Though it may burst the freely floating forever bubble that a sailing
life often evokes, there were times when Don and I had to cloak ourselves in normalcy and join the daily grind, disguised
as dedicated employees in the field of information technology. This need to work was done mostly to increase our cruising
kitty, since neither of us was born of wealth and, as Gen-Xers, were nowhere near retirement.
Don’s skill-set allowed
him more opportunity to work from ‘boat’, while mine most often required me to occupy an office. So like many
couples, we’d chat with each other throughout the workday via instant message; that fabulous communication capability
that allowed us to send short, sweet messages such as “good morning darling”, “what are you doing for lunch”
and “im gonna work at the pool now” (lucky b**tard!).
Understandably, this type of quickened conversation
caused perfunctory typing and permitted all manner of grammatical transgressions. But Don and I were intimate with each other’s
thoughts and ideas; we had a keen understanding of what the other intended; we shared a lover’s language so to speak.
Even after all our time living together in close quarters, we were loath to be apart and when separation for occupation occurred,
from log-on to log-off our affectionate banter went on over the internet.
So imagine my shock when my first morning
ping proclaimed “nice hose bag”.
Don’s proclivity to disregard punctuation in this medium tempted
me to automatically insert a comma, and regard this as an affront - “Nice, Hose Bag!” What had I done to incur
this derision? I could recall no evening event that would have caused him to cast aspersions my way. We kissed good-night
and slept soundly till dawn. I’d woken up to empty water tanks which meant I’d not been able to make him a hot
cup of coffee. But that’s no reason to malign … oh … wait.
Don had probably just refilled our
tanks. He meant “Nice hose bag!”, the comma free Compliment referring to the pouch I’d just constructed
for our spectacular new water hose. My friend and fellow sailor Emily spotted this new hose at the St. Pete boat show and
it elicited quite the reaction. Giddy as a school girl, she came skipping over to the exhibit that’d otherwise arrested
my progression through the tent, grabbed me by the arm, and dragging me thither (I always wanted to resurrect that word) with
wide eyed enthusiasm, she exclaimed “YOU HAVE GOT TO SEE THIS!”
One might ask how something as mundane
as a hose can bring elation to an otherwise poised person? I often marvel over the banal sundries that, since living on a
boat, had become so essential to our comfort. There were many household items for which we had very little need, and even
less space. But much of the moth-eaten paraphernalia that, back in my bricks and mortar days would’ve been consigned
to a closet, garage, or basement were, on Re Metau, used to such a level of frequency that not only were they always at hand,
but an abnormal amount of consideration was given to their construction, utility, and preservation. Regrettably, terra-firma
focused designs were often lacking with regard to our stringent aquatic requirements.
The ordinary, old garden hose
was one such example. Obviously while at a marina, the most convenient conveyance for filling our water tanks was via a hose,
and while not in cruising conservation mode, that chore became a weekly requisite. Indeed one doesn’t need to live
on a boat to appreciate the difficulties one encounters when wrestling with any conventional hose. Now ponder the pains of
stretching the mutable tube from a pedestal spigot, 20’ over the water, through the bow sprit, around various rails,
across the gunwale, and into the deck fill near the stern.
Add 75’ of high-pressure water to the 10lbs of 5/8” reinforced, forever-kinking conduit, and the burden becomes
even more apparent. But leave the PVC lying in the UV, and it rapidly molders into a grubby, glutinous, gooey tube full of
microbial-green fluid. Coil it up for protected storage - ah - where? And who wants to go through a weekly hose weaving
hassle? Essentially, idiosyncrasies that were a mere nuisance for the gardener often caused major misery for the mariner.
Don and I had encountered some innovative hose technology at various hardware stores; however limited to the garden variety,
none were designed to dispense drinking water. At a marine emporium, we’d paid a pretty penny for a poorly produced
flat, firemen-esc adaptation that promptly punctured on impact with a piling. We'd acquiesced to making perennial hose purchases
until that pivotal day in St. Pete.
Arriving to the booth, I perceived nothing more than a shriveled up sleeve of webbing
piled up on the floor. Emily gave me an expectant glance, anticipating my reaction. The hawkers didn't pitch a pronoun;
they just turned on the tap and I gasped!
The puckered up pipe distended like a pubescent pajama python. I was instantly
transported to a state of hose-induced euphoria! The seduction of their ware's scanty weight was strong, and the compact
packages erected along the table sent me into ecstasy. In an instant, every asset was exposed; light, lengthy, compact, and
lacking kinky proclivity. All my desires would be satiated. Oh the euphemisms!
The asking price was tawdry; Emily
and I couldn't get our cash out fast enough. I coveted the longest one available. Though far more than necessary, I knew
it would easily reach those elusive places none other had ever managed to wet. We both left more satisfied than most post-Fleet
I’d like to give credit where credit is due; however the manufacturer of this wondrous hose remained
obscure. Packaged in a plain, white box, there was no trademark on the product. I’ve no memory of the exhibitor’s
logo, and I could find no references in the boat show management’s archives. Though the specific manufacturer remained
an enigma, the internet offered several brands, along with lots of lawnlubber reviews.
From my nautical notion, this
new-fangled hose sunk its predecessors, and my decade-long thirst for something better had finally been quenched. Plus Don
likes my hose bag.