That boat had been my home for going on four months. I lived, breathed, ate, slept, smoked, drank, waxed, waned, loved, and hated on that boat. My mother has told me, “you’ll never go home again,” a phrase that always bothered me, but this phrase had fallen flat as this boat was the one home I could count on to remain an unchanged capsule in time. Working on boats has been the one constant in my adult years. Whisking me away to go work when I would run out of money in the springtime, the boat itself was a home away from home, big and brooding with black paint and a red rose painted on the bow. My family was replaced with a crew of old-school fishermen, equally as big and brooding in stature and personality. As a woman, I felt at home with this pack of wolves. Growing up with all boys had prepared me for working with all men, and I felt at home with their gruffness. They took me in as one of their own, a scrappy pup panting and trying to keep up with the big dogs. I knew every corner and nook of this boat intimately—the weathered and rough lines hanging up outside of the forepeak, the hydraulic oil slick I would have to watch out for as I climbed the ladder up to the bow, the spots in the steep staircase where I would bang my shins when I would run up to the wheelhouse. If the walls of this vessel could talk, they would talk shit, right to your face, and they would tell you dirty jokes that only sound right coming from the mouth of a smiling fishermen, the light catching his metal fillings while he throws out the punchline. This boat, my home, left physical impressions on me; the splintered wooden deck boards left indentation marks on my knees when I knelt down to work, and the black round rails of the sides of the boat kissed my forearms with scrapes and dried blood. When I would get out of the shower and my skin was wet and clean, my thighs, shins, and arms would be colored with tender blue and violet bruises from working, a map of the rough housing that went on between this floating hunk of steel and me. Cigarettes and stories were passed around the wheelhouse at all hours. Coffee didn’t work to keep us awake anymore, yet cups were consumed maniacally.
Aside from the wheelhouse, it is the galley that is the true heart of our boat. The cracked vinyl booth benches sagged where we had consumed a thousand eggs together, sat talking over each other, laughed with our mouths full, sat in silence and brooded, and at times practiced the art of avoidance, passing each other like ghosts. It is on this boat I have gotten my stripes, cut my teeth, and honed my skills, and I, like the snake eating its own tail, will never go home again, as my home is two ships passing in the night.
Written By: Isabella Antenucci
Isabella Antenucci is an artist, writer and blue collar worker that lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Visual Art “Boats in a Warzone”
By: Joshua Carter
Joshua Carter is a veteran, writer and activist. He lives in the Richmond district with his obese cat and tries really hard to be punk.