The Catamaran Adventures of Noel and Ceu
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The Nightly Mystery

At home, when you decide to go to bed, you go to bed: You get into bed, turn off the lights, and go to sleep.

Not so when on a boat! Oh no… Life is always so much more complicated.

Here the process is different. You go to bed. You turn off the light.

And then you hear it.

It could be a squeak. It could be something banging. Or a grinding noise. Or some strange whining or humming.

Every time it is something different, but it is always there. Some strange noise that you haven’t heard before that is guaranteed to stop you going to sleep. Or keep you worrying about what has gone wrong and what danger it signifies.

First you try to ignore it. Then you try to figure out what it is.

The trouble is that the boat is like a huge sounding box and every noise is transmitted through the hull, making it very hard to identify where a sound is coming from.

Eventually you decide Something Has to Be Done.

So you move on to Part 2 of going to bed.

Which consists of getting up out of bed. Depending on your best guess of the source of the sound, you wander around the cabins, or climb up onto the deck. Maybe it is the shrouds resonating in the wind, or the floorboards creaking as the boat rocks in the waves. Or the anchor scraping along the coral, the noise being transmitted up the chain, through the snubber, directly to the attachment on the bow, where it gets amplified like the sound of a violin string through the bridge. Out on the deck you hear nothing. Done below it is loud.

So you put your ear to the rope, and now you can hear it. At least you know what it is, even if you can’t fix it. And you did get out to see the stars shining so beautifully!

When Elmer and Heidi were here it was a fender that was tapping the side of the boat. The fender was just that bit too low, so the end was floating in the water, meaning that the fender was not just hanging straight, but was now subject to movement from waves.

Last night it was our anchor bottle. Just recently we have been using a plastic bottle attached by a string to the head of the anchor. It serves too purposes: it quickly helps us to see exactly where the anchor is situated and, if the anchor gets fouled on something (the other day we caught a ladder!), it makes it easy to extract the anchor.

But last night was so calm, that the boat floated around in circles directly above the anchor and thus directly next to the bottle. Which went tap, tap, tap against the boat. Barely audible from deck. A pounding drum down below.

Tonight? Well, who knows what it might be tonight.

As I said, it is a nightly mystery.

One Response to “The Nightly Mystery”

  • Carla:

    So True…I remember my first night aboard a Seawind 1160…what was a tapping noise in the saloon was a THUDDING in my cabin. Amazing. Thank you for writing for all of us who are not (at this time) living aboard.

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