Monday, November 29, 2010

The Sailor's Hierarchy of Needs - Maslow and Freud get Stuffed

Somewhere in November

Dear reader (if any of you remain).  Please accept that this is written for entertainment and is not necessarily factually sound  and is definitely not a complaint.

From the last post many of you realize that sex while underway is difficult if not downright unwelcome -  by everyone.  But many of you, the men at least, will wonder about what happens on arrival in paradise.  I mean surely the first thing that happens on arrival in that gentle anchorage, with the palm trees and the strong drink and the gentle breezes is restoration of the libido.  Right?

Here based on years of careful observation is the sailor's hierarchy of needs:.


Sailing is a dirty business.  Boats in motion do not lend themselves to the gentle amenity of a personal shower.  Somedays even standing up for 5 minutes is a challenge.  Lost to sailors is that fine hygienic state which infects the standard suburban pillbox where every knob is hit with sani-wipes each time a child passes within 3 feet.  We have been in friends' homes which could be used for operating theatres (with kitchen islands as large as operating tables to boot).   It is not that we are unsanitary but our scale of hygiene is based on the practical or even the achievable.  A sponge bath after 3 days seems more than adequate when the boat continues to surge and ebb with every wave and lateral stability is measured in the closest 10 degrees of roll. 

When achievable showers are not what the landlubbing public might visualize. Wet your body.  Lather.  Rinse.  Do not repeat.  You do not waste water. Water is for drinking and cooling engines.  Everything else is far far down the hierarchy of needs.

When the Budget Committee hits a marina the first hour is spent in the shower.  Hereafter attendance at the shower is mandated daily.

It is clear to me from what I hear while waiting outside the showerroom that showers and great sex have a lot in common.  "Oh, God, that is fantastic" and "Oooooh my God that is so goooood" and such ermerge continuously from the womens shower.


No matter how we structure watches or spell each other off by the end of a passage we are ready for long sleep.  After the couple of days the night shifts are no longer a burden but it seems the sleep deficit continues to grow.  Even in deep sleep part of your mind is engaged, feeling the boat move under sail, alert to any shimmy, shake or sound that signifies trouble afoot..   On arrival the first day or even two are lost in the friendship of hypnos: solid, steady sleep interrupted only for food and washroom. 


Diet aboard a sailboat underway is limited.  Rationing is a fact of life.  You quickly run out of fresh stuff.  Everything down to the daily bread must be made from scratch and somedays there is not enough energy left to do the scratching.  Definitely cruising puts the galley crew through its paces, not only in the extra work of preparation but also the need for originality to make up for the ever increasing holes in the stores - no cinnamon, no basil, no eggs, no chicken...the list is endless and grows endlesser as the passage extends.

Fresh fish is fine but after 3 days of it you really want a bag of chips and some saturated fat to dip them in.

Shortages in galley stores do not result in desperation however.  The ceaseless roll and pitch of the hull sort of takes the edge off everyone's appetite and by the third or fourth day you have enough torn muscles and bruises that your mind is usually not on "what's for dinner".

In the first two weeks out of Halifax Meredith found herself travelling in a lot of cold wet weather.   The Budget Committee was ready for this and there was always pottage on the stove often warm.  Pottage is a cool if ancient term for what is really a "forever stew" - you start with the basics when weather is good: beef, potatoes, onions, carrots, zucchini, whatever.  Make a big batch in the pressure cooker (you know the old fashioned devices your mother used) with a good sealable lid.  The lid is necessary when the pot goes flying across the galley in an errant wave.  You might be bruised but you will not be boiled if the pot has a lid with a stout closure.  Each day, as the contents decline in volume, you add to the pot whatever you have at hand. 

Forever Stew is absolute ambrosia while underway in a seaway and the cook feted as a bloody genius.   After landfall less so.

But then, after showers and sleep and mundane diet are tended to; after visiting the temple of Hypnos and sitting drink in hand, the caress of Zephyrus gently touching your skin, then surely is the time to resurrect the libido?


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