Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Airing things out

Evan's boat is finally back in the water with a new rudder! We went out with a yellow bucket full of various cleaning products and rubber gloves, ready to tackle the cabin, which hasn't been cleaned in years.

And we inaugurated the boat with a first onboard fight.

The argument started in the marina, on the way to our dock. It continued once we were at the boat, sitting in the cockpit. Back and forth, heated conversation in the cockpit, until a neighbor appeared and said hi. The argument ground to a halt while we returned his greeting as if everything was just fine. Then we waited to resume until he was safely out of earshot. By then, though, another neighbor passed, and the waiting game continued.

Marinas are open spaces, but close. Boats are docked just a few feet away from each other, and sounds carry on the water. There is hardly any ambient urban noise to camouflage arguments or conversations or even snoring. So as our neighbors appeared and passed, and our retorts toed and bounced in their starting blocks, I thought, "Great, we're going to have no privacy on this trip." Because for the first month or so, as we crawl down the Intracoastal Waterway, we are going to be spending lots of time in marinas.

More scary, though, was the fear that, nevermind privacy from strangers, we might not even have much privacy from one another! On a 33-foot sailboat, where do you go when you just want the other person to disappear? I wound up going below deck. A door, I needed a door, something to block off access and sightlines. There was the bathroom (or the head, as it's called), which was as yet uncleaned and cramped and smelly. It had to be the bedroom then (forward berth). Unfortunately, I couldn't find the hook that would unlatch the door from the wall. Very frustrating. I nixed going back above and ashore, since that would require putting on a poker face in case I met a neighbor.  At last, the bedroom door unlatched, and I could sit by myself and pretend Evan wasn't less than 10 feet away.

Sweet privacy: space (albeit small) to hear my thoughts, to let out a few rhetorical, obscenity-laced questions, and to generally calm down. The boat rocked gently. Evan became a muffled presence, reduced to footsteps above deck. A puff of a breeze felt like cool water on my head. My anger dissipated.

Evan and I didn't spend the rest of the day holding hands and looking into each other's eyes, but we did manage not to throw the other overboard. In fact, we aired out the cabin and got rid of some mold, as well as tackled the removal of too-old blue protective tape (picture above). More significantly, though, it was nice to learn that even though such a small space might make it a little harder to take private, I-need-to-cool-off time, it also makes coming back together that much easier.

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