On the evening of the 27th, I was FINALLY ready to leave the dock. The last two weeks in the boatyard marina had driven me to the brink of boat hatred. It seemed no matter how hard I worked to wrap up the last projects, I found new things broken or needing attention. The prop shaft had to be aligned, so I was at the mercy of the mechanic’s schedule to have Swell’s engine running. Aside from all the broken stuff, getting Swell back in floating order required a massive undertaking of sorting and reorganizing. The English couple beside me seemed rather appalled while Swell’s decks looked like a junkyard, but there was nothing I could do but smile apologetically and keep my music at a neighborly volume through the process…
The sun had set when Taputu cast me off from the dock. I felt as if I might collapse from fatigue, but I would have given anything to wake up the next morning free of docklines and what could happen in 150 yards to the nearest mooring buoy?
I slipped past the jetty wall and spotted my crotchety ol’ hermit friend, Helmut, rowing toward me in his rowboat. I slipped the transmission into neutral and glided for a moment to let him catch up. Just before he got to Swell, I looked over the starboard side and saw that the sea’s color had changed from deep blue to light turquoise. I was a few feet too far right in the unmarked channel and about to collide with a coral head!?!!?!
My brain lurched into shock and panic, picturing myself having to haul the boat out again to repair a new hole in Swell’s keel. Utterly horrified at the thought, I slammed the engine in reverse and revved it to a roar. I braced for impact, but Swell barely missed the coral and spun away into safe water. I instantly burst into tears.
Helmut pulled alongside. “The channel is just there,” he pointed, holding Swell’s rail.
“Thank you.” I choked through a sob. He’d never seen me without a smile, and by his baffled look, I knew my tears had startled him. His characteristically grumpy old self softened like old leather. “It’s okay,” he cooed. “We all hit the reef once in a while.”
“Well I do NOT want to hit it now!?” I replied. I went wide around the coral and then headed for an open buoy. He followed me with rapid pulls on his oars and helped secure me to the mooring.
“I’m sorry to cry, Helmut.” I whimpered. “I’m just so tired. I’m soooo tired. I just don’t know if I can do this anymore…”
“Get some rest, kid. You’ll feel better tomorrow.”
As he rowed away I secured the end of the line, then collapsed into a heap on the foredeck. I wept a little and the evening breeze cooled the lines of my tears. I mulled over what had almost happened. I wondered if I was still cut out for this life. It seemed like ages since I had been at sea. “Maybe I was just lucky to make it this far. Maybe I should stop while I’m ahead. I just can’t keep up with all the boatwork anymore…” I thought.
The gray sky deepened in shades until stars began to flicker overhead. Then a glow cast toward the heavens from behind the mountain. A nearly full moon peered slowly over the ridge. I took a deep breath, curled up against my surfboard bag on a pile of anchor rode, and let the moon bathe me in its sweet, soft moonbeams until I fell asleep.