When there’s little to do, time moves so very slowly, like when, on a hot summer day, as a little kid, I was forced to wait an hour after lunch, an eternity, each minute dripping slowly by, before I could get swimming again. Yesterday was almost one of those days, a day full of waiting, of nothing to do. Not good news for an A Type sailor girl.
John was in an all day meeting in Fairfax Virginia, so at 7:00 AM, I chauffeured him from the boat through the congested maze of DC’s metro morning traffic, leaving little else to do until my 2:00 PM hearing test. What was I going to do with all this unstructured time? The local library was closed until 1:00 PM and shopping was out of the question as the boat was full.
Remembering there were prescriptions to pick up, I did. At 10:00 AM, I called my artist friend Judy, hoping she could pull herself out of her studio for lunch. She could at noon. Until then, I visited the park across from the library and started to draft this blog while I watched pre-school kids stomp in the water fountain designed just for them. Some mothers and nannies hovered protectively, while others let the children run full out wild among the squirting shapes, yelling, jumping, clapping and laughing with each other, getting totally soaked. That is unstructured play time.
Why can’t adults like me be more like those children? Even on the boat, where I am most content, sedated by the water, joyful play is beyond me. There are always lines to re-tie, decks to rinse, dinghies to inflate, and lazarettes to organize, and cracks to fix, when I could very well just hang out and read a book. It is my nature, and at 70 it’s obvious change will not come easily.
After belatedly getting the dinghy operational and stored above the water on its davits off the stern of Dolce Vento, I tackled mounting the U.S. flag on the boat. For instruction, I turned to the United States Flag Code, USC Title 4, Chapter 1, summarized by the US Power Squadron, which provides general guidelines.
The U.S. flag display is based on long-standing traditions that date back over 300 years. ‘Old Glory’ is the proper and preferred flag for all U.S. vessels. It should be displayed from 8:00 AM until sunset, and when we enter or leave port during daylight or at night, weather and rig permitting. It should be stowed at other times, but I’ve seen many people leave it out most of the time, I guess, because it’s easier. We fly the U.S. flag because is our boat is registered in the U.S., not because of our U.S. citizenship. We are allowed to have our flag staff offset from the center of stern, because to have it in the center would inhibit access to our dinghy.
As you all know, a flag staff consists of a pole holder, a pole and the flag itself. I started with an antique brass holder, a gift from my road trip friend. However, it was not a holder for nautical flag staff, but a porch flag staff; the set screw faced down to the water so it would be impossible to tighten it without loosing a screw or two and I’ve already lost several of those, if you know what I mean. Additionally, the holder brass mounting screws would not screw through the fiberglass and the holder was too narrow a diameter for anything, but a porch flag pole.
Of course, these insights did not reveal themselves logically or rationally when I started the project. It was like unraveling a sweater. You pull one string and the whole thing begins to fall apart. It took three trips to the hardware store and two trips to the marine store to find the right length mounting screws (I had to settle on stainless steel, not brass), the right sealant to fill the holes I determinedly drilled through the teak and fiberglass, the right diameter pole, and the right size flag. I almost blew the whole project by sawing the pole to shorten it, but stopped myself before testing it full length. Finally, the flag flies beyond the dinghy on the starboard side, all proper.
Most importantly, last weekend, the Dolce Vento crew was now fully assembled and living together aboard. September was our “test” month so to speak with one captain (the one trying to look breathless) and two mates, a husband (he’s the one with the VHF plugged into his ear) and another mate, a systems technician (she’s the one with the purple sunglasses and tattoos). We will rotate our roles on a regular basis whether it’s steering (helmsman), navigation (directional guru), diesel engine mechanic (grease monkey), sail hauling and trimming (salty dog), cooking (chef) or washing dishes (scullery maid).
Cindy, like myself, is big on organization, a rapturous list maker and high energy doer. John tolerates us both, but does take cover when we get on a roll. Our biggest challenge is moving the car around. She works about 30 minutes away for three more weeks and has given her car to her son who is in his last year of college. We taught him to sail this summer, so he’s an emeritus crew member.
One month from Friday, September 8, we push away from the dock one last time and head south, weather permitting. We watch it, praying to the gods of sunny skies and good wind to battle the storm gods, forcing them to remove hurricanes from our path as we make our way down the east coast via the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) during the last two months of hurricane season.
While we finished preparations, friends since grammar school (yes, we have stayed in touch for over 50 years), were on an Amtrak Pullman car train headed west from Chicago to Portland Oregon, assisting one of them, take in the sights of the last three states on her 50 state bucket list. It made me smile as I followed their progress across the west. We are all pursuing our passions and loving our wrinkles (well, maybe not all of the wrinkles).