“It’s called a bulkhead, Dr. Steve. Bulkhead. Not a wall,” I say rolling my eyes.
We’re aboard the boat of Dr. Steve Cohen somewhere on a river in North Carolina. The boat’s high and dry. It blew aground in the last storm and has been there ever since. Without much of a tidal current, it could be a while until he gets it off. He’s a New York Jew, like me. He’s always feeding us vegan brownies and fermented foods. He’s a revered practitioner of natural medicine, with clients from near and far who come to him when nothing else is working.
But he knows absolutely nothing about boats.
He recruited my boyfriend and a young Mennonite who owns a lumber mill to help him build a sculling oar, because his engine is unreliable. He has to spray it with gasoline to start it. It’s a diesel engine. He says he can, “sail anywhere,” but we don’t believe him.
He’s had this same boat, anchored out in front of a private community, for ten years. He locks his dinghy on shore at the park and recently some community member slathered his entire dinghy (oars, seats, and sole) in grease. To what end I can only assume was send a message to get his boat out of their little development.
No such luck, though, since his boat is still hard aground a week later. And Steve isn’t the kind of guy to let a little grease on his dinghy or a hard grounding prevent him from becoming a sailor.
I (the Jew) am somehow roped into organizing setting up and splicing a permanent mooring for his boat, and Sean (the engineer in the story) works with the woodsman (the Mennonite) cutting and carving the oar. It all seems rather fruitless for a boat that is high and dry, but Dr. Steve (the other Jew) has the confidence, enthusiasm, and endless bowls of soup to convince us. He’s convinced himself, too, that Tow Boat U.S. will be able to pull him off once the water levels are up. After all, they know him by name. So we have to finish his new means of propulsion and his new mooring before then.
Steve has been instrumental in helping me get my health on track. He’s guided me in treating a myriad of health issues naturally. It’s been a long road, but like Dr. Steve says, “If it could be fixed right away it would be called a miracle, not treatment.”
When I asked Steve if we could stay in contact after we left he said, “Of course! We’re Jews!”
As in, we stick together
So even though he’s literally the worst at boats, I’m swamped with work, and it’s time to leave his town as soon as possible–we feel inclined to stay a little longer to help him finish his sculling oar and new mooring. Which will hopefully prevent a grounding of his boat, and another greasing of his dinghy in the future.
As far as getting his boat off the ground, well, that’s in the hands of the tow boat…