Those words were music to my ears when we docked at Longboat Key a few weeks ago. It’s not as if I’m starved for compliments (Rick is a great encourager) but this was the first I’d had from a dockhand who was commenting on my job as First Mate. When we approach a marina, it’s my responsibility to hail the dockmaster on the radio, see that all the lines and fenders are ready and and assist the captain as a second set of eyes as he skillfully maneuvers R&R stern-first into our assigned slip. When we are backing into the slip, there is usually someone from the marina who is ready to catch our lines.
At Longboat Key, there were two rather impressively attired dockhands to whom I was able to toss a line or two (in the right order for a change, yay me and thanks to other First Mates who have patiently taught me along the way) and we proceeded to get tied up. When the boat was secure, one of them looked at me and said “Good job, Ma’am”.
When I shared this story with friends, some thought I was probably offended by the term “Ma’am”. Well, I’m not that easily offended and I at that point I wouldn’t have cared if he’d called me Granny Great, I was focused on “Good job’.
Being First Mate has been one of the more challenging roles I’ve had to learn…besides parenting, of course! The learning curve has been steep and none of it is intuitive to me. Even the vocabulary has tripped me up (remember port and starboard?) One time I suggested to the Captain that he needed to take the “bow to stern”…oops. Fortunately our communication headsets allow me to make that kind of mistake and not broadcast it to the whole marina. Maybe, just maybe after more than 2,000 miles of tossing lines and adjusting fenders, I’m starting to get the hang of it. And it feels good!
Right now, the Captain and I are home for a few weeks to celebrate this holy season with friends and family. It’s sure good to be home, but just a bit of me is missing the fun and challenges of boating life.
Merry Christmas to you from First Mate and Captain!