Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Blessed Boat

Yesterday morning - thanks to my sister Liz - Arden, myself, and Spook were blessed by Father Dan, Liz's parish priest. I was really glad she had suggested it and organized it, God knows I am going to need all the help I can get over the next few months.

I spent the late evening hours on Sunday, and the wee hours of the morning Monday straightening up the deck of Arden, getting rid of building supplies, packaging, old parts, etc. I found that my milk crates, as great as they are for storing things aboard, would not fit through the lazerette hatches, or the inside doors to the lazerette areas either. So, I skillfully broke out the Skil saw, and made them fit. (as I did so I was reminded of the movie "The Grinch" - the original with Lon Chaney, where he hacks and cuts at the antlers until there is little but a nub on the poor little dogs head) I cut and I hacked, and soon I had a smaller, shorter milk crate that fit just fine.

In went some thinner, a few paint cans and junk. Odd fittings and hoses and an old inflatable pump. The decks had been cleared and the lines were tied tight, any left over messes were all tucked out of sight.

So the best laid plans of mice and men, right? Yesterday started out all gray and overcast, and I knew that rain was in the forecast. Now my vision of blessing the boat took place on the dock and out on deck, Father with the Bible, I had assumed a vial of Holy Water, and a few other items to help Arden and crew make the voyage safely. Say a few words, sprinkle Holy Water, and perhaps even a bit of Latin thrown in. Nothing at all about heading down below, and of course nothing in there about rain either. What I had not counted on was Father Dan.

Did I mention it was raining? I am on the way to the boat when I get the call from Liz that they are almost to the boat. By this time the skies had opened up, and it was really coming down. Liz and Father Dan were there when I pulled in, and after a few greetings, Father Dan just had to joke me about the van. I don't think I have ever mentioned the van on here, but suffice it to say it is a bit of a cross between the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo and the old pick up truck from Sanford and Son. It is a functional vehicle, my shop, wet weather transportation, and a storage unit, but nothing to brag about what so ever. So this is my introduction to Father Dan - who I might mention is about my age, extremely out going, and has an extremely sharp wit. I pick up on all of this in seconds.

I outfit Father Dan with a spare foul weather jacket that is neon yellow, quite a contrast to the clerical clothes he was wearing, and we three head to the boat. I was good all the way until we got aboard the boat - it was obvious we were headed below, which was still a wreck from all the work I have been doing. I had not even touched the interior of the boat, because in my mind we were going to do all of this outside. I could not have been more mistaken. I have to hand it to Father Dan - he took it all in stride, the clutter, the parts, the dishes in the sink and the unmade bed. He was very curious about how I was going to do everything, from navigation, to communication, to sailing alone out on the open ocean. I also think Father was a bit amazed at the fact that I have lived aboard for just about a year, in such a small boat. I kind of compare my living quarters to that of a studio apartment, just on a bit smaller scale. Father then opened a small box he had brought, and gave me a St. Benedict crucifix, and a St. Benedict medallion to wear. Turns out this is the same cross used in exorcisms, and is a very powerful Catholic relic. The box contains a description of the history of the medallion and the crucifix, and a translation of what is inscribed on both. Father Dan said a few prayers, and then sprinkled Holy Water around the boat, and the sprinkled the boat with Blessed Salt. That was a new one to me, I am not sure of the significance of the salt, but I will leave that to the experts. Father Dan left me with the remainder of the Holy Water and salt, and then we talked again for a bit before he and Liz had to leave. Father said to use the water and the salt in times of trial out there when I am sailing, I hope that the need never arises, but it is good to have something to fall back on should things get extremely bad. It was a very interesting meeting, and I am glad I got the chance to not only meet Father Dan, but to have him come and bless my boat and the crew before we head out.

Here is the inscription on the crucifix:

Around the circumference of the medal are the letters VRS NSMV SMQL IVB
which are the intial letters of a Latin exorcism:

Vade Retro Satana
Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana
Sunt Mala Quae Libas
Ipse Venna Bibas

Which means-
Get behind me Satan
Don't try me with your stupidity
What you are pouring is evil
Drink that poison yourself

Like I said, very powerful stuff, and dating back many many years. Again, I can use all the help I can get.

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