Sunday, June 25, 2006

An interior ocean

We went boat-looking Saturday at American Marine in Zebulon.
Yes, Zebulon, North Carolina.
You're driving along old route 264 and look to the right through the pine trees - masts everywhere, and white-hulled sailboats from 14 feet to 40 feet. This in the middle of cotton country, where you've left Raleigh's madness behind for fields tended by John Deere tractors.
Getting off the highway, you double back on an access road, past the Mudcats ball park and a water tower painted like a baseball. And then the sailboats come in view, parked on their trailers and underpinnings above the red dirt.
It's a bit surreal, but this is the place. Dave Condon and his crew sell a bunch of boats, miles from any lake and hours from the coast. Hunters, Catalinas, Precisions, and the odd brokerage boat.
We climbed in and out of craft large and small, and talked about rigging and the respective benefits of water ballast and swing keels.
Looking over the flotilla of boats from the deck of a massive 40-footer with a deck salon, I kept remembering an old Ray Bradbury story. Two old sailors, becalmed in the Great Plains. A promise to be buried at sea. And when one of them died, his mate didn't have the means or the method to get him to water.
So he cut the sod free, and buried his sailing companion under the endless waves of prairie grass.
You can find an ocean just about anywhere.

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