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Thursday, July 17, 2003

High And Dry - Part One

Spent the past two days working to get the bottom of "Tigers Eye" painted, which resulted in a couple of unexpected adventures. First off, I'd made arrangements to take her to a local boatyard first thing Tuesday morning. So, up at my usual work time of around 6:30 a.m., and after a bit of last-minute off loading of some neccessaries in case I had to overnight in the Bus, I cast off and headed up the lake, cats whining and moaning the whole way. Unfortunately, I missed the boatyard dock and ended up backtracking for a bit before I located them, finally docking about a half hour behind schedule. It was such a pleasant morning that I didn't really mind the delay.

After consulting with the manager for a few minutes, we came to a somewhat disturbing conclusion; their boat lift (basically a sort of forklift-on-steroids contraption) wouldn't be able to deal with my boat. Essentially, my keel design (the heavy, wing-like structure on the bottom of the boat) was such that they didn't think they could properly block up the boat on the lift, and they were concerned that the second it came out of the water it would tip forward, causing moderate-to-severe damage to the hull. Naturally, this put me in a bit of a pickle; I'd already scheduled to take two vacation days from work to deal with this, and since I was already into Day 1, it would be next to impossible to reschedule them. Plus, I'd have to find another boatyard, get another estimate, schedule an appointment, and start the whole process all over again. Fortunately, the manager was willing to make a few phone calls on my behalf, and got lucky on the first try. CSR boatyard, straight across the cut from where I was had a crane lift that could easily accomodate me and would try to squeeze me onto their schedule, but not until Wednesday morning. The down side was that because they were already working on a number of other projects, they couldn't guarantee getting me back in the water until possibly as late as Monday. On the other hand, they would let me stay aboard if I needed to until then. So, I had an appointment at least, which made the situation somewhat more salvageable.

Back to AGC (my marina) I go, stopping first for a bit of gas on the way. At which point it was only about 10:00 a.m. and me with the rest of the day free and no plans.

First order of business of course was breakfast, as I hadn't even had so much as a cup of coffee at this point, which means I was barely functional -- it's amazing I was able to maneuver a 28 foot-long boat around under the circumstances. My first choice, The Mecca was closed for repairs, so I headed across the street to Sorry Charlies as a Plan B.

Sorry Charlies, for those of you who haven't been around Seattle much is one of the last of those divey restaurants that harken back to the '50's or '60's, when diner food was simple, unpretentious and loaded with all the things your doctor keeps telling you to avoid. It also has the distinction of being at times one of the most surreal nightspots in the city, a place where you walk in and either feel like you've suddenly been transported to the set of a David Lynch film, or at least get the impression that he walked in once and gathered inspiration from it. Sadly, it's also destined for closure in the very near future, due to the bad economy and the gradual dying off of its core patrons, those elderly retired folks of modest means who seem to be slowly disappearing from our urban landscape like some sort of endangered species.

In the rather bright light of mid-morning, however, it looked much more prosaic, and there was a palpable atmosphere of lingering dread in the air. The handful of customers were pretty much avoiding contact with anyone but the lone waitress, who made a point of repeating the sad tale of impending closure to every new person who walked in the door. But then again, it may very well be the last time I actually set foot in the place, so the funereal mood seemed appropriate.

It's too bad really. Sorry Charlie's is one of those places that reminds people of what Seattle used to be like not so many years ago, before the rise of Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks, before the dotcom boom-and-bust cycle those multi-national behemoths helped in large part to spawn, when it was just a small-sized city of modest means and amibtion, peopled by blue-collar working types, unpretentious, pragmatic, stoic, with grit under their fingernails and nicotine stains on their teeth. A place where coffee was black sludge poured from a big stainless steel urn, and where you were as likely to hear Norwegan spoken as English. A city of airplane builders, fishermen, lumberjacks and longshoremen. A city that left you alone to be as quirky or eccentric as you pleased, so long as you didn't disturb your neighbors. A city that rolled up the sidewalks at 9:00 p.m., was fast asleep by 10:00 and up at 6:00. A city that in the not-too-distant future will only be a vague memory, doomed to be almost entirely forgotten except for a few old souls who will carry the memories of those times and that place around inside them like a tattered remnant of a newspaper photograph inside a fat, battered leather wallet permanently warped to the shape of the owner's hip. A ghost walking unnoticed among the living masses who don't have time to remember.

Posted byCOMTE on 12:57 PM

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