Leaking Mushrooms

Sunday 1/28/07

0430. I wake up for being too hot. Have my potbelly maintenance skills bounced back? Yes, but the cause for warmth is a freak jump in temperature-- I hear dripping. The upside of living aboard during a cold January is that all the deck leaks stop (and you can leave all the diary products on the table all day); now the deck leaks are back. I move my slippers from a new drip coming through a mushroom vent. I’ve decided all the mushroom air vents have to be pulled up and reseated. Most are leaking; best to get ‘em all before the last ones join in. I reposition all the drip buckets on the fidley deck and in the disaster cabin, formerly the Assistant Engineer’s cabin. This will become Erica’s and my office, but it has a long way to go. The Engineer’s cabin, just forward of that, is the soundest one on the boat.

The Whalen carried two engineers because she is a “bell boat.” There had to be an engineer on each watch because the engineers controlled the throttle while standing two or three levels below the captain in the wheelhouse. The Captain only controlled the helm (direction) and communicated speed and direction commands by ringing a bell or a jingle which prompted the engineer to move the levers on the telegraph. “Bells are direction, jingles are speed” says the crib sheet taped to the antique instrument panel. Speaking tubes allowed other commands to be bellowed up and down from engine room to wheelhouse.

The yard crew isn't working today. I'm hanging around for visitors. Two old friends show up for tanker tourism: Cate Cochran, producer for the CBC show Sunday Edition who taped oral history of Todd Shipyard for PortSide before IKEA closed on the property. She’s down from Toronto; and Elizabeth Zeschin a photographer who I assisted in the 1980s, in town from London for a shoot. Elizabeth was shooting Martha Stewart’s Gardening Book at the time, which gave me a solid grounding in how to fake naturalistic lighting--and real insight into how not to run a home. Cate and Elizabeth go gaga over the tanker, Elizabeth shooting more than visiting. Her esthetic seems to have morphed from her 1980’s obsession with Victoriana to industrial hulks. They race off after a short while, two more women who do too much, and I linger waiting for Bob Guskind, saavy blogger of the Gowanus Lounge.

After he’s had his fill of photographing and video-ing the Whalen, I’m free to head for boyfriend John’s, to rest up, enjoy running water and to try uploading more blog posts. Methinks it’s not just the slow connection on the tanker. Blogger’s interface is pokey, especially with photos. I arrive to find that little Lulu has cottoned to John during the 10 days since her eviction for the Whalen. She now cuddles up to him more than me. Little trollop.