Thursday, February 04, 2010

What time is it? (a word from Penelope)

Any cruiser who tells you that he isn’t on any schedule should be put in the same boat as the one who tells you he has never gone aground. He’s lying on one count or the other or both.  And keep in mind that even  just bouncing over a hard bottom would come to an honest man’s lips.
Perhaps we are talking about nuances of experience and communication, but perhaps not. The sailor who can’t admit to the admiring throng that he has ever gone aground is probably just being territorial, protecting that vast territory called male ego. But the sailor who tells you he isn’t on any schedule is confusing dream with reality.

Even if you have been blessed with plenty of time and plenty of money ( relatively speaking since there is not really ever enough time and certainly not money when you own a boat), try as we might we can not truly free ourselves of that feeling that we ought to be on our way to other than where we are if that’s what we said we were going to do the night before or the week before. It just isn’t American to change your plans. It threatens to upset the universe, the way winding your watch backwards risks buggering up its internal works.

And if you could see my captain now, you would know his internal works have  been buggered up.  With four months of cruising ahead of us, we had planned (yes planned, which is the first clue that this sailing couple are not really schedule-less) to head to South Florida and on to the Bahamas when our January slip lease was up. But a week past our arbitrary departure date, we are still in the slip agitatedly awaiting the arrival of our refitted spinnaker.  Why are we agitated? We tell everyone, including ourselves, that we have no schedule all the while patting ourselves on the back for sitting in the cat bird’s seat of cruisers. Why, indeed, it’s because it’s part of the American psyche to have a plan just as it’s part of the American psyche to be agitated when that best laid plan gets waylaid.
In our defense, after sitting out the sub-freezing temperatures of the longest cold snap in Daytona Beach’s recent memory, anyone would be ready to head further south, schedule or no schedule.  We were tired of the wet cold, and we had spent way too much money and plenty of time in preparation for our islands cruise. Not to mention that from a psychological and nuptial standpoint, we needed to move! Here’s a boat fact you may not have heard voiced before but you will recognize its truth immediately: the longer you’re stuck in one place, the smaller your boat becomes and the more space your spouse takes up.

But for the sake of honesty and in an effort not to placed in the same boat with all those other lying sailors, what bothered us most was being behind schedule, and every day that the sail did not arrive poked another hole in what felt like an already punctured schedule. Time was leaking away from us and we had no way of dipping it back up again. In the end, we make plans and create schedules in a futile effort to save time in a bottle. In spite of all protestations to the contrary, we want to be in control of our lives, circumstances be damned. That’s the American way.


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