Friday, March 23, 2012


Having your boat sink is very much like the death of a loved one.  You're grieving, but you have to deal with a lot of logistics and legal hassles.  I have been through both in the past eight months.

My beloved Blue Note sank sometime between 7:30 am and 9:30 pm on Thursday, March 8th.  I found out about it Friday morning when I was awakened by a call from the marina.  Stage one of grief: denial.  It couldn't be MY boat.  It must be the abandoned boat right next to it.  I had just been out on my boat the previous weekend and it was fine.  WRONG!  Sure enough, my boat was sitting on the bottom of the marina.

With a human death, one has to make funeral arrangements.  With a sunken boat, one has to arrange for salvage.  Both are expensive and have to be paid for up front.  We stumble through both because these are not situations we encounter often.  Both funeral directors and salvage divers are very helpful and solicitous.

Then you have to deal with the regulatory agencies.  Instead of Social Security, a sunken boat requires dealing with the Fish and Game Department and the Coast Guard.  They arrive in packs, much like hospice employees.

Once the boat is up and floating and the autopsy has been performed (My boat sank due to a combinations of a head valve left open and a failed float switch on the bilge pump.) then there is all the stuff to deal with.  Much like cleaning out the home of a loved one who passed, this is where the second stage of grief appears: anger.  How could anything be so wet, heavy and oily?  How could there be that much stuff in such a small space?  Moving wet boat cushions is like wrestling dead sea lions.  It makes one swear.  The fact that it rained steadily throughout the process was not helpful.

The next stage of grief is bargaining.  If only we had checked the head valve before leaving.  If only we had tested the float switch.  The sinking of a boat also requires more practical bargaining with the insurance company and everyone whose services you require as you slowly (OK, not so slowly) hemorrhage money.

Then comes depression.  Your boat is where you go when you need to get away from the stresses in your life.  Suddenly, you have a whole series of new problems and that escape is denied you.  You start to think of all the places you have been and all the good times you've had.  For me, the depression really set in when Scott had to go up to Seattle and I was alone with the overwhelming task of cleaning all the muddy, oily gear and sails.  Thankfully, my friends pitched in and helped.  Times like these are when you learn who your friends are.  I am, fortunately, blessed with great friends.

For me, acceptance is still to come.  I know this is the catalyst that will eventually spur me to sell my other boat and buy the boat I really want to go cruising in someday, but I'm not there yet.  Grieving takes time.  In a week I'll be heading off to Italy.  A change of scenery will be good for me.  Frankly, I'm ready to leave boats (and death) behind for a time.

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