The Color of Gravity


In the cruising world, boat chores are sometimes referred to as either pink or blue.  Pink being those chores pertaining to galley duty, bright work, bilge cleaning, and canvas repairs.  Blue jobs typically include engine work, climbing the mast, and going bottom side to scrub the hull.  For as much as the nomenclature of categorizing boat duties sounds sexist, life on a boat is anything but.  It’s always about getting the job done, sometimes requiring a  “suck it up cupcake” attitude.

The color of work on our boat is Mauve.  Captain Chameleon cleans the bilge and I go up the mast.  We both tend to the bottom side.  Not so much on Seamore Pacific, but when we lived on a trawler in the Florida Keys, our once a month fun-day was to take her out Sister’s Creek, drop anchor, and spend an hour scrubbing every inch of her hull.  To give my arms and neck a rest from the awkward position of scrubbing, I’d take a 5 minute snorkel break, out and away from the boat.  Break time was sure to reveal some kind of marine life; tarpon, starfish, parrot fish, and sometimes harmless species of small sharks.  Most of the congregating fish were probably curious about the dime-size barnacles released with each successful swipe of the scrub brush; some would drift away with the underwater current, while others sank to the bottom of the ocean floor.  Back to boat chores…I loathe mauve.

Mauve reminds me of a time in my life when fabric came in every shade of mauve and was paired with cream colored lace, to make blouses with puffed up sleeves and shoulder pads. Gag.  If that isn’t horrid enough, what about having wallpaper with ducks and geese wearing yellow bow ties?  Not to be critical of mauve, lace, ducks, and geese, but the whole Country Gal style just wasn’t me.  But, I didn’t know that at the time.  Literally everywhere I turned, something or somebody was shrouded in the stuff and so I assumed it was who I was.  As destiny would have it(a.k.a. as coming to my decorating and fashion senses),  I became aware of another world and other colors.  Imagining all the possibilities and options that lay before me, was…well, there really are no words to describe how wonderfully liberating the feeling was.  Pre-move to Florida and pre-Captain Chameleon, I view those precious days as when my color wheel started moving, taking me in the right direction.  I didn’t know where I was going, but I was fully content to finally be underway and waving good-bye to Mauve; and all her foo-foo cronies.  Content to experience new color, but a novice at creating them.  With paralyzed excitement, my white knuckles had to find the mojo to open up and let go…White.  Green.  Yellow.  Red.  Orange.  And BLUE.

“Ready?”  He shouted.

“Yes. Wait, NO!  Ok. Yes.”  I shouted back in staccato fashion.

In the time it took for my heart to beat one more time, I let go of the strut supporting the wing and went into free fall.  The color of gravity was blue. Beautiful BLUE.


That was my one and only static-line skydive.  Something about an unforeseen change in wind direction and speed caused me to have what they categorize as a “miss landing.”   Enjoying the blue of the sky and to be alive, I was puzzled by the tiny specks of people waving their arms and jumping up and down on the ground.  Coming in fast but still very high, I sailed past them and way, way past the drop zone they were jumping up and down on.  My travels that day took me past a highway, past a grove of trees, and past a farmer’s fence and pond; eventually I plowed his field using only my outstretched legs that were locked tight at both knees.   Blue skies became brown dirt, which thankfully turned into black and red.  Two gentlemen driving down the highway in a red corvette, seeing jumpers, decided to pull over and enjoy the pretty parachutes.  The first 2 chutes fell out of sight just as they had expected.  What about that one?!  Geez-o-Pete it’s coming our way.  Oops, there she goes.  Hope she misses the power lines…

Having just found a new appreciation for brown, I sat there stunned, staring at Farmer Brown’s dirt. Hearing shouts, I looked up to see two men dressed in black running towards me.  Asking me if I was ok, checking for broken bones, and muffling profanities, they helped me unharness from my chute and gather it into a puffy cloud of silk….it could have been the color of mauve for all I know.  To far to walk, one stayed behind, while the other gave me a lift in the red corvette, back to the deadbeat skydiving school.



Packing Chutes

Packing Chutes

Final drill before going up.

Final drill before going up.


It was my skydiving debut that has earned me the chore of going up the mast on Seamore Pacific.  Technically a blue job by boater standards, but one that I’m best suited for, over Captain Chameleon.  It’s not often I have to go up the mast and it’s never because something really great just happened.   At the top of the mast is a job that requires tools, ingenuity, safety-mindedness, and scheming.  Scheming on how I’m going to get Captain Chameleon to put on a pink apron and clean up the galley.

Soon enough I’ll be rummaging the lazarette for my bosun chair.  Seamore Pacific, by all accounts, came through Hurricane Odile unharmed but she has a non-functioning antennae at the top of her mast that needs to come down.  Otherwise, the antennae serves as a roost for birds, giving the fate of gravity a whole new meaning and color.












7 thoughts on “The Color of Gravity

  1. Balls to the Walls!
    I went up a mast once and it was scarier than —t.
    You go girl! You are an inspiration.
    Great writing, by the way:)

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