The Peace of Wild Things | Road to VB

As you can see from the title of this blog post, I’ve decided to start over on my “Road to V-grade” journey. I’m doing this in part because of my recent injury, and in part because of my recent injury. There is still so much stiffness, so much lateral instability, but the good news is that the tenderness around the lateral cruciate ligament (LCL) is almost gone. I attribute this to time, ibuprofen, and the sound of the rain falling softly on my boat.

I woke up this morning and did not engage in my regular routine. My regular routine is to check Shake Shack’s stock, then Sea Limited, then Aurora Cannabis, and then to do a plethora of other things on the internet ranging from checking my email to checking the news to googling the words “coronavirus stats.” Instead, this morning I woke up and just lay there for awhile. Then I started reading a book by “Dr.” Joe Dispenza. Then I started reading a book by Dan Richards. Then I got up, un-made my bed, and sat there looking at the raindrops on the window. Then I put the kettle on.

At some point I also lit a candle and checked the status of my plants (the succulent is doing better than ever and I’m going to transplant it to a bigger pot. The green queen is still slowly dying, though I’ve started a watering schedule).

I tend to get down on living on a boat while others tend to be excited about it. I know deep down the boat isn’t the problem; if I lived in an apartment I’d find other problems to complain about. Seattle would still be rainy and gray and gloomy and the sun would still be setting at 4:33pm. If I lived in an apartment maybe I’d have too much space, maybe I’d just accumulate clutter, I’d have higher bills to pay and my rent would be much higher. I could have noisy neighbors! Here on the boat I never have to worry about people playing loud music or talking loudly or walking loudly on the floor above me. I share walls with no one. The only sounds I hear in the night are the sounds of the wind, the rain, and the occasional passing train. On rare occasions I’m awakened by some kind of animal splashing around outside the boat. It could be anything: a duck, an otter, a muskrat, a beaver — even a seal that’s transgressed the barrier of the locks in search of salmon or other easy pickings (though now that the kings are gone this happens less and less). At night when I wake up there’s only silence. My neighbors are all asleep. The city is too far removed from this place to cause any problems. Other people live in the heart of the city but can’t hear the heart beating because of the all the other noise, the traffic, the people, the stress. Here you can hear the heart beating in the distance, the slow, throbbing pulse. But here it’s like living in a park. It’s like living in a place the city has forgotten. It’s not Seattle. It’s not Ballard. It’s not Magnolia. It’s a tiny dock jutting out into the water, often frequented by ducks, sometimes frequented by my neighbors, and in the summer frequented by my bare feet as I stride to the end of the dock and plunge into the cool waters of the lake. How far away summer seems, both the one preceding us and the one to come. How anathema to today it would be to be warm on the dock, to have the sun warming your skin, to dive into the water, to lay on the dock and feel the sun warming your body as the water drips onto the warm wood below you. And yet this is the place that all that happens. But it doesn’t feel like the same place, not right now, not in the winter.

In the summer, time stops. Just for a moment. In the winter, it drags on forever.

I have always thought that if you’re uncomfortable in a situation it’s best to change the external factors. If you’re cold you need to go to a warmer place or put on more clothes. If you’re too hot you need to go to a colder place or take off clothes. If you’re hungry you need to eat. If you’re thirsty you need to drink. If you’re feeling stuck or stagnant you need to move! But what if instead of constantly changing the externals you changed your attitude towards them? Just seeing my boat through the eyes of others this morning has made me so much more appreciative of where I live. The silence, the nature, the water, the solitude, the closeness to wildlife. I complain about a small living area, about the cold, but how many people when they walk out their front door are greeted by ducks? How many people, when they go to the bathroom at night, see a beaver wading in the shallows, gnawing on a freshly-felled branch? How many people can step off their back porch into a lake? How many people get to get down on their hands and knees at night after a hard rain and clean flithy water out of the bilge compartment? We could all benefit from observing animals more, animals who “do not tax their lives with forethought of grief,” to borrow words from the Wendell Berry poem The Peace of Wild Things. Does the merganser ply the waters of Puget Sound thinking about what ill fortune may befall it in a two years, two months, or even two hours? Its countenance belies a peace, a congruity with the present moment that most of experience maybe one or two moments a day, if we’re lucky. Many of us never experience it all all, so quickly are we moving from distraction to distraction, perceived important task to perceived important task. The keyword here is “perceived.”  These tasks give meaning to our days, even if this meaning, when rapped on sharply with the knuckles, emits a hollow sound (not unlike the flake of Forestland’s Marathon Man V0, in Leavenworth). When the events of our days are boiled down for a few hours so that everything superfluous evaporates, what then is left at the bottom of the pot? Probably a few interactions with our fellow humans, a meaningful glance, a fleeting touch, a burst of laughter, a photo of two smiling friends/lovers on a bed wearing sweatpants and white t-shirts. These things stand glistening when everything else is stripped away. If you were to do the same thing with the day of a merganser I imagine there would be a lot more left in the pot. A lot less water to evaporate.

It has stopped raining (see: as much) and I look at the three books on the bench seat in front of me: Leavenworth Bouldering, Becoming Supernatural, and Joshua Tree Bouldering. In other words: The Bible, a book, and another Bible. A book sandwiched between two Bibles of rock and stone, granite and granodiorite.  I get up and head to my car, just to take a drive. There’s nowhere in particular I want to go, but my car has good heating and it makes me feel like I’m doing something.  A perceived important task even if I don’t really perceive it that way. But when I get to Fremont and I’m sitting there looking at the rain that’s still falling on the window I notice a street sign that’s crooked, one of the bolts having been ripped out of the ground, and for some reason noticing this is not superfluous. This would be one of the things left in the pot at the end of the day when all else is boiled away. Glistening, and rather unexpected.

 

 

 

 

Impressions After a Year of Living on a Boat

I live on a boat.

(…..)

That’s actually the end of this post.

OK, it’s not the end of this post. It’s the start of this post.

I live on a boat.

And I’ve lived on this boat since May, 2019.

It’s now September, 2020.

Which means I’ve lived on this boat for 1 year, 4 months, which is precisely four months longer than I ever thought I’d live on this boat.

Why would I not want to live on a boat for longer than a year?

Well, let me tell you about my boat. She’s a Catalina 27 sailboat. This means she’s approximately 27 feet long ,which sounds kinda long, but when you think about it it most of the space is taken up by the cockpit in the back or is too narrow in the bow to really be habitable. Which means the habitable part is basically a little room that’s 8 ft by 8ft. I essentially live in a jail cell, though of course I can leave this jail cell whenever I want (unless it’s dark and rainy in Seattle, which it is most of the year).

Self-steering????? Sheet to tiller? Are we experts?????

And actually the fact that I live in an 8ft by 8ft jail cell and eat gruel all day and do push-ups and dream of the outside world isn’t the worst thing about living on a boat. The worst part is that I can’t…………..(a;sldkfjadl;skfjdlskfjdslkfjdslk;fjadsklfj)….I can’t……(AJSDKFJADSKJDSKFJDSKFJDSKFJDSKFJADS)….I CAN’T STAND UP. Yes, that’s correct. There’s only one tiny, tiny space on the boat where I can fully stand up. It’s literally about one square foot, right where the hatch slides into the deck. Everywhere else on the boat I have to hunch over. And if I don’t hunch over, guess what happens??????????? I’ll give you 600 guesses. Or I’ll just tell you. If I don’t hunch over, I hit my head. Which is wonderful. There’s nothing quite like hitting your head multiple times a day. Really keeps the neurons on their toes. Really keeps YOU on your toes, and by on your toes I mean cursing and hitting shit.

Barold spots land! The southern tip of Whidbey drifts into view. First land sighting in several weeks.

So I’ve kind of started off with the bad things about living on a boat (especially a small boat), but just to recap I’ll list here ALL THE SHITTY THINGS ABOUT LIVING ON A (SMALL) BOAT:

  1. I can’t stand up straight most of the time
  2. I hit my head a lot
  3. I don’t have proper heating.
  4. Doing dishes sucks ass (because the sink is the size of a quarter)
  5. The toilet smells (I’m working on fixing this)
  6. My bed is not comfortable (I sleep on a bench seat; again, something I could potentially remedy)
  7. SPIDERS (especially in September)
  8. It’s so fucking quiet (ok, this is actually a good thing)
  9. It’s so fucking beautiful (ok now I can only think of good things, which means I’m going to talk about…)

 

THE GOOD THINGS ABOUT LIVING ON A BOAT

There are lots of good things about living on a boat. Probably the biggest is that it’s so damn peaceful. I literally live on the water. I feel like I live in a park. A couple days ago some outsiders (friends of my neighbors) came to enjoy the dock and said, “It’s a little oasis here.” And you know what? They’re right. I live in an oasis in the middle of a massive city. Besides my qualms about actually being inside the boat, I love coming back to the dock. I love watching the steam rising off the water on a fall morning. I love listening to the birds. I love listening to nothing at all beside nature (and the sound of the neighbors’ kid who screams approximately 14 hours a day).

Another wonderful thing about living on a boat is the rent aka the moorage. I pay about $433 dollars a month for rent (I own the boat but pay for the slip). Which is unheard of in Seattle. I have my own (semi) beautiful space, in a BEAUTIFUL setting, for less than a third of what most people are paying. Which means I don’t have to sell my soul to Jeff Bezos just to make ends meet.

A few other great things about living on a boat:

  1. It moves. You can take your home and sail it. You can sail to islands. You can sail to faraway lands.
  2. No yard to mow?
  3. Other people think it’s cool (ok this one actually isn’t all that great)
  4. You’re close to nature all the time.
  5. You learn more about the boating world.

 

My beautiful boat after sailing up to Bainbridge Island the day I got her.

If your’e thinking about getting a boat and living on it, I would say: Do it. Absolutely do it. But realize that it’s probably not going to be as comfortable as living in a house. Probably not even close. But I will never regret the time I spent living on a boat, and it will make me appreciate so much the conveniences of being a landlubber once I become one again. Having a washer and dryer, for instance. Having a freaking stove. Having a full-sized bed. Etc. Etc.

Etc.

What’s next for me in this great boating adventure? Will I continue to live in this cell until I die?

God, I hope not.

The plan WAS to sail down south this fall. But fall is rapidly approaching and I haven’t taken any concrete steps to making this happen. Which means one of a couple things will happen: I’ll pay moorage this winter while I escape the Seattle grey to travel and possibly live in Chile. Or I’ll sell the boat. Or I’ll… actually those last two were basically the only options.

For now I’m going to forget about my boat and go climbing. Because one of the best things about having a boat is getting the hell off it onto land.

I hope you all have a wonderful day.

– Wetz