Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Did You Hear That?

   It truly is amazing the sounds and noises associated with living on a boat. On the dock or at anchor the boat, lines and water add a cacophony of sounds to the observant ear. Here on the dock along with the muffled street noises (we won't even mention the train that goes by five unmarked crossings blowing steam whistles within hearing distance of the boat at least 3 to 4 times a day and night!) the gentle groan of fenders along the hull when a slight ripple comes across the water and is blended with a halyard or two moaning in a gentle breeze. Add boats all around in a marina and those halyards, masts and wind generators create a song that leaves no doubt you are on the water.

  When the wind really blows, all of these sounds are magnified to extreme levels within the confines of below decks. A slight tap against the mast of one of your own halyards is brought right into your living space, at the table bap, bap, bap, bap, bap, bap, bap, bap, like a 5 year old crying in your ear! MAKE IT STOP! Now add the boats all around you with the same bap, bap, bap sound but somewhat muffled because it's mostly coming from your open companionway along with your own bap, bap, bap and you have a very distinct to the world sound, that can ONLY a marina with sailboats in high winds. And of course if the wind is blowing,  the boat is moving and the fenders are grinding and singing their rubbery, wrenching song against the hull which similar to the halyard bap, bap, bap, comes right into your living space and can not be ignored. Add to this a heavy rain on the fiberglass deck with hatches closed......well, it's fricken loud!

  Of course at anchor in a secluded spot it's all your noise, not that it can't be as loud, it's just different. The boat is swinging around on it's anchor with wind and waves slapping against the hull and chain or rode stretching, banging and groaning at the bow all the while your mind is doing overtime with the the fact that your NOT tied to a dock and best be sure your anchor is doing it's job holding you put!

  Then there is....the no sound, the sound of silence. When there is absolutely no wind, no movement, all is quiet and you hear.........the slightest click, then a hum from through a bulkhead. Yes, the refrigerator compressor just started, still doing it's job. Another softer click from the galley in a few minutes....and all goes quite again. Lift the sink faucet to fill a pan and the pump that keeps the water pressurized to the sink is heard load and clear from under the galley sink, directly opposite the bulkhead of the master cabin double berth. A sleeping head......five inches from a screaming pressure pump when the water is turned on. Some things you just HAVE to get used to.

  Then.....there are the new noises, they're the scariest by far! What was that? Did you hear that? Shit, I didn't like the sound of that. Like, the water pressure pump keeps running, not pulsing as it normally does, just keeps running steady, steady, keeps running, no pulse. Quick!  Shut it off! Then as last night, with the familiar click in the galley somewhere around 4:30 AM and the gentle hum of the compressor starting up in the aft locker???? That click sounded different......hmmmm....gentle hum of the compressor, OK, back to sleep. Wake and go in to get a coffee (Vicky was up and ready) step into the galley....WHAT'S that sound? Something coming from under the fridge, never heard ANYTHING from there before. Stick my head out the companionway to see if a boat next to me is running an engine or generator that might be resounding through the hull.....nothing, shit! Back in the galley, do you hear that? I never heard that before! Something is making noise from somewhere that there was never a peep of sound before in the 5 weeks we've been living aboard. I run to the compressor open the hatch and it too sounds......different. Shit! I listen, I check the amps being used at the electrical panel, I think, I worry, I need to do something! Back to the compressor reach in and, Shit! Fan.....reach in and feel....the fan is not moving, something brushes against my hand, I hear a snap, bingo, the fan starts moving and the sound is familiar!!!!!!!  A life preserver strap, stowed in that locker, somehow broke free in the vicinity of the cooling fan and found it's way to the fan at 4:30 in the morning.  Did You Hear That?


  1. If you keep writing this creatively, sir, you just might win a prize!

    I'm listening everywhere now.


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