As always, Sailing Fortuitous endeavors to investigate the mysterious, the unexplained, the peculiar, the indecipherable, the paranormal, the quasi-normal, the inscrutable, the anomalous, the inexplicable, the mystifying, the stupefying, the supernatural, the semi-natural, the eccentric, the outlandish, the atypical, the weird, the wild, the wondrous, the wysiwyg, the what now?, and the whimsical world of sailing.
(Actually, it doesn’t, but the last entry was about a Ghost Wreck and I can’t write another log entry about sailing around in a circle, so roll with it.)
Mystery 1: It Puts the “No” in “Nozzle”
The thought of dealing with shore traffic on Memorial Day weekend was, frankly, overwhelming, so I drove down in the middle of the night to sleep on the boat. I had not yet slept on the boat this season, which became more poignant when I realized that I had no sheets, blankets, or pillows. I basically reenacted the scene from The Jerk where I defiantly wept that I didn’t need anything except for two sail bags, a roll of paper towels, and a winch handle to sleep comfortably. If I could have achieved REM sleep, I’m sure that I would have dreamed of waking up early and washing the boat. But that was not to be.
Not only was the nozzle of my hose missing, but the end of the hose was crushed, such that it will never accept a nozzle again. The nozzle was no prize—the cheapest possible option that looked like it was made of melted-down Matchbox cars and plated with wishes of chromium—but it didn’t seem overly prone to complete self-annihilation and was certainly extant the last time I was there. The hose was still neatly coiled on its holder, with the destroyed coupling proudly perched on top. Did someone steal the nozzle then salt the earth behind them out of spite? Is this a Paley’s Watch situation where meteorological, volcanic, and tectonic forces improbably collaborated to unscrew the nozzle, discard it, and bend the end of the hose? We can only defer to Occam’s Razor, and conclude that this is clearly the work of a mischievous poltergeist. Those ol’ dock spirits are always up to something, and are probably still annoyed that I crashed into their home earlier this season. The good news was that I had a plausible excuse for not washing the boat. I moved on to other maintenance tasks.
Mystery 2: The Zipper of Euripides
Jenn was on her way, but I had time to do something productive. I turned on some depressing NPR show about the meaning of Memorial Day as background noise in lieu of actual reflection and prepared myself. Somewhere between 6 and 600 years ago, I removed and resealed the portlights on Fortuitous. That job was a nightmare, and after about five weekends of work, a re-up on the main stash of butyl tape, an exploding caulking gun, and a bobo Care Bear with the “poop” emoji on it, I said to myself, “This is good enough for now; I’ll clean that window eventually.” It was time for that eventuality.
Although the window frame was held in with butyl, the glass was held into the frame with silicone. It turns out that when you attempt to wipe away liquid silicone with a paper towel, you’re just opting-in on removing a thinner, more annoying layer of silicone later. I needed to scrape it off with a razor blade. The blade that was in my blade holder was rusty and I wanted a nice fresh one anyway, so I had to go into the deep storage below the cushions for the new blades. When I pulled up the cushions, I found this artifact:
Several facts immediately sprang to mind:
- Given the metallurgy and pattern of corrosion, I assume that this is from a Greek Trireme that was lost in the Adriatic between the 7th and 4th centuries BC.
- This will blow the doors off of current academic research on zipper technology of the Ancient World.
- This object is haunted.
One may ask if it’s possible that this merely rotted off of my cushions. Are my cushions from 1982? Yes. Was the fabric pattern on these cushions out of style at the time they were made? Probably. Has the foam in these cushions largely been replaced by the diatomaceous exoskeletons of whatever lived and died in there for ten-thousand generations? Of course. Were those cushions subjected to perpetual dampness when the windows were primarily funneling rain water into the boat? Who’s to say? As previously established, this is both from Ancient Greece and haunted, so really anything is possible. My high school English teacher taught a series of lessons on Greek tragedies, and given the level of tragedy here, I’m sure that Euripides wrote something about this zipper. Unfortunately, the only thing that I can remember about those lessons as it relates to boat cushions is Mr. Sharon declaring, “It’s like my grandmother used to say about my torn jeans: Euripides, you mendides.”
Mystery 3: The Dread Pirates of the Single Sail
Jenn arrived and we went sailing. The wind was predicted to be around 10 or 12kts from the south, and I didn’t reef down at the dock, but once we were in the creek it was obvious that the predictions were incorrect and I shortened the sail. I was so thorough that I actually went to the second reef at the tack—but not the clew, which led to an unusual and unhelpful sail shape. I suppose we’re still in shakedown mode. I sorted it out and went with the more typical single reef across the board. Wind reports would later show that it was actually blowing steady 20 and occasionally gusting to 30kts.
Few other sailboats were even flying two sails, and we passed them all.
I am endlessly irritated when flying one sail. I don’t know how people do it. Maybe it’s specific to the boats I’ve owned, but I find it unbalanced, slow, and awkward, and only do it under rare circumstances, like when I’m trying to sail slowly or the wind speed has gone to plaid.
There was so much single-sail sailing going on out there, I’m inclined to think that the skippers must have been under some sort of hex. I’m not personally familiar with any film franchises based on mediocre animatronic rides, but the one ghost that haunts us all is the damned zeitgeist. It seems reasonable that this rash of half-slooping could have been a subplot in any direct-to-video Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, including The Least Lustrous Pearl: Orlando, FL or Arr! There be Rubber Parrots! or The Curse of the Relationship from the Rum Diary. For whatever reason, Fortuitous was not affected, and we sailed normally.
Mystery 4: Ignore the Monolith
The last time we were out, I noticed a new monolith on the horizon. If I learned anything from 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s that monoliths come and go, so I didn’t think much of it. But it was still there this weekend.
As we sailed south and I could begin to make out the kite surfers surfing near the Oyster Creek Channel, I noticed that the lighthouse was also missing.
It turns out that Barnegat Light has been entirely consumed by the monolith. Or it’s just under some intense scaffolding.
It sounds like Ol’ Barney is going through a fairly significant restoration and will be under scaffolding for the entire season. That may make trips to Myers Hole odd, but I’m glad the lighthouse is being taken care of. I would have kept going on the supernatural angle of the monolith, but the truth is that I’ve only ever seen the first 30 hours of 2001: A Space Odyssey and don’t really remember how or if it ends. Also, I can barely sprach Zarathustra.
We’ll be back soon with more poor explanations of the morbidly mundane. The mystery continues.