It Takes a Village, and a Zoo

Kindred spirits come in all shapes, sizes, and fur colors in the Roger Henry's winter home. From "The _Roger Henry_Files" for January 11, 2010

Tasha the yellow lab knows she'll always find a treat aboard the /Roger Henry/.

Tasha the yellow lab knows she'll always find a treat aboard the Roger Henry.Diana Simon

The word "community" traditionally only applied to residents within a specific proximity. But in our ultra-mobile world, the concept of "community" now connotes a group of similar and/or like-minded people, even if widely spread, like the "Hispanic Community", or the "Gay Community". In the Roger Henry's winter home, the Port of Poulsbo Marina outside of Seattle, the "Sailing Community" qualifies in both senses. Huddled together on F-dock for the winter are a gaggle of live-aboard yachts. In the physical sense we could hardly live closer. Sharing the same toilets and showers makes you a community rather you like it or not.

But we do like it because we're surrounded by kindred spirits. I'm not saying that every boat owner here has or aspires to circumnavigate the Earth or perform nautical feats of daring-do. Some just love the simplicity of the live-aboard life. Others find it an economical way to live. Some plan to explore no further than the beautiful waters of Puget Sound. Some ask us what the approach to New Zealand will be like. They come single, married, and in various stages of transition. They hail from Alaska to Texas and all points in between. Made of steel, glass and wood, some of the boats glisten in pristine condition, while others are held together with equal parts of hemp and hope.

What binds us all is a love of the sea, anything that floats upon it, and apparently animals, for it is a veritable zoo here. The Roger Henry is only the first of many "cookie stops" the yellow lab Tasha makes in her morning rounds down the dock. The 16-year-old pit-bull cross, Beany, on the cutter Tortue, is junior to her neighbor, the 17-year-old rat terrier, Buster, on the Cascade 36 Judy II. The old black lab Sarah sits on the bow of her powerboat watching the comings and going with the silence of a sage. To our starboard, we have two chows (easily mistaken for Shetland ponies) that are not so quiet, for they have a thing or two to say to any dog that dares to pass.

For a walk on the wild side we need not even cross the dock. Fat harbor seals patrol the end of our marina finger. Much to the chagrin of marina workers, the ducks have all but taken over the docks. Mallards, with colors flashing like an Australian opal mingle with grebes, golden-eyes, scooters, scaups, cormorants, crows and cranes. The odd eagle soars by.

And speaking of odd animals, we also have a resident river otter with an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Diana likes to keep things ship-shape, so she always flakes our excess dock lines into a neat Flemish coil that resembles a circular rope floor mat. This symmetry seems to upset our otter, for nightly he leaves a little statement smack in the center of the coil. We hose it off in the morning; he returns to restate himself the next night.

As in any community, some things gradually become communal. Jonathan off Judy II asked me yesterday if I knew where his car was. Al on Catalina 350, Halona, is a natural born teacher and is presently conducting celestial navigation courses in the floating meeting room near the fuel dock. If you need to know anything about just about anything else, you pop into the office and ask Janese. I have not yet located the Rumor Control Center.

In time we will no doubt find that we have helpers, snoopers, bad boys, pets, pests, and troopers. But that's to be expected. After all, F-Dock is a community, and it takes all kinds.