Thursday, February 2, 2012

The bells

The bells of St. Mary's, they are not.

Every boat with a mast has lines that run up that mast to hoist sails.  What to do with those lines when there are no sails hoisted?

You can tie them off to cleats thoughtfully provided on the mast down at deck level for just that purpose.  But if you do that then the length of that line, running up the mast and inches, nay fractions of an inch, away from the mast will come alive when the wind starts.  It is a kind of aeolian harp, but with a very low frequency due to the long length of the halyard and the lack of tension in it.  And unfortunately when it gets to vibrating, it slaps against the mast.  With irritating regularity.

Whang whang whang whang
Whang whang whang whang

I have written before how living on a boat is like living inside a guitar.  Well this is like living inside a guitar that has the action set too low, making for string buzz, but again at a very low frequency.

And not only is it irritating down below, but it can be heard by your neighbors, and their neighbors.  One of the least neighborly things you can do is to leave your halyards rigged in such a way that they will begin to rhythmically ring the bell.  Your neighbors will grow to despise you...

And yet...

And yet, after a long day of sailing, when the anchor is finally down and the boat is rocking gently to and fro, the gentle clank of the halyards, still rigged to hoist the sails and ready for the morrow, is somehow soothing.

Like the bells of St. Mary's.

{listening to Gillian Welch: Tennessee}


1 comment:

Deborah said...

LOVE Gillian Welch. Do you have her newest album? Amazing.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...