February 25, 2002
San Diego, California

Messing with Boats, Part II: a Woman's Perspective

by Lois                       


There is a thing that comes over men when they give up the corporate life to become cruisers: it's called messing with boats. If it works, it is a good thing. If it doesn't, it could signal the end of a couple's cruising life. Men need to mess with boats because boats break-a lot. And if they don't learn to fix them, and to enjoy the process, they will be frustrated in paradise, with no place to go, and-usually, no-one to come to their rescue.

Over a year ago--in July 2000--Gunter wrote Messing with Boats, Part I; he didn't realize at the time how prophetic his desire to "mess with boats" would become. I wrote the beginning of Part II when we were docked at Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta, but never did get around to posting it. Now that the fixing discussed in Messing with Boats, Part III has become very necessary to get Pacific Bliss the rest of way around the world, I think it's time to fill in the gaps.

We had arrived in Nuevo Vallarta after a hair-raising night beating against the wind and the waves rounding Cabo Corriente. We had been up all night, Pacific Bliss bucking like a bronco and Gunter and I each taking turns on watch, while the other stretched out in the salon. Sleep had been impossible until we arrived in the calmer Banderas Bay that morning. But by the time we called the marina and were directed to a slip, we were dog tired.

We were lucky enough to arrive on a Wednesday, however, and that was the night of the Weekly Cruisers' Potluck held at the end of the docks at Paradise Village. We were invited as soon as the lines were cleated, so there would be no sleeping for us. At the party, it became apparent that the guys were deep into messing with boats and the women were heavy into shopping. Three of the cruising couples who were there for the season had gone together on a used car. For the first time since we had sailed away from the south of France, I could get around on land without using taxis and buses. Life was great. I became soft and spoiled. After a couple of days, I tried to woo Gunter into the land life to get a much-needed haircut, but he was too busy messing with boats and negotiating for new treasures. (A key part of the morning VHF cruiser's net there was called "Treasures of the Bilge.") His latest find was a cruiser who was willing to sell his dinghy wheels. (We had not-so-fond memories of struggling to pull our dinghy high up on the sand at low tide in El Coco, Costa Rica while two couples half our ages--obviously landlubbers--sat idly on the retainer wall, watching us huff and puff.) Hitching a ride in the "cruiser car," I left to get the lumber the very next day so that Gunter and Jimmy could build an apparatus to attach them to our deprived, wheel-less dinghy, Petit Bliss. I returned to the docks, lugging the boards, to find Gunter happily seated on an overturned soup pot, shaded by one-half of a wooden dinghy turned upright, while Judy, co-owner of Quest, was busy giving him a haircut!

Gunter gets a haircut on the cruiser docks.

"Messing with boats" took on a more serious tone in Magdalena Bay during the Baja Bash. We had rounded yet another windy cape, Cabo Falso, on our voyage from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego. At the perfectly appropriate moment, right as the wind god reached the peak of his fury, tossing angry seas hard against the rocks at our lee in ink-black darkness, the dinghy line broke. The dinghy hung there vertically, motor and all, at a 90º angle to the sea. I could envision the other line breaking and Pacific Bliss racing toward the dangerous rocks to rescue a rapidly escaping dinghy. But, on the recommendation of David, our broker, Gunter had installed a backup line that held the dinghy in place, all the way to Mag Bay. Here you see our Baja Bash crew, Bix, and our esteemed Captain Gunter, butts in the air and tools on the table, surveying the situation they will attempt to fix. And here you see them formulating a plan to mess with our dinghy as it limply hangs there.

Butts and Tools.
Gunter and Bix fixing the dinghy.

Back safely in San Diego and deep into the warranty repair list, "messing with boats" took on a new significance. That is when I first accused Gunter of having a mistress. Evidently, not content with our home on beautiful Mission Bay, at the heart of "America's Playground," he paid her a visit almost every day. Knowing that his mistress was Miss Bliss, I couldn't get too concerned. Actually, I love her too.

We explored that subject at a dinner party we held one night, in which six out of eight were cruisers. The non-cruisers asked why a boat is always a "she." One couple has a Silicon Valley engineering background. "What do you mean?" one asked the woman. "A boat is a neutral object. It is neither a he nor a she."

"It's a big piece of fiberglass, with gleaming teak, and wonderful electronics, and can be beautifully designed, but it is definitely an It," her husband added, warming to the subject.

"A boat is indeed beautiful; it has nice lines and curves and warmth. It is a she," one cruiser added.

"Each boat has her own personality, her own feeling; she puts up with a lot, and takes care of people. A boat is a she," confirmed his wife.

"What do you think, Lois?"

"I think that a boat is a she," I responded. "When you go into her cabin, she envelops you like a baby in the womb. She comforts you. Once you get to know her, you develop a trust in her and begin to talk to her like a person."

"And the two bows of Pacific Bliss are like breasts," said Gunter, concluding the conversation. Her sides are smooth and sleek, yet rounded. She's simply beautiful."

It was then that I knew that "Messing with Boats" was more than Gunter's avocation. He is in love.

Contemplating Cruising by Lois Joy, San Diego, California July 9, 2000

Messing with Boats, Part I by Gunter

Messing with Boats, Part 2 by Lois

Messing with Boats, Part 3 by Gunter

Messing with Boats, Part 4 by Lois

The Anchor Story, By Lois and Gunter




Log and Journal