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Graphics by Hannah Welch
Graphics by Hannah Welch

Sailing with Charlie: Perfection

It’s a funny thing about absolutes but people are always trying to quantify them. I mean if something is perfect, that should be it. But, of course, nothing in life is. The word is an enigma. ‘Almost perfect’ shouldn’t exist. It’s the same as ‘exactly.’ It can’t be almost exactly; it either is exact or it isn’t. Take being pregnant; you either are or you aren’t … not ‘very pregnant’… catch my drift? We often smile at the oxymorons all about us. Can a Caribbean ferry service really be called ‘Speedys’. I used to think the Jost van Dyke ferry When was appropriately named; more in line with laid-back island life. So when someone says, ‘I’m looking for the perfect boat’, you have to smile and say, “Sorry, but all boats are compromises.” This one may be beautiful; this one may be sexy; this one may out-perform that one. In other words boats are rather like women; you’ve got to have one but none are perfect!

Whoops! Sorry ladies, same applies to men!

The other day Charlie had a group of fun-loving people aboard and they were on a fairly tight budget. They were also pretty green about the gills. They had chartered a well-used catamaran for a month – and they expected it to be perfect. The charterer had arranged several different couples to come down to the islands for a week each and sail with him to offset the expense. He had probably promised them an exhilarating, trouble-free sailing vacation. Charlie went through the inventory and operational equipment with meticulous care. He covered almost everything, (whoops, there it is again) but it’s impossible to cover everything in an hour or two. When the sails went up there were two small tears. When a tropical shower drenched the boat, a couple of leaks were found. When the engine room was checked the water separator on the primary filter was found to be dirty. It was cleaned right away but oh, what a calamity! The charterer was dismayed, “Everything’s supposed to be ready”.

A few days later, during an engine check, the float switch on the engine room bilge pump was found to be faulty – another calamity, “We’re going to be delayed for hours, we’ll be demanding money back.”

Charlie sighed inwardly and explained patiently that since there was no leak in the engine compartment, there was no immediate problem. Then he continued that if a serious leak developed he could disconnect the salt water engine cooling intake and use that as a temporary pump, “Problem solved!” said Charlie with a grin as he high fived the worried neophyte.

Next day Charlie left the boat after their five day initiation and explained, “Enjoy the sailing, snorkeling, the rum punch, the sunsets – don’t sweat the small stuff, the boat’s almost perfect!

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