Friday, December 16, 2011

Dock Walking

A favorite pass time of sailors, we examine how each boat is secured for the winter season or against summer storms. We study how she is outwardly equipped reach distance places, either in comfort or safety or both. Is she a racer, compromising comfort for speed, or is she more tame? Is her design emotionally moving or comforting, or just functional? Has the owner molded her to his purposes, or do the changes simply follow the latest fashion or build-up first impression? Perhaps he thinks these things are "done" by  knowledgeable sailors and he aspires--perhaps successfully, perhaps not--to be one. Is the boat new, or immaculately cleaned, or instead well maintained but with a suggestion that utility is valued above impression? We look for errors in seamanship or rigging. We search for things they've done smarter than us, differences we might adapt ourselves. In each case we weigh our boat against what we see, not perhaps in grandeur, but at least in execution of the details designed purpose.

It's said the master comes to resemble his dog. Is it like that with boats? Clearly we work to remake the boat to match our own image of what a boat should be; the changes, at least, reflect who we are.

Do we examine people in the same way, mall walking? Do we rap on the planking to see if she's is sound? We can, with a few careful questions or at length in conversation. Are they cautious people, following the crowd? Do they explore life's possibilities as far as they want or can?

“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: ‘holy shit… what a ride!’”              
George Carlin

Do we spend our time at the mall, collecting fabric signs that we can hang on our body to proclaim that we conform or that we don't conform... but we we bought them at the mall anyway, so what do we think of that? Do we focus on learning new skills and trying new things or stretching what we know, or do we take in the evening movie and enjoy our adventure safely, efficiently... vicariously? Do we look at other people to see what we like in them and what we can learn from them, what we can do better in ourselves, or only to compare fashion sense? Are we always dock walking?

I say that whatever compelled that first caveman to size up the male competition and leer at potential mates, to consider what body decoration or dance would make them more intimidating or more attractive, that force is still alive on the docks, even when we are walking quietly, alone. We are the product of our genes. The things I enjoy most--climbing, sailing, cycling, my wife--all appeal to the inner caveman. I'm good with that.

It explains why the utilitarian aesthetic of my boat doesn't bother me. It explains my utilitarian wardrobe. My wife, of course, would point out that this all makes a statement. Women can interpret anything.


  1. Drew, I am about as new to PDQ's as possible for have just signed purchase contract for PDQ36LRC Forever Young in TN. I just stumbled across your blog (mine is and find it entertaining and informative. Question:how can I register for the PDQ bb? Perhaps its no longer active as there is no security code to copy when trying to register. BTW my x-brother in law and good friend, Paul Clancy, sails the bay often and has written numerous articles for a magazine which may be Chesapeake Bay Magazine (not sure of the name). Cheers, Lynn Hall