Thursday, May 14, 2009


Every boat is haunted.

In the bilge, in the backs of the cabinetry, in the engine compartment, the new owner of a boat will find that the Spirit of the Previous Owner has been at work. There will be incorrect wire sizes, poor connections, bad connector choices, hoses installed with only a single rusting hose clamp, etc. For some reason, the spirit seems to do its worst in the least accessible spaces, perhaps because it can hide its work there.

Exorcising the Spirit of the Previous Owner seems to be a task that, for most people, lasts until the boat is sold to a new owner (at which time of course, the old Spirit of the Previous Owner is automatically replaced by the new).

Joe had a notably vicious and creative Spirit of the Previous Owner on Tropic Star, and so he had arguably the greatest incentive to work this out. In a melange of mixed metaphors, Joe decided to formally do an exorcism.

He built a small replica of Tropic Star to be used in the ceremony.

In the end, most of G Dock participated. We all put something symbolic of the Previous Owner of our boats aboard the sacrificial replica. The golem from Eolian was a little man made of electrical tape and silicone rubber - the two things our Previous Owner had apparently felt could fix anything. He certainly used them to fix everything in any case.

The ceremony lasted most of an afternoon and into the evening. There were adult beverages, of course.

At dusk, a time when the Spirit of the Previous Owner would be active but reputedly at its weakest (also most convenient for us), the final, climactic acts were begun.

As G Dock Poet Laureate, Art gave the invocation, and commanded the many and several Spirits of the Previous Owners to join with their representative golems on the replica boat. (Yes, that's an adult beverage in his left hand - it was required as an integral part of the invocation - magical spirits, distilled in a far away mythical land called "Scotland" - at least that's what he said).

The boat was placed in the water (she floated on her lines!), and the final act was begun.

In the water and with her sails already filled and tugging to be free, the replica was annointed with liberal quantities of cleansing lighter fluid (also blessed by Art).

With a cheer that echoed into the deepest parts of the bilges of all the boats on G Dock, the replica was ignited and cast off. Amazingly, as the purifying flames swept over her, she sailed beautifully out directly away from the dock (Joe should consider a career as a Naval Architect if he ever gets tired of designing airplanes).

I was Fire Marshall, in the water in our dinghy with a bucket ready to douse the flames if the replica should happen to turn back toward the dock, entirely unnecessary as it turned out.

Did it work? We think so.

Many years have passed since The Ceremony. Most of the boats which were cleansed by it have left, and have been replaced by others, not so cleansed. Perhaps we should consider a reenactment of the Ceremony.

But only if we can get Art to officiate.

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