Updated: Oct 25, 2022
I was sitting at the bar at the marina recently knocking down a BLT and a beer for a quick lunch. At the other end of the bar was a man and his wife speaking with an older gentleman. The man (let's call him the lawyer) had a lot to say... about many things. And he spoke with a tone that conveyed that he was confident he was correct in all things. His wife just stared ahead nodding occasionally. I could tell she was used to not getting many words in a conversation. The older gentleman also did his best to get some words in but was quickly overwhelmed by the lawyers consistent need to be the authority on all things.
I listened to the conversation as a means of entertainment while I was eating my lunch.
"Ohh, well.. if you want to go down to the Carolina's you first have to.... blah blah blah, on and on.."
"The best type of engine is definitely a Yanmar. There's no beating the reliability, blah blah blah, on and on.."
He also talked at length about the refit of his boat and I got the sense that the tradesmen in the marina made more than a few dollars off of him. He didn't talk as though someone who had done the work himself.
It was all fun and games until one particular part of the conversation. It seemed that the older gentleman and the lawyer knew some of the same people who had boats in the yard of the marina. The lawyer started talking about the derelict boats in the back of the marina, the boats on 'death row'. This is when my hackles got up. Not very long ago my boat and I shared a cell on death row. I worked my ass off to get out of there but make no mistake, it holds a special place in my heart.
What really got me nerved was when the lawyer started saying names of people that he and the older gentleman both knew and he started deriding those individuals.
"Oh, Scott!? Oh my god.. he's been working on that boat for 15 years! That boat will never see the water." said the lawyer.
"Well actually.." the gentleman tried to interject only to be interrupted.
"And what about James!? Him too. He just keeps on tinkering but that thing is a wreck. It cracks me up when people just flounder in the yard. They are suckers. Hell, it's how the marina makes so much money." the lawyer said with arrogance.
What a total asshole.
What drove me nuts is that I found, in my time in the yard there on death row, that I was not the only person in a situation. Different situations, but situations. We all have a story. There were my friends who I became somewhat close to, Matt, Tom, Brian. There were those I never actually spoke to but I saw them and they saw me. Like the guy with the powerboat across the lane from me. Sometimes working on it, sometimes reading, on a few occasions just pounding some whiskey. It was his space. It was an escape. From what I don't know but it's not my place to judge.
For some people, just having the dream and working towards it is the therapy they need. Whether they get there or not is a different issue.. but at least they are in therapy. It's so easy to look at someone in a certain state and make easy assumptions instead of finding empathy. What are they going through? What are their fears? Why are they there?
Mr. Lawyer, you have no fucking clue.
That is not to say that I don't wish all my brother and sisters on 'death row' the good fortune to splash their boats, to fill their sails, and journey over the horizon. I hope that is true for every vessel there. But until that is true, they can dream, and sometimes the dream is all we need to be whole or to simply get us through.
When the lawyer had finally stopped being the authority on all things, the older gentleman said softly, "Well you know, you mentioned Scott. Scott splashed his boat yesterday. He set off south this morning. I guess he actually splashed before you."
"Hmph" was all I heard from the lawyer.
It was the gentlest middle finger I've heard in a while, and it made me smile.
Mike D. is the founder of Sail Junky Magazine. Striving to find more purpose in life, Mike writes and shares about his journey to rediscover his passion for living a fulfilled life, especially through the medium of sailing. firstname.lastname@example.org