Dinner party was good. Guests were about to leave. It was dark. Late. Temperature was dropping.
There was a knock at the door.
That isn’t easy. How does one get to our rather remote location so late at night and, approaching from the beach, come up to knock at the door without so much as a dog noticing?
It was L. Her motor had conked out and she was drifting out in the channel and just managed to get to the beach in front of us. No running lights. Dressed in pure black, she could have passed for a Navy Seal on a mission impossible of some kind. Only her pale, white face gave her true mission away. She was in desperation mode.
Our guests rode to the rescue and towed her home. But not before she got a piece of chocolate cheesecake and a stiff scotch. “I am gonna have to break down more often”, she said. “Right about here!”
We laughed. Everyone left and Sal and I got to thinking. Black as pitch. Tide running north. No lights. No radio. Dressed in black. Had this occurred two months from now, she might have died from exposure. There is also little to no traffic at night (not that anyone passing would have seen her).
This is a harsh place at times. Errors are tolerated but not always forgiven. More than a few grizzled, seasoned, capable mariners have met their end simply because an engine gave out at the wrong time. Once again we were reminded of why we do our utmost to come home before nightfall and carry all the safety crap. Plus – on my boat – I carry a small, spare engine. It is my ‘get home’ motor.
Of course we take risks. All the time and every day. But we respect the sea with a reverence that keeps our maritime risks to an absolute minimum. “An accident at sea can ruin your whole day” – Thucydides
So, what is my point? I don’t have one. Not really. Just the obvious. I guess I just looked into the face of an accident that could have happened and it was a stark reminder. Going off the grid is more than just not having help and assistance, services and institutions, resources and supports. It is also – at times – a nearer walk on the dangerous side. Accidents live closer to home. Danger is a constant and present neighbour with whom you have frequent contact. And relations are not warm and fuzzy.
No wonder we all feel more alive out here!