Issue: June 2002
Curses, Furled Again

I've been thinking about roller furlers lately, and how they are messing with my head. Sound familiar? I thought I had it all worked out by the end of winter: While my husband the yacht racer waffled, I would quietly engineer a subtle mutiny to get a roller furling headsail this summer.

Then spring happened.

Truly it is one of God's little jokes that gardening season and fitting out coincide. All along you've thought it was just our hemisphere's proximity and angle to the sun-perfectly scientific explanations for why the burning urge to get the boat ready begins to fight with the primal need to grub around in the dirt. Before you know it, they're interfering with your most basic rituals, like eating, sleeping and prowling yard sales for wicker furniture. And then comes the ultimate cosmic laugh-summer, when all that stuff you planted needs water and weeding. All you want to do is go sailing, but the tomato plants are strangling the cucumbers, the petunias are crawling across the front yard-which is shaggier than the late Jerry Garcia-and the neighbors, who don't understand the simple concept that boating is not compatible with daily crabgrass tweezing, are on your doorstep holding weed whackers in a very threatening manner.

In this regard, Johnny is blissfully single-minded. While other boatowners are easily distracted by home improvements and lawn aeration, he just gets in the truck and heads for the dock. I envy him this clarity of vision and purpose. Even when he uses this to neatly flip the roller furling tables on me, which he did in April, just as I was deep in a blind gardening mania. My landscaping friend Mike and I were designing a series of rock-bordered beds that Mike would build, and I would fill with glorious flowers. Mike and I agreed on a concept. Then he ran the numbers. I could feel my tax refund whimper.

"What do you think we should do?" I asked Johnny.

"How important is it to you?" he asked. I mumbled something about enhancing the value of the property and erosion control. And he said, "Well, look, I hate to put it in these terms but, um . . . do you want it as badly as you want the roller furler? Because we can't get both right now."

The dirty dog. Was he banking on the idea that my joy over the newly sprouted lettuce seedlings, combined with the intoxicating effect of dogwood blossoms, would addle my brain enough for me to forget all about folding headsails in 20 knots of wind? Mike must have seen my inner struggle (not to mention a job slipping through his fingers). "I'm a hank-on man myself," he said. "Just stuff it down the hatch. What's the problem?" I shook my head sadly. "It's just too ugly, smooshing all that Kevlar and hearing it crunch. Gotta flake them."

"Well," Johnny said to me, serene in his victory, "it's your call." Sometimes I could just smack him with a Garden Weasel. But I guess a winch handle would be more poetic.