The Coxswain in the Container

The first thing I notice is the mug: “I’m not a bitch… I’m THE bitch” it reads, in bold letters. Sitting inconspicuously behind a cup of pens on a desk in an office, the mug also has the word “bitch” printed in bright red all around it to ensure that no one misses the memo.

The owner of the mug is speaking to me. “Oh, honey,” she says in a soft, sweet voice, “don’t you know, honey? You have to find the coxswain in the container.”

I am standing here because I walked up to the office at the end of the dock in Stanley to try to find out how to get freshwater to fill our tanks aboard Saoirse.

“The coxswain in the container?” I ask, trying to hide my bewilderment. I’m pretty sure I have absolutely no idea what this means, but I’m concerned that I will look stupid if I admit it, so I am attempting to blithely play along. 

“Yeah, honey. Honey, just find the coxswain in the container and ask him, honey, and he’ll tell you. Yep, he’ll show you where the water is, honey.”

“Ok, great! Thanks so much!” I wave over my shoulder as I exit the office. As soon as the door closes behind me, I stand there, bemused. First of all, I have never been called “honey” so many times in my life. Especially not by a phenomenally friendly woman with a sweet voice— and a mug aggressively asserting her to be a bitch. Second, I feel as though I have been given a riddle and sent on an impossible quest. Uncertain how to proceed, I shrug my shoulders and head back out into the cold.

I walk down the dock, carefully peering into and around every container, car, building, and piece of equipment. “The coxswain in the container…” I keep muttering the phrase to myself under my breath. “Find the coxswain…” After walking the entire length of the dock, gazing intensely at everything I can see, I conclude that nothing looks promising.

In desperation, I grab the next dock worker I see: “Excuse me,” I shout over the dull roar of heavy machinery, “do you know where I can find the coxswain in the container? I need freshwater for that sailboat!” I explain, pointing to Saoirse.

To my great surprise, the man looks at me and nods. Then he grabs my shoulder, spins me around, hails a truck driving by, and starts shouting at the driver. I can’t hear their conversation over the engine and industrial noise. They both turn to me and yell, “Walk down the dock, he’ll follow you and show you where the water is!”

The man shows me where the freshwater hose is and how to turn it on and off. After he leaves, Josh and I begin filling Saoirse’s tanks.

I’m not sure if this man was the coxswain, and I did not find him inside a container– but I’ll take it. 


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