Living on a boat is very romantic.
Oops. Did I write romantic? I meant to write squished. But that can be romantic too! Especially when C and I have a boundless homestead someday in our 50's and are looking back on how nostalgic it all was. Our youth. Our days living on that tiny boat. Sigh. Darling, wasn't it just so romantic?
Hold on, imaginary middle-aged K, you're still 33, living on a 29' sailboat with your boyfriend. It's very much the present.
The interior living quarters of Drakka the Dragon are that of an igloo, a VW bus, or a newsstand in New York City. When you say, "I live on a sailboat with my boyfriend." The response is, "Oh! That's amazing! Good for you!". But if I said, "I live in a walk-in closet with my boyfriend." The response would be more like, "Ohhhh. That's... an interesting choice."
Also it turns out that boats require more of a crap entourage than babies do, so what space does exist is sardine-crammed with pumps, ropes, floats, tubes, bumps, mumps and measles. Technically she can sleep 5, but one berth is stuffed like a cannoli with cushions, sails, and life vests (don't worry, mom!). We have a Dolly-Parton-shoulder-pad sized kitchen, which is called a galley, and boasts two alcohol burners, an ice box, and a sink the size of a six pack. Space for food is limited, so we mostly imagine the exotic groceries and elaborate meals we'd cook whilst we snack on peanuts and some radishes that C brought back from the farm. The bathroom is called the head (does this strike anyone else as a poor word choice?), and is like peeing while wedged in a locker which is actually useful when under way (Imagine using a toilet on a tilt-a-whirl carnival ride and trying to stay put). Showering is another imaginary act, otherwise known as "jumping in the ocean".
The bedroom features the NO-CUDDLE V-Berth, which at first glance seems like it would enfold us in an eternal embrace, but in fact forces us apart by the physics of sleeping in a triangle. The only way we can fit our bodily lengths (ok, who am I kidding - the only way C can fit his long ass skeleton in this sucker) is to lie the lengths of the two far sides. Plus, if someone negligently sleeps in the middle with their head at the entrance, the other, waking in the night to either 1. Pee or 2. Check on that weird noise*, must climb over their head, trying not to mash their ear with a knee or fart in their dreaming face.
*Weird Noises: noun, pl. A spectrum of creaks, squeaks, groans, grunts, shudders and shakes. Have you ever set your ear on someone else's belly and heard the mongoloid opera inside? We are living inside of Drakka's mongoloid opera. Every time the wind varies the symphony changes.
Every time there is a new symphony I lie awake, alert to every unfamiliar peep. That is how I first met Leak. There i was, crunched into my corner of the V-berth (not cuddling), eyes wide as radar reflectors, looking up at the stars through the window hatch. The weather was windy and rainy, and each gust would send a shiver down Drakka's spine or tug at a dock line, causing her whole body to shudder.
"Pssst, C, did you feel that? Is that normal?"
A rubbery squeak wailed on the other side of my pillow, "Eeeeeeiiieee..."
"Ummmm....C, did you hear that? Do you know what that is?"
Ohhh, it's just the fenders rubbing on the dock. Okay. Then a small splat sounded in the cabin. Hmmm...those acoustics are suspiciously different than the splats outside. "Splat!" There it is again. "Splat!" Oh damnitall. I climbed around C's outstretched elbow and quietly vaulted to the floor. "Splat!". There it was, right in front of my feet. A tiny puddle collecting just underneath the solar fan. Curses! I was rummaging around for a pot to catch the drips when his little voice piped up. A bright sound, like what you'd expect to come out of a baby guppy.
I whirled around, looking up, down, sideways.
"Swell night for a drop, isn't it?"
"My name's Leak! I just love your sea creature. She's super. She has so many tiny holes that I can play in!"
I peered up at the rim of the solar fan where water was collecting into shiny droplets. "Ahh!" (What an imp). I placed the pot on the floor below the fan. "Look," I said, pointing, "I made you a swimming pool down here, do you like that?"
"Golly yes. Thanks!"
"You're SO welcome. Have a blast. I'm going to go back to bed now. Goodnight. Feel free to drown."
Next day we sealed the gasket around the solar fan and patted ourselves on the back. The next time it rained Leak fell on top of my head as I sat in the cabin. "Howdy!" The incorrigible little imp had been sneaking in under the portlight. Not to mention the handrail in the ceiling over the galley. Also dripping into the quarter berth. Occasionally even creeping into the corner of the hatch over our bed on really stormy nights.
"Hi guys! Gosh I missed you both. Hasn't rained in a week. How ya doin?"
We groaned in chorus and rolled towards each other, "LEEAK! Is nothing sacred? Even our no cuddle V-berth?!"
"Golly friends, don't ya know I'm an eternal force with physics on my side and a persistence that rivals time itself? Also I'm an orphan and I'm lonely and I sound like a baby guppy. What's not to love?"
So that's how we came to meet Leak.
Below it all is the bilge. A mysterious underland where dark sea fairies mate with seedy kelp gangsters and produce a bastard offspring of three-eyed algae that proliferate and create a colony of swampy murk. A fiberglass boat is essentially a shell. All the fluids, Leak included, that dribble from here and there drain along the inside of this shell and collect in the long narrow channel beneath the floorboards called the bilge. I guess this is normal? Occasionally we flick a switch and an automatic pump sucks the murk out. If we ever take on water in a storm, the bilge is where we go to give our sea dragon some seriously unsavory mouth-to-mouth with a hand-pump and a bucket.
Drakka, like any living man or beast, has her own potpourri of odors and fluids. A shifting menagerie of assaulting perfumes we've come to know. Here are a few:
Mildew Mist - a dramatic and musky cologne wafting from unventilated corners and hidden crevices in which sneaky leaks slowly drip through bolt holes and port lights.
Divine Diesel - a gaseous cloud that emotes from Little Penny and permeates everything in Drakka's entire body. Oh, those clothes that you just laundered this morning? They now smell like the leftover sweat of a crude oil convention.
Head Cheese - not to be confused with the European delicacy, but just as stomach-turning, this is the pungent wave of suspiciously human tang that occasionally wafts from lower cabinetry no matter how much you curse, bleach, and scour.
Sweetsalt - a wondrous and inspiring scent, present with every breeze that glides through Drakka's open hatches. A briny nose tingle that whisks up your nostrils and makes you do crazy things like buy a boat. The one that smells like the dreams of Herman Melville and the burps of Moby Dick.
Speaking of Sweetsalt, above all this glory of a sardine can is the veranda, otherwise known as the cockpit. This is our control center. Our balcony. Our high-class cocktail lounge. Our patio extentionado. It has two long cushions, an enduring breeze, and a view to die for. When we close our eyes chubby baby seagulls hover over with palm fronds fanning our faces, and trained otters bring us happy hour cocktails on silver platters. It's amazing.
We've been sailing this little shell around more and more lately, getting the hang of her jib and the cut of her...halyard? I definitely messed that up. Week by week we find a home for another tool and make a comfort adjustment like sewing a mosquito cover for the hatch or simply putting soap in the bathroom. Is it what I thought it would be? Euuuhhh.... in some ways yes. It is exciting and charming, and let's be honest; fun to casually brag about. It's also way more like living in a garage than I anticipated. I like tools, but living closely (like, sitting-on-top-of-close) with wrenches, hoses, and rigging hardware is less than homey. Limiting water usage and being smelly was to be expected. Smelling like a mechanic's shop was not. It's difficult not to be myopic when you're crammed into such a tiny universe, trying to find your underwear and get out the door for work. Then you stop to watch a squid ink summer thunderstorm roll in, take a big breath and think about how incomprehensibly vast the ocean is, and some invisible emissary of Abeona pats your shoulder and reminds you why you're doing all of this. (Abeona is the goddess of outward journeys which I definitely google searched to complete that sentence. I'm not so clever that I can pull those details out of my buns at poetic moments. Sigh. Maybe when I'm that middle-aged K...)
Next I'm going to write about this gut-twisting, heart-palpitating act we've been engaging in which is putting Drakka down for a nap, or docking. It's terrifying, and I haven't been quite ready to bring it forth in words.
Thanks for reading! Drakka sends her fearsome fire-breathing nuzzle of love out to you all.