Stroke of Genius

Every dock has at least one ambassador.  They are the first to greet you when you arrive and the first to tell you how you can do what you are doing better.  The Dock Ambassador is generally a Liveaboard who is always around,  has a finger in every pie, knows every corner of the marina, and remembers how it used to be before everything went to hell.

When I moved aboard at Pete’s Harbor, Augie the Orange Cat was the first dock rat to greet me.  He stepped over the body of an eviscerated duck, which he had presumably been snacking on, to say hello to the newbie.  We later had battles about puddles of pee left in my cockpit and on my cushions, but he never failed to greet me warmly, even after I got a dog (horrors).  I was recently informed that the Age of Augie has passed.  He was found stretched out in the sun, apparently sleeping,  in one of his usual favorite spots.  Good old Augie.

Kuma the Dog was our first visitor at our current marina, followed shortly thereafter by Human Ambassador E.  Kuma inspected our boat and Austin carefully and then moved on, apparently satisfied that we were within recommended specifications for a decent neighbor.  E stuck around to tell me how I could become a better one.

Recently E and I were told by the yacht club manager that we are “ideal liveaboards”; we keep tidy boats, we take our boats out, we watch out for the community, and pay our bills on time.  And here I thought we were just loiterers and loafers.  This compliment is the first indication I’ve had that I am in succession to the throne of Dock Ambassador.

E has been acting strange for about a week.  His usual eloquent and verbose explanations of the right way to do things were conspicuously absent and he could not be prodded into responding to the most pointed of teases.  And I’m afraid I did tease him, asking “cat got your tongue?” and “why are you wearing your pants inside out?”  E has been known to be bellicose and curmudgeonly so it was not completely out of character for him to turn and walk away in a snit.  We Liveaboards respect each others’ right to be grumpy whackamoles and so this deference prevented E’s community from realizing he was in trouble for at least a week.

Finally it was clear that E had had a stroke and he is now receiving excellent care at a nearby hospital.  He is not fearful or in pain.  He has been deluged with boaty visitors and seems a little stunned at his popularity.  He has no next of kin that he cares to name, but when the nursing station asks if we are his family, we all say yes, of course.

And this is what I love about this boating community.  We may drive each other nuts on a daily basis but when needs arise the group mobilizes.  It is not a far-fetched idea to me that at some marina somewhere someday I’ll be that curmudgeonly Dock Ambassador living stubbornly and independently alone on my boat.   I aim not to be anyone’s burden, but I also hope for the collective affection of my boaty family in my time of need.  It’s a good family and I’m proud to be a member.

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