The Grinding Grumble of Propulsion

Where I sit to type this, half of my body is actually below water level. Three sounds dominate the day. The wind in the rigging. It always sounds stronger than it is. The slurp of waves against the transom. They are irregular and therefore unignorable. And the grinding whine of engines, transmissions and propellers — in the morning as boats leave, mid day as they go to the poop dock, and evening as they arrive.

By their whines ye shall know them. There are those so quiet they seem almost stealthy. Looking topsides, it’s almost where did they go; where did they come from?  There are others that are blips and bursts of noise separated by that same stealthy silence. (I imagine this is how we sound.) And then there are those so loud and grinding and prolonged in their forward and reversing, I grit my teeth and wait for the crash. Or I run topsides to make sure the apparently impending crash isn’t going to include me.

If the loud propeller noise is unaccompanied by shouting, I chalk it up to a loud propulsion system. If shouting is present, that grinding is symptomatic of the I hate docks and docking syndrome. These boats are mostly just annoying. The scary ones are the ones who come in on little cat feet and start shouting like the barn’s afire from right alongside.

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