I ran across a quote this morning by Admiral Chester Nimitz and it prompted me to write this post, which I had already been contemplating.
“A ship is always referred to as “she” because it costs so much to keep her in paint and powder.”
I agree with his statement whole heartedly. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I just want people to better understand the life of a sailor. And I’m not calling myself a sailor, either. I have very little experience other than the Thursday night races where we help crew a boat and doing a little light cruising with some friends. I will be though. Alabama is temporary, as we are here to make improvements on Pepper. I’m eating this life up, so far!
The first one to wake up in the morning, which is usually me needing to use the head, breaks through the tiny spider webs that magically sprung up across the boat overnight. It’s not a big deal but defiantly noteworthy. We sleep with the companion way open because we are constantly in and out during the day and closing it doesn’t help cool the boat down either. If you have to go a “different” kind of bathroom then you crawl out of the cockpit, slip on your flip-flops and walk to the office. There are tons of tiny crabs on the dock that all scurry around, trying to squeeze themselves through the first gap between the wood on the dock that they can find large enough. It’s funny when they try half a dozen spots before quickly disappearing below the pier. The garfish are also fun to watch in the morning. We see a lot of the same ones everyday and they don’t try and hide.
Getting ready to “paint and powder” the boat each day, as Nimitz suggests, consists of brushing my hair, maybe, and teeth, absolutely. Back in my previous life, I used to wake up and take a hot shower first thing. Now, it’s mandatory to shower before bed just to get the salt off my skin from the intense Southern heat. Half the time I throw on my bikini and shower with a water hose on the pier. Hell, I’ll even sit down and shave my legs on the dock. I do walk to the office a couple of times a week to take a real shower, like I was doing the first couple of weeks, until I loosened up. Thanks to Pat, I have a nice little shower kit for my travel size bottles. That’s all I need.
I swear by my tiny Lululemon wardrobe because their clothing is extremely comfortable, cool and dries really quickly. I usually throw on some shorts, a tank-top and some sunscreen. I haven’t painted my own face since before we moved here over a month ago. I don’t see the point anymore. I’m actually thinking about throwing all of that icky stuff away but then I think well, there might be a special occasion. After all, I’m still a girl. Before we left Texas, I probably threw out hundreds of dollars worth of beauty products. At first this was very difficult but not having room to store products on Pepper forced the drastic downsize. Looking back, I don’t know why I thought I “needed” to bring 5 bottles of lotion. You don’t need all that crap.
Back to the quote, I have often wondered why boats are typically referred to as “she.” Turns out, there are dozens of myths and stories about why vessels are referred to as females so I picked two of my favorites to discuss. An old sailor might tell you, “Like a woman, a ship is unpredictable,” but that’s pretty sexist if you ask me. I still laughed. Another one suggests that by giving your boat a woman’s name, she will take on a protective role and look after the crew like she would her children. That’s probably a more likely truth.
So my first thought after reading Nimitz’s quote was, “Hey…but I’m sill a girl too.” As I described, living a board feels a lot like camping. It’s very true that we are spending all of our resources on Pepper. I can’t go to the mall on a shopping spree anymore because my closet is only a foot and a half wide, plus, there are things Pepper needs first and foremost. Repairs and parts are expensive and she still needs a bottom paint job. Like Pepper I have seen some big changes in myself over the last month but I’m still a girl deep down who enjoys a hot shower and a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. I wouldn’t give this life up for anything though. We’ve worked to hard to get to this point. I can’t wait to see what the future holds and the places we’ll go. I’m a lucky girl.