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your boat’. He’s an artist with a torch, but once he offered to loan my John some goggles and show him how to weld. That didn’t work out so well. “I took a lesson from that and I’ve


never given my John a heavier tool than a Dremmel. But, one day in Canadian Tire, he escaped from me and bought a hammer drill and he’s been pounding holes in the deck ever since. I swear, whenever he’s bored he drills another four holes in the deck and installs something new to trip over that leaks on us in the rain. But I don’t squawk about drips,” I continued, “although John complains that I’m not the sweet, shy, easygoing ignoramus he married, and I pick fights with the big boys.” “You mean – about boat repairs?” my neighbor gasped. “The same,” I said grimly. “I am


woman – hear me roar, especially when he designed a little stainless-steel box as the base for the anchor-chain-stopper.” “No!” “First I explained that the structure


was flimsy and all 47,000 pounds of the boat might someday be flung against the chain-stopper, and that particular design would fold up like a newspaper, and the best-case scenerio is that we’d be killed.”


“And what did he say?” “He said that Pete the Fluent and


Jim the Welder and Reliable Mike said it would be fine, and besides, he was making the box out of half-inch stainless steel and what did I know anyway?”


“Oh dear – and then?” “So I told him Pete the Fluent and


Jim the Welder and Mike were only engineers and welders and shipwrights and they didn’t bloomin’ well sleep with him, and anyone with the sense of a ship’s cat would be able to figure out that 47,000 pounds can’t be held by a little stainless steel box. Then I had to go to work. “Hire Jim the Welder!” I yelled on my way out the door. “You’ll get some REAL weight out of him. He can’t help himself.’” “Uh huh.” “So John went for coffee at the


Starfish Studio and told everyone I contradicted him all the time and he explained the quarrel. Pretty soon everyone was arguing with everyone else, and when the shouting began, John slipped away and had the base


made up the way he wanted it all along.”


“So what happened then?” “I gave up. It’s not every captain


who can hold steady in a gale,” I said proudly. “But I haven’t plumbed the depths of craziness – I don’t use power tools.” I paused. “But come to think of it, I have flirted with the dark side,” I said slowly. “Last week I used an old electric toothbrush to clean a teak floor grid.”


My neighbor took my hand.


“Catherine,” she said kindly,” I have experience with people with your problem. You and Mike should start a 12-step program. He’ll bring his power washer and you can bring your electric toothbrush. John and I will meet in the next room with all the other spouses and discuss Hartley’s Second Law. It’s time to recover,” she continued gently. “Healing CAN take place – one day at a time.” I sighed and looked out over the Bay.


There, looking back at me was a flotilla of boats so diverse and individualistic as to be unique – as unique as the personalities of their owners. And the


repair and upgrade demands of each boat tugged the most susceptible spouse into a singular craziness. One was obsessed with perfect fiberglass – an impossibility, because his deck cracked every year. One man spent two years of his life fairing his cement hull, then promptly went into denial that his boat was even cement. A third had given up replacing boards and turned his boat around every two years, painting the side closest to the dock and neglecting the other until he thought it was time to turn the hull again. Yes, Cowichan Bay has everything.


We have beauty. We have food. We have sunshine. We have boats. We have enough craziness to make the place interesting.


And that is near perfection. Anyone wanting to read more of


Catherine Dook’s work can buy her books. “Darling Call the Coast Guard We’re on Fire Again!” and “Damn the Torpedoes!” are available at bcbooks.ca or by phoning 1-800-665-3302. “Offshore” is available at Oberonpress.ca


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48° NORTH, JANUARY 2011 PAGE 77


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