Friday, February 21, 2014

How Things Look on the Water

Near the end of my first day aboard the C. Kristy Lee, I learned the difference between being on the boat and being in the water. It was a swift and effective lesson.

For the first couple of months, that was probably the extent of my maritime knowledge. Aside from knowing that I was in the boat, I was Mr. Magoo. I did not know the names of ledges, islets or other features and I certainly had no idea what Pecker’s Goldmine or the Prong might possibly be, and wasn’t sure I wanted to find out.

I slowly became aware of my surroundings and of the limits of human spatial perception when on the water. Things that look close to me or near to each other are often neither. 

Charlie would make the occasional comment about this or that boat in the vicinity. To me, those vessels were more or less identical specks. I wondered how he could tell which was whose. Lobster boats share many features. They’re pointy on one end and square on the other. They have wheelhouses and antennae. 2 or 3 orange people are usually aboard.

In reality, every boat is as unique as a fingerprint despite the similarities. Now I’m pretty much aware of who is around me on the water without thinking about it or squinting.  This is a good thing for a naturally jumpy and inexperienced operator such as myself.

Then there are the buoys. Dazzling and individualized as they may be with bright colors and patterns, they all looked like black spots to me from more than a few dozen yards. This changed abruptly when I got my own. I’m still startled on occasion when I spot one of mine before I can really see it among many others at a distance.

The buoy is much more than a marker. It is a flag of a small independent nation. The colors and patterns represent the boat, the community and the family they’re connected with. Mine need a lot of cleaning and painting. This year I vow to fix my antenna and stick a buoy on at the base. Salute!