Monday, October 20, 2008

A Pearl Whimsy

It was another mental health day, one of those days when you just give up, go driving and perhaps even buy something. Some of the things happening at the time were so outlandishly outrageous that I was beginning to feel outpaced in my ability to keep up. So I went for a drive and after buying four top hats, as one does, I ended up at the Denmark Tip Shop.

And there she was, just sitting in the yard in a state of bedraggled magnificence amongst the usual tangle of broken push bikes and three legged plastic chairs.
She gave me a funny feeling in my belly. The squirming babel fish, that one that is responsible for most of my more reckless moments, whispered direct to my cerebral cortex. This babel fish translated from "You are a fucking idiot, don't go there, she'll only suck up all your cash and break your heart," into a siren song of the WineDark sea, a song of pelagic, oceanic fantasies and plied my ego with a very attractive vision of my own self.

"I must have her," I breathed and asked the handsome young feral with arms like a fisherwoman how much.
"Mmmm," she mused. "Forty bucks?"
"She's got a busted spine, for sure," grunted Relic, who seemed to spend the day there for entertainment. (A good lurk.)
"Now don't be so negative, Relic!" She bossed him.
"She'd make a great vege garden," he said, trying now.

I dropped in to see a wooden boat builder on my way home. "Wow! You bought the Pearl!" Matty started giving me instructions on copper nails, steamed ribs (not the pork ones, I discovered) and caulking. He told me the bloke next door would cart it back to Albany for me.
Well, it was really for him, because he saw me coming. Three hundred dollars later she sat in my front yard. And sat. And sat.

In the meantime I focused on making silk purses from the other reckless purchase that day, four top hats. Unfortunately, like my scarecrows, they are attractive only to a selective cliental.
I sold one with an amethyst and peacock feather crown to a singer who put it on and wore it straight on stage. Two more are sitting around at my place and Shark scored the red cockatoo feather one - yes, the one that got him into so much trouble!

Pearl sat on blocks at my place. Getting her up on these presented lever logic problems almost beyond my capabilities. She is twenty foot long and weighs at least half a ton. During the Week of the Herring, when Old Salt turned up daily at work with bucketfuls of herring, Bob and I sat in the shade of the Pearl and filleted, filleted, filleted.
Finally Old Salt got sick of seeing her surrounded with grass and sold me a trailer for $100. Another fisherman gave me a roll of hemp caulking cotton. It really was time to get started.

I felt struck down by this kind of ennui that creeps in when I set the bar too high for myself. What the hell do I know about twenty foot wooden carvels? She sat around for a bit longer, while I moved house twice and subjected myself to a few more dramas.

There are two distinct reactions when I show people the Pearl. One is; "She is so cool, how romantic, what fun, let's get her in the water and crack the champers over her bow, " kind of comment. These people are my friends. The other reaction is; "Um ... are you gonna caulk this endless pit of financial carnage, before you take our son fishing in it?" These people I have no choice but to be related to, much as I love them. (Karmically enough, they have no choice about me either!)

Actually there's three reactions. The third is; "What you need to do is - " People like Matty and my Dad in this respect are brilliant. They love old wooden boats and get all wistful and salty just looking at her, even though they know the work ahead.

Anyway, a few days ago I moved the Pearl to my place! She is perched up on the hill, overlooking the sea and I can wander out to scrape paint whenever I like. It's not that hard, scraping back paint and discovering the nooks and crannies of this shady lady. I'm learning new things every day, in the most enjoyable way imaginable.
Stay tuned for the voyage of the Pearl ...


  1. Oh yes, we have noticed her sitting there so primly as we roar past yet again after a surf and needing to get somewhere else and saying to each other - "We must drop in and get the book!"

  2. And the CD! And primly is a nice description, primly pearl.

  3. You know that Pearl sitting there on the front lawn will anchor you to the sea. They're a magical charm. I have a kombi that sits on the front lawn of a friend's house. Its canvas sleeve that sits stretched between the fibre glass canopy and its cabin, has, to me, always resembled the sail of a boat. My last kombi was nicknamed the vwgreenboat and when I parked and slept in the open, the wind caught its canvas sail and it rocked me to sleep as if I were aboard a boat on the sea. When my last kombi went to kombi heaven, I kept its green sail and now it sits folded for the next time I head out into the bay. Yep don't give up on your "song of pelagic, oceanic fantasies" cause we need them. Everyone needs a source of inspiration - something with which to dream your way back to that winedark sea :)

  4. Nice Pearl!

    Looks great, can't waitt o read more about her.

  5. That is a gorgeous comparison Tim! My son was born in a Kombi on a rather exciting night, so i also have a lifelong affinity with them!

  6. Hey Sarah, I just had a thought. I have an old friend who loved toying with timber and was a craftsman for boat building. You probably know him, his name is Chris Lee (from Carter's Road community in Margaret River). I think he is part of another community near Youngs Siding. I know he'd love to be a part of a project like yours... He has some real skills and no doubt he'd find your blog and wise words a joy to read as well. All the best to you... and fancy, giving birth to your son in the back of a kombi van...yep, I always knew it was possible...

  7. "You are a fucking idiot, don't go there, she'll only suck up all your cash and break your heart" Hmm, this reminds me of a certain muse of mine who must forever remain anonymous ...

    we are tragic and eternal romantics sarah

  8. Yeah - but don't we have fun Shark? And Tim - pass on the blog to your friend Chris. "What you need to do is..." people are always good to have around, even better if he's into pelagic siren songs.

  9. Been there done that. 3 years living on a 38 ft yacht and doing up a gorgeous old ply number before that. Learnt how to rivet and rove and caulk a bit. (Make sure you don't get the end with the Dolly - hard work!)Catching a feed of 'tommy rough' out of the cockpit at dusk. Diving over the side to catch a feed of crabs. Brilliant way to live.
    I used to climb the 40 foot mast and dive under the boat to take the prop off. I loved it and I absolutely understand why you are in love with the fishing and Pearl.
    Why did I get off? It wasn't the storm in the Bight funnily enough, never imagined swell could be that big though. No - It was 18 hours of sheer terror 3 mile off the Zuytdorp cliffs in a 60 knot onshore westerly gale.
    Call me a coward.

  10. No I won't call you a coward, i know that kind of terror. At least if you jump off a cliff, you know what (and how swift) the ending will be ...

  11. "Call me a coward" Nah, I call you brave... courage under sail...

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  13. I wanna donate the bottle to break on the bough, and another to swallow while contemplating the first vouyage.