Swing Shift

When I go to work it is always the night watch.  Swing shift runs from 3:00pm to 11:45pm.  When I come home after eight hours of assembling cabinet doors for the rich and famous I grab a snack and cruise the internet.  These days I focus the time on blogging.  No time to hangout at Netflix now a days.  Although I may sneak over to Woodenboat magazine’s forum.

I like to lurk in the design and boat-building sections.  There are some very interesting and knowledgeable folks building boats and some mostly just dreaming.  I can relate.  I have been an armchair yacht designer for decades.  I started in on the Yacht Design Institute correspondence courses back in the early seventies.  I loved the drafting aspect but couldn’t hack the math.  Also, I was young and not very school oriented.   Life happened, the way it does, with other opportunities and priorities intervening.   The idea of becoming a naval architect and marine surveyor went the way of all pipe dreams.

My father used to tell me to always do my best.  ” Even if you have to dig ditches, dig the best ditches you can.”   Then he’d tear his hair out over my inability to absorb algebra.  The YDI course didn’t quite fly but it was a springboard for a personal pursuit that lasted the rest of my life.  I take equal interest in studying the lines of a clipper ship or a classic Herreshoff sailing yacht.

As much as I love the wind and spray, it is a sound vessel with an easy motion and the white wings towering overhead that create the true thrill of sailing.  Even if the air is crystal clear and the sky stretches unshadowed from horizon to horizon the sailor’s world is contained within the boundaries of a vessel’s bulwarks.  His relationship to the sea is filtered through the planking.  The hiss of a foaming quarter wave speaks nothing but truth.  “He who has an ear let him hear!”

Hear and remember  the last time you made a fast run down the bay.  Recall the sight of well built vessels leaning on the wind showing their  finely curved hulls.  When the sun goes down the pictures left in your mind can get you through the dark mysteries of a night watch or even the long hours of the swing shift.

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