Tales from Geezer Boatworks

by Paul Browne
Geezer Boatworks

Cruising with the
Resident Love Goddess

This note is just between us married men. Boats and women, they’re like oil and water. One of them is mighty slick, the other essential, but it’s hard to make them mix. Nevertheless, like Italian salad dressing, the results are wonderful if you can get them together for a while.

The Resident Love Goddess

The other day the Resident Love Goddess and I set off for a little cruise to Gulfport. The weather cooperated and we had lots of fun poking around sheltered waters, anchoring in gunkholes and barbecuing on the aft deck. For me the best part of the outbound leg was the great fly battle, in which the RLG became unhinged over several flies that invaded the cabin. See, the Icebreaker Danielle is too slow to outrun the newer high-speed model flies. "That's it!" she declared unilaterally like George Bush would if he could, "This boat is now a no-fly zone!" and she took after them with a rolled-up magazine, swatting and swinging this way and that. The flies took it as great sport. She'd chase one out the side window and it would fly back around the stern and come in through the aft cabin door. Then she'd chase it out the aft door again and it would come over top and through the forward cabin door and land on her swatter, just to tick her off. Meanwhile, one of his comrades would buzz continuously around her head, giving her the raspberry through all 360 degrees.

Well as we all know, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. So the RLG resorted to chemical warfare, spraying "Ant and Spider Killer" all over the cabin. Rather unsportswomanlike, but that finally did the little varmints in. You could hear them - buzzzzzz, bubuzz, bbuzz, bz, b, b. Then they nosed in – vrrrrrrr crunch. The RLG declared victory. Just as well, I was having a tough time staying in my seat, cheering for the flies and laughing and ducking and choking on my drink and the bug spray.

Gulfport is a very small old-fashioned Florida retirement city engulfed by St. Pete's. I like it. It’s right on the Intracoastal Waterway, and there are lots of places to anchor. They've got a brand new courtesy dock with big slips, great for wandering downtown. The municipal marina is very nice, and the rates are reasonable. We pulled in about 2100 hours, chewed the fat with the neighboring boat for an hour or so, and then hit the sack. There was a party going on at the fenced-in yacht club next door. No bugs and the temperature was just right, so the boat windows were open. Round about midnight we hear fire trucks wailing, just an awful commotion. Next morning, the fellow on the neighboring boat reports that in the middle of it all he heard somebody say with glee, "It's on fire! That boat's on fire!" Must have been quite the party. Must be quite the classy yacht club.

After breakfast we hoofed it over to a nautical flea market. I had my eye on a cute little one-horse outboard. The thing winked at me as we passed. “Over here, big boy,” it whispered, “I’m just what you need for your dinghy.” I was sorely tempted, but the Love Goddess talked me out of it. She said I’d never outlive the teasing I’d take from our sons. I suppose she was right; no doubt they could row quicker. On the way out we came upon a vendor trying to start a motor. He was pulling on the rope. “Brrrrr, brrrrr, brrrrurp, brummm,” the brute muttered. Then it coughed a couple of times, sputtered for a few more revolutions and died, stinking up the joint with gasoline fumes and smoke. As we walked past, the vendor was sputtering himself, something about how it ran just fine last time he had it out, and he started yanking on the cord again. T’was ever thus with old outboards.

Afterwards we strolled downtown, past trees covered with fragrant blossoms that looked like pink lilies, past smiling neighbors preparing their gardens for the spring. Downtown there were some tents set up in a nice waterfront park with crafts, paintings and jewelry, that kind of stuff. The RLG started to nose around, but she fled when she figured out that the affair was put on by a lesbian club of some sort. I felt safe enough, except when we walked by the booth run by the womens’ tackle football team.

Back at the boat, we schmoozed with the dock rats a bit. That’s something that’s incredibly easy to do from the foredeck of the Icebreaker Danielle. Then after we chowed down on some lunch, we set out for home. The bay was really calm and the Resident Love Goddess got a little sleepy. So I strung the hammock on the foredeck and she climbed into it. The poor lass was snoozing soundly, when from out of the blue we got hit by a goodly-sized stink pot wake. You guessed it. She wasn't centered in the hammock. One good flip and she woke up looking surprised with her keester bouncing on the deck. She took it very well. Just laughed and said, “I fell off my perch. Did you get that guy’s number?” Then she crawled into the hammock again and went back to sleep! What a gal! Real sailor material there.

But the RLG got her own back at the end of the cruise. On the last night we anchored in MacKay Bay at the mouth of the Palm River. It was a calm and peaceful anchorage, close to home. When we awoke in the morning we were fogged in solid. Couldn’t see 50 feet. So we waited an hour or so. What’s that old saw?

Patience is a virtue,
Possess it if you can,
Seldom found in woman,
And never found in man.

Well, after reading the same magazine a couple of times, I couldn’t take it any more. We were out of grub, and I was getting hungry. All we needed to do was find the mouth of the river, and then we could grope along a bank until we hit the marina. It was just off to the east a bit, somewhere. So up I get and I start to pace.

“You’re getting itchy. What’s going on?” the RLG asked. “Going to take you to Denny’s for breakfast,” I answered, firing up the engine. “But you can’t see the nose in front of your face,” observed the RLG, “Why don’t we just wait for it to burn off?” “Can’t wait any longer,” says I, heading for the anchor rode, “You just relax there, and I’ll get us home.” Well the Resident Love Goddess knows when resistance is futile, so she decided to treat the proceedings as entertainment, as long as nothing too dangerous was about to happen. I hauled anchor and pushed the Icebreaker Danielle into gear. We felt our way eastward at an idle. It took less than three minutes to run aground. “What’s wrong?” asked the RLG as I stumped through the cabin to get the boat hook from the poop deck. “We’re umm, well we’re stopped for now,” I answered. “We aground?” she inquired shallowly. “Sort of,” I said. The RLG squelched a smile and went back to her book. “Anything I can say to help?” she asked helpfully. “I got it,” I said, and I stuffed the gear astern and began poking at the mud off the bow. “Tide going in or out?” she asked tidily. “I dunno,” I answered cleverly. “Didn’t your Sea Tow membership expire yesterday?” she asked finally. “I dunno,” I answered, “There. She’s free.” I took the boat out of gear and let the breeze blow us into deeper water. “Too bad this part of the bay is off the edge of the charts,” the RLG observed precipitously, “or you could use the GPS. Too bad we don’t have radar, or a GPS with electronic charts.” “Right,” I said, “Wait a minute…Let’s look at the track page.” And I punched up the next page on the GPS screen. Sure enough, there was our outward track, burned into the GPS’ little brain, all set for us to follow back home. And there we were, just a little to the south off the beaten track, enough to put us aground on the point. I looked at the RLG suspiciously. Did she have that one figured out already? If she did, her face didn’t betray it. I swear Shipmates, if I live to be a hundred, I’ll never figure out all her tricks. Women are such wily creatures, and they’re so tight lipped about their methods. We men are really just putty in their hands. Most of the time we don’t have a clue about what’s really going on.

So I put the boat into gear again and got us on the straight and narrow. And feeling in command again, I rang the ship’s bell, as is nautically proper in fog. That’s when the RLG decided it was appropriate to have a little fun. She came out onto the foredeck. “Feeling better Captain?” she said. “Hey, I was only off by a bit,” I said. “Isn’t that what the Captain of the Titanic said?” she asked. Ding, ding, I rang the bell again. “Hey, there’s a train,” said the RLG. You could hear it crossing the railroad bridge ahead. “He’s answering your bell,” said the RLG, “I’m on the track he says, where the hell are you?” And the RLG peered into the gloom intensely, then she collapsed into a deck chair under the influence of a giggle fit. “Ooo, I’m having a great time,” she said, “Make me do this again.” I rang the bell again - ding, ding - and the RLG giggled until we were tied up in our slip.

Take my advice Shipmates. Women don’t naturally like boats. You have to set things up right. Don’t trouble her with diesel fuel and dirty bilges. Do all the preparatory cleaning and provisioning yourself. If you can cook at all, then do all the cooking. Do all the dishes. Pamper her like an honored guest. Sail in the very best weather you can get, plan lots of shore excursions, and above all don’t scare her. With a bit of luck, your boat will turn into a time machine. For a little while anyway, you’ll see the years fall off your wife, until that carefree, fun loving girl you married is aboard with you. When’s the last time you saw that girl? Would she recognize you now?