I got my ass kicked by the Pacific ocean a few days ago. This summer I’m trying to get my fishing act together, sort of substituting the time I’d usually spend running in the hills by getting out in the water. We live on the coast north of San Francisco and there’s a salt water lagoon with a channel leading out into the ocean. I’ve got a 12′ aluminum boat with a 15 hp Evinrude outboard; it’s as small a boat as you can use to get out through the waves. In fact a lot of days I can’t get out when larger boats can. The tricky part (other than getting through the waves) is launching the boat off the beach, which is done by backing the boat trailer into the water with a 4-wheel drive truck. Luckily a neighbor was down there and helped me launch and I made it out the channel and started fishing for halibut. The wind was blowing pretty strongly and I immediately got soaked to the skin from spray. Yeah, no foul weather gear — dumbkopf! I won’t bore you with details, but I got knocked around pretty good for a couple of hours, was wet, cold, and uncomfortable, and watched three other (bigger) local boats doing a lot better. I didn’t get a bite, the wind was blowing the boat too fast to jig properly. I headed back into the beach and had the hair stand up on the back of my head (where I still have hair) when I made a misjudgement and almost got dumped by an incoming wave. The tide was coming in real fast and when I got to the beach and backed the trailer into the water I was only able to load it due to a guy walking on the beach seeing my plight and wading out to help me get the boat on to the trailer. I can’t count the times in my life when someone has come along to rescue me from my own ineptitude. Here’s to the Kindness of Strangers.
Well, I’m not givin up. I keep talking to the local fishermen, learning from them at the same time as admiring their skill. I’m going out again late this afternoon.
It struck me that learning to handle a boat in the ocean is akin to my taking up skateboarding at a late age. Something that’s really difficult, that has its dangers along with its rewards. I thought of Baryshnikov calling the exploring of the untried and difficult as “divine insecurity” (see last posting). It’s when you commit. Getting into the realm of the unknown and unfamiliar, and it’s scary (also exciting) because you haven’t been there before and don’t know what’s going to happen. I love learning new things at this late age.