I’ve been out of town for three weeks in the last five. All that time, Hatikva, my little Sunbird sailboat, has sat idle, tied up pier-side in the warming water of mid-summer. I also live in an area where the second half of summer is dominated by jellyfish, stinging sea nettles that fill the bays and creeks. I haven’t seen many jellies yet, but I knew I couldn’t wait to deal with cleaning the boat, unless I wanted to be swimming in a cloud of stinging tentacles. It was time to go clean the bottom of all the algae and slime that had accumulated.
I didn’t expect barnacles.
I have to give them credit. The entire waterline of the boat, in a band about four inches wide, was covered with hard-shelled barnacles that had grown quickly, and vigorously. I had no idea they could grow that fast. I spent several hours standing in the water with a linoleum scraper, tearing these little monsters apart – and eventually I had a clean boat. Not super-smooth, but clean enough she would sail again.
But, the Bay retaliated against my disruption. First, as barnacles split apart and rained through the water, dozens of small fish – mostly killifish, I think – swarmed to eat what they could. That included me…. I tried to think of it as one of those trendy exfoliating treatments where fish nibble your dead skin. But the truth is it was annoying, and sometimes hurt. Standing in water up to my chest, in a cloud of barnacle debris, the fish got carried away and nibbled on my skin, biting me in groups of about ten at a time.
Worse, my scraper missed – it only took one time for the scraper to bounce off the barnacles, and have my knuckles slam into them instead. One good hit, and I’ve torn a lot of skin out of the back of my hand this afternoon. I’m bleeding, and it hurts.
And I can’t help but think that a week ago I was swimming with sharks, and surrounded by barracuda, neither of which bothered me in the least.
Instead, I’m sitting here complaining about minnows and tiny immobile crustaceans that have me bleeding. Dang barnacles.
Get Out There