Blizzard of 2013
It’s spring, and this year, I hazard that many here among us would say that it just can’t come soon enough. Good heavens, up here in New England we’ve had a long, cold slog of it.
I quite clearly recall the frigid snap in January when one night the freshwater lines froze up just after I’d finished the dishes, leaving the pump to grind away with a distressful rattle until I reached over to hit the circuit breaker. The next night, the saltwater intake for the head went solid, even though the thermostat in the adjacent saloon read a quite balmy 58 F. I’m sure I wasn’t alone when I prayed for warmth. It came the very next week. Fifty-degree temperatures were forecast to blow our way—but on southwesterly gusts of 50 and better, which would turn our corner of the harbor into a washing machine. Hell, I thought as I adjusted dock lines, couldn’t it just be cold again? It’d be calmer.
But that was then, and those chilly tribulations will soon be nothing but stories to be retold some summer evening, hopefully in a heeling cockpit. Any day now, when the spring showers have run their course, when the sun sails high enough in the sky to warm the shore and sparks the Narragansett Bay sea breeze each afternoon, the shrink-wrap can come off and the sanders can come out. Sailboats will look like sailboats again, instead of covered wagons.
Forget the measly crocus and robin. My harbinger of spring is when the water comes on once again at the dockside spigot. For the winter, most of us have sunk garden hoses that we can haul up and run to a faucet on shore when a refill is needed. If the hoses are full of fresh water and then capped carefully at each end, they settle on the bottom and remain pliable no matter what the mercury does. Leave them out in the air for even a little while, and well, you’ll have a lot of hose to bend and squeeze to force the ice out. Don’t ask how I know.
The first thing I’m going to do, once there’s water galore, is give everything on deck a good scrubbing. Even covered with shrink-wrap, by the end of winter everything looks gritty and gray.
Then I’m heading below to empty lockers and give them a needed cleaning, as well. This year, if I can figure out how to climb down into the space that Sabre Yachts, for some reason, believed might be adequate for a 6-foot-tall human, I’m even going to wash the bilge under the engine and see if I can’t retrieve the annoying washers I dropped down there while working on a project some time ago. Every time I have the engine box open, they’re leering at me.
April is the time when the whimsical gets transformed into the what-actually-might-get-done list. It’s the time to round up tools, retrieve extension cords, and stock up on mineral spirits and Penetrol. It’s when you begin to coil the web of dock lines that it took all winter and a few sizeable blows to weave. It’s still too early to bend on sails and dive to clean off the prop, mind you. But those days are coming. And first, there’s other work to be done.
I can’t wait to get started.
First printed as the Editor’s Log in the April 2013 issue of Cruising World.
Click here to read more from editor Mark Pillsbury.