Saturday, June 03, 2006

Musing: Maritime Monotony

Maritimemonotony1About 4 o’clock Sunday morning -- half-way through my watch -- I was just about bored to death. Just sitting there, watching the auto-pilot make an endless sequence of tiny adjustments to keep us on course, checking the radar screen every few minutes to be sure we weren’t going to hit anything, viewing the GPS plotter to see how much progress we’d made in the last few minutes... Ugh! I found myself wondering what it might have been like for mariners of old who didn’t have all our technology. In a fit of I-don’t-know-what, I decided to try a little experiment. I shut off all the hi-tech gizmos, grabbed the helm and actually “drove” the boat for an hour with nothing to guide me but a compass. What a nightmare! A dark, bleak sea and a dim, bleak horizon were all I could see. Rolling waves kept pointing the boat away from my desired course and forced me to make annoyingly frequent corrections. My feet and hands got numb and my back started killing me. What’s more, it was even more boring than watching the technology!

Maritimemonotony2By the time the hour was up, I had absolutely no idea if we were anywhere near the course I wanted -- I had even less idea how to figure it out -- and I started to worry about my inability to clearly see what might be ahead. (Captain Roy’s admonishment to “Stay in the boat and don’t hit anything” was, however, quite clear in my mind!) So, I terminated my experiment and turned on all the gizmos, fully convinced that mariners of old must have been a lot tougher -- not to mention more skillful -- than I am and had a far higher tolerance for boredom than I do. With a tip of my cap to those old tars, I plugged in my iPod and went back to “sitting” my watch. I’ll take the technology, thanks.

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