I step aboard the 52 ft. Catamaran. It’s unearthly; part-spaceship, part-skyscraper. I can’t see my own face, but I’m pretty sure that it looks just like the face of an animal that froze inside a block of ice- a lot of fight mixed with frozen flight. A man named Carlos shows me around; how to check the engine, the generator, the water-maker, the air conditioning. There are doodas everywhere. I’m taking notes and pictures, and everything is electric, and nothing is controlled from a central location, so I make diagrams too, then my head slides right off and Carlos almost accidentally steps on it.
I’m all squished and I beg Carlos for the 45 ft. cat, instead of this beast. He says that I gotta talk to his boss. I run up to the Dream Yacht Office with Carlos trailing behind me. It’s hotter than a polar bears armpit out and I’m drowning in water of my own making. If I could rip all my clothes off, I would. The boss is going over charts with a bunch of men, and I don’t care what they think. I’m all shook up and my words are hot, “Please give me the 45 ft. boat. Little bitty me can’t handle the 52! It scares the ever living daylights out of me.” The group of men look at me like a fish skeleton just fell out of my mouth, like the only thing that I know how to read is the phone book, like I got a lollipop brain, and they want to laugh, I just know it, but they can eat my cantaloupe for all I care.
Carlos says a bunch of stuff in Spanish to the boss. He’s talking about me obviously, and all I can make out is “female captain” and he says it with one eye brow raised and his lip curled like Elvis and it looks as if those two words don’t even go together in Spanish. The boss looks at me and says, “Can’t do it, the 45 has some problems. You will love the 52, trust me, it’s an upgrade.” I’m hell bent on not loving it and quite positive that the boat sails like a tractor, so his words do nothing to transmute my thoughts.
I suck it all up and Carlos and I go back to the spaceship-skyscraper-tractor. He shows me how to start the engines and how to handle the electric throttle. There’s a delicacy to it, if I throttle up too much and too fast, then it will break and I will end up covered in seagrass on one of Saturn’s moons. The boat is so computerized, it’s practically a robot. A lot can go haywire. An irreparable-haywire-nightmare. We keep inventing things that are smarter than us, that think for us, that live for us, but only a handful of people know how to actually fix them. Do you like the thought of that? I don’t. I don’t want a world run by robots with complicated wiring and systems that fry when exposed to the elements! If you ask me, there was a line somewhere between the Model T and the Tesla that should’ve never been crossed, and I don’t know where exactly that line is, but we’ve already crossed it and gone way the heck past it. So, sit back and buckle up and pray that you and your robot don’t end up at the bottom of the lake when it rains too much.
Carlos and I hoist the main at the slip. This is not my first rodeo…it’s just my first time in the ring with this bull. The mast touches the Milky Way and to hoist all I need is my big toe to control the main halyard wench, and to be an octopus. Not just an octopus, but an octopus with ten extra tentacles- that’s possible because there once lived a 96-tentacled octopus and its tentacles looked just like tree roots, 96 shoots shooting out everywhere!
The boat is rigged all wonky donkey. It’s got three reef points and two lines for each reef- one for the tack and one for the clew- versus one line that runs foreword and aft. I’ve never sailed a boat rigged like this and I don’t dig it. Going up, you gotta constantly free all six of the reef lines from any kinks. Going down, you gotta pull them all in at the same time, otherwise everything gets twisted or hangs loose. It takes me, Carlos, and five other people to drop the main. I look at Carlos, “How do you expect me to do this on my own.” Carlos says, “I have no idea, you need many, many, many people to crew this boat.” There it is. The freaking truth. I say, “If only I could just get an octopus to sit on my face.” But that didn’t come out right and I don’t know what I meant to say. Everything is fuzzy right now.
Part of the main halyard is busted and about to break. I point it out. A monkey is sent up the mast. There are lots of jungle sounds. The creatures are restless. Bananas are falling. Vines swinging. Before I can say Jack Robinson, a new halyard is installed.
It is now 6 p.m. Carlos and I have been doing this boat show-and-tell since about 2. Four hours of my life, guzzled then crushed. Alida dropped off all the food and went out hunting for more. There’s fish in the freezer and flies in the galley. The boats a mess. So is my head. I’m all over the map. Everything needs some sprucing, but the guests have arrived and there’s no time for that. I ring out my face, straighten up, and pretend I know how to fly this spaceship-skyscraper-tractor right.
Keep my cool. Keep my cool. Keep my cool.
“Hey y’all welcome aboard,” I say. A motely crew stands before me. There are three gals, about my age, who know each other. They’re all dolls. There’s Jen a.k.a Boom. She’s a tad bigger than air with a personality as spectacular as a hot air balloon. She works for Facebook and plays among the clouds. Then there is Marci a.k.a Nurse Tequila. She’s an ER trauma nurse and her job sounds more entertaining than an episode of Law and Order. She once attended to a meth addict that chewed the skin of her own hands! Chewed them right down to the finger bones and then ate some of the bones, after hallucinating that she was crawling with bugs. Took the lady three drugged out days to do all that damage to herself. Marci shows us a picture of the gals x-ray and everything! Then there is Parriss, and if that city was a human it would look just like her. Her legs don’t quit, and she’s very regal, and wears beautiful gold jewelry, and lounges in white linen robes or bathing-suits or both, and works for, get this, Tesla. I don’t dare tell her about my longing for the Model T. After the ladies, comes the lawyers. They don’t know each other, but their names are the reverse of the other- David John and John David, and both are in their 70s, and both love the sea, and both have worked for some big wigs. One was Nina Simone’s lawyer, among many notable others. I learn that John David is a swell sailor, has his own catamaran and everything, so all the drips of me that I dropped are crawling back towards my body and my bubbled hysteria is subsiding.
All of them, plus me- a sailboat captain from Arkansas, and Alida- a chef from Italy, equals five witches and two lawyers. And I don’t know how we all ended up here together, but I know that everything is as it should be and I cannot wait for the journey. New places, new faces!
At sunset we sit on the bow of the cat and talk about what we’ve come here to seek; sea breezes, suntans, sea lions, salt splashes, sunsets, and sea caves. I’m here, because I pine, I pine, I pine, every inch of me, for the sea. I’m here, because I’m a water sun. I’m here, to let my spirit settle. I’m here, because in order to get closer to myself, I gotta get further from everything else.
We each pull a goddess card from a traveling tarot deck. I pull one that says something about needing help and leaning on prayer and calling down the Virigin. Tonight, I’m gonna sleep like death. Tomorrow, we set sail.