The boat is clean, and that’s all I want to say about it.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


  1. This statement refers primarily to deck, cabintop, and cockpit.
  2. The word “clean” does not necessarily imply “pristine.”
  3. This is a forty-year-old production boat that wasn’t always maintained to the standards of an ornamental teak yacht swabbed by a full-time steward, so measures of cleanliness are subjective and should be interpreted in relative terms.
  4. Well-maintained boats are sometimes said to be in “Bristol fashion,” referring to the city of Bristol on the west coast of England which I suppose was known for well-maintained boats. Please note that any reference to Bristol fashion regarding Fortuitous is actually a reference to Bristol, Pennsylvania, which, for most of my life, was known only for having a peculiar odor around its chemical plant.
  5. Would I eat off of it? Probably. I mean, I’m not going to lick pudding off of the lazarette, but if a rogue wave knocked a hot dog off of my plate onto the cockpit floor, I doubt that anything on the outside would be substantially more gross than what’s on the inside, and I find it best not to think about it at all.
  6. None of the above statements should be construed as legally binding, and no warranty is expressed or implied. Ask a doctor if cleanliness is right for you.
  7. Now that you mention it, what is the deal with these helicopters?

Ok, I’ll say one thing about it: I don’t know where these helicopter seed pods are coming from.

What I call a "helicopter": one of those seeds with a papery wing that makes it spin when it falls off of a tree

Known colloquially as helicopters, whirlybirds, whirligigs, wingnuts, and (apparently?) spinning jennys, the canonical botanical reference “Wikipedia” refers to these as samara, the fruits of maples, etc. I get it: the apple doesn’t fall from the tree but these do, evolutionary advantage, yadda yadda, but the closest tree to my vessel is 200ft away, and I can’t imagine them traversing that amount of horizontal distance. I also feel like these should have stopped falling off of the trees months ago, yet I keep finding them. They clog my drains and make rainwater back up, which then gets full of algae and makes the boat harder to clean. The City of Philadelphia’s Reddit has so many people asking “Why are there helicopters over [location]?” that they added a piece of flair that simply asks “Why Helicopter?” I now find myself using the same diction. Why helicopter?

Cleaning the boat took longer than expected and didn’t leave us much time for a sail, but the weather was practically ideal and we decided to at least go out for a quick jog. And then promptly ran aground.

Photo showing the boat clearly between the two buoys marking the channel

Since I already had to break out a map-measuring tool to confirm the distance from my slip to the nearest tree, I can say for sure that I was only 200ft away from the marina—the mere glide path of a spinning jenny. There is a set of buoys that mark the beginning of the narrow channel through Cedar Creek, and I usually cut the corner because there is rarely traffic there, but in this case Natural High was coming in, so I dutifully took a wide route to the green buoy to give them room to maneuver. I guess that side is shallower, and we eased into the mud. It’s always more annoying when you’re being observant and still run aground—we were definitely still inside the channel, and definitely stuck. I couldn’t back us off with the engine. We raised the main and got on the leeward rail to try to heel the boat to no avail, and given that we’d pirouetted a bit on the keel while trying to back out under power, the sail was powering us in the wrong direction. While I was digging deep into my mental bag of seamanship tricks (I briefly considered getting out and walking an anchor across the channel to kedge us off) a powerboater began orbiting us like a wolf nonchalantly circling a deer with a broken leg. He didn’t eat us though, and eventually took a line and tried to pull us off. He wasn’t able to free us completely, but he did get us turned 180°, which allowed us to use both the sail and the engine (in forward, which is the way sailboats always want to go) to free ourselves. It wasn’t the cleanest exit of the marina ever, but at least we already had the main up.

With even less time to sail before having to return for obligations ashore, we cut the engine at the other end of the channel and began sailing north on a close reach.

A clean boat reaching

We sailed past the Fortuitous Memorial Marker, ICW #39, which looked the same as it did after I ran into it in 2017. There was a pair of ospreys on it, who I attempted to communicate with in their silly osprey chirps. They probably sensed from my intonation that I find these noises to be unbefitting a bird of prey, and had nothing to say back. One time a Japanese friend of mine started petting a random cat on the street in Delaware and cooing to it in Japanese. I offhandedly said あの猫は日本語が話せないよ (a mildly emphatic “That cat doesn’t speak Japanese…”) which she thought was pants-peeing funny for some reason. The closest I get to spirituality is knowing that my attitude is unbridled by language.

ICW Marker 39

We continued past 39 to the south shore of Good Luck Point, but were low on time and tacked around to head back. With the wind from the southeast, we were able to reach in both directions along the length of the bay, and settled in for a relaxing sail back. At some point I noticed a Pearson off of our stern and started making more requests for jib trim. Jenn took this as an opportunity to go over reading the tell tails on our jib, and even questioned the jib trim of the boat behind us, which was a good opportunity to go over sail twist and jib sheet car position. He did not pass us.

Pearson off of our stern rail

I’m glad we at least got a brief sail in, since my main goal was to get the boat tidied up. It was, perhaps, a little late in the season for a spring cleaning, but I’m glad it’s done. I could chalk it up to some kind of Farmers’ Almanac reasoning, like “Plant your corn when the oak leaves are as big as squirrels’ ears” or something: “Wash your boat when the helicopters stop traveling seven boat lengths to get into your scuppers.” The reality is that I’d rather be out there chatting with ospreys and fending off Pearsons than spending my weekends detailing the teak with dental tools. For now, Fortuitous is clean enough.

"Prepare to fend off the bridge abutment."

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