Wikipedia’s got it wrong. They say, “Cabin Fever is an idiomatic term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in, in a small space, with nothing to do, for an extended period”. Not… As a northern sailor I know cabin fever. Get it every year about this time. It’s a reaction that takes place when I’m isolated from my boat for over three months with another two months of winter weather to go. Mid February is upon us but there is still thick, hard frozen snow in my yard with more cold weather and snow in the forecast! My 30′ vessel is on her custom trailer covered in a boat yard. I know Cabin Fever symptoms really well. That pacing back and forth in front of the fireplace, which has already consumed far too much firewood with no end in sight. The tired eyes from rereading my favorite sailing books, TREKKA, MAIDEN VOYAGE, WORLD CRUISING ROUTES. Some years I reread all 21 books of the Jack Aubrey adventures by Patrick O’Brian. And then the anticipation, oft near desperate, while awaiting the next issue of Cruising World to saté my fevered hunger. Yep, I got it ~ bad…
Sometimes the only cure is for Catherine to tuck me into our bed and whilst I recover sipping medicinal rum she will read me excerpts from our previous season’s cruising logbook.
“We dropped the hook in the small cove between Hell Gate Island and the towering cliffs of basalt forming the northern wall of the anchorage. The water was calm and taking on a hint of golden from the setting sun. After a long day passage it is almost always refreshing to bring the vessel to a stop. Secure the hook in good holding sand, let out a hundred feet of chain, and take a deep breath in the cockpit. Not another boat in sight. No roads. No houses. Just a crescent, sandy beach bordered to the north by the tall dark cliffs and a small, steep walled, uninhabited island between us and the body of Roosevelt Lake and the main channel of the Columbia River. As the vessel and crew settle to quiet we spy a mother whitetail doe with a near grown fawn moving quietly from their browse under the bitterbrush and into the shadows of a lone copse of ponderosa pines. Canadian geese call in their flight overhead, vanishing into the dark but colorful western sky. As Catherine and I touch glasses in a toast to another evening aboard I note the sky and the Merlot are of the same color and a smile crosses my lips thinking to myself, “we are drinking the sky”.
With that I’ll drift into a pleasant sleep, dreaming of bright sails and warm breezes, a good old boat and well found mate. Secure in the knowledge winter will pass…
|The S/V AQUILA in Hell Gate Island anchorage, Lake Roosevelt, WA. Photo by Foster|
“Never a ship sails out of a bay, but carries my heart as a stowaway.” – Roselle Mercier Montgomery