Saturday, March 10, 2007

Visiting the Wooden Woman

Today I did laundry then headed down to Baltimore to visit the wooden woman, aka the Skipjack Martha Lewis. I haven't been to see the old lady since I broke my hand in January, but last Thursday my evaluation showed my grip strength in the broken hand is up to 30 lbs -- a definite improvement over the 12 lbs or so when I started therapy. Captain Greg gave me some easy work: scraping paint from Martha's forward starboard bottom. I am getting to know that portion of the boat's anatomy rather well; I was ripping planks out of it at Christmas, leading to the following poems:

a new year
and new planks
for an old skipjack;
if only the seasons of boats
were as certain as the calendar

winter work
long scratches on
my forearm parallel
the torn planks
of the old wooden boat

Both previously published on the Anglo-Japanese Tanka Society website.

Plus a number of other poems, but they've been sent to Landfall and Streetlights and are awaiting responses.

Martha's starboard bottom was my initial introduction to her a couple of years ago, under Capt. Bysshe. She was hauled out down at Georgetown and I caulked most of her starboard bottom. I'm starting to feel a sense of ownership for that portion of the boat . . .

Today was nice because among various small jobs, I went aloft for the first time. First ride in a bosun's chair, first time 68 feet above ground, and me with acrophobia. I've been wanting to go aloft for a while, but never had the chance. I've hauled the line to raise the captain and mate for maintenance, but having the broken hand I didn't feel qualified to haul Capt. Greg up so he hauled me up instead.

My acrophobia used to be quite horrible, but I've noticed some things about it. 1) How bad it is is related to my stress level. 2) I've been deliberately confronting it to get over it, and I enjoy challenging myself to do things I couldn't have done in the past. Like dangle from a line 68 feet in the air... 3) Plus, Ritalin has the nifty side effect of dramatically reducing phobias. I discovered that by accident. I don't know why Ritalin has such an evil reputation, all the side effects I've experienced with it have be lovely.

Anyhow, I went up and inspected the mast top and enjoyed the view. Martha's mast is 65 feet, but since she's hauled out of the water, add another ten feet to that. I went as high as the hounds, which is about five or six feet below the mastcap. I'll be going back next Saturday to sand and a varnish the masttop and epoxy to death the splinters in the masttop under the mastcap. That should be about an hour and a half of work the captain thinks.

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