If I hear it before I climb into my bunk, I will go over and ask the skipper very nicely if I can help him stop the noise. Often they are surprised that I am affected. How people can ignore that noise on their own boats I don't know, but there seem to be plenty who can.
I'm not one of those who can sleep through noise. I wake up if the wind changes direction, or the current swings us around. I wake up if there are strange splashes outside on a dead-calm night. I know it's probably fish jumping, but I have to get up and have a look. If I don't get up, I keep listening — my ears are my night-time eyes — and if all the sounds seem right I go back to sleep.
I have to admit there are a few things I can tune out. The slap of the wires inside my own my mast is one of them It takes me a couple of nights at the start of a trip, but after that it's okay. And yet the faintest slap of a neighbor's halyard always drives me mad.
Many a time I have climbed aboard a stranger's boat in a marina to silence a clanking halyard, and each time I've wondered about the ethics of it. I know I'm taking chance in a society that is trigger-happy about suing, but I plead in mitigation that it is unneighborly to leave your halyards flapping so that they will annoy neighbors. I also offer myself the solace that it is the seamanlike thing to do, as it would be to rescue a flapping roller jib in a windstorm, or to push back a fender that had popped up, so that the hull was rubbing against the pier.
I myself would be thankful if someone saved my jib or my hull for me, and I wouldn't dream of suing if something went wrong in a sincere attempt to put things right. The Good Samaritan laws can be tricky, I know, but there are a couple of things you can do to protect yourself if somebody's mast falls down after you tied back his halyards. First of all, make sure no-one sees you in action. If there are other people around, wear a wig, a ski-mask, or a balaclava helmet. Secondly, don't leave fingerprints. Wear gloves. I find the best kind are those gardening gloves with the little pimples.
As for doing good, that is one of the professions that are full.— Henry David Thoreau, Walden.
An apple a day will keep the doctor away. Well, at least your insides will be healthy if the insecticide is working.
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