Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The social life...

Instead of writing about winterizing, like I probably should, I've decided instead to write about life in the marina. I didn't take any pictures of winterizing the engine anyway. I was too busy trying to remember all the steps.

So life in the marina.

Yesterday I was hanging out and running errands with my friend Andrew. He had some days off left to take before the end of the year and so we decided to get together and run errands, see friends, do some boat work and go climbing. We come back to the marina from West Marine and Costco and lunch with Andrew's brother, Mark, of the famous MarkandChristine duo. And what do we see at the marina? Why, two people sitting at the picnic table, smoking cigarettes and having coffee!

I jump out of the car to introduce myself. The marina staff is on a two-week vacation and I'm a little more starved for human interaction than I usually am.

"Hi! Do you live here? I'm Allie. I live in that little boat," I say, pointing. "I've been just dying to meet some of the other liveaboards here. I knew there were some, but I haven't met any yet."

I said this all in one breath.

It took a moment for the new couple to digest what I had just said and get up to shake hands.

They, too, seemed a little starved for company.

We engaged in a discussion about space heaters. They examined the one I had just purchased from the West Marine. We discussed the relative merits of West Marine-brand space heaters versus hardware store space heaters versus propane heaters.

And then, in the truly attention-starved manner of all liveaboards I've ever met in winter, we exchanged phone numbers and a promise to meet up that night over a bottle of rum.

The social norms in a marina are not complex. They are based mostly in a desire to meet someone -- anyone -- other than whomever lives in the boat with you. And liveaboards like me who live alone? Forget about it. We're all dying for discussion with something other than a duck.

People come in and out all the time because they travel the world, or the Bay, or they're visiting for a week. Whatever it is. So you meet someone in the boat yard and just end up hanging out. There was a guy in my marina this summer who has since gone to the Caribbean. I let him borrow my hose and he, in turn, checked on me during storms and invited me over for wine and chips. Never mind that he had a daughter my age. We had a grand time discussing charts and navigation. Then there was another guy over the summer who liked to sit on his deck chair next to my boat and chit-chat about boat prices. Once, when I went to get my mail, an older couple, despairing of their taxi ever arriving asked me for a ride to the Inner Harbor. When I lived in Washington, D.C., there were always people I'd met in the bathroom or the laundry room dropping by for a drink or a chat.

I'm no sociologist, but I think it's something to do with the prospect of getting to talk about something you love -- with someone who hasn't just spent a long period of time confined to a small space with you.

So what I'm trying to say is that inviting someone you just met to your home isn't strange at all and I eagerly accepted.

Around 8, I got the call and went over.

Now, what I have neglected to mention is that one of my main points of attraction to these people, besides companionship, was the fact that they have pets.

Not just any pets.

They have two cats -- and a pet squirrel.

So we sat up until 2 a.m. playing with their pets and drinking tea with rum and eating cake.

Life in the marina? It's really not so bad.


  1. This really does need a picture of the squirrel.

  2. I know! I totally fail at taking blog photos sometimes.