It’s a paradox. I see everything from the shore, but on the boat, the shore looks empty. It’s another world out there. I have been in both places and have craned my neck and strained my eyes to see a hidden person on the shore when I’m on the boat, but I have never seen a watcher. I see people who work on the docks. I see other boat owners. But I never see the watchers. Yet they are there, like me, watching.
(. . . And you never do know about the watchers. Are they scouts sent out to take records of the strengths and weaknesses of your boat? Will they relay a message that your boat has come, and will there be an armada just around the bend, ready to capture your boat, steal your booty, and take you into captivity? Or will the watchers hail you, tempt you with shiny gifts, only to steal your rig and escape the strange island they’re on, leaving you marooned? . . .)
When you get on the boat and leave land, the boat becomes your new “land” and the shore you sail past is just pretty wallpaper. It’s not real, not really. The boat is the only real thing when you’re on it. It’s the important thing because it’s your physical support. The shore is only a colorful background. It’s so far away. It’s strange how once you step off land it loses its hold on you.
It’s also strange how the same distance can seem so different. From the shore, the boat does not seem very far away, but from the boat, the shore might as well be a hundred miles away. Every foot of water is an acre because it can’t be walked upon. It must be sailed around, and that makes it bigger.
They don’t see me on the shore. I am invisible to them and to all boats that pass by. I blend into last year’s dead reeds and grasses. It’s easy to duck behind a large patch of brown reeds and will be even easier when the lush new green growth appears. It’s a screen. A camouflage. I often feel completely exposed from my perspective on the shore, but they don’t see me at all.
(. . . From my hidden spot on the shore, I watch the pirates as they sail on, searching for gold doubloons. Or perhaps they’re explorers and have come from a hidden land. They have just discovered America and are surprised to see that it may be inhabited. Imagine what their king will think when they report back! Or perhaps they’re sailors of fortune, mercenaries for hire. They’re recording information about the land for the highest bidder. Perhaps an army will come back and take us all by force . . .)
A boat is simply drifting by on a mid-spring day, most likely lobstering or gearing up for the season. There’s much work to be done and nothing exciting on the shore. In fact, the shore is completely empty, devoid of life, with nary a watcher in sight.