Posted by: Blue Lou Logan | February 6, 2012

A few islands short of Heaven (Logan’s weekend)

Friday.  I am reasonably flush when, after a week’s administrative delay, the IRS has given me my annual refund.  At work, as Super Bowl weekend approached, we have had a “tailgate” potluck, each cubicle serving snack food, crock pot BBQ meatballs, homemade chili, and so on.  The sports-minded are wearing jerseys; I declare my Hawaiian shirt as “the official jersey of the competitive cocktail drinker.”  When I get off, I drive north to pay rent and come home along the shore of Lake Washington.  There has been no wind all day, but now there are little whitecaps yet no boats taking advantage.  The seed of an urge begins to sprout.

The Dog & Pony:  land of wonder

I’m fidgety, in no mood to give in to the television.  So I head to our local, the Dog and Pony.  Alone and intending to stay that way, I take over one of the big, comfy black leather chairs in the corner.  I have the last pint of my precious Old Rasputin before the keg’s out and move on to Silver City Scotch Ale.  The noise of conversation mingles with music streaming from Pandora, every fifth song seeming to be Led Zeppelin (no complaints).  I tune it all out and head to the waters off Cartagena, Spain, where the crew of the Carpanta in Pérez-Reverte’s The Nautical Chart is finally on the water searching for the lost wreck of a Jesuit ship.  My barmaid, Erin, notices my contented grin when she brings my nachos (hold the jalapeños).  I tell her that this is almost Heaven–oversized chair, beer, nautical fiction, and no worries.  If only the ocean was just out of the window.  Once the third pint is drained I head home, pour the Sailor Jerry, and watch a movie that is less a musical than a philosophical treatise:  Paint Your Wagon.  To pick one random quote from the epitome of rugged nonconformity, Ben Rumson, “God made the mountains/God made the sky/God made the people/God knows why…”

Fun, any time of day

Saturday.  After a massive sleep in, I awake with the roof of my mouth feeling like it’s been brushed with vinyl paint.  In spite of the early signs of a cold, I kilt up and take the slow road to Capitol Hill.  No clouds, no wind…no rain.  Jessica at Rudy’s Barbershop–finger-length on top, #3 on the sides and back–trims months of fuzz onto the floor.  I emerge no longer looking like I’ve been lost in the Roaring Forties.  The cats at Twice Sold Tales are all asleep, but I find a cheap, used copy of A Sea of Words, a book that might help even the novice understand the nautical and medical terminology of O’Brian.  By personal tradition on haircut days, I head to Bill’s off Broadway for a mini pizza and a couple of pints.  This time the Scotch Ale is Boundary Bay.  I nearly have the dining room to myself except for a black man and a black woman; I spy mixing software on the laptop as they nod their heads rhythmically, and I confirm that they’re making beats.  I go back to The Nautical Chart.

Postcard, ca. 1917

Two hours later, I intentionally head north so I can start my top-down convertible cruise of Lake Washington Boulevard at the Arboretum.  I’m thirsty again when I reach Leschi, so I pull off at BluWater.  The masts of the sailboats in the marina rock in complex, overlapping patterns.  Half a dozen black women have taken over the bar.  I have to teach the bartender how to make a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, and the only dark rum they have is Myer’s.  My drink quenches well enough, and I head south at dusk.  Home again, I watch Pirate Island on Barry Clifford’s archaeological investigations of Isle Ste. Marie, a pirate haven off Madagascar.  More on this, dear readers, in a later entry…

Sunday.  I had forethought enough at Bill’s to phone ahead and get myself listed as crew for the Betsy D‘s Public Sail at the Center.  When I get to the CWB about 10:00, two cruises each for four vessels have been fully booked.  Perhaps I am not the only one who doesn’t give a shit about Holy Football Day?  I am greeted by familiar faces.  Cirrus clouds streak the sky, but down below the wind is indecisive, starting from the north, backing to the south, and then going completely dead.  I help the schooner Lavengro carefully back out of its corner moorage.  When my skipper, Pete, aka “Snake,” arrives, we hold off rigging the boat until the wind makes up its mind.  Someone has made fresh whole wheat biscuits.  Lots of other boats are on Lake Union for the fair weather, but they are as still as tombstones.

Betsy D, ready to be rigged

The wind has freshened and decided to come from the north as we hoist.  It turns into a very nice sail.  I’m in my old spot amidships manning the foresheet.  Half way through the first trip I hand it over to a newbie (Vincent?  No, that’s not right.) and teach him the basics before letting the Captain give the orders.  As we head north, off to port I spy a familiar vessel, the Mirus!  “Ahoy, Captain Dan!” I call.  “Lou!” he yells back after a few seconds of recognition.  He has a full, sociable boat and bears away to the northwest.

Martin, what’s-his-name, and passengers

We return to dock and get our second load.  The next batch is chatty, seeming to care more about talking about base jumping than enjoying the cruise.  Martin, my maintenance boss for the Betsy D, having seen that there actually is wind, has come aboard and taken the sheet, while the newbie is getting tips on steering from Snake.  That leaves me at the bow to just listen to the wind and water, carefree.  Landmarks turn into silhouettes, and as I frame a shot of the sharpie with the Space Needle and another boat off to starboard, a float plane takes off.  I time my shot perfectly.

The wind is superb as we make our way back and put the boat to bed.  “Next time, you’re driving,” Snake tells me.  “Have you ever been checked out for the sharpies?” he asks.  “No, not for the sharpies.”  So now I have someone who will teach me how to skipper the boat that started my time at the CWB!  Knowing that the Gorram sports nuts have made every bar in town into Hell, I head home and pop a Ninkasi porter.  And as I blog, one of the finest weekends in many a month winds down…

Essence of Lake Union

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