Sufficient

“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
It’s not like I’d ever have picked this and other semi-Biblical quotes growing up in New York City. So, people who don’t know much of my history wonder about the odd turn of phrases that I use. These verbal seasonings came from coastal Maine.
I was frequently the recipient of lectures from my father-in-law – the Cap’n. These sayings were used as capstones on discussions as though just saying ” sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” was enough proof that whatever I had suggested was sheer idiocy, and the Cap’ns utterances Gospel. It seemed as though I could never win an argument or discussion.
By and large, it was the Cap’n making the pronouncement. But, they could slip out of the mouths of my wife, who was a faithful daughter, my mother-in-law, or another family member.
Soon, I absorbed and began to use these sayings. No longer a tyro, I could spout, “The harvest is past, the summer ended, and we are not saved,” along with the best of them.

Spring on the coast was time to haul Cap’ns 34-foot ketch, Psyche. An older wooden boat that was always behind in maintenance. Like many of us, confidence can spread into areas beyond our abilities. The Cap’n “knew” everything about seamanship. But, he had some dubious ideas on boat repair.
I’d seen him drive caulk into the leaking planks of a clinker-built hull that needed refastening; the caulk rapidly opened the seam wider. That and other mistakes lead me to begin questioning his grip on boat repair.

It came to a head one spring when we hauled Psyche out for repairs. There wasn’t a ripple on the cove that morning, and the water was like a sheet of glass. I got to scraping the bottom right away while the Cap’n and the boatyard owner inspected the hull. The Cap’n was alerted that a through the hull fitting needed replacement, and he decided that this was a job we could handle. Off we went in a hectic search for a replacement.

Our search sent us to all the marine part stores in the area before winding up at a marine salvage spot that he favored. There he found the right mixture of availability and price in a used, through the hull fitting that fit his budget and his mindset.
I balked. While not old enough to have been used by Noah, it certainly looked to be of 1940’s vintage. The Captain insisted that it was good enough for a few years of service. Considering his answer, I thought about the cold waters off Sequin that we frequented. The faulty marine radio that you had to slap to get it to work and the family’s safety on cruises.
So, considering all this, I readied my response to the Captain in Biblical terms he so frequently used: “Well, You can sin in haste, and repent at leisure then.”
Yes, there were repercussions for my impertinence, but the sour look on his face was worth it all, and we bought a brand new fitting.

3 Replies to “Sufficient”

  1. The Captain should know better. You have to prepare the hull planks before you can caulk them. Lest you want to sink faster anyway! ANother great look at your wonderous life aboard ship.

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    1. Planks on clinker-built ( also called lapstrake) boats and vessels overlap, like clapboard siding on a house. The planks are held together with old-fashioned clenched nails or machine screws – if you’ve seen a biking ship you’ve seen one. the clenched nails hold the join together, and when the wood swells in the water provides a tight fit. No caulk is driven into the joins of the planks. To do so forces open the joint. Caulk is used on carvel planking where the planks lie alongside each other. The Capn’ was a great seaman but knew diddly about boat construction.

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