Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer Breeze

As I walk down the dock toward my sailboat, I feel the warm breeze blown up from the Chesapeake and into the ports and streets of Baltimore.

It makes me want to write. I am saddened because I don’t think I can capture how the breeze is warm but not hot. How the breeze is summer’s breath, a bit too warm, almost but not quite threatening. Now, because the sun has set, because it is night’s first hour, the threatening heat has abated.

I want to enter the boat and sit and write and be unencumbered by threat or the deadline of needing to get this boat somewhere other than where it is now. Even though where it is now is not necessarily pretty. Baltimore has its charm, but its harbor waters are dirty and smelly. I don’t mind the grittiness of it all. I don’t mind having my horizon limited by huge, gigantic battleship-grey freighters. I can appreciate how they represent the raw commercial economics of trade. But I can’t call this pretty.

I want to sit here in my salon and wish it were a library. Wish my computer were a typewriter. Wish my typewriter were quill and ink. Wish the lighting wasn’t LED but candles. I wish I had the energy to at least light candles, because that one single factor I can control. But I don’t. I’m too lazy. I’m still reeling from the heat of the day. I’m still reeling from focusing all my energy and attention and efforts on repairing this boat, instead of writing. Instead of creating. Instead of paying attention to life. Though I suppose deciding on a brass or stainless steel screw in a location of the boat (where it will not matter one iota) is also life.

I want to have a good boat, and so I am doing that. I want to finally sail, and so I am wanting that. I want to be writing, and so I am bemoaning that, even while I sit here and write.

It is so hard to let go of want and just be with the task and the situation at hand. Decide on the screw. Don’t see that as an obstacle to installing the tab of wood ...

 which will hold the turnbuckle ... which will secure the board ... which supports a screen ... attached to a grate in the floor of boat.

The purpose of installing a screen is so things which inevitably will drop don’t disappear into the bilge; an event that is equivalent to losing something into the second or third circle of hell. So the screen is important. And not seeing the screen is even better. So if I do a good job on this installation, I will always appreciate that when I look down at the grate and don’t see what I otherwise could have seen, I will be satisfied I did a good job.

Why do I obsess about details no one will ever see? Except, of course, Jennifer and I, but then only in a state of agitation since we will have dropped something.

Silly, you agree? You don’t know the half of it. I ordered these turnbuckles from an outfit in England! Yes, I had them shipped from England to this brackish marina to install on the underside of my grate where they will be rarely seen. And then only in frustration.

To top it off, I spend time and effort and mental anguish on whether to install these disproportionately valued items with a brass screw or a stainless steel one.

And yet, I ask, why not?

My boat is not a Fabergé egg. Yet why not spend the time and effort and money on exactly these kinds of decisions? Especially when these decisions do, in fact, give me satisfaction. Why not treat Phoenix with the same investment as I would working on a poem or a short story? Why not try to get the details right?

Why not try to spend a whole evening trying to describe the smell of summer’s heat? The feeling after showering on a hot evening and walking out into the night. Trying to find the words to convey how my skin is finally dry and maybe not cool, but at least neutral. And the breeze is no longer anger, but more like the soothing warm breath of my mother blowing on my swollen, bruised and injured finger.

That’s what it felt like walking down the docks tonight. Warm breeze blowing on me, soothing all my frustrations and hurt. Making me realize that all this, all this work and effort and time and money and delay and sweat and arguments and discomfort, all this, is okay. It’s not so bad. See? A little blowing and it’s better already. It’s all life. Just be with the moment. It’s all good.

P.S. For those so inclined, you can take another look at the photos and see a mistake I made. After all that work, it didn't come out the way I wanted.

Oh, by the way, the whole project is just temporary. Dolphins had a nice teak frame that held brass or bronze screen. But that is one more item that is no longer carried by stores. So I had to be satisfied with plastic screen, held in by a modified cutting board.  Eventually I will find some bronze screen and span it into a teak frame. When I do, I will correct the mistake I made in this installation.

Spoiler Alert: The next paragraph reveals my mistake.

P.P.S. The mistake was not accounting for the swing of turnbuckle. You can see that if it is fully perpendicular, it blocks the "seating." You can see where the grate seats by the whitenend wood. In the second photo, you can see how I have to keep the turnbuckle aslant for the grate to fit.

So: no FabergĂ© by a long shot.


Yu and Frank said...

I have always liked the grate on the 33's I only wish the 41's had the same. It makes so much sense. Good idea with the wire mesh as well, it looks real good.

Also, if your still looking for brass screen, try Mc Master Carr...
They have been a life saver for us on many occasions!

Mathias said...

Excellent! Thanks for the link. I don't use McMaster enough. Don't think of them as a retailer. Took me a while to decipher their chart and convert to millimeters so I could use my metric ruler to imagine the mesh size, but I think I got it now. Will be placing order.

I like the grate too. But any idea on its purpose? Ventilation doesn't make sense. I've always assumed it's to provide drainage when we get hit by the 90-foot rogue wave. But I don't really know. If the cabin floods, all the floor boards will be floating anyway.

Yu and Frank said...

I always thought it was for when you come down below soaking wet; instead of the water pooling at the base of the stairs it can drain to the bilge? Idk.. Looks shiply one way or the other :-)