach when my sister in law borrowed them. But I don’t want to give it a “kina hora,” as they say in French (pooh, pooh), because there are still 6 hours or so before Mike returns to take his rightful place as captain.
And now…the rain has commenced. It is coming down in buckets. The boat is rocking like crazy, the winds are howling. There is a real gale out here as I sit in the cockpit and compose this piece, and I try a Facebook live post on the BA50 post:
I have no doubt that all will be well, and I will sleep well tonight…which is a good thing, because tomorrow we leave for our overnight to Maine, which tests me in all sorts of other ways.
But at least the true captain will be back aboard the ship.