Who Am I?

My photo
A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

22 October 2006


Sunday, October 22, 2006

I have discovered something about boats: I don't like them. I've been here in Guanaja for two months now, either driving or just in a boat every single day. Consequently, my experience level quickly went from zero to...well...whatever it is now. I am by no means an expert boat driver. But I'm not bad. So far I've only run aground once, and that was in some marsh, and the boat backed out fairly easily.

The Bay Islands of Honduras are out in the ocean, about forty miles north of the nearest land. Guanaja is almost completely surrounded by a coral reef. This diminishes the waves somewhat, but there is almost always a stiff breeze blowing from the east/southeast which can churn up the water inside the reef like you wouldn't believe. Which is where I live and drive.

Since there are no roads here in Guanaja, they use boats for everything. Moving vans, school buses, fishing vehicles, delivery trucks, taxicabs... But ironically there is little pleasure boating. People never say, "Hey, let's go out on my boat!" as if it's something special and unique. They get in the boat to *go* somewhere. Kids learn how to drive boats almost as soon as they can walk. It's as natural to them as riding a bicycle - which few down here do, actually. There is a word for a person without a boat down here: Stranded.

Back in the 1960's there was a television show called "The Everglades." It chronicled the adventures of a fictional Park Ranger who mostly did his job in a boat but, as I recall occasionally patrolled in a bubble-type Bell 47 helicopter. The show had one of those cheezy, '60s theme songs:

In the Everglades there's a way of life
It's a way of peace without stress or strife
There's a fellow there who protects these rights
Lincoln Vale in the Everglades
The man on patrol in the Everglades

But they'll fight for rights and the homes they've made,
Simple grass-roots people of the Everglades
There's a natural danger and the man to face,
Lincoln Vale of the Everglades
The man on patrol in the Everglades
Movin', ever movin' through the Everglades
Movin', ever movin' through the Everglades...

The tempo of the song conveyed my idea of what life there must be like - smooth and easy and gliding through life adhering to the natural rhythm of the earth. Movin', ever-movin' through the Everglades, Movin' ever-movin' through the Everglades. That catchy little riff has stayed with me for forty years.

Because of shows like "The Everglades" and "Flipper" (also set in south Florida), I imagined boating to be carefree and fun. Imagine my surprise! It's not. The locals don't seem to mind the constant crashing up and down through the waves; I dislike it.

Also, boats yaw and slew through rough water, producing movements that are very unnatural to a pilot. Aircraft need to fly through the air "straight"; that is, with the nose aligned with the direction of travel. Even with a stiff crosswind, the aircraft is always in what we call "balanced" flight - not skidding or slipping. Boats are influenced by the water and the wind, and they often move in uncomfortable ways. At least to me.

However, this past weekend has been smooth and calm. It's almost as if nature herself knows it's the weekend. The water may not be glassy-smooth, but it's close enough. I've been tooling around, singing to myself, "Movin' ever-moving through the Everglades. Movin' ever-movin' through the Everglades..."

Oh, if it were only like this all the time. Maybe I might grow to like boating.

No comments: