Rolling to the music

Mine is a very noisy boat. Wood is supposed to work, but Oddly Enough is fiberglass. Yet she creaks and pops across the ocean. She even plays the harmonica.Some of the creaks are persistent enough to sound like voices. Oddly Enough‘s first trip up the Atlantic, when we hove to in a Gulf Stream eddy until we could shoot out the far side, I lay below in the sea berth listening to the racket and thinking, How can a boat be so loud and not shake herself to pieces?

This was a terrifying thought when I was hundreds of miles from land for the first time with only her skin between me and the sea. Seven years later, rolling slowly downwind at the northern border between Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea, I still hear most of the same noises. Her decks are a little soft, and the bulkheads squeak as the hull works. The cabin doors are on hooks so when Oddly goes into her periodic deep roll, they and the engine room doors all go BANG, which sounds like a terrific thud when my ear is down on the bunk. If the preventer is snugged too tight the main boom bangs in its gooseneck fitting. My brain now ignores the usual sounds but can pick out new ones, as when a bilge pump goes on, or the time a bow anchor shook loose from its retaining line while crossing to the Bahamas.

And somehow, the Oddly always rocks to music. I’m a classically trained flutist so you’d think it’d be a Bach fugue or even the Toreador theme from “Carmen” &mdash don’t get me started, that could be next time.

Because some song that goes through my head (it was “Rain Drops Keep Falling on my Head” in the Caribbean) will mesh with the roll and presto, I’ve got a music companion. This trip started to Rod Stewart’s “Sailing”. I happened to play the CD on the morning of our departure, though “Waltzing Mathilda” is also there because we are traveling with Aussies and even after two years in Darwin, I only picked up a smattering of, say, Men at Work’s “I come from the land of downundah.”

But my most faithful companion is “We are Marching to Pretoria”. Wow. I’m not even sailing to South Africa, not yet anyway.

Trish on Auspray, a karaoke aficionado who at radio sched time will sing a few bahs of Peter Allen’s song for ex-pats, “No matter how far and wide I roam, I still call Australia home,” won’t tell me what music she hears, other than that Pavarotti sings it in French or Italian. Certainly doesn’t bring up my intellect level on passage to have “I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining” cycling between the ears. I wish I could substitute a Mahler symphony, or at least enya: “From Bali to kali far beneath the Coral Sea…” On my down time while drifting to sleep I try deliberately singing something new. But true substitutions only happen spontaneously, and always for something even more inane. “Give me a home among the gum trees, with lots of plum trees, a chook or two and a barbeque…”

By Ocean Navigator