She stands at the bottom of a gentle slope, fully visible but protected from the west and north winds. Ordinary in most respects I would assume most pass her by without a second glance, but I have trained my eye to seek out those things that are pleasurable to me, and as I am a simple but imaginative man, those “things” are legion.
I have to guess at her measurements; I have never had the audacity to walk up to her with a tape and touch it to her fair skin. She is six foot by my reckoning, perhaps seven; slender to the point of being dangerous to some, but just the width to please a man like me as I am comfortable in tight spaces and care little for the false security afforded by a chubby beam, and a perfect breadth for her twenty five foot length.
It was long ago now that I last plied even moderately deep waters with one of her kind; a pleasure I miss dearly, but one that requires far more financial success than I have created, or friends with that mentioned success and likely because of it, not enough time to care for its rewards. The latter is my story, a friend, too little time, a friendly “partnership” that cost me little but labor and gave me so much in happiness and calm.
The Never Again Two was the name of the craft I first commandeered, though in spirit only as her name never found its way onto the stern wall, another testament to lack of time combined with lack of talent as concerns a stencil and spray paint can. Twenty Eight feet long and seven abeam, a “shallow draft” she was termed, good for running up near beaches where bonfires might be made. I spent much of two summers captaining my sweet Lancer, but only up and down the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers where she was docked. That suited me fine as I have a nervousness about truly deep waters that makes my skin crawl even now as I write this.
But back to the beginning, the sloop I refer to sits on a trailer in a house drive about four blocks from my employer’s warehouse, a point I’ve passed nearly every day for seven years as I go to and from my job. She comes out into the sun in late April or early May when the threat of frost is at least minimized here in the tundra, and she vanishes sometime in October, before Halloween revelers could decorate her in raw eggs and toilet paper I suppose.
I have to guess her owners take her out now and then, but damned if I know when that’s been as I don’t remember a time that I didn’t glance off my port side and wink at her on the way by each morning. But either way, I run her through her paces, every day except those in which I suffer a complete break from fantasy, those miserable times when reality is so strong and so pervasive that it’s all I can do to think of having a cow as a metaphor and not visualize a poor woman being admonished to push harder as Bessy’s head… oh God, I can’t continue, you’ll just have to finish for me…
As my fantasastical constitution is strong, most days I can cope with reality enough to jettison it from my mind on a whim, and whims are exactly what my dream boat is all about.
Some days we do the barefoot cruise thing, zipping between little islands where all the people eat breadfruit and smoke ganja, and we do it quickly so all the scary things under the surface can’t leap out of the water and spear me, knocking me off balance and into the briny for a semi-conscious sink to the bottom. On those occasions I use actual memory; the harbor at Charlotte Amalie, USVI, the end of the airport runway in San Juan which as I remember it punches right into the water, probably so rich folk with combination jet aircraft/smuggler submarines can choose their mode of final transport at the last moment.
As on the way in I only have a minute of two before dismount and time clock fealty I choose a less adventurous locale, say, Lake Superior (it truly is you know) or even Lake Onamia I once swam in while learning to be a priest, at a seminary that didn’t discover its own scandals until they’d been closed and empty for years.
But on the way home I have at least 20 minutes in traffic, which I like to ignore as much as is feasible, and so she and I, let’s call her Never Again Three for this exercise, sail up and down the coast of Maine, ply (as any writer worth his salt would call it) the “inland waterways” and generally boff about the Greek Islands when I feel the need for sunshine (but only because I’ve seen a lot of movies with the Greek Isles in them like “Mamma Mia” and “The Traveling Pants see Greece” or whatever it was called).
There’s no big finish to this story; we haven’t imaginarily saved a whale or died, torn asunder by an angry Japanese movie monster or anything. I just have thought about this little pretty thing for so long I thought I’d say something about it, and while thinking about what to say, it occurred to me that I do spend much of my day away from here. No not “here” as in where you are, but “here” as in where I am, or at least where my body has come to a full stop. It’s truly a wonder I get anything done at all, much less anything written, what with all the sailing, mountain climbing, nuclear science, rappelling from helicopters, brain surgery, master chefing and dating Heather Locklear I have to do every day.
If you think you want to go sailing with me sometime, stop what you’re doing most weekdays between four and five pm central standard time… and jump aboard. I’d love to have passengers. I’ll even let you furl a sail if’n you want. But don’t forget to call me Cap’n… matey.