June 16th, 2011
The night before last I threw one of the oarlocks in the ocean.
When I get home from picking mussels, I put them in a bucket that I punched a bunch of holes in, which I then hang over the side of the dock so that they’re suspended in nice cold seawater.. this gives them a chance to clean themselves out, and keeps them nice and cold in the very same water they came from. I generally pick more than is necessary for one meal and let them just coast there until I need them. When we arrived this year, we looked high and low for the lid to my fancy custom bucket, but to no avail. Gone. This is where all the trouble started.
Without a lid, tossing the thing over the side of the dock would be a mistake, I thought. Fine when you first put it in, but in this part of Nova Scotia we have up to 6 feet of tidal change.. Since you pick mussels at dead low tide, it follows that the first bunch of hours after you pick them.. the time when they’re hanging out in the bucket, the tide is rising. And how. Had to figure out a way for the bucket to rise with the tide so that the mussels wouldn’t end up back in the drink. Hmm. So, I hung the bucket off the oarlock over the side of the boat. Brilliant. Except that the oarlock didn’t have a little retention string on it to keep it from coming out. So when I pulled the bucket up a few hours later, the oarlock came out and over the side of the boat. Party foul. It was pretty high tide when this happened, and there was no way to see to the bottom to fish the thing out. Oh well. Deal with it at low tide tomorrow, I thought.
But to tell the story properly, I probably need to back up a little more! On our way to the island a few days ago, we stopped in chester basin to pick up the motor for our boat from the place where it spends the winter. “It’s not ready. No one called.” I had never called BEFORE. I guess someone else must have, divining our need for the thing, and doing us a solid without our even knowing it. “Fine. When will it be ready?” “Tomorrow lunch” Fine then.
So. Yesterday morning, we woke up on the island with a motor boat with no motor and one oarlock. Low tide had passed us by during the night and wasn’t going to roll around again until mid afternoon. But! we had places to be. The first order of business was to help Greg and Collin put in a floating dock over at the Lewis’ place. Then we would head back up to chester basin for the motor, do our food shopping for the first week on the way back, and hopefully arrive at the wharf in time to ferry the eastlink boys over to the island to put in broadband (still can’t quite believe it!!).
There was nothing to do for it but paddle the bloody thing across the gut like a gondola. So that’s what we did. The two of us standing up in the boat, me up on the bow like putney and Hill in the stern, paddling across the gut like a couple of idiots.. no life jackets, no motor, no oarlocks, no sense. The boat has a slow leak AND it had been raining all night, so it had about 200lbs of water in it, and was handling like a barge. Greg and Collin were waiting for us on the wharf, cracking up and taking pictures.. “that’s just how us yankees do it, boys!”
We got the floating dock in the water, and took off for chester. Motor was ready to go, and we high tailed it back. Got groceries and some new oarlocks, just in case. Back to the warf. I hefted the motor down the ladder (lowish tide now) and got it on the boat. Connected the gas and started it up. I left hill ferrying stuff from the car down to the warf, and took off on a quick spin around the bay to empty the water out of the boat. There’s a plug at the back of most little motor boats, and due to some amazing trick of physics if you pull the thing out and go like hell, all the water in the boat just gets sucked out the back. The big trick is remembering to put the plug back in BEFORE you stop going like hell. If you don’t, the boat will fill up in a hurry. Glug glug. Happily, I remembered this and when the motor sputtered to a stop out in the middle of the bay I dove into foot deep water in the back of the boat, found the hole, and plugged it up. “Fuck.”
I tried to restart the motor. Pull chord wouldn’t even budge. “Oh COME ON!” Opened the thing up to take a look. Then remembered that I know NOTHING about motors, and realized that looking at it probably wasn’t going to help. It was also right about then that I noticed how hard the wind was blowing and how quickly I was drifting AWAY from where I wanted to be. “Oh ha ha.. very funny,” I thought, and jumped up on the bow again with one of the oars and started paddling.
Let’s fast forward twenty minutes or so, and not dwell too much on some of the swear words I developed while paddling the barge back into the wind to get back to land. (me.. in nova scotia.. taking it easy. Right. $#%@ !#@% %$%#!!)
We’ll resume with me, at the dock on the island bailing the boat with a bucket (“grumble grumble, “fuckin’ half-assed operation..”), so that it would be a little lighter for the paddle back across the gut to pick up Hill and the groceries.
Paddle paddle. Hill. Groceries. Paddle paddle.. unload Hill. Groceries.
Finally, having found the missing oarlock and fished it out, I went inside to eat the first meal of the day. Avocado and chedder on cheese bread. I lay down on the day bed. Opened up my book and held it in front of me while I dozed off. Phone rang. “Baby, it’s eastlink. They’ll be at the warf in ten minutes.”
This malarchy went on for pretty much the rest of the afternoon, and involved multiple trips back and forth ferrying a couple of rather large eastlink boys, but that seems as good a place as any to end the story. All is well that ends well, and by the end of the day we had high speed internet and a really yummy dinner.