Safety on Board

Safety on Board

I didn’t get any pictures because I was crying. Tears streamed down my face, making it impossible to see anything. I sat on the bench, holding Skye, trying to clear my eyes, while Geoff moved around the galley, trying to put out the fire.

I’d just refilled our alcohol stove, something I’ve done every other week for the last three years. You pour the denatured alcohol into the canisters then carefully wipe up anything that might have splashed out. The I put the canister back into it’s slot, shut the top of the stove, and used the long lighter to light the stove, ready to cook lunch.

I put coconut oil in the pan and proceeded to chop the onions. It was a bit smokey, but I assumed something was burning off the bottom of the pan, reached up and opened the window above the stove to vent the smoke. Mistake. My eyes were now watering, far worse than due to a mere onion. And there was a lot of smoke.

“Geoff, something is wrong,” I was starting to cry now. I hadn’t yet processed what was wrong, but I did reach over to turn the stove off and found the lever too hot to touch.

“I’ve got it, take Skye,” he said, handing me a 1.5-year-old who was mid-I’m-starving-feed-me-now meltdown. He grabbed a kitchen towel and got the top of the stove off. When I’d closed the lid, some of the alcohol had spilled and the inside of the stove was on fire – barely visible alcohol flames. Water and the towel wouldn’t put them out, so Geoff grabbed one of my trays and slammed it over the stove, cutting off most of the oxygen. The fire went out quickly. And slowly, the smoke and my eyes cleared.

“Where’s the fire extinguisher?” He asked. I pointed to the fire extinguisher, mounted undisturbed right next to the galley and within easy reach. “Good to know.” We sat there for a moment, letting the last of the smoke clear out.

“Well that could’ve been bad.” Agreement. We clean up and go out to eat lunch.

At dinner, I’m nervous lighting the stove, but it lights up fine and cooks exactly like it should. It’s not that I’m not aware of the dangers of living on a boat and more than people are aware of the dangers of driving or flying. I just don’t dwell on them all the time. I try instead to be proactive in planning for safety (available fire extinguishers, swimming lessons for Skye) and anticipating possible situations. Because when something does happen, it’s never what you expected.

The marina manager knocked on our boat the other afternoon and Geoff poked his head up to talk to her.

“I saw on the webcam that your daughter fell in the water.” She said. Geoff stuck his head back down and looked at me, confused. I nod.

“She was looking at the birds in the sky and not watching where she was going,” I confirm. By the time I got the two steps back to her, she was floating on her back, holding onto the dock, and looking annoyed.

We’ve been working on dock safety. Paying attention to where you’re going, laying on your belly to look at something in the water. My concern, thanks to the swimming lessons, is not her falling in the water, but what else is in the water with her – big, heavy boats. Mostly I carry her up and down the dock, but as an independent toddler, she wants to do it herself. Walk by herself, carry her own towel or bucket. And when it’s calm, I let her. I’ve taken the time to make sure she knows how to float and swim and I have to trust her to walk two steps ahead and do it herself sometimes.

Accidents will happen. My goal is to be prepared enough that the impact is minimal, nothing more than a bit of excitement and a story to tell.

Non-violence and the War on Wasps

Non-violence and the War on Wasps

For the last few months, I’ve been trying to study the philosophical underpinnings of yoga. This has lead to much good debate between Geoff and I, particularly on the subject of non-violence. He prefers not to kill, even bugs, unless necessary (define this!?) whereas I am of the opinion that if they come into my space, I have the right to defend myself (much as they would do if I invaded their nests).

While in the mountains a few months ago for lifeguard training, I was building a fire when a wasp flew out of the wood at me. I ran to the neighbors and got some wasp killer spray. The next day, a huge wasp was waiting on me when I was about to get in the shower. I felt guilty about killing the wasps as after all, their only threat was simply being wasps and me not wanting to deal with getting stung.

This weekend I was digging some tools out of the car and Geoff came up and said “let’s go.” We hadn’t been planning on going anywhere, so I was confused. “There’s a wasp nest in the steering podium.” Ugh, we’d been about to disassemble that, so having a wasp nest in the middle of the cockpit was not good.

Yearly, we have wasps take up residency in our sails and Geoff refuses to spray wasp killer on the sails and so goes up heavily dressed at night, grabs and crushes the wasps nest, and throws it in the water. But the steering podium could be sprayed down, we just couldn’t easily get the stuff into the podium. So Geoff would stand protected in the boat, beat on the podium with a stick, and then spray anyone who flew out.

In the interest of continuing our philosophical discussions, and because I still felt a tad guilty about the wasps in the mountains, I asked Geoff what he thought. Keep in mind this is the guy who escorts spiders and roaches off the boat while I’m climbed in a corner squealing. He said he did it because he didn’t want to run any risk that Skye would get stung and her safety (we have no idea if she’s allergic to them or not, but we do have appropriate treatment available) outweighed their lives. I’m still struggling with this, but it’s a fun philosophical idea to discuss.

Non-violence appears to be a continuum and different people fall on different places along it. Some don’t eat meat, others drive hybrid cars, others try to live as green as possible to be in harmony with their environment. Each of these and many other aspects requires it’s own separate debate, too much for a blog post, but wonderful conversation for when you’re sitting in the cockpit with a drink in your hand and yet another wasp flies out of the steering podium.

Guests on Board

Guests on Board

“Well what kind of hotel room does she want?” A friend of Geoff’s from grad school was coming through the area and wanted to stop and see us. 

“Non-smoking and not $250.” Oh yea, it’s the week of the 4th. Just about everyone is on vacation at the beach. 

“Why doesn’t she just stay with us?”

“You call her and ask. She’s got her daughter with her.”

And so we had our first overnight company on the boat. The daughter was a little disappointed we weren’t planning to “sleep in the ocean” preferring instead to stay at the dock and plugged into AC. But she didn’t want to leave, either, even when we told her that staying meant boat chores such as scrubbing the bilge. 

The extra bed folded out and worked well, but I need to figure out where to put all the extra cushions so we aren’t tripping over them all night. 

As I was cleaning up, I pulled one of the throw pillows out of the cubby and it had a giant wet spot on it. 

“Oh no, we’ve got another leak.” First initial reaction. Then I realized it was on the bottom of the cushion and a smell confirmed that no, it just say all night on a Clorox wet wipe. 

We played tourist all day and did about an hour at the beach, but the solid row of umbrellas made it really too crowded. We all filled up on junky beach food and stopped by the Gay Dolphin for beach gifts, flip flops, tshirts, and shark tooth necklaces. By the time we were headed back to the boat, the kids were zonked and the adults weren’t too far behind. Successful company entertainment complete!