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IN THE FACTORY OF THE MIND
Thomas McGuane
February 25, 1974
It was there he built his boat from the blueprints of an ancient mariner, where he learned the craft he came to love
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February 25, 1974

In The Factory Of The Mind

It was there he built his boat from the blueprints of an ancient mariner, where he learned the craft he came to love

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Before we ever got to the boat we could see bottom. Rocks and sponges raced under us and once or twice the leeboard tapped and lifted. A good way to sound your way through thin water, Herreshoff had said. The men in the lifeboat stood and stared whenever their boat lifted high enough for them to see us.

We tacked right in under the bow, hearing the sea roar and break around us, and out to deep water again. We let the dog out of the cabin and then sized up the huge rollers coming into the main ship channel. A minute later we were in the first ones and the boat began to lift and work and pick its way through the big green haystacks as they raced at us. The boat made such a premier performance in these conditions that we were suddenly able to let down and enjoy it. The waves coming from seaward were so big, we were afraid to look at them. Instead, we waited to feel them lift the boat, then watched their backs as they raced, roaring, away from us toward Key West.

Then the main ship channel was behind us too and we were sailing the blue-green waters inside the reef toward Boca Grande. We were actually having fun. We had sandwiches. Our son fell asleep and the verities of the eternal sea did not seem to be the same verities that have brought us salami or penicillin.

We rounded Boca Grande in early evening and anchored in a little channel that offered us a bit of lee. I laid two anchors on a good scope of line. The Meadow Lark pitched and hunted about but, in all, we were comfortable. We went below and ate sumptuously. Just at dark, two young Cubans who had a crawfish camp on the island rowed out to us with great effort and asked if there was anything we needed. We said that there was not and thanked them, rather moved by this kind of frontier courtesy.

We lit the oil lamps in the cabin at dark and talked till late about our personal greatness as adventurers. I read a few chapters of Herreshoff's The Common Sense of Yacht Design and we all fell asleep in the howling wind.

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