I have spent my life on boats. If you ask me what my favorite thing about boating is, there is a part of me that might respond “the soliloquy of it.” It is not that I do not like people—quite the opposite—but there is a centering, a rejuvenation to being alone on the ocean. It reminds me both how important and miniscule I am. How macro and micro the world can be. It tests me, it comforts me. I like being alone on the boat.
Today, I am anything but alone on the boat. Today, I am Admiral David Greenman. No, I am not an Admiral, but rather the captain of the Marina del Rey water bus. Think Ms. Frizzle, but sans the frizzle, and on the water. This particular water bus is called “Admiralty,” and so I have been named "The Admiral" for the day. There are all kinds of people on board today: tourists visiting California for the first time, children with their parents and grandparents, groups of friends heading across the marina for a jaunt on their boat or bite to eat. There's a sense of community here in the marina, and I take great pride in being a part of it.
What they do not tell you about water busses is that they are wide, wider than they look, if that is possible. Think about those big inflatable snow tubes you take down your favorite sledding hill. They are monstrously stable, but the reason they glide so well across the snow is because they sit on top of it. A water taxi is similar; so it is easily blown by the wind. Combine that with an outboard motor, and I frequently find myself checking my captain ego. As we sidle up to an aluminum dock, I guide us gently. The water bus is aluminum as well, so there is a nasty “clang” when it hits the dock. It is a point of pride to make the least amount of “clang” possible.
Today is a busy day. I navigate the channel carefully, as it is full of stand-up paddle boarders and kayakers. Sometimes I liken paddle boarders to the water sports version of snowboarders; they are the hip new thing. We pass a puppy hanging out on a dinghy, and as the crowd on the boat “oohs and aahs,” I steer us alongside a couple of playful sea lions. Who says you have to leave the marina to get a full aquatic experience? Some days, when the tide and the temperature align just right, we even get a few dolphins along with us as we putter back and forth across the channel.
As I dock the boat for the evening, a long, contented sigh. My Admiral duties complete for the day, it is finally quiet. And it is just me, and the boat again. But I would be lying to you if I said I could not wait for tomorrow.