A Nautical Tale

Why should I invite you into my boat, when I know it leaks and the chart I use is blank? Why should I challenge your beliefs? What is to be gained? All good questions with which I have wrestled over the years. Many years. I can come up with a few answers…vanity, misery loves company, altruism in its purest form. All noble conclusions. Even the self-deprecating ones.
There were several people in my life that challenged what I believed. I thank them. And I condemn them. For all is not what it seems in this leaky boat of no beliefs. It is cramped and yet lonely.
It is far from comfortable. It twists and turns with the tides, the wake of passing ships and winds. It has no course that I can deduce. But of course, I prefer it that way. As opposed to being attached with a line to another larger craft that seems to have a bearing. When one is so attached, it is difficult to see where you are being led, no matter how swiftly and effortlessly you are pulled through this life. So I drift. Alone. I see other one-man craft in my journey, and we will throw up a hand, but since neither of us can control our course, we soon part ways. 
When I was a very young man, a friend and I liked to take our one man inflatable dinghys off the coast to fish for bonita. They are a seasonal schooling fish and angling in a small craft in the middle of a run, can be exciting and later delicious. Double and triple hooks are not uncommon. But as young men often do, we misjudged.

One morning while chasing such a school, I ventured away from my friend and the shore a bit too much.  Then BANG…I got a massive hit and my reel was singing as I felt myself being pulled this way and that by the strength of the fish that I had hooked. Its weight and speed created a wake around my little light craft as I held on to the pole desperate to land this behemoth. Then just as suddenly as I had hooked, the line broke, and the silence started to surround me as my friend’s voice was no longer within hearing distance. Then I noticed that in all the excitement, I had knocked both little plastic oars into the sea. I turned quickly enough to see them drifting off into a fog bank that was rolling in.  I knew that the direction of the fog was coming into shore…but how far out had I been pulled? The mist soon surrounded my little boat as I yelled at the top of my lungs. Then silence, an occasional fog horn and the slap of water coming over the edge of my boat was all that I could hear.

 I was fucked and I knew it. As the fog engulfed me, I lost all sense of direction, as you will in the middle of sheer nothingness. All manner of rational thought flew away from me as I screamed into the silence…hoping to hear my friends voice in answer. Nothing. I must have drifted like that for close to an hour. Then I heard the sound of rushing water coming closer to me out of the fog. A heart-stopping blast of a horn…and I knew instantly that I must have drifted out into the shipping lanes…and I was about to be run over like the flotsam I was, by a passing ship. I paddled with my hands as fast as I could away from the sound which when I think about it probably saved my life. Along with the passing monster of a ship that appeared came its wake that pushed and spun my craft away and into the sunshine. After it had passed and the uncontrollable rocking of my rubber skiff had calmed I quickly took in the view of the beach as merely a distant horizon line, the better part of a mile away. What seemed like hours of hand paddling and the rushing surf eventually landed me on the beach where my friend had been for quite some time.

Quite the adventure. But what is the point? I dunno. At the risk of plagiarizing Hemingway, I have to say that little sojourn into the unknown scarred my little brain. In a good way.
There are all kinds of boats out here in this vast ocean. Ships, yachts, sail boats, junks. You name it. They all seem to know where they are going.
Port Comfort. Just a few nautical miles from here in Gregarious Bay. A place to show your craft. Size up the pinnace of others. But I remember an exhilarating experience being on my own and am drawn back to it. Fear? Yes. Loneliness? You bet. Independence? In spades. And a view.


11 thoughts on “A Nautical Tale

  1. Tim, good story -makes me wonder how many misadventures ended with no testimonials- prayer is reinforced if one survives and extinguished otherwise- and therein is the rub.Would we could arrange a similar moment for the sleepers .On the other hand this quote says a lot about the world as it is.Change the occupation to everything from butcher to baker and everything inbetween.Erwin Rommel:One must not judge everyone in the world by his qualities as a soldier: otherwise we should have no civilization.As quoted in Dirty Little Secrets : Military Information You're Not Supposed To Know (1990) by James F. Dunnigan and Albert A. Nofi, p. 50Gentlemen, you have fought like lions and been led by donkeys.Said to captured British officers during the Siege of Tobruk, as quoted in The Guinness History of the British Army (1993) by John Pimlott, p. 138A poignant tale!be well

  2. Thank you Timster. Your sweet story brought smiles to my serious self. I like the comic "Your belief system is shot". Yes, it's a good thing when they are all shot to hell. Of course we then have to live in uncertainty, drifting as we go amidst the big ships of "I believe this, I know all about that!!"Let them make their big waves and threaten our very life, we still can feel that freedom in moments!Keep recovering, your humor is really nice!Marigold

  3. Tim, the quote I couldn't find for my first comment is here "Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas."Erwin Johannes Eugen RommelI got caught in a nasty undertow and remember the experience very vividly.I remember thinking don't panic or your ass is grass LOLOK-enough said be well my brother!

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