Thursday, May 10, 2007

Moving Day

“Get the gate. Get the gate! GET THE GATE!” bellows my husband at my youngest daughter. He’s hauling the boat box from the van and down the ramp towards our catamaran on the near end of L2. So much for a quiet sneak aboard transition to our summer living quarters.

Our marina doesn’t allow live aboards. Frankly, most marinas in the Pacific Northwest prohibit them. It’s a combination of insane insurance rates, Dept of Natural Resource restrictions, and economic self-preseveration that drives this. The problem started a few years ago and grows worse each year as more live aboard boats chase fewer and fewer slips.

So just after the holidays, I approached our harbor master and explained the Great Escape Plan. We lucked out. First, our harbor master at Elliott Bay is a very nice man. Second, our harbor master spent a few years himself kicking around the Sea of Cortez. He’s sympathetic to our plight, and we can basically live aboard this summer. As long as we don’t let the children run wild, he and his staff will support our efforts to prepare ourselves and the boat for the cruising life. We make token forays to our land based basement apartment to make it legitimate.

But that means the last barrier to moving aboard has been removed.

My god, that boat is small. It looked a lot bigger in June of last year when we set the moving date to April 2007. It looked a lot bigger when it was empty. Filled with two van loads of stuff – one entire load consisting of the bedding and stuffed animals the three girls insisted were essential to their very survival – my entire perception of the boat has narrowed to a pin point. I feel like we’re an episode of a serial called Honey, I Think I Shrunk the Boat. It is now just as easy to lose the kids as ever. However, now we lose them in a sea of gadgets, goods, and groceries. Actually, I think I did lose Mera. I haven’t heard from her in hours.

As the van disgorges bags and boxes and books, Jaime and I frantically wrestle them into crevices in the boat in a rapid fire, real-life game of three dimensional Tetris. With one wary eye, I watch Don Quixote’s water line. Interestingly, most of what we’re moving aboard now to change our boat from weekend cabin to primary home is more bulky than it is heavy. I thought the boat boxes would ground us in the slip, but our boat seems made for this sort of clutter and sits in the water just fine.

I can’t say the same for the family temper. Dr C is frazzled and overworked bearing the brunt of the physical labor since I broke my back falling off the boat. Mera keeps escaping the leash to read fantasy novels, and Jaime and Aeron would rather be collecting dead, smelly things on the shore. My former concerns about the lack of convenient galley storage space pale to the reality of trying to find room for even the most essential items in places that do not require reaching under and around someone’s butt in the salon. I caught Dr C stashing the olive oil under Jaime’s bed in the port bow, and I don’t have the heart to ask where the kids have hidden the dish soap.

At the end of the day, we’re aboard. We will spend the next six months in this slip or nearby anchorages trying to figure out how to be boat people. A glance into the kids’ hull yields the horrifying conclusion it will take at least that long to find a place for all their toys. And we ended up getting teriyaki from a place down the street as I couldn’t face the daunting task of filling five plates with wholesome, home cooked food… let alone find the plates.

On the other hand, I did find the salsa, a bag of tortilla chips, and a leftover six pack of cervesa. There is a light breeze filled with the smell of the ocean and the sounds of a guitar played by a cruiser on M dock while the snow on the Olympics turns pink and purple as the sun blazes down to our west through a forest of masts.

I could get used to this.

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