There is a peculiar charm in the indefinable feeling of undivided responsibility to which the single-hand cruiser becomes a willing slave as he roams over the high seas in his wee barkie, free from care, far from the harassing annoyances of the world’s artificial life, his own master, in close relations with a boon companion, his ever-ready, trusty little ship. Though friends be left behind in dusty cities, he finds a fresh and congenial substitute in the intimate acquaintance of his boat, for soon he learns to invest his floating home with a personality, causing the boat’s character to appeal to his appreciation as though being endowed with actual life. He discovers the brave, sturdy qualities his ship may possess, and approvingly recounts them over and over to himself. He finds she is not perfect, and seeks to correct her weaknesses and caprices. He handles her tenderly and with care. She becomes the apple of his eye. There are no “guests” forever asking to be put ashore, wanting to catch an impossible train or boat, nuisances who no sooner board the yacht than their selfish thoughts are concentrated upon the best method of fetching up where they came from. There are no croakers, no nervous lubbers chafing at a few hours’ calm, fretting about getting somewhere in the least possible time, as though the yacht were a tiresome prison, and the sea and its ever-changing attractions tasteless for heroes of the barroom, billiard cue, or for the dandy knights of the carpet. There are no sideshows underway, no cards down below, no boisterous skylarking under the lee of the mainsail, no store clothes to mar the ideal of amateur life at sea, nothing to interfere with the devotion to the cause and the realization of the dream fancy has perhaps depicted to the longing tar through dreary months of waiting. His ship, his world—the rest of the world, his convenience.
1887 sailing essay,
quoted in No Croakers, No Nervous Lubbers
A few days ago I was running up a flight of stairs. At the top, my toe caught against the final step and I tripped. I fell down right in front of a beautiful blonde woman.
“Are you okay?” the woman asked.
I stood up and brushed off my pants.
“I’m okay,” I said. Then I looked at my left hand. I pointed at the outside edge of my hand, just below my pinkie. “Look,” I said. “I’m bleeding.”
“I have a band-aid,” the woman said. “Do you want a band-aid?”
I shook my head.
“I’m going to just tough it out,” I said. “I’m going to be a man about it. Although as I say that I’m thinking Captain Kirk never pointed at his hand and said, ‘Oh, look Mr. Spock, I’m bleeding.’”
The woman giggled.
Last year I posted an excerpt from a sailing article about a man and woman who sailed a seventeen-foot open boat up the coast of Labrador to visit the Torngat Mountains.
“Hardly Anyone Visits; No One Stays”
When I was growing up I spent a lot of time on small open boats. Of course, I was on Wisconsin lakes and not on the ocean, but some of my happiest memories are of spending the whole day from before Sun up to after Sun down out in the weather on an open boat.
Even if you get rained on a little in an open boat you don’t mind it all that much.
When I’ve been boating I’ve always had a cabin or a tent on shore to sail to at the end of the day.
An open boat and a tent is a little circle of civilization you can move around the world, in and out of this bigger circle of civilization or whatever the hell it is.
Consumer electronics typically
don’t do well in maritime environments.
Electric guitars, electric keyboards,
digital cameras, broadband computers—
batteries run down, circuit boards short-out.
Paper notebooks in water-proof backpacks
don’t need to be plugged in. And they don’t break.
Paper notebooks can mix text and graphics—
if a person can make text and graphics.
Paper notebooks provided all the clues
Professor Challenger pieced together
to re-discover Maple White’s lost world.
I’m not afraid of the wild world out there
where beautiful women don’t have band-aids.
I’m terrified of the future out there
where there is no Professor Challenger
to piece together clues he uncovers
in some explorer’s lost paper notebook.
Some lost worlds are never re-discovered.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Endless Death Of Maple White
A Typewriter Preserved From Roman Times
The Hidden Princess Of Mount Shasta
A Bird Who Could Fly To Neptune
Freedom From The Wild