Seeking Boredom to Find Creativity

Chilly start to the day
Chilly start to the day
Adjusting lines in the lock
Adjusting lines in the lock
Rounding a bend in the canal.  Note that this is a very wide section of the ICW
Rounding a bend in the canal. Note that this is a very wide section of the ICW
a sailing kayak!
a sailing kayak!

Somewhere, someone said that your true creativity blossoms when you are totally bored.  Well, I have been seeking this creativity burst, and maybe today is the day.  I used to be so creative.  In high school, I made most of my Christmas presents from fabric, dried flowers, paint, wood, beads, etc.  Perhaps the receivers of my creativity were not impressed, but the feeling of making and giving was good for my soul.  As a poor college student, I continued to be creative, making dorm lofts, cutting everyone’s hair, sewing outdoor gear that met the needs of my lifestyle in Vermont.  Making my wedding dress and most of the dresses for the ceremony again lifted my spirits and kept the cash flow in check.

Moving onto a sailboat soon after our wedding, when we were 22, gave me plenty of opportunity to get creative.  Being an engineer, having children, then running a day care, kept me constantly inventing new pieces of gear and useful things.  Then something happened.  I must have gotten tired, and became more inclined to buy stuff than make it.  Or do without.  My creativity withered to the point that even if I had a great idea, I would only think about it, but not begin the process of actually bringing it to reality.  I long for that feeling of satisfaction when you stand back and say “that is good”.

Hence, I am seeking boredom.  I’m not feeling the surge of creativity yet, but there’s hope.  The boredom is here.  Right now.  We are driving this boat (note that I am not saying sailing) down the ICW or Intracoastal Waterway.  These are the directions:  stare at the GPS screen, make sure you keep steering down the white path, don’t veer two feet left or right, and take quick glances at the depth gauge so you can verify the GPS data.  Don’t drive down the center of the water, the shallow spots are in weird spots.  Only the GPS screen knows where the deep water is.  Be prepared for the monster power yachts coming up astern that wish to pass you.  They usually hail on the radio and ask which side they can squeeze by.  Slow down, move a few feet over and say a little prayer so that you don’t get stuck in the mud again.  Yes, again.  Then, when a gigantic tug approaches and you have to pass each other, make sure you have recently relieved your bladder, because you may just do it in the cockpit.  Then count the tires that they have hanging over the side and give a sigh of relief, knowing that when you collide, the landing will be padded.  This is where you hope you have managed to place yourself in a section of the 40 mile canal where the width can accommodate the two of you. Note that you have almost no control of this.  The tugs come when they come.  You can’t turn around in this ditch.  Don’t forget to note the one canal marker in the twenty mile narrow stretch of the Alligator River, #59A, a green lit day-mark.  This ditch is so long and so straight, that you can probably see this marker at night for twenty miles in either direction.  But don’t try this at night.  The stumps sticking out of the water everywhere will certainly be invisible and unwelcome. Also, be prepared for the greens and reds to switch sides.  The 59 green is to port, but the 27 green is to starboard.  You will go under many bridges.  Some are at least 55 feet, our mast height.  Be careful though, as you may be off center and hear the antenna go pling, pling, pling.  Many bridges have to open for you, so call the bridge operator first.  They always sound like a grandpa, so enjoy these conversations and be sure to say Thank you.  One section of this ditch has eight bridges in ten miles.  Get ready for the locks.  You may will have to throw your fenders over to protect your boat from the concrete wall.  Tie up to the wall, wait for the locks to close, notice the water level drop, and adjust lines accordingly, then untie and carry on when the locks open.  Appreciate when the ICW widens for a bit.  You may actually get to sail, or at least loosen the death grip you have on the wheel.  Enjoy the scenery, which is mostly boring.

Wait, I said I was bored.  Those directions make it sound thrilling.  The excitement lasts only a few minutes at a time, then the boredom returns for another half hour.  So the ratio of excitement to boredom is five to thirty.  This should be a good start.  Maybe a few more days of this will yield some amazing results!

I have no idea how people do this alone.  At least Bill and I can take turns being bored and wetting our pants.  Speaking of pants, that is another boredom breaker.  When we started this morning, we were chilly, wearing pants, jackets, even a hat in my case.  Then the stripping begins and you get into your skimpy shorts because the heat is on, especially down below where the engine cranks the temp up.  But keep those clothes nearby because when the wind howls down the ditch, you will need them again.  We are not used to so much engine use.  We raise sails, but they are almost useless in the ditch.  This is our second day in the ICW, and we have one or two more to go, depending on our decision to stop at Oriental NC or go straight to Beaufort.

So far, this journey south has not been boring, I must say.  We have been on the move every day since mid August, except when we repaired the hull for three days, went to a wedding, watched Lindsay receive her White Coat at Tufts, stayed put five days waiting out Joaquin, then three days for a Whitby Brewer Rendezvous, then three days at Annapolis for the Boat Show and enjoying the visits with friends Jim and Anne, and family Rick, Mañana, Nick and Mike.  Every day we meet people who inspire us, and find situations that challenge us.  I love all this learning and growing, but also long for that boredom in hopes of leaps of creativity.  I guess I should stay in the ditch a few more days.  Or not.

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