ARCTIC SOLITAIRE

The Boat

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The Boat

I bought the first boat I set eyes on. Her owner, Pastor Kirby, had christened her, in a demonstration of Lutheran humor, “C-Sick.” He let me take her out for a white-knuckle test drive on Puget Sound. That I didn’t sink the boat and drown us both I attribute to the power of his silent, fervent prayers. He carefully explained that she was in pristine condition, with low hours and two spotless Honda outboard engines. I half expected the good pastor to tell me he’d only driven her to church on Sundays. I was fish on; he barely had to reel me in. I paid full asking price, far more than she was worth, but you can’t stop love.

The C-Dory seemed to me the personification of a Maine lobsterman’s boat that had been softened by years of boring office work and life’s heavy burdens--a mortgage, maybe some child support--but still tried to keep up with the old gang out on the water every weekend. 

Her builders had managed to fit all the necessities of shelter within this space: a combination two-burner stove and heater, and an eighteen-gallon freshwater tank that fed the stainless steel sink and faucet through a small foot pump. The table dropped down to fit between two simple bench seats and created an austere sleeping berth. She had a tiny icebox big enough for a couple six-packs under the captain’s chair, and she came with a tiny, portable flush toilet crammed in behind a privacy curtain, that I replaced, in a fit of Luddite primitivism, with a simple five-gallon bucket. 

They even thought to include a drink holder, sized to the exact dimensions of a beer can. Proper hydration is the key to any successful boating experience. 

From Arctic Solitaire: A Boat, A Bay, and the Quest for the Perfect Bear