From the countryside of Quebec, to a frozen boatyard, to the lounge of a 200 year old Adirondack cabin, to my grandparent’s house, to the grimiest city in the world, and back home again–the journey to see the boat was a long one.It started early in the morning in sub zero temperatures as I caught the bus to New York City, to catch another bus, and then another bus. From there I did as best I could for my self-survey, but it was cold. Bitterly, bitterly cold. The wind howled through the rigging and snow drifts piled around as the wind off the water blew frozen bits in a steady direction. Before I left the boat, I sat in the port side settee, leaned against the nicely varnished ceiling boards and closed my eyes. I tried to picture warmer weather. I tried to picture myself, with all of my stuff, and my all of crazy notions, living in harmony within this little vessel. Thirty seconds later I sprung up. I had seen the light. That evening I enjoyed a traditional Quebecois meal of meat pie. A few glasses of tea, and a quick performance on the squeeze box and it was time for bed, as the next day I was meeting the surveyor in the wee hours of the morning. Luckily, the temperature was going to near 45 degrees that day. It’s damn cold in the north country this time of year.
When we arrived in the boatyard the next morning, the wind had quieted and the temperature spiked. Within minutes though, the current owner (who had graciously put me up for the night and offered me a ride to the bus stop to catch home later that evening) slipped on some ice which resulted in an intense injury. He had to call it and retreated to the Canadian border.
The surveyor and I went through every inch of the boat for the next four hours. My toes were about ready to fall off, but I felt like a got an education that was worth the frost bite. When the current owner had to bail, the surveyor said he would drop me at the bus stop. The thing was, I would be stranded there until midnight! I didn’t want to fish too hard for an invite to spend the remainder of the day at his house, so I didn’t. “I’ll find a coffee shop,” I said. “Or a bar.”Turns out, he was heading south where he also has a home and business, so I was able to catch a ride with him to my grandparents house in the rolling mountain range a few hundred miles down the line. A quick stop at his 200 year old house that used to belong to the secretary of the great New York poet Pearl Buck, and we were on the road.
Overall, it would take him 90 miles out of his way total to drop me off there. Not only did that not matter to him, but he knocked $150 off the survey price, and we smoked cigarettes in his flash Range Rover the entire time, talking about boats. I felt like a sponge, thirsty to soak up every last bit of information I could from him during our impromptu road trip. He has thousands of sea miles, many of which were offshore.
So many people don’t take care of their boats, or take care of them wrong. In some ways, talking to the surveyor gave my confidence a boost, as I asked the right questions. It was like we both came from the same school—except he was a near zen master, and me just wee student.
Somewhere in between the highway and the back mountain roads he said to me, “Emily, I think it’s great what you are doing, and I’m really excited for you.”
“Thank you. Wow,” I said. “I’m excited to have you as a part of it.”
I’ll keep him in my proverbial rolodex for years to come.
I was at my grandparent’s house in time for dinner, where my poppy gave me lessons in the art of negotiation, and my grandma advised me to wear a life jacket.Tucked into bed with my aunties playing a rousing game of scrabble, the past 36 hours almost seemed like a dream. It had all happened so fast. The boat, the miles of road, the mountains…