Grey Havens

by on 07/01/10 at 10:59 am

The docks are a cold and forlorn place this time of year, grey and wet and whipped by unfriendly winds.  It’s a far cry from summer, with people wandering up and back, voices and music always in the air, the sound of power tools and laughter carrying across the water on the weekends.  There are still people around, the dim, small, yellow-lit portholes giving away the inhabitants cloistered away in their own hulls, but none of the long, twilight cocktail parties are happening in cockpits these days.  Everyone is huddled below, staying as warm and as dry as they can.

I am beginning to understand the appeal myself.  The twin onslaughts of cold and rain are a demoralizing force down on the docks, and wandering along slick docks looking at swamped dinghies and shredding tarps flapping in the wind is a miserable trek to make indeed.  Clambering down the companionway into a warm, dry cabin has an appeal that is hard to understand if you haven’t had to make that walk.  We are besieged with offers from well-intentioned friends to come stay in spare bedrooms, on couches, or just about anywhere to “just get off the boat for a while.”  While we appreciate the offers (and I, for one, am not above taking advantage of them just to get to stand fully upright in a shower that doesn’t take quarters every once in a while), the boat actually isn’t all that bad.  I find myself looking forward to it, in fact.

A couple months ago, I was complaining, sort of, about the sad state of the views one has from the cabin of the average sailboat.  It turns out this is a sort of blessing during the winter months, though, because once you get the space heaters going and the place warms up, it’s rife with memories of sunnier days and more exciting locales.  I can crawl into the v-berth and read and it’s an echo of reading in the same position in more interesting places… hanging silently at anchor in Prideaux Haven, listening to the drone of jetskis off Sidney Spit, surrounded by trees and mountains at the Chained Islands.  It’s really no different there in the mists at Shilshole than it was in any of those places, and with the grey closing in outside, it’s easy to let the mind wander back there.

With the days so short, the lights are on more, and the cabin seems warm and cheerful, like it is on any late summer evening.  It’s warm, and dry, there is electricity and food, and really, what more can you ask for wherever you are?  Without looking outside, the grey becomes a haven, a cozy escape from the real world just as enjoyable as more foreign destinations… at least until the phone rings.

One Response to “Grey Havens”

  1. Danny

    Jan 18th, 2010

    You have captured winter boat dwelling beautifully. Nice essay.

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