Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 3 No. 2 Summer 1981

Nearly two hours later we left the shelter of Magnolia Head. The wind and sea caught us head-on. The first big wave flung us skyward, then plunged us | down, bow slicing deep into green water. Spray flew the length of the boat, । dousing Gail and Alph. She staggered and clambered past the raging engine, Alph scrambling at her heels. She grabbed my arm in both hands and stared up at me in alarm, shouting something. I gripped the wheel, not a little alarmed myself. Spray broke again across the windows and the hull rang like a gong. Round-botomed and keel-less, we pitched like a bowl as we soared and plunged from wave to wave. 1 couldn’t hear what Gail was shouting, but 1 could guess. Since she couldn’t hear me either, 1 shouted back whatever came into my head, nodded reassuringly and clenched my teeth against the next roller-coaster plunge. I’ve been on some wild rides, but till then I was either alone or with some more addled boat freaks like myself, too cranked, crazy or otherwise removed from reality to seriously consider anything so mundane as drowning. Our conviction that somehow we’d muddle through in spite of our reckless ignorance remained mostly unshaken, and rose like the Phoenix when the flame of abject fear was past. If 1 may beg forgiveness for the gross generalization and acknowledge in advance the many exceptions which may be edited in refutation, I believe it is a phenomenon of the feminine half of the human race that they are less inclined than men to plunge themselves in needless jeopardy. Once endangered, they react, like men, with as much courage as their personality contains, but their caution in placing themselves there, though only simple prudence, is often derided as timidity. Men, though inclined toward moral cowardice, have enshrined recklessness as a virtue. I choose to evade response regarding whether or not this is good. Some years later, Gail confided she concocted a litany, a mantra that saw her through that afternoon. While wind and tide conspired to throw us onto the rapid surf at the foot of the bluff and we smashed through wave after wave merely to stay in one place, interminably pitching, yawing, rising and falling ten vertical feet every twenty seconds, she repeated over and over, “ 1will not die seasick.” When this nostrum failed as palliative, she substituted the resolve: “Never again.” At last we rounded the Magnolia light and I put her about. Wind and sea at our backs, we fairly flew past Shilshol, where the small-craft warnings fluttered stiff on the mast above the Coast Guard station, and into the shelter of land. “We made it,” we shouted, and hugged each other. We passed under the railroad bridge proud as Drake returning to the Thames. Gail pointed ahead to a row of huge wooden doors, moss-slimed and banded with steel, that barred our path. “What’s that?” “The lochs,” 1shouted. She nodded, dawning incredulity in her eyes. We’d visited the lochs together on shore and laughed at the madhouse below. As we inched up the canal, the ponderous doors opened, disgorging a small armada of blithe adventurers scampering like lemmings to the open sea. Past us into the lochs streamed dozens of fancy pukemobiles, top-of-the-line showboats that must have been hiding at Shilshol waiting for the wind to drop. They rushed ahead of us, took lines from the loch crew, poured fresh drinks, settled into deck chairs near their varnished teak rails, pulled the scrambled-egged visors of their admiral’s hats low over their sunglasses to protect their bloodshot eyes from the dazzle of brass and chrome about them and observed with cold, disapproving hauteur the approach of our noisy, foul and contemptible craft. Undaunted, I shouted to Gail, “Get up on the bow and take the line. I’ll hand up the loch slip.” “What line? What slip?” “They’ll throw you a line. Don’t tie up, just pass it around a cleat and hold fast. I’ll give you the slip, you give it to them.” “You do it.” “ I can’t. Who’ll run the boat?” “No. I can’t do it.” “Will you get the fuck up on the bow before I ram one of those fiftythousand-dollar extravaganzas up there?” I pleaded at full volume. With a look that only began by protesting the injustice of it all, she crawled out onto the bow. Of course there was nothing to it. They threw a line and she held one end of it. They screamed for me to shut off my engine and I screamed back if I did they were stuck with me, they pumped the lochs full, Gail reluctantly gave back the A girl in a skiff rowed along the opposite shore, gaining on us. I left the wheel and peered over the stern to see if the pro- peller'd fallen off. line and refrained from leaping ashore, and we roared out into Salmon Bay, past Fisherman’s Terminal and under the Ballard Bridge into the afternoon shadow of Queen Anne Hill. We thrashed up the Fremont cut, under the bridge and, as the sun sank behind the downtown skyline, into the bankrupt marina we would now call home. Another fifteen minutes shoving derelicts around till there was room for one more, Gail spending what she describes as the “Worse part of the trip,” back on the bow clinging to Skeet’s tugboat anchor to keep us from drifting away while the wakes of returning Sunday sailors tried to crush her between the hulls, and we were safely moored at the far end of a long cedar log strung along dolphins perpendicular to the end of the dock. ( WORKED as if the boss were watching all the next day and by dark had contrived, from scrounged plywood, a dull drill bit, a borrowed skill saw and a bag of screws, a serviceable galley, table and engine hood, and a bunk in the forecastle wide enough for a double mattress. WE SELL SERVICE! ★ WE SERVICE AND REPAIR ALL BRANDS AND TYPES OF STEREO EQUIPMENT! ★ PRO SOUND EQUIPMENT SERVICED AND REPAIRED * WE ARE NOT SALESMEN. WE ONLY SERVICE WHAT YOU OWN. NER SOUND 2314 S.E. Division STEREO REPAIR po r t ia n a, Oregon 238-1955 44 Clinton St. Quarterly