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Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
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Friday, February 3, 2012

The Buddy System

Owl and the Pussycat by Lisa Woolfe

"Do you have any advice for us?"
"Yes. Never travel alone."
"That's it??"
"That's it."
-- From Frank Herbert's Dune

The Buddy System

In Kinnygarden, they line us up by twos and have us hold hands. "Don't let go," they told us, "That's your Buddy."

Alaska is some pretty wild country, with some pretty wild water. It's good to have a Buddy.

A Buddy is there to watch your back. To double your eyes and wisdom and strength. A Buddy is there to talk with. To share the Beauties. The good times and bad. The sun and the rain. To take a turn at the helm, at chores. To stand watch while you sleep. To give and receive the many, gifts of friendship, large and small.

Prospectors fanned out over Alaska's back-countries, by ones and twos, in search of gold during the rushes. They make an interesting study in the Buddy System. Partners often stayed together over periods of years, coming resemble old married couples in their  devotion to one another. Sometimes the irritations of intimacy and cabin fever would spill over into domestic violence ("Whydja kill 'im, Ed?"  "Cuz he hung the pan on the wrong nail... AGAIN!"). Survivors of such winters sometimes went it alone, afterward... better the devil you know.

I have a lot of respect for single-handers, and others who venture alone into the wilds. Finding one's self is no easy task, but one that precedes all others in value. Quality alone time has value for us all. Sometimes, it's 'go alone or don't go at all'. Sometimes one starts out with a Buddy, but loses them along the way. A few just plain prefer to be alone.

The challenge is part of it, for some. And that sense of accomplishment that comes from having done it entirely oneself. Many see it as a test, in which the answers are unequivocal.

Sail and oar, in these waters at least, can take one to the end of one's rope. Long days can be followed by long nights, if caught out of harbor. It's not the deep sea, where the boat will sail you for days... you may have to heave to in a tight lee, waiting for light before threading  rocks to safety. No breaks for food or a warm-up. Or to think a problem carefully through. No one to back sail, holding the boat crabbed away from danger as you row out a second, swing-limiting anchor.

Me? I like a Buddy. I love my Buddy. Without my Buddy...

... it's just me.

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