Coilers on the Dock
by Sandy Wallace

I love Xanadu, our sailboat... somedays, more than others. I love her most, when there is little or no discernible breeze and we are upright in the water. I don’t like it when she lists to the side and my world becomes a series of tasks performed from a ten to fifteen degree angle of tilt. I also experience fond feelings toward her when tied securely to a dock with sturdy cleats, plugged into shore power and all of the thick ropes, oops, I mean lines, are neatly coiled and resting comfortably and attractively on the dock.

It wasn’t always that way. It’s only recently that my husband, John, has become a competent coiler. I never thought this would happen to an absent-minded-wallet-losing-eyeglass-squasher. It has. He’s now obsessed with the coil arrangement exhibited by the lines holding the boat. I recall a not-so-long ago time when he, along with me, mocked coilers. We’d look at our own slovenly placed lines, and then amble aimlessly along the docks, admiring the larger boats with the perfectly coiled lines. It was nautically romantic, looking at the boats tucked neatly into their slips, everything about them so seemingly perfect. We were content, happy with our imperfections, our uncoiled lines.

Suddenly, without discussion, agreement or warning, John turned into a coiler! Returning from a bike-ride to the marina that housed our boat, I gasped when I stepped onto our dock! John was down on all fours, putting weight upon his bad knees with no protective pillow, coiling! He had already completed the coil of the stern and spring lines, and was frantically coiling the bow-line. It was as if he’d suddenly had a vision. He’d become driven, a man with a mission.

“John, what are you doing,” I asked with sincere curiosity.

“I’m just securing these lines. They looked sloppy. I don’t want people to think I’m sloppy,” explained John.

“But honey, you are sloppy, very sloppy. You’ve always been sloppy. Haven’t you told me countless times about your extra marching duty in the navy because your things weren’t neat?” I asked.

“Well, I’ve changed,” John stated emphatically as he wound the last coil.

“There, look at her! Xanadu with her coils! Isn’t she a beauty? And look at those lines! They’re perfect!” announced John, proudly.

I agreed that she was beautiful and the coils were unlike any other I’d ever seen. Whatever the motivation or the rationale behind this sudden change in my husband, I had to admit he had converted. He’d truly become a coiler. I wondered if this behavior might spill over into other areas, like perhaps the state of the front seat of his pick-up truck. I was curious to know if he could apply the same principles to the rotting orange peels and apple cores that often littered the floor of his faded green 4-cylinder rust bucket. Probably not.