Stylish descended the companionway, muttering to herself. “Lanacote, small brush, Lanacote, small brush…”
She glanced up at me as she started rooting through the drawers in the nav desk. “I had to pass Dad to get up the ladder.”
There are many obvious skills one needs to cultivate to live aboard. Good seamanship. Knots. Basic weather analysis. But a successful crewmember must also learn secret talents you will never find mentioned in any manual on seafaring. And primary among these are Ninja Skills.
It is impossible to pass Erik without being asked for something. A tool, a glass of water, a hand. More irritatingly, these are usually reasonable requests. You are passing that way anyway, or the top two-thirds of him is stuck in the bilge. So you do it. But by the seventeenth request, you get a little grumpy. No, let’s be clear. I. I get a little grumpy. I get a lot grumpy. I like to help as much as the next person, but there are times when I’d just like to get on with my own work uninterrupted, and getting up to find a rubber mallet or similar every ninety seconds can put me on edge.
But there is a good alternative to snapping, “Get it your own &$@# self!” And it is this: be one with the wallpaper.
It isn’t easy. This is high-level Jedi-style ninja stuff I am talking about here. But it’s worth it.
Let’s break it down.
First, you have to cultivate a locational awareness of your Help-Me Spouse (HMS). This doesn’t mean tracking their every move, but you do need to notice where they are, and, more importantly, when they are coming. The HMS can descend on you like a hawk on a mouse. Learn to look for that tell-tale shadow, hear that creaking floorboard, smell that engine oil, and make yourself scarce.
Be One With Nature
Ninjas, at least according to my kids’ Magic Treehouse books, are all about mimicking and fading into the environment in order to hide. So try to blend in with the mast. Melt against the engine room. Merge with the shadows cast by the wheel. (You can feel less dorky about trying this yourself by calling it “getting to know your boat” if you like.) Not as foolproof as out-and-out hiding, this ninja trick has the advantage of speed. HMS coming? Bam! Instant camouflage.
Here on the hard, we have one exit from the boat: down the ladder. It would be unkind of me to suggest that my HMS intentionally chooses to work at the bottom of said ladder, lurking there, Gollum-like, waiting to ask someone for a 9 mm wrench as they pass by. I’m sure it is just a convenient place to mix paint. Point being, for the ninja, this bottleneck is an issue. An ambush waiting to happen.
So get creative. Set up some scaffolding on the other side of the boat. Learn to scale the anchor chain. Climb the neighboring boat and take a flying leap to your own deck. Buy a hang glider or a trampoline. Grow gecko pads on your hands and feet. And those solutions are just off the top of my head.
What Happens as a Ninja Stays as a Ninja
For the love of Mike, whatever you do, don’t let your HMS catch you in your evasive maneuvers. You can’t have a bad Ninja day. Not only do you look like a jerk, pressed up against the teak and pretending to be a floorboard, but it puts on you HMS’s radar. They know you know. The hawk will be extra vigilant, and that doesn’t mean anything good for you.
Returning to Papillon earlier today, I crunched across the gravel, lost in thought about what I wanted to write in this post.
Erik popped up like a jack-in-the-box from behind the stern. “Ame, you going up? Could you grab me my grinder? I’m filthy.”
Never. Erik and I wake up every day, roll over, say good morning, and wonder, "What is going to break today?" There are few things you can count on in this world, my friends, but I can promise you this: on a boat, there is always something advancing along the 'breaking' continuum. And usually more than one thing. Owning a boat is much like what I imagine being an assistant for a very demanding and unstable celebrity must be like. You fulfill strange and unreasonable requests at all hours of the day and night, working yourself to exhaustion trying to please someone who will never, ever be satisfied. But, sometimes, you get to do something incredibly cool and amazing as a result of working for this crazy person, and it all becomes worthwhile. So you stay, living for those moments. And the rest of the time you live head down in the bilge, dreaming.
In short, filling the hours is rarely an issue.
|Fixing something? Nah, I just felt like climbing the mast.|
Rather than living in the future like that ("Great, Sherry; we'll see you for dinner at 8pm, seven weeks from Saturday,") we live almost solely in the present. When the water pump breaks, that becomes Erik's job for the morning. When we hear about a festival in town, that takes care of our afternoon. Friends from another boat just sailed into port? Invite them over for dinner.
Oh, sure, when it is time to see a dentist, we'll find one and make an appointment, but, for the most part, planning doesn't work very well. When we consider sailing on, we wait for the wind and weather to be right. Sometimes, we wait for weeks. That stopped stressing me out years ago. I now enjoy the peace of sipping my morning Darjeeling, and wondering what the day will hold. I enjoy being wrong about what the day will hold. Surprises are good things.
"Fine," you say. "Good for you and your zen-like state, Amy. But what do you guys do?"
Our main fixed task for the day is school. When breakfast is done, Erik heads off to fix whatever he is fixing that day, and the girls and I break out the school books. Except when we don't. If something great comes along first thing in the morning, we will delay (read: skip) school. Since we don't take weekends or summer holidays, it all works out in the end. But on a regular morning, we do some combination of math, history, reading, science, music, etc. until lunch.
|Preparing to separate out pigments from plants we found in Tonga.|
|How high can I get, do you think?|
But, surely, without the need to hover over the kids, that leaves Erik and me with oodles of leisure time? I chortle. Yes, of course we have down time. We lay down our tools when something good crops up, just like the kids do. Part of the fun of cruising is learning to be spontaneous and say 'yes'. But we also have the aforementioned fixing of things to accomplish. Also, people need to be fed, laundry washed, floors de-crumbed, dodgers repaired, books read to small people, articles written... it amounts to a busy day.
|Father-son bonding via windlass repair.|
So, what do we do all day? We take care of our basic needs, and we have fun. No Blackberries required. Read More
(Newport, RI)- With 19 boats, the J/109 fleet was the biggest to compete in the 2016 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex. By the time the first race started on the final day, however, only two boats mattered. David Rosow's LOKI (Southport, Conn.) and Donald Filippelli's CAMINOS (Amagansett, N.Y.) started the day tied at 23 points each. With third place 14 points back and a morning delay limiting the class to just one race, the class's North American Championship, and a Rolex Stainless Steel Submariner Date timepiece, came down to which of these boats beat the other around the track.
Rosow preached all regatta about keeping things simple. With the regatta on the line, he didn't see any reason to stray from the approach that had gotten them this far.
"We wanted the pin end and to be near CAMINOS,” he said. "If the opportunity presented itself we would’ve gotten in front of them. We knew we had boat speed compared to the fleet. We had a good start in the front row. We knew it was a two-boat race, and we just had to beat them."
While Rosow was able to get away cleanly from the pin end, CAMINOS found itself mired in traffic after a mid-line start, and was eventually forced to tack away. By the time the boats came together at the windward mark, LOKI was second, with CAMINOS two spots back. With the early advantage, and a steady 6-10 kt breeze opening few passing lanes, the key was to simply not overthink the strategy for the remainder of the race.
"From there we just shepherded them around the course," said Rosow, who has owned LOKI for 10 years. "Full credit to CAMINOS, they sailed very impressively. They’re good competitors."
For Rosow, this is his first North American championship. He has won distance races before, but never anything on this scale in one-design competition. Adding in a Rolex watch and, no surprise, he was pretty elated, “pumped up! Incredible! I have a perma grin that won’t come off for a while."
NYYC Rear Commodore Bill Ketcham (Greenwich, Conn.) started the regatta on fire, his J/44 MAXINE winning the first four races in IRC 3 division. But a 10th in Race 5 put the lead back into play for two other boats. However, after two races on the final day, the difference between the three boats' overall scores was just half a point! In the end, it was Ketcham’s J/44 MAXINE taking the class win with the NYYC Annual Regatta Round Island Race winner- Tom Sutton’s J/35 LEADING EDGE- holding on to 5th place.
The J/88 one-design class saw spirited and very close competition. After the first day blitzkrieg of 1-1-2, it appeared that Mike Bruno’s WINGS crew was hot on the trail to yet another class win. However, by days two and three their momentum faltered, posting a 5-5-4-4 to drop them into second place for the regatta. Conversely, Doug Newhouse’s YONDER team also started off well with a 2-2-4 on the first day and managed to post three bullets in the next few races to ultimately win the class by six points. Third was the New York YC Annual Regatta J/88 Class winner, Doug McKeige’s JAZZ. Fourth was Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION from Long Island Sound and fifth place was Jeff Johnstone’s family crew on ELECTRA. For more New York YC Race Week sailing information