To dither or not to dither

Doing my usual Sunday morning crossword, I found myself writing the word ‘dither’. This distracted me from my puzzle as my mind wandered to how we notice words more when we have been using them ourselves. BBM came back from the boat shed some weeks ago and said that he was dithering, was that the correct word, in his decisions on Herald II. I agreed it was the correct word, and since that morning we have both been noticing how often the word comes up around us. So this morning’s answer to a clue prompted my thoughts wandering to BBM’s boat building efforts, and again how similar his processes have been to my own doctorate efforts. Sometimes we both go flat out with busy-ness on our projects. Other times we realise that it is exactly that. We are, as my father used to say, spinning our wheels without being in gear. My response to this has been to begin putting part of my work into an article for publication. This is a smaller piece of work which helps me condense and clarify some of my thoughts which have been wandering.

BBM’s response to this feeling has been to set aside the boat building, even the sailing, and take us long-line fishing on the Dona Lucia using only the motor instead of sails. What an adventure that was. Remember BBM doesn’t like being wet. He has waders to ensure he doesn’t need to get wet when launching the boat. What he did forget was that Brynn and I have never been around 1) tractors, meaning we couldn’t help with that, and 2) boats, meaning that I seriously could not understand why the man was yelling for me to put the tiller flat to the side of the boat when it clearly didn’t want to move that way. The result was that BBM huffed and jumped, yes jumped – I’ll return to that later, off the boat and into the water. My thought was, OK, BBM is upset and going to sort whatever the hell he needs to sort. Brynn and I watched as he stomped through the water in his sneakers and jeans. It suddenly occurred to me that the tiller could be lifted up and over the samson/delilah posts in the rear. Ah, so that was what was holding the boat onto the sand bar! BBM sees me move the tiller as he had originally intended and heads back to the tractor without a word, but now sopping wet.

He backs the trailer and releases the boat. Ah, we know what to do at this point. Brynn pulls the boat around so that the bow is pointing into the shallow waves of the out-going tide. BBM dumps the trailer on the beach, turns the tractor over to a waiting fisherman, and stomps through the water again to start the engine before he climbs in. The engine is on the side of the rudder and the pull string is on the inside of the engine. Thus, BBM needs to use his left hand to start the engine. He pulls, and his left hand doesn’t quite have the same flick speed as his right had when he tested the engine before we came out. He pulls again, feeling the weight of the many eyes from the beach on him. Effort engaged, determination obvious. The engine started with that flick of his wrist. Unfortunately, he had put his all into the pull, and when the engine started, he was still headed the direction of his wrist. I saw only his wide eyes as he fell fully backward into the shallow water. Oh my goodness. What kind of mood was he going to be in now?

We pull BBM up without a word. He heads the boat on the bearing (sp?) we need to get to his favourite fishing spot. He hands the tiller to me and tells Brynn that he’s going to change his clothes. She was in the hold by this time, handing things out to him. She finds his bag of dry clothes (the only one of us who thought to take extra clothes) and looks down at her mobile phone. He strips off, she asks if he’s done yet, he says no, she asks what, I yell to her no he’s not done! I knew that she would never come out on the boat with us again if she saw the sight that was.

So BBM is dry and sorted. He takes over the tiller and smiles at me. What a beautiful day this is! Yes, I agree, NOW it is a beautiful day. The water was blue, the scenery on land was green, the South Island was clear. We could see birds in the air and plankton in the water.

So we put down the lines and wait just over an hour before hauling it back in. We see flashing silver and regret having to bring such a beautiful fish out of the water. Suddenly we realise that Brynn has never been with us to do long-line fishing. BBM and I have only done it from the dory while rowing. So, BBM thinks it’s an ideal time for him to turn some chores over to her. Would you like to icky the fish? What, kill it! No. Would you like to take the bait off the empty lines? Touch that dead stuff? No. With three people on board, I was trying to stay out of the way of the line which we had coming up and over the boat. I offer to take off the old bait and put the strings and hooks back into the bait box. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until later that I realise it has been about three years since I’ve done that task, and suffice to say that I could no longer be deemed competent. Brynn helped remove the lines from the long line. When the lines had fish on them, she would make sure her legs were well out of the way as BBM brought them into the boat. Watching her, I remembered putting my own feet up by the gunnels (sp?) of the dory. I looked up again to see whether Brynn was going to climb onto the deck? No, she was quite brave and stayed in the boat.

BBM brought a gurnard over the side. Yea. We prefer this fish above all others. Brynn had never heard their grunts before and urged BBM to put it out of it’s misery quickly. I watched as each fish (2 gurnard and 3 kohawhai) was taken off the hooks and killed before being put into the chilly bin. It was quite a process because BBM had to apologise to each fish. I’m sorry Matey. So sorry. I’m sorry. It was almost like a chant with each fish, but it brought tears to my eyes because I knew BBM was serious in his apology to each fish.

Look! Brynn points to the water. A fin! We don’t know what it was, but twice we pulled up lines which we had seen fish on in the water, to find that the entire line, right up to the connecting piece on the long line, was gone. Thankfully, we didn’t hook any large sharks. Brynn found the gummy shark fascinating and not quite scary.

By this time, Brynn had been in and out of the hold several times. Looking down at the equipment to hand out to BBM, she began to get queasy. We finished bringing the line up and headed back to shore. Visiting with BBM, I had almost forgotten she was aboard until she called loudly to join into our conversation at one point. I looked around to see where she was. She had climbed out onto the deck where the waves were cooling just the bottoms of her feet.

We insisted that BBM take us out to eat that evening. By then we had cleaned up. In Brynn’s case, she had a shower before cleaning the boat and another after the clean up was finished. So we were ready to put our fish in the frig and have someone else cook for us.

As we rolled into bed that night, I looked at BBM and asked whether he thought people watching us go out that morning would have enjoyed the drama as much as we do when we take our lunches down to the beach to watch the fools launch their boats? He laughs. Yes, they probably did enjoy it. We are community minded people after all. Why not provide entertainment in return for all the times we have enjoyed.

Two days later BBM noted that his knees were not in pain as he had anticipated. Why did you think they would hurt, I ask. Because I foolishly jumped off that tractor. Yes, well, things like that do happen when you go fishing with two woman who don’t know what they’re doing. Another curious thing. What’s that? Why is only my left foot sun burned on top? Ah, well, again, when you jumped off that tractor you got wet. We didn’t think to put sun lotion on the top of your feet.

So we live and we learn and we find that the struggle of life is somewhat fun and somewhat funny.

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