The Geezy Sailor
As we stack decades we all realize that on a good day life is a humbling thing. As we age stuff happens on a daily basis, and we are constantly reminded of how limited we are in moving our bodies into contorted positions as we once did - when we were ahem, young. For example, in my 40s, and 50s, I could easily crawl under my cars and rig a
quick fix/permanent on my muffler while wrapping Tiger Tape to patch a pesky hole that would signal my beater machine was coming in hot. Then, I’d rig a coat hanger to keep
the muffler from dragging and to help secure said Tiger Tape. A part of me loved jury rigging stuff rather doing the simple thing by maybe just having a mechanic do the fix. Nope, god forbid I do it the easy way and have it done correctly. Let me tell you something, Yankee ingenuity is a real thing and my Yankee ancestors would haunt me if I actually did that. “Fix it yourself,” I hear them whisper when I’m confronted with a car or boat problem.
My dad was a master of creative fixes and I adopted his old-school ways. Like father like son. My little brother Pat and I did our dad proud. My little kid brother loves rigging
stuff, too, and takes pride when he shows me what he’s cobbled together. He gets all puffy, sometimes. After the aforementioned muffler fix was done I’d roll and squirm from
beneath the beater truck, van or car problem du jour and gingerly hop to my feet as swiftly as a gazelle and be on my merry way. My cars were always breaking; however, in those days nothing hurt: knees, back, and shoulders were impervious to any kind of discomfort and I was always up to the task. Ah, the freedom of youth. Captain Steve
Kimball told me one day, “Joey, it seemed like every time I turned my head, you were under one of your old Volvos with a hammer.” This is how many of us rolled at the ferry docks. We all had beat-up rigs, and I can’t remember anyone who had a solid ride. I remember Kimball tinkering with a motor scooter in the freight shed on his knees and
bouncing back up when the fix was completed. Captain Steve Kimball was nimble and I’m sure he still tinkers with his motorcycle. But, he’s not popping to his feet.
A surefire way for me to be humbled these days is to sail my boat alone; especially when I acknowledge that I still have muscle memory, but of course without the same muscle mass and strength that I once had in my chipper and spry days of crawling under cars and humping freight at the docks. Hey, it is what it is for all of us but we still must charge ahead if we are able and just keep moving. (I recently acknowledged this truth in a recent column regarding E-Biking and becoming a Geezy Rider.) These days I’m a Geezy Sailor and I’m still in the game; however, at age 72 my boat works me like a pack mule even in light 10 to 15 knots of wind. One of life’s absolutes is that we will lose it if we don’t use it; therefore, I do what I can every single day to stay loose, limber to keep my jab working. Moreover, I’m a guy who simply has to use his stuff whatever stuff it may be. I can’t stand the thought of owning things like a sailboat or a bicycle if I’m not using the things as much as possible. It never made sense in my youth and it surely makes less sense now. Again, those damn Yankees will haunt me if I don’t use things until they break or wear out and must be tossed. “Sail your boat, ride your bike,” they whisper—every day.
My aging and stiff body reminds me of my limitations every day. As an aging sailor the first thing that I must be mindful of is wind awareness. This is easy for me because I work for the ferry company and wind direction and velocity are always part of the daily narrative at the docks. Therefore, it’s not a big deal for me to consider the weather facts of knots and wind direction, and how it will incrementally whup me into submission, and humble me by having me hobbled upon leaving Newport to return home to an eye-rolling and head-shaking wife. (I am no stranger to the head-shaking wife.) In these seventh-decade days this wind awareness always becomes a thing to consider when I’m doing some early-spring sailing days, or overnights in May and June, as weather can be fickle in these months, and as stated can, without question whup me into submission
as it kicks my ass. A Geezy Sailor will most assuredly be thwarted if said sailor is not prudent and willingly leaves the harbor while knowing of powerful and shifty winds.
The ways of Aeolis the wind god of Greco-Roman times must be respected. I don’t want to get all literary on you, but hey, look what happened to our boyo Odysseus. The wind god humbled that dude of many twists and turns. Just sayin.’ Odysseus had an unbridled ego but it was no match for the gods of winds and seas, Aeolis and Neptune.
As I crunch out this maritime observation as a Geezy Sailor, I’m noting that there is a light south wind in Newport Harbor that is perhaps 10 knots. I know that this breeze
will continue to air up as noon approaches. I’m writing this column from a cool and comfortable geezer-friendly vantage point in town, and I can see my Shed/Reverie lazily shifting on her mooring. Given what I know about today’s weather intel, I’ll put the spurs to my boat for a few tacks to windward out to Beavertail, and plan a nice downwind sprint north of Newport while listening to a new Audiblebook I just scooped titled “Bleak House” by Charles Dickens. Where I end up today is of no importance; going sailing is what is important. One thing I do know today is that if I end up in an anchorage for the night, I’ll have some good grub, a good book, and a peaceful night from the circus at the Port of Galilee. Finally, if something needs jury rigging in my Shed/sailboat, this Geezy Sailor will be on task smashing something and then pulling out the duct tape as my Yankee ancestors whisper, “Well done, son, well done!”
To Windward, kids!