|Sitting on the keel of the boat, the only |
shady place to take a break.
I'm a bit of a hermit by nature. Except for these short snippets with the boat guys ("Sorry, we don't need any help with the winches. -They've just been done. -Please don't walk on the decks with your shoes on. -No. -No thank you. -No. -I'm sorry I can't right now. -So long."), the only real talking I do is with Tim in the mornings at breakfast. And that's mostly about what we're planning on doing for the rest of the day, the projects lined up and the parts needed and what makes logistical sense to get done first. Not that we're all business, I try to get him tell me at least one story from his college years or a sailing regatta before heading off to work.
The rest of the day is spent by myself on the baking boat in silence, except for the occasional "sonofabitch" when I hit my head or drop a washer. But it's satisfying. I just go slowly and accept that searching for dropped nuts and cleaning up diesel spills is part of every job no matter how careful I am. I find it all very satisfying and mentally stimulating. Mechanics and troubleshooting are just puzzles, and I like puzzles. The engine room yoga is getting hard though. Tim and I have been going to the gym in the evenings, and yesterday was back day, and it made today's "blind stretch around high pressure hydro pump with wrong sized wrench" a very difficult move.
|The space aft of the generator, one of the|
better places to have to do repairs.
My brain is mostly occupied with solving these puzzles, but when I'm doing something tedious, wire brushing a sea chest, or wrapping teflon tape around pipe thread, I go back to Dad's woodshop, and from somewhere outside a waft of cut wood and sawdust drifts into the engine room, and I'm three-thousand miles North in the wintertime.
Even though the fire's out in the stove it's still warm enough to take off coats and hats. Snow falling and grey outside, the wood shop is bright and strangely large and open after coming in from the claustrophobic sense of heaviness and contraction created by the cold. The oppression of the lack of scent that comes with winter overridden by the smell of sawdust, lumber, woodstove and varnish.
Dad goes to the far end of the shop where the wood stove is on a raised platform he built so he didn't have to get on his knees to load the firewood, and from a pail he takes handfuls of sawdust and small scraps to throw into the ashes of yesterday's fire. He uses a hatchet to break up a chunk of two-by-six and stacks those around the sawdust. Then he places a log on each side of the kindling pile, and one across the tops of those so it crosses above the kindling pile. Then he cheats; grabs the bottle of lighter fluid and douses it all. He glances at me as he does this, knows I think it's funny he's using a method he once taught me was a wimp's way of making a fire.
That was a long time ago though, before it was okay for me to grab a beer from the mini-fridge by the door and crack it open to drink while watching him take a match from a cast-iron holder mounted on a cedar paneled wall and strike, then toss into the stove where it flashes and ignites everything in the fast yellow flames of the fluid before the wood catches.
He closes the steel door with the glass window so we can still see the fire, latches the long arm in place, and I meet him in the middle of the shop by the assembly table, handing him his beer. Normally the assembly table has a kevlar surface showing, but today there's cardboard taped down so nothing is showing, and above the table, hung from strings he screwed to a board he in-turn screwed to the ceiling, are four snowshoes.
|Snowshoes and canoe in the background of where my|
head has been taking me the last couple days.
Then we have to decide if we'll want to be varnishing this time tomorrow afternoon. Beer time. Old Milwaukee's Best Ice time, the only beer in Dad's woodshop, not by rule, just because.
I tell Dad we can play it by ear, I don't have to drive home for a few days and there's no rush, if it takes two days to dry, we'll do it when they're ready. We drink our beers looking at the woodstove, looking at the old canoe we built years ago, looking at the table-saw, radial-arm saw, planer, jointer, drill press, router table, tools I've been around all my life and some that are new. All strategically placed throughout the space based on frequency of use, largeness of the machine, the state of the material being fed into it, the need for it to be near other tools. It's a choreographed ensemble. He doesn't know it, but he's thought out and created a dance.
|I wish I could have a year to apprentice with my dad and |
learn everything from soldering to adjusting a table-saw
to knowing when to call it a day. Love you, Dad.
We talk about my work. The chance of me quitting to go sail around the world. His plans for the property. Where he and Mom are going to vacation this summer. We drink beers and get more from the fridge. The fire's ripping in the stove now and there's not much left to do in the shop until tomorrow. We don coats and hats, carry our beers in gloved hands and I lead the way out, because he likes to be the one to turn off the lights and close the doors, making sure everything's okay before moving on.