This is part four in my Living on a Boat series. It was originally going to be titled Who should NOT Live on a Boat, but recent events made me change the title and topic slightly.
So this is Part 4 in out Living on a Boat Series:
Last week the stark reminder that we are surrounded by danger was forcefully driven home with a brutally sad event. One of our fellow live aboards fell in and drowned.I did not know Morris very well as he was new to our community. I met him a couple of weeks ago when he invited me aboard his new boat to show me around. He was excited and slightly apprehensive as this was going to be his first winter aboard his boat. A tall, rugged, but nice looking man, Morris told me about his new boat/home, showing me his new electric fireplace and his galley setup. We chatted about winters in Canada and he related some of his fears about not being able to stay warm enough and worries about the ice. I reassured him that all would be well and that we loved winters on the boat, telling him that, in fact, we like winters better than summers on the boat. We said our goodbyes assuring each other that we would keep in contact and check in on each other during the upcoming months. That was the last time I saw him.This is the story as it was told to me. By 9:30 Morris and his party friends were seen tottering up and down the dock on wobbly legs. At midnight, when another boater on their dock came back from a late night pizza, the party was going strong. Around 1:30am, the party thought it would be fun to fire up the boat engines and gun them. Somewhere around 3:30, Morris went out for a pee and never came back.The dirty little secret among boaters is that there is an unacceptably high rate of alcoholism in our line of adventure. Does boating attract alcoholics or do boaters become alcoholics; I don’t know. (What came first the chicken or the egg?) In the past I’ve ranted about the nocturnal comings and goings of our various drinking neighbours. All this stems from alcohol. There seems to be two types of people who enjoy alcohol on boats – those with the occasional glass of wine while sitting out on the back deck in the evening, and those who drink can after can of beer, chased by rum until they are stupid drunk. Why are there so many stupid drunks on boats?Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard show that alcohol was the lead contributing factor in 20% of all boating related deaths. The total number of boating related fatalities in 2006 in the US was 710. That means that if you removed the alcohol from the hands of boaters, you would have had 142 fewer deaths. That is 142 fewer families grieving the loss of loved ones; fathers, mother, brothers, sister. You get the picture.Of course, writing a post like this reminds me of my own brush with liquid death a couple of winters ago. I was stupid, but not stupid drunk, or I would likely not be here today. Read about it in Thoughts on Swimming, Mortality, etc.So what can we learn from another needless and tragic death? This is what I came up with:
Any that I missed?
- If you are an alcoholic, don’t even think about living on a boat. You are surrounded by danger.
- Don’t pee off your boat or dock, especially if you’ve been drinking.
- Install ladders around your boat to get back onto the dock if you do go in.
- Remember, remember REMEMBER – you are surrounded by danger. Always be prepared for the worst and keep your head about you.
If you would have asked me a couple of years ago what I would have thought of living in a giant bubble – I would have told you how I though It would be horrible, claustrophobic and confining. But today as I look out through my semi-transparent windows into a wavy kind of smoky world, I can tell you I love it. You have the illusion of privacy while still looking out over the whole marina able to see (sort of) and what you can’t see your mind kind of fills in the blanks.
The boy and I have had grand times playing soccer on the back deck all within the safety and warmth of the bubble. During the day the inside of the boat heats up when the sun is shinning sometimes to where it is too hot. It acts like a greenhouse and traps the warm sun rays inside. Although I have recounted the several times that Ive worried about losing the bubble during wind storms, watching the rain and freezing rain bounce off the outside of the bubble makes one thankful to not only be inside but still have dry decks.
Many of the boats around the marina strung Christmas lights up inside their bubbles making everything very festive. Of course, many of us will leave our lights up till spring although it likely won’t bother the neighbours like on a street somewhere in the ´burbs.
The picture here is my neighbour down the dock who is also in a River Queen with his Christmas lights merrily lighting up the sky at night. That is a peaceful scene!
It seems that the cute little swans that the boy loved feeding this past spring have grown up in to some BIG birds. And scary too! They have no fear either, ’cause Ma and Pa are still cruising around with them intimidating anyone or anything that gets too close.
With big birds comes big, human sized bird droppings – nice eh?
At various times in life most normal people have to ask themselves, usually while shaking their head, “What is wrong with people?” This is the question that I currently find my self mumbling under my breath. (If you’ve never asked yourself this, you just might be part the subject upon which we are about to embark.)
You see, it is 12:30am – that’s middle of the night here – and the people in the boat across the dock from us are carrying on as if they were the only people within 100 miles. I assume, as they have been drinking since I first saw them this morning at about 10:15am, that they are now good and drunk. There are various loud male voices punctuated by fits of drunken female laughter – none restrained, none moderated. The first thing we had to do this evening as we got ready to go to bed, was close all the hatches and doors to somewhat muffle the carrying on. In the time it took for me to get the front hatch closed I was privy to the most degrading and disgusting conversation that was taking place over which all were laughing uncontrollably. Decorum and common decency being sadly wanted by these pitiful excuses for humans, and the self centered nature of their actions, lead me to believe that they were either brought up by farm animals or like the prodigal have descended to the level of the pigs who’s filth they seem to revel in.
In the past, I would have gone out, begging their forgiveness for my family’s bodily weakness in requiring sleep and to gently remind the farm animals that we, here in the civilized world, would very much like to retire in peace for the evening and would be much obliged if they would keep their grunting and snuffling to a minimum. My wife has denied me the joy of turning the hose on the floating pen as one member of the drunken troop is being rounded up tomorrow and shipped off to parts east of here – an occasion for which we too, by rights, should party and carouse all night long.
So, we wait, hoping beyond hope for the sweet sounds of silence that should result in a few unbroken hours of sleep till the morrow when those of us who have some purpose in life and who attempt to be productive members of society rise to go off to our places of employment (and try not to stumble over the dozens of crushed beer cans that the menagerie will have surely left behind.)
In my research for this very liberating post, I discovered that ungulates are known to eat their own young and often feed on their own excrement. I also found that pigs don’t sweat. And so, on that positive note, I shall end this post and go back to trying to tune out the nocturnal sounds of the swineherd 5 feet away from my bedroom window.
We normally try to get out of town for long weekends, but for this one (Canada Day) we decided to hang around and get some things done at home.
The weekenders are all here!
I just got back from the Marina showers – what a strange mix…
Old, young, skinny, fat, short, tall – all in various stages of undress – bumping into each other, laughing uncomfortably … all this to the cacophony of toots and hoots coming from the 8 toilet stalls. Blech!!
Next long weekend – it’s out of town for us!