Monday, January 25, 2010

Driving Lessons

Rudder: An aid used for steering.

Meditation: An aid used to release the need to steer.

The Rudder Story:

Shortly after we got to Crooked Island this year, Fritz (my husband, for those of you who don’t know him) was visiting a nearby neighbor when a bearded stranger approached and announced, “I’ve been shipwrecked. Can you help me?”

It may sound startling, but around here it’s the kind of thing that happens fairly often. This particular sailor had started his mishap-filled voyage along the coast of Texas. Several weeks and near-catastrophes later, he fell asleep at the helm while sailing at night through the Crooked Island Passage and washed over a breaking reef.

Next time he opened his eyes, the sun shone, a light breeze ruffled the sails and his boat was hard and fast on the beach. Voyage over. He left whatever could be salvaged to first-comers and was on the next flight off the island, relieved to have escaped the ordeal still inhaling O₂, not H₂O.

It is particularly satisfying to rescue usable marine detritus, especially on an island where it’s 450 watery miles to the nearest West Marine or Home Depot. We scavengers wasted no time; in a couple of days the loot would be in the water or buried under sand.

On one visit to the wreck Fritz recovered a 3’ by 10” piece of what he thought could be lacewood, an exotic hardwood. Soon after he found the boat’s rudder, which clearly had been broken and repaired. (That sailor must have left his luck in Texas). A small piece cut from the lacewood plank had been used to fashion a working steering mechanism.

The plank came home, along with the mast, the boom and a collection of odds and ends that only people on out-islands find thrilling. Most of the salvage was stored in the garage for future use, but even though the lacewood lay propped against a wall, its transformation had already begun.

Next: The Meditation Story.

No comments:

Post a Comment