Living on a boat means water is a constant and generally welcome presence. In good weather it provides a serene and gentle landscape and in bad, a very palpable reminder not to take the ‘floor beneath’ for granted.
Unfortunately it seems many of us need some bad weather now and then to remind us how often and to what extent we do this.
Forgetting the power of water and nature in general seems to be rampant in our culture. Consumed and preoccupied with monetary gain and technological fixes, we are ill-prepared to deal with living in actual relationship with our environment.
We insulate ourselves with air conditioning in our cars, homes and offices, bury creeks, divert rivers and build homes on flood plains without a second thought and when the waters rise and the power goes out we don’t know what to do and, if so, certainly not for long.
I appreciate the lessons the boat has taught me about staying aware of my habits and surroundings. Though small things, having to check the pumps, re-tie the ropes in weather and fill holding tanks regularly have given me greater respect for my immediate environment. When a pressure hose burst last week I was grateful to know that only so much water can pour into the bilge. Just a few weeks ago a neighbour of mine left the city water hose attached and this was the result.
Fortunately I have not had anywhere near such an emergency to deal with. Twice in the past year I have woken up panicked to the sound of rushing water. Once it turned out to be a nearby hose left on by a neighbour. The time before that it was a family of ducks eating algae along the waterline of my boat. Their little nipping duck bills sounded like water coming through the hull.
Silly or not, these things keep me humble and hopefully diligent.