My first post to go up. I actually started writing four days ago, but tonight was the night to become officially online since it is raining, nothing is on tv, and I don’t feel like getting out the ukulele for my online lesson.
I explain below how the Big Boat Man got his name. And, since we live basically the same life, I thought it fitting to use his mana for my blog.
22 January (2nd piece)
It is a terribly rainy and windy day with flights and ferries cancelled. I figured I might as well explain why he is called the Big Boat Man. Some years ago he slipped on a wet footbridge while running with the young guys from the club, and tore his shoulder. The doctor told him to get on a rowing machine to build up the joint. BBM said he didn’t want to row nowhere, so he built a 16-foot dory over Christmas holidays (yes, only three weeks to build it). It was made of sheets of ply and the plans said that the finished product would be about 45 kilograms.
So, he cut the ply sheets, drilled holes down the seam and stitched the pieces together with plastic ties. Then he trimmed the bits sticking out from the ties, and used fibreglass tape with epoxy (sp?) to make the seams smooth. Painted it white and green, and was ready to go out.
He invited me out for the maiden row on the sea. Firstly, I must confess I am originally from the American mid-West and I don’t do so well on the sea. Locally, when there is a swim competition out to the island, the regulations for entry require each entrant to have an accompanying boat with a protector (someone with a gun ready to shoot any sharks that appear). In October we have large whales cruise through, so suffice to say that we have a healthy ocean ecosystem happening on our doorstep.
So, wanting to show my support and confidence in his boat building skills, I climb into the dory and prepare to just sit still until we get back to shore. About 1.5 kilometres out, it suddenly occurs to me that THIS is the first time the boat has been in the water and we are TESTING it. I don’t know why it took that long for reality to hit. Perhaps it was my subconscious mental protection not letting signals get through in time.
At any rate, I realised we were a long way from shore on a test run. Simultaneously it strikes me that BBM is working quite hard, breathing heavily, and paying close attention to the white caps that have started up. White caps!? No, but the wind blowing quite strongly. BBM looked around again and I could tell something was really bothering him. I start to panic. He looks at me closely and says ‘relax!’ I want to growl at him that I am relaxed. I’m sure I’m relaxed because I am fully concentrating on relaxing.
He then asks if I ever rode the motorcycle with my brothers? (I’m thinking he’s not paying attention to our worsening conditions. He’s trying to distract me from the fact that this is a TEST run. Is he also worried and trying to distract me?)
He continues on his motorcycle theme. ‘Did you lean into the corners when your brothers went around corners?’ (What is this man on about?) ‘Rowing a boat is a bit like that, you need to go with the flow, or else you are working against the rower.’
I look about the boat and realise I’m gripping the sides of the boat with white knuckles. My back is ramrod straight because I’m paranoid about staying exactly in the middle. My legs were stiff with fright and with the effort of trying to ensure the boat did not sway in the least bit.
So I learned to relax and go with the flow on the water. BBM decided he wasn’t going to row without producing something, so we got into line fishing.
Which brings us to our young Chinese friend. He was studying at university in the city and came out to stay with us. He had only ever fished on a river with his grandfather, and had never been in a dory on the sea. I tried to school him in the basics of relaxing before he left, but my main concern was really the other phenomenon that happens at sea. The captain is god himself.
So, I tell the young man, for his safety and under the law of the sea, he must obey all commands of the captain. And, don’t be surprised if the captain yells because sometimes orders have to be issued and obeyed very quickly.
Yes, yes, he nodded he understood.
So, several hours later they come home with the catch and the young man starts cleaning and hosing down the dory in the back garden. I wonder out to see whether he enjoyed the experience. Yes, yes, he nodded. It was very fun. Did you enjoy catching the fish and taking them off the hooks. Yes, it is fun to see the different kinds of fish. He is not looking at me the entire conversation while he continues to work.
Finally, I understood. Did he yell at you??? Finally eye contact, and male loyalty comes to the fore. Yes, but he needed to yell for our safety.
The next day the young man got his own back. He walked into the kitchen and started complimenting the boat building skills and fishing skills of my husband. At the end of his compliments, he swatted him on the back and declared, ‘You, you are a Big Boat Man!’ He was making fun of the title ‘captain’ and the huge boat that the Big Boat Man commanded, in probably the only way someone raised to defer to elders could. BBM turned pink with embarrassment and the title stuck.
Over that same period, BBM was showing off his cooking skills in the kitchen. The young man walked in and watched BBM move the veggies around the fry pan with a utensil. ‘There is a tiny little Chinese girl who cooks in a café in Wellington.’ (Holds his hand out at chest height to demonstrate how little she is.) ‘She uses one hand to shake the pan like this.’ (He simulates shaking the fry pan with one hand.) BBM booms out that he is not a little girl and he uses a utensil.
Some years later, I started to tell the story to the young man’s wife who had newly arrived from China. She smiled broadly and said, ‘Yes, yes I know about the little girl story.’ BBM turned pink and moved the conversation on.
Since his current boat is bigger, a scow, we have told him his initials can stay the same, but his title will now be the Bigger Boat Man.
In three years’ time, when he completes the house boat scow, he can be called the Biggest Boat Man. It’s amazing how things like initials can accommodate life’s changes.
22 January (1)
Off to get more red wine. Big Boat Man bought a reasonably priced bottle yesterday but didn’t have his glasses on at the time. Turns out to be a brand we can’t drink because of allergic reactions and coughing for the rest of the night. We can save the bottle to give away or offer at the boat launch.
He’s more worried about getting his can of red lead paint mixed by the shop this morning. If the person at the counter realises it is red lead, BBM might be refused because of all the training these modern kids go through. One worker freaked out when BBM took in a sanding belt to match for a new one. It had red lead dust on it. The worker proclaimed it was a reportable hazard. Well, there goes all the hours of research on methods and products used over the past hundred years. I wonder what the guy would think of the mixed cement and bitumen BBM uses both for rigidity and flexibility. It is mixed by hand in guesstimated amounts, depending on the feel between the fingers and estimated drying consistency. Hoooooo, touching the toxic stuff.
Or perhaps I’m getting blah-say about it all now? In the beginning I was ensuring face masks were rated for the relevant activity happening in the boat shed. Now, I figure if I can get the fibreglass dust out of his gruds through two wash cycles, things are good.
Our wills are sitting in the car waiting to be signed in front of two appropriate witnesses. We have had them for some time from our patient solicitor. I can see having to run back out to the car to get them signed as we climb aboard the boat after the launch. Subtlety will be the word since it could put our friends off coming out on the boat.
Speaking of the launch, a book from an old boat master says not to worry if the boat sinks at the launch. It seems all boats have a period of settling in before fulfilling their destiny on the water. So, I’m suggesting BBM’s mate from college have the honour of the first cast off with him. Being a former naval officer I’m sure he’ll cope well with whatever conditions occur. And, I’m sure his will is up to date.
21 January 2017
Big Boat Man gets frustrated with my questions. If the main sail is called the ‘mainsail’ (pronounced mainsol), is the front thingy called the ‘jib sail’ (pronounced jibsol)? Evidently not. Sailors don’t appear to maintain language rules with their terminology or pronunciation.
He’s sanding the red lead today in preparation for the final white paint. White primer yesterday on the sides, and green on the lower parts and front. He explained something about the movable block thing that the mast will sit on. The grease I’ve been saving in the kitchen over the past few months will need to be supplemented. Seems the mast is too big for a cup of grease to do the job for something to slide up and down smoothly.
Also, he did more midnight research on his Kindle earlier this week. It seems the front bow thing doesn’t have to be really long, it will extend from the Samson post to about eight inches past the front. I thought, instead of the traditional lady’s head out front, it would be fun to have two front ramming rods shaped like two arms with boxing gloves on them. Since Big Boat Man teaches Thaiboxing it would be fitting. Perhaps reticulated. Anyway, it clearly wasn’t an acceptable suggestion even in jest.
So, this front thing that sticks out only slightly in the front is supposed to be what the anchor comes up. I’m a bit worried that it doesn’t stick out very far. What happens if the anchor swings into the front of the beautiful green painted front? Or worse, is our anchor not going to be very big?
The Big Boat Man got his name some time ago, shortly after building his 16-ft dory. It’s a long story I’m happy to tell later, but suffice to say that it involved a mainland Chinese young man and a healthy respect for elders.
Right now we’re preparing for a ‘roof shout’. BBM explains that builders ‘shout’ the workers drinks when a roof goes onto a house. Some of his friends in the building sector asked whether he was going to have a roof shout once the hatch goes on the cabin. (I’ve had to stop calling it the lid on top). So, before the launching of the boat, we will have a roof shout for our boat.
2 thoughts on “First up”
Enjoyed the post. You seem a very happy person, and that is important to me. Sign the will and join the man on the launch. It sounds like quite the adventure for both of you and I’m sure he would immensely enjoy sharing the experience with you. You could always employ a protector to accompany you back to the shore if the thing swamped.
Love all of your posts—-