Breakwater News : Settling back in
After a decade of returning from my annual immersion into the gentle self-sufficient agricultural community in the Andean coastal region of Patagonia, Chile, I suppose I have become somewhat accustomed to the shock. The only thing that has remained a constant over the years is my reuniting with my home aboard Crowflite, wherever I secured her for the winter.
This year I returned with Laura, my bride of one year, our having been married in the campo of Chile last year, to the boat in Woods Hole. Crowflite, a 1966 Pacemaker Sunliner, had been secured in the care of my long-time friend, Buzz Harvey, at the small marina he has maintained in Eel Pond for as long as I can remember. Laura and I stepped aboard in early March with ice on the pond in the dark of the afternoon and started a fire in the stove.
Throughout the winter, I had been getting updates from Carol from the Gannon and Benjamin office about the cold and the time off Ross and Marty were taking for the cold and the start of the new boat contract that was progressing slowly because it was so cold. Sometime in February I got an email from Ross who said I better get back soon because there were plenty of people looking to work on the new boat that was getting started in Mugwump. He said it was cold.
Throughout our summer in the southern hemisphere we had been dealing with our own challenges. The recent volcano had left many of our friends from the coastal town of Chaiten homeless and our own home in the valley downwind inundated with volcanic ash. Throughout the summer, I worked building a house with my friend and neighbor, Hugo, while Laura did all she could to maintain a clean home in what proved to be an unending battle with the pervasive ash. We learned a lot about what is important. Hugo and his wife, Rosita, had already repopulated the herd of cows and bought more sheep. There was a gaggle of geese, a flock of ducks, a yard full of chickens, and the pigs were going wherever they pleased. When it rained, the air was clear. After a few days of dry weather, the slightest wind or the passage of an ox team would stir the ash and leave it hanging in the air. The water that came out the glacial mountains all around us was a comparative trickle. But to these hardy mountain folk, life was grand...just different.
So the first Monday in March, Laura and I boarded the 7 am boat to return to Martha's Vineyard and my first day of work. It was cold. But as we crossed the moat in the early morning first light I felt I was coming home. In Vineyard Haven there were the stalwarts, the winter boats, just as I had left them, what seemed only days ago.
Laura headed for the library to commence a search for work. I returned to the shop on the Lagoon.
I enjoy being the first in the shop in the morning and today was no exception. I pulled my tools out from below the bench where I had stowed them three months ago and arranged them on the shelves. I was contemplating the 29-foot sailboat before me - stem, keel, transom, and the beginning of steam bent frames - when Marty came in. He looked at me as if he had seen me last night.
"Hey dude." Pure Marty.