A view of Challenge composed of 5 photographs.

Rebuilding a 6-Meter

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It may seem an odd proposition that inanimate object has a soul. I truly believe that some objects derive a soul from all of the effort and craftsmanship of those who created and maintained them.

I have been struck occasionally on waking from dreams during the past few years with the romantic notion about going off to work on a wooden sailboat. There has never been a question about the materials; it was always a wooden boat. These dreams have been, recently, partially realized. Given my complete lack of experience, these dreams seemed somewhat irrational. I've been sailing before, years ago on what was really a dinghy, but had no real training.

One evening in December of 2005, my aunt Kat, her significant other, Michael, and I were enjoying dinner in a brew-pub in Omaha, Nebraska. We were speaking in jovial tones, and Kat asked what I thought about working on their 6-meter wooden sailboat. I consulted my dream for a moment, "I always had assumed that I was on the east coast in these dreams. It seems that I have been mistaken about that part." I had very much appreciated the offer, but wasn't sure how serious they were at that time. About a month later, I posed the question in an e-mail as to how serious they were about having me come to work on the boat. Kat replied, "Jacob, Short version, I was dead serious."

So it begins…
March 31, 2006

The ferry to the islands is a peculiar thing for the uninitiated. In fact, the whole island life milieu is a bit aberrant. Arriving and leaving the island isn't particularly an easy task. It requires stepping on a boat, or chartering a plane, plus an automobile to get you around the island; typically it is a multiple transport trip. I arrived at the ferry point in Anacortes 15 minutes after the most recent boat left for Orcas Island, so I waited.


It came from bleak, barren wasteland of tired tomatoes, limp lettuce, and feeble carrots. It was a bad judgment call based on the overruling of my stomach to make the suspect victuals labeled "garden salad" a part of my own body while I waited at the terminal. Two hours later, I was on the last boat to Orcas, and my stomach ceded its argument about the value of food.

The boat ride was a true transition for me. The sky was quite dark and we passed by large rocks that were somehow even darker. It was exciting, and cold. I spent the hour-long blustery trip on the outside deck.

...these were some type of angry mutant mule deer which were not always dissuaded from charging even by thrown gardening implements.

On Orcas, Kat and Michael picked me up in the Cream Puff, a white 1995 Mercury Sable with fewer than 30K-miles on the odometer. They own one-half share of the car, and their neighbor friends the other. I shared the back seat with the dog, Mira, Kat's Puerto Rican Mutt. Kat spent the twenty minute drive to Deer Harbor turned in the front passenger seat in such a way as to have the appearance of a normal parlor conversation with Michael and I. She foreshadowed eccentricities of island life, glancing to Michael for occasional reinforcement. Michael gazed straight ahead. The night was thick with fog as we drove through West Sound, and he needed to watch for deer as he drove along the twisty island roads. Kat explained that these were not the deer with which I was accustomed. Rather, these were some type of angry mutant mule deer which were not always dissuaded from charging even by thrown gardening implements. Though Kat is a vegetarian and generally kind to animals, she invited one of her brothers to come to the island for deer hunting. After a pause, she added that she would equip him with bag of carrots and a hammer.

Upon arrival at the boatyard, I promptly unloaded my belongings from the car. Having previously stopped for a week at a time in Los Angeles, California and Portland, Oregon, my red duffle bag grew at each stop. The bag eventually forced me to pay overweight handling fees. I jested to Kat that I had started warning parents of small children away from my bag because of my concern of what it may be eating. I heaved it out of the trunk, and the car's suspension relaxed.

Kat pointed out essential bits of information about the living accommodations before we all went for a walk in the dark. We walked a few yards down the road. I could hear the water, but not see it. The road forked, and we walked further along a gravel road which I navigated by listening to Kat and Michaels' voices. It was a deep black night, I was uncertain about anything regarding the territory, and I was tired.

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