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  • Writer's pictureBJ

When Marina Spirits Howl

Updated: Dec 16, 2018

I have been at Elliott Bay Marina for almost 16 years now. It is a beautiful marina with a lot of expensive yachts that sit at the dock for 50 weeks out of the year. But these dock queens are well maintained by a multitude of vendors who dutifully wash the boats on a regular basis and perform various other services for their absentee owners. My boat in contrast is not a beautiful dock queen, it is not weekend sailor, it is not tax deduction for entertaining guests. S/V Discovery is not pretty. She is not always spotlessly clean. I do virtually all the maintenance, repairs, and modifications. She is 37 years old, but she well maintained, safe, comfortable at sea, and most importantly she is mine. Over the years S/V Discovery and I have developed a special love-hate relationship. But, I do my best to take care of her and in return she provides me with numerous memories and safe passages.

I was going to start this blog at the beginning of the new year. But, last night I felt inspired by the predicted wind storm that blew through the marina. So, here it begins. I'll offer periodic updates on my preparation, my random thoughts, and occasional wild rants about sailing, sailboat maintenance, and the eventual "big left turn" out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and onto the South Pacific and South East Asia.

This will (hopefully) be my last year here in the Pacific Northwest. I am refitting S/V Discovery and doing necessary repairs and upgrades in preparation for a late summer 2019 departure for the South Pacific. Folks ask, "Where will you go?" I simply smile and say, "There are a bunch of islands in the Pacific Ocean and I mean to see a lot of 'em." Of course, there are places that are high on my itinerary. But, at this point in my life I am not relocating to another place on this planet; I am on a quest to discover more of this beautiful world, it's peoples, and myself.

Anyway...getting back to last night.

Last night the winds at the marina were 25 knots with gusts up to about 35 knots. Discovery was pushed up against the finger pier and listing slightly to port. The incessant dull "dink" and "clank" cacophony of halyards slapping against the masts of neighboring boats filled the air like a bunch of erratic drummers on broken instruments. I went outside to check my fenders and lines. The fenders were straining to protect the hull from the pier. The aft dock line and spring line were as taught as guitar strings, but securely holding Discovery in her place. Since it wasn't raining I decided to walk down the dock to check on other boats; especially the boat in the berth next to me. As I walked down the dock I saw a bright flash up on Magnolia hill and the lights of the marina flickered. At first I thought it was a lightning strike, but then there were 2 more very bright flashes. Then Magnolia, the marina, and much of Seattle went completely dark.

As I walked back to Discovery in the darkness I paused and listened as the near gale force winds blew through the masts and rigging of boats in the marina. The winds howled viciously as they swirled around the boats throughout the marina. At first, I thought the sounds quite eerie; telltale signs of gale winds that cause sailors to shorten sails and batten hatches. But, as I stood and listened to the pitch of the winds raise and lower it became less worrisome; less foreboding. It was as if there were a gathering of incorporeal spirits were bemoaning, or perhaps singing a dirge of yet another long, wet, cold Pacific Northwest Winter.

Once back inside Discovery I felt safe and warm despite the ominous moans of the phantasms outside. Other than the damn halyards on the neighboring boats with their constant dull clanking I felt peaceful and relaxed as Discovery rocked me gently to sleep once again.

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