Lessons from Adversity, Part I

I got stranded in the dinghy (again), but this time I was not able to help myself, and the stupid motor bit me. That would be code for “electric shock.” I don’t take it too personally, though, because it bit Jay, too, when he tried later to figure out what was wrong. I also had trouble with the tilt and trim, which malfunctioned and prevented me from getting the propeller far enough in the water to get forward propulsion. Add that to the fact that I was in the middle of helping a friend, who couldn’t get her motor started. I would have at least towed her back to her boat except I couldn’t help myself! We were sort of drifting along together, me, Carla, and six children, trying to figure out what we should do next. Someone putting by helped us out (thanks, Jerry from Kumbaya)—he got my motor down far enough to go forward and towed Carla home. Had Jay had his VHF on, there’s not much he could have done, short of coming to help out by kayak (yeah, right) or telling me to just row home. Carla’s husband was out fishing, so he wasn’t there to help either.

Now I understand about being independent and self-sufficient. But sometimes you just need help. I’m seven months pregnant, for goodness’ sake—I don’t possess the physical prowess necessary for wrestling with the Merc 25. Jay didn’t exactly scold me for my helplessness, but he did express his desire that the adversity teach me something, preferably that each episode would build my confidence and competence in trouble-shooting. HA! I will not repeat the whole conversation (mostly because you don’t want to hear my irrational and emotional ranting), but suffice it to say that what I have learned is to a) never go too far from the boat or from someone who can help me; b) make sure Take Two’s radio is on and set to the same channel as the handheld unit I always have with me so that the Main Troubleshooter is available to talk me through problems; and c) get our little motor-head Aaron up to speed as quickly as possible so he can fix the damn thing.

The fact is that I am as likely to learn outboard engine repair as Jay is to learn herbal remedies to fix the kids’ various ailments. We ascribe to the “divide and conquer” way of life, and although we always have spares of everything, there are no spare family members. We each have vital roles to play and we can’t really do each other’s jobs with ease. Some cross-training is desirable, of course, or else Jay couldn’t travel for work and I’d never have a moment to myself. But the self-sufficiency we have attained is based on inter-dependency; we are able to help ourselves as a family unit because we can help each other. This teamwork is sometimes put to the test, but you can read about that in another entry…