A Boat On Stilts

By | New Pieces, Words | No Comments

I know a woman who is phobic of boats. Not travelling on them, nor the sight of them. In fact, she quite enjoys the pleasures and nature of nautical travel. Her fear  was unique, it came from being in proximity to a dry docked vessel. Specifically the hull, and especially when it was raised, as is common for many sailboats to be placed during the stormy quarters of the year. What lurked behind this phobia? From personal experience, as a severe arachnophobic myself, I am quite aware at the difficulties in articulating the irrational nature of a phobia, to others, as well as to myself. The optics of raising, removing a boat from water, to be retired is a strange sensation. Most likely, very few of us have seen this, yet we have seen the before and after. The former, the natural ease with which a ship sits in water, floats and sways, masts gently signposting the waters temperament, moving in lateral rhythm, is a natural vision, cognitively sound, and so common-place that it often barely induces a break in our consciousness or stream of thought. A boat in the water. What could be more normal? The latter however, a boat on land, conjures a sensation, I’m sure it varies in degrees for different individuals, but its more uncommon circumstance surely stimulates at least some intellectual or emotional activity in the mind. The most common, and obvious analogy is that of a fish out of water. Our most likely image of this in our mind, is of the fish flapping helplessly on the deck, as its last few seconds of life wind down. It is a strange sensation to see this at first. One year in my youth, I worked as a deckhand on a commercial fishing vessel, The Serenade, doing the Salmon run in northern British Columbia. I had to become, very quickly, mentally equipped to smacking the animals, and watching, or as it eventually turned out, ignoring, their dying moments. With a boat however, we do not watch it die. Most of us at least. Yet many of us see a retired watercraft, and contemplate the life it may of had. There seems to be a peacefulness in the communication happening between our imagination and a retired, rusty old ship. In contrast to a crashed aircraft, a boat on land has been placed there, and has transformed into a place of memory, a giant wooden, vehicular diary. It is no wonder that the term ghost ship, is such an often used and evocative label.

I know of another woman, who has a boat on her property, it is small and covered in a blue tarpaulin, surrounded by lush Pacific Northwest greenery. Its owner has passed away, and the boat sits, alone, on stilts. A ghost ship, helping to liaise  with the ghosts.

Here is a new piece of music http://www.alexformosa.com/portfolio/a-boat-on-stilts/ 

Here is the score:


© Alex Formosa