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Jeff's Sloop

Updated on February 13, 2016

Jeff's Sloop

I spend the mild, rainy Winter’s night aboard Jeff’s Sloop.

I help Jeff row the black waters in the canoe to get to the Sloop, cocking my right arm at 90 degrees. I crack powerful strokes that utilize the bulk of my 225 pounds— the core element of my weight that obviates any deficiencies of excess flab. It is awe-inspiring to watch our efforts traverse the waterways without undue expenditure.

More than occasional seal spottings make me realize that everything in the vicinity is an appropriate sanctuary for our collective peace of mind. Head bobbings that part the currents seem to affirm our collaborative effort of alignment with the sea mammals—as long as we don’t push them off their slouching perches atop the dock to take their moon-bathing places. Splashing seals propelled into cannonballing is not a wise displacement to the sedimentary beasts, nor a particularly easy undertaking. No, dislodging them is not an option without several months of weight training and scratch-resistant, protective wear. Besides, why?

The Sloop is anchored alone, an eighth of a mile or so off the Sausalito shore. If necessary (and if I can brave the freezing temperatures), my practically pregnant stomach can probably stay afloat long enough to make it back to shore freestyle, with the help of my slapping arms and flailing calves. Jeff has the perfect setup for a once and future romantic rendezvous with a mermaid. (None present this night.) Two train-linked, bedroom corridors below the deck and above the waters gather once, future and now buoyant voyagers all around the insulated love palace. Peripherally-lit San Francisco skyscrapers and glimmers of the Bay Bridge contrast with eight, vertical levels of Sausalito blocks embedded into an embracing hillside. I wear a life jacket until boarding the Sloop, but that impermanence is the finality of my safety precaution.

The sporadic, night-time rain leaks into minor crevices onto the slightly dewey bunker. Even though the interior cabin shields us from downpours outside, there is no fire extinguisher onboard and my cell phone’s juice is spent. I am going nowhere, as usual!

What happens if for some reason there is a fire/or multiple leaks, the ship begins sinking, and we must get the hell out of there so that we both do not burn and drown at the same time?! They say a captain always goes down with his ship, but does he/she have ultimate choice regarding the extent and finite nature of the plunging? (Please read Jacque D’Artichoke’s memorable essay called “The Sea” that contrasts his notions of an onboard writer with Jack London’s infamous captain in D’Artichoke’s book of 87 essays, Sporty Reflections of a Court Recidivist.)

Will the unspectacular canoe serve as an implausible escape hatch en desperation’s route? Will there be a mad, double plummeting upon the unassuming, tiny craft, capsizing it and rendering the two of us upside down, heading downwards hurriedly in the chilling bay, paddles and all?!

Before embarking on the canoe to arrive almost penniless on the bay’s largess of freedom, we fill up canisters of water for the overnight. I have the foresight to bring my useless medicine in my computer case, where my laptop is luckily 60% charged without need for WiFi. However, I don’t bring a toothbrush because I have no way of envisioning that I might be voyaging this evening. (How many of us usually do?) Against my better judgment, I bite the saliva bullet and use one of Jeff’s spares.

Being Shabbos, Jeff reads the week’s parsha. It is more memorable singing shabbat shalom on the deck in jubilee while gazing at the multi-block high, enclave of Sausalito that is on the safe side of the Pacific Ocean’s storms. (The unforgiving and hardly forgiven wraths of liquid ranging from unassailable waves {a surfer’s bummer} to untetherable tsunamis ravage the western side of Sausalito’s land mass. They oft are alluded within the sea volumes at Corte Madera’s THE Book Passage.)

On the eastern edge’s inlet, more seals bob their heads up and down as they speed past oblivious humans whom might otherwise salivate for mammal flank if they are hungry enough to chew on the blubbery and mammoth, marine marvels. And if the folks find the wherewithal to snag the quickly exiting bobbers...

Four times, I go out on the deck because nature calls during the night. It is a good excuse to enjoy the wildnerness’ serenity afterwards. I piss a swooshing arc off the side of the Sloop. The bubbles from my steamy urination simulate a small scale, warming of the seas, reminiscent of global abandon.

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