It’s been raining since we got home to Seattle. The trees in our backyard are bare, and the world is solid gray, with a hint of evergreen. It’s a little gloomy, but it makes me think happily of Christmas.
What a change from the Carolinas, where we left behind a landscape of bright blue water and sky, accented with green and warm tan.
At Bock Marine, we left a bright spot of Christmas red on the landscape, in the form of Flutterby, on the hard for the winter. She’s right off the waterway, so there’s a fabulous view from the deck, 10 feet up. I had to stop and watch every time a giant phosphate barge went by, which was several times a day — they’re so wide, they seem to stretch from one bank to the other.
The boatyard is fascinating, full of boats and equipment to be curious about. Kenny Bock owns the yard; his father owned it before him and built workboats there. Kenny’s soft-spoken, but he knows boats, and everyone listens when he talks. There are probably a hundred boats in the yard, some for sale, some in storage for the winter, and some just out for a quick bottom-paint job.
The most interesting boats are the projects, some of them active, others abandoned.
Near the entrance, where visitors arrive by car, there’s a field full of these abandoned sentinels, silent boats marching across the landscape. Folks in the yard call it the “field of broken dreams.”
Closer to Flutterby, there are many active projects, and we were lucky to meet one of the owners right after our haulout.
Dan is working on a steel Roberts Offshore 44 that he’s been building for 11 years. Funny Farm is rigged and about ready to go in the water. From the outside, she looks complete, with a charming lamp shining in the pilothouse. But the interior is barely begun, just a single berth and a counter with a hotplate and lots of open space.
Dan welcomed us to the yard and gave us a ride to the nearby convenience store and restaurant in his big red tool truck. We sat in the yard lounge eating steak and cheese sandwiches and sharing stories. I found myself selfishly hoping that he wouldn’t be launching his boat too soon — he’s a great neighbor.
On Saturday, we finished most of our layup chores, and I began doing my prairie dog imitation, popping my head out the hatch every five minutes. I was eagerly waiting for my brother, who was driving down from Raleigh to spend the day with us and take us back to the Raleigh airport.
When he was an hour late, I rolled my eyes and assumed he was lost. But after two hours, I started to get worried. I called his home, but there was no answer. Had he had an accident or a breakdown? Our cell phone seemed to be working, but he didn’t call.
Finally, three hours after he was to arrive, he called to say he hadn’t left. He didn’t sound like he would be able to come.
What to do? We were in the middle of nowhere in a boatyard with no car, spotty phone service, and no internet. And two tickets from Raleigh to Seattle.
Luck was with us, in the form of Dan, who just happened to be driving back to Raleigh that evening in his big red truck. It was a miserable rainy night, but the three of us had lots more stories to share. The four-hour drive went quickly, including a stop for dinner in Goldsboro at a well-known barbecue joint called Wilber’s. I indulged my craving for pork barbecue, turnip greens, and that uniquely Southern delicacy, sweet tea (pronounced swate-tay).
When we reached Raleigh, I was befuddled by the fact that my brother was still out of pocket. Without looking at the time (it was past 9 pm), I called an old friend, Pat. He left his warm, cozy home and drove across town to rescue us from a MacDonald’s, where Dan had been keeping us company and swapping more stories.
This is not the most memorable ride we’ve gotten from Pat — many years ago, when we returned from our wedding, Pat met us at the gate, apologizing and saying that he’d had to bring our car instead of his own. When we reached the parking garage, we discovered why — he’d decorated it with streamers and balloons and crepe paper! Luckily, he didn’t tie any tin cans to the bumper.
With the help of Pat and his wife, Belinda, Barry and I were soon settled in a room at the Day’s Inn with eight pillows, enough for a great pillow fight. We had a lot of catching up to do with Pat, and when we finally crashed, we were almost on Pacific time.
I never did catch up with my missing brother, but we did make it to the plane on time.
And now, we’re home! Just in time for Christmas! I can hardly believe it — last year this time, we were heading off to Portugal. Who knows what next year will bring?