Wednesday, July 18, 2007
When You Live in a Kite
This time what fell apart was the ignition switch for the starboard engine. It literally dissolved in my hands as I went to turn the motor on preparatory to dropping anchor in Port Madison. We had just dropped the sails, Dr C and Jaime were tying everything down, Aeron and Mera were straightening the salon in case guests came over from the Seattle Yacht Club, and my responsibility was to motor us smoothly and gracefully into place. Except with the ignition switch in five pieces in my lap, I was left with only the port engine, a ten-knot breeze on the bow, and a bad feeling about this.
Have I mentioned that Don Quixote is big? She sits on the water instead of in it? Have I mentioned that her windage is roughly the same as a hot air balloon?
With Dr C standing blithely on the bow pointing to his preferred anchor location in full view of the yacht club dining room, there was nothing to do but to power forward. Literally. Momentum was at least on my side and the port engine did her job and pushed us roughly into place. Within a few yards of the desired location, however, a slight gust caught her and she started to turn to starboard. Dr C glared back at me with his “where the hell are you going” look. He should patent that. Grimacing, I threw the rudder over and tried to juice her back into place.
No can do. She was now happily turning to starboard and there ain't nuthin’ you can do about it. With the rudder hard to port, we could turn slowly. In any other position, we could turn more rapidly. So we did a graceful circle around our anchor spot like a cat examining a lap before settling down for a nap.
But the anchorage was tight. We really needed a way to cover those precious twenty yards to the perfect spot so we wouldn't rudely swing into our neighbors during the night. Dr C was now at the helm having given up on my ability to steer us into our desired location. Of course, he was spinning us around not 100 yards off the SYC dock, and we must have looked a lot like a dog chasing its tail. Anything like graceful had disappeared from our lexicon. At this point, I just wanted to stop moving before we all got dizzy.
And then I had it. It. One of those flashes of brilliance or madness that so characterize my hero Jack Sparrow. Stop moving. Just stop upwind of where we want to be with the beam to the breeze and let nature do her thing. I shoved the captain out of my seat and told him in my sternest mommy voice to get his ass back on the bow to handle the anchor. On the next revolution, I eased back on the port engine and let her come to a stop. With the inevitability of taxes, Don Quixote took that breeze like the kite she is and started sliding sideways into her anchorage. It was slow. It was agonizing. But it worked.
Now if I'd only thought of that before gathering a crowd of wine drinking yacht club members, it would have been perfect.